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Directory Logo Red Balloon Bookshop
891 Grand Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55105
651 224 8320
Admission: $0.00
Most events are free. Some require a purchase and/or a ticket.
Hours of Operation:
Mon. Closed
Tue. 10:00 AM – 06:00 PM
Wed. 10:00 AM – 06:00 PM
Thu. 10:00 AM – 06:00 PM
Fri. 10:00 AM – 06:00 PM
Sat. 10:00 AM – 06:00 PM
Sun. 12:00 PM – 05:00 PM
Hours as of Spring 2022

Located on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, The Red Balloon Bookshop is a perfect stop for everyone in the family. We count this as one of our favorite independent bookstores to visit with kids. Story times are currently held in store (or on the patio) each Wednesday at 10:30am.  Look for local author visits, book clubs and other reading-related events throughout the year.

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Grand Ave. St. Paul
Image courtesy of Red Balloon Bookshop

Visiting the Red Balloon Bookshop

The first time I ever entered this store, I was 10 years old (give or take).  It was so magical then. And it is still just as magical today. Okay, so I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for books. I like to be surrounded by books. I like piles of books and stacks of books. Books on shelves. Books on beds. Books in bags. Books scattered around my house (just not on the floor where they can and will be stepped on).

It tickles my fancy to see my kids enamored by books as much as I am.Toddler pulling book "Mouldy Monsters" from shelf at the Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, Minnesota

And The Red Balloon Bookshop does everything right to make books magical.

Now that I’ve used the word magical three times in my description of The Red Balloon Bookshop, let me describe it for you. It’s located in big gray house right off of Grand Ave in St. Paul. As you walk into the store, you find yourself in book wonderland.

Picture the library scene in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. While the books don’t climb exactly that high on the walls, you get the same sense of breathtaking “Wow!” It’s spacious lay-out makes it very user friendly. Almost every corner is visible from anywhere in the store, and because it is open, I was able to hear my children when I wasn’t able to see them.

Kids walking down stairway to the basement of the Red Balloon Bookshop in Saint Paul, MinnesotaAs we explored this homey bookshop, my eye caught the sign that said, “Bargain Books in the basement.” Of course. The four of us, traipsed down the stairs to explore what goodies they had hiding down there. In a sectioned off area away from the book processing space, The Red Balloon Bookshop had crammed Educational books, Bargain books, Grown-up Bargain books, and Foreign Language books.
My family is in love with Skippyjon Jones. We were able to find a brand new copy of Skippyjon Jones and Mummy Troubles for $4. It was thrilling! It was awesome! Everyone was excited! When our treasure hunt was deemed successful, we traveled back up the stairs to enjoy a bit more of The Red Balloon Bookshop. With lots of book characters to love (Princess Pea is holding her good friend Olivia) and other “old-fashioned” toys, The Red Balloon Bookshop brings you back to the simple joys of life. A good book is priceless. And a bookshop filled with good books is even better.

Can I say that I love that they call themselves a bookshop and not a bookstore. The word shop is just so sublime for this gem.


Red Balloon Bookshop Highlights

  • Parking on Grand Avenue can be hectic and The Red Balloon has a small parking lot in the back. This is extremely helpful. I’m sure on busy days, it gets filled up quickly, but check it out first before trying to park on the street. There is also a back entrance into the shop so you don’t need to walk around the store (in the snow if it’s a snowy MN winter).
  • They offer red balloons to families. One per family. People know where you’ve been if you decide to walk Grand Ave. after enjoying your visit.
  • The staff is sweet. You can tell that they truly love books. And that they truly love children. They are upbeat and kind, ready with a smile. JackJack was playing with a broken toy and honestly, I wasn’t sure if he had broken it or not. I brought it up to the counter and they didn’t accuse us of breaking it. They didn’t even allude to that (which honestly, I probably would have done). They were so gracious.

Disadvantages to the Red Balloon Bookshop

  • They are on Grand Avenue, so when it’s busy, parking can be extremely difficult.
  • Some of the books within JackJack’s reach were a little too fragile (especially in the basement). A 21 month old tearing through a pop-up book without major adult intervention makes me a little nervous. I do not want to buy a torn pop-up book even if it did come from the Bargain section.
  • There is a single step (or was it double? I can’t exactly remember) up into part of the store. Everything was carpeted so tumbles were not a major factor but not everything was wheelchair accessible.
As you can see, I was in love with this bookshop. If you are on the east side of the Twin Cities, it’s indubitably a must see. Even if you aren’t on the east side, it’s worth it.

Family Book Clubs at the Red Balloon Bookshop

The Red Balloon often offers parent-child book clubs. Families can find the perfect book club for their needs, find the book and sign up by visiting the Red Balloon’s website. Offerings include book clubs by gender, by age, by genre and by interest. They have even offered a Read-Aloud Book Club, which is like story hour for big kids.

Birthday Parties at the Red Balloon Bookshop

In the past, the Red Balloon has hosted birthday parties in their basement party space. Parties are not currently offered, but we hope to see them back again. In the meantime, you can find more party venues in our annual Birthday Party Guide.

The Red Balloon Bookshop Party Room

Support Red Balloon with Bookshop.Org is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. When you shop through this link, Family Fun Twin Cities receives a small commission on books ordered and you can choose Red Balloon Bookshop as your local bookstore and they’ll receive the full profit off your order. Learn more here.

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