Union Depot is one of America’s great rail stations from the early 20th Century. By the numbers, it’s 250,000 square feet on 33 acres near the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul. It was originally completed in 1926 and was fully restored in 2011-2012. But as anyone who’s ever been here will tell you, numbers alone fail to describe Union Depot. It is a fun place to come watch trains, buses and boats. There are also fun activities hosted year round. It even has a Little Free Library.
Rail View Picnic Area at Union Depot
Families can park in Lot D and take advantage of the Rail View Picnic Area, where trainiacs can see freight and passenger trains and airplane fanatics can watch aircraft from Holman Field (the St. Paul Downtown Airport). This area includes six picnic tables under pergolas, free access to both biking and walking paths, and bicycle parking. Plan this trip for a summer weekend, and you can combine it with the Saint Paul Farmers Market. Parking in Lot D is $2/day (subject to change).
Games Galore on Wednesdays
On Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 8 pm., families can drop by the station to play giant-size versions games like Chess, Checkers, Connect Four, Dominoes, Jenga, Tic Tac Toe and others. The games are free and open to the public and, if you prefer, you can bring your own games to sit and play. This program was designed to offer fun options for people of all ages who seek a board game challenge and a friendly competition.
Little Free Library at Union Depot
Union Depot installed the first Little Free Library in St. Paul. It can be found on a colorful train cart in the Waiting Room. As with any Little Free Library, guests are invited to take and leave books. Gently used or new travel guides, travel memoirs, transportation history, transportation books for children and local history books are especially appreciated at this location.
Watch Trains From Home
Kids don't have to wait until you can make a trip to St. Paul to see trains, Union Depot's websote has train cams available here.
Christmas at Union Depot
The train station offers a variety of public programs during the Holiday season, including a tree lighting at the beginning of the season, FREE Holiday movie screenings, European Christmas Market gift fair, a special North Pole Express train ride (that sells out every year) and a stop by the annual Canadian Pacific Holiday Train.