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Free Wi-Fi Available
214 Fourth Street East, Suite 300, Saint Paul, MN 55101
Admission: $0.00
Occasionally events have a cover charge
Register for some events through EventBrite. Most are Drop In.
Concessions Available
The Building is Open 24/7

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, MN. 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 locomotives, buses and boats. There are also fun activities, like live music, cultural festivals and movie nights, hosted year round and coffee shops and restaurants. It even has a Little Free Library, so bring some books to trade out.

Union Depot is a perfect destination for your whole family in winter and summer when you need to escape the elements. It’s free and open to the public. Not only that, but it has public events for the whole family and most everything is FREE.

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Mother and son playing ping pong at the Union Depot Train Station in Saint Paul, Minnesota
Union Depot — Son takes on Mother

5 Ideas for Union Depot Family Fun!

Union Depot can be enjoyed  anytime. Especially if you take the Green Line, you don’t need to go to a scheduled event to enjoy it.  Here are just some of the few reasons I like it and love bringing my kids.

1. Train Watch at the Rail View Picnic Area

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).

Burlington Northern Train at Union Depot Train Days
Burlington Northern Train at Union Depot Train Days

2. Play Games Galore on Wednesdays

On Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 8 pm., families can drop by the station to play giant-size versions of games like Chess, Checkers, Connect Four, Dominoes, Jenga, Tic Tac Toe and others. There is also a ping pong table for public use. The games are free and open to the public and, if you prefer, you can bring your own games to sit and play in the activity area. This program was designed to offer fun options for people of all ages who seek a board game challenge and a friendly competition.

Group of children playing life-size chess during a Games Galore Wednesday at Union Depot Train Station in Saint Paul.
Games Galore at Union Depot. Image courtesy Union Depot

3. Go On A Public Tour

Public tours are offered on select Tuesdays, 11am-12pm. Led by the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority, if you decide to take this tour, you may want to put on your pedometer and bring a stroller for the little ones.  It is a one-hour walking tour and covers the equivalent of four blocks. The guide will give you some history of the building and train equipment, point out architectural designs and explain the Union Depots efforts in sustainability.  and . Meet at the east clock in the Head House.

VIP Bus Tour Group at Union Depot Train Station during the 2015 Family Fun Twin Cities Minnesota Transportation Museum Train Event
VIP Bus Tour at Union Depot during an FFTC event.

4. Participate in Free Yoga Classes

Join free yoga classes offered at various times throughout the week, including Saturday mornings. Check the station’s event calendar for upcoming dates.

Second story view of yoga class at Union Depot Train Station in Saint Paul
Image courtesy of Union Depot

5. Enjoy the Waiting Room

The waiting room is a huge open space with plenty of room for movement and has plenty to keep you occupied, including:

  • Public Art. Fantastic art pieces around the whole depot were chosen and commissioned by 5 different art committees. Interactive art and beautiful art and fun art.  I normally don’t understand art, but I loved it all!
  • Ping Pong. A ping pong table complete with paddles and balls.  If the table is open, you are free to play.
  • Historical Display in the works to enjoy
  • Search for the butterfly, the mosquito, and the door knob that talks.
  • Big windows looking out over the Mississippi River and the train tracks.

6. Lowertown Trivia Night

Probably best to attend with teens and tweens, drop by Union depot on select Wednesday evenings to compete for prizes and just enjoy food and drink specials from Station 81.

Family-Friendly Restaurants & Coffee Shops at Union Depot

Grab a coffee or snacks when visiting Union Depot.

Lowertown Bike Shop and Coffee Station

Yes, you can get your bike fixed here, but you can also just grab a coffee anytime. Open Monday through Saturday and serving coffee drinks, tea, pastries, and a few kid-friendly drinks like lemonade and cocoa.

Spinning Wylde Cotton Candy Café

Yes! Cotton candy in a huge variety of flavors — some expected and some unexpected — spun with organic cane sugar, natural flavors and no dyes.

Station 81 Eatery

Run by Appetite for Change, this restaurant serves a full menu, so you can stop for lunch or a snack.

Deb’s Hot Dogs

During special events, you might find a Deb’s Hot Dogs cart selling concessions — hot dogs, chili dogs, polish sausage, chips and sodas — at areasonable prices. There is often also a selection of food trucks during special events.

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 Your Living Room

Kids don’t have to wait until you can make a trip to St. Paul to see trains, Union Depot’s website has train cams available here.

Union Depot
image courtesy Union Depot

Christmas at Union Depot

The train station offers a variety of public programs during the Holiday season, including a tree-lighting ceremony at the beginning of the season, FREE Holiday movie screenings, European Christmas Market gift fair, a special North Pole Express train ride with Santa (that sells out every year) and a stop by the annual Canadian Pacific Holiday Train.

Tree Lighting Ceremony at Union Depot in Saint Paul Minnesota 2014
Image courtesy of Union Depot. Credit: Art in the Sky Photography

Union Depot Train Days

Train Days is a special celebration of trains usually held in June at Union Depot. Details of this event have changed over the years, but it usually include tours of trains and train equipment, family-friendly activities, and is always a fun time for train-loving families.

Union Depot Train Days - Experience the History and Adventure of Rail Travel

A Brief History of the Union Depot

Union Depot was originally built in 1881 in St. Paul.  Later it burned down.  Union Depot started reconstruction in 1917 and was completed in 1926. Due to changes in transportation, Union Depot closed in 1971.  It was put on the National Registry for Historic Places in 1974. Then in 1999, discussion began to reopen Union Depot as a “multimodal transportation hub”, serving both buses and trains. It reopened in 2012,

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This article was originally written by Gianna Kordatzky February 23, 2015 and is updated as necessary.

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