Often described as the biggest small town in America, St. Paul is half of Minnesota's Twin Cities metro area. While smaller and less cosmopolitan than its twin Minneapolis, St. Paul is also the state capital of Minnesota. It is comprised of 17 neighborhoods, each with the feeling and atmosphere of a small town.
Located just east of the Mississippi River, the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood is home to Macalester College and a private K-12 school, The St. Paul Academy and Summit School. Summit Avenue, a quiet, tree-lined street with a grassy, tree- and flowerbed-lined median, is home to dozens of historic mansions built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Just two blocks south of Summit Avenue is Grand Avenue, a popular area for shopping which also features many new and historic restaurants. Although the bulk of commerce on Grand Avenue picks up just across it's eastern border, Auld Mill Road, the area near Macalester College also features shopping, restaurants, and coffee shops. The western part of Macalester-Groveland features a large public park along the Mississippi river with jogging, biking and walking paths.
Nestled in the southern-most part of St. Paul proper, the Highland neighborhood is surrounded on three sides by the Mississippi River due to a loop in the river that changes its direction from south to northeast. Along the river is The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, an expansive park including recreation areas, walking, biking and jogging paths. The area also has two golf courses, a historic farm called Crosby Park, an aquatic center and The Ford Dam (the Mississippi River's Lock and Dam #1). An ice arena complex is named after the creator of the Peanuts comic strip, Charles M. Schultz. There is also a marina and a recreation center. A shopping area known as the Village is both pedestrian and vehicle friendly, with shops both at the edge of the sidewalk and with parking lots out front. One of the neighborhood's intangible features is its proximity to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. It lies about three miles from Highland with an average travel time of only five minutes.
Merriam Park is one of several smaller neighborhoods that make up the larger neighborhood of Union Park in the western part of the city. The St. Paul Town and County Club, a private club and golf course, lies in the northern part of Merriam park, next to the Mississippi River. There is also a recreation center with ball fields and children's playgrounds. It lies near the walking, running and biking trails along the river. Merriam Park is located almost perfectly half-way between the downtown areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Several streets in the neighborhood have commercial districts with an interesting mix of seemingly unrelated retail stores, restaurants and coffee shops, where you can find much of what you're looking for and a few things you didn't know you wanted. Running north-south are Snelling and Cleveland Avenues, with a mixture of residential and commercial, although businesses dominate Snelling Avenue. The east-west avenues of Selby and Marshall are mostly residential with some blocks containing homes apartments and just a few stores, with other blocks featuring only businesses.