Whether you’re a student at one of the Twin Cities many colleges an universities (St. Paul is second only to Boston in higher learning institutions per capita) or working hard on a business plan, proposal, or personal project, a good place to hole up and focus is indispensable. But you don’t always want to end up fighting with a dozen others for the last seat at your local coffee shop.
Here we offer a few different ideas for places to get your work done.
The St. Paul Union Depot
240 E Kellogg Blvd, St Paul, MN 55101
The beautiful 1920’s-era train station that once saw 20,000 passengers a day pass through is a lot quieter now. There is plenty of space; tables, seats both upright and comfortable, throughout the depot to spread out and no shortage of power outlets to plug your laptop or phone into. And, given that there are only two trains that pass through, once in the morning and once at night, it ends up being a rather tranquil setting throughout most of the day. You can no longer pull an all-nighter there, however, as the depot recently changed its hours and is now closed to the public from 2-5am.
W.A. Frost basement lounge
374 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55102
Nina’s across the street is always packed with people typing away, reading, working… there’s no reason to wait for a spot, stepping over book bags and outstretched legs to find a seat when you can huddle up at Frost. The cozy coves that once housed dry goods and storage are now ideal nooks for working and studying, and while the lounge does get busy on weekend nights, throughout the afternoon and early evening you’ll typically have the place to yourself. There is always an outlet close by, and there is free WiFi as well. Added bonus: They serve coffee and espresso, but sometimes it takes a cocktail to get the creative juices flowing.
George Latimer Central Library
90 W 4th St, St Paul, MN 55102
Okay, so there’s nothing unconventional about studying at a library, but this palatial downtown library needs to be mentioned for three reasons: One, it’s simply an incredible space in which to work, unlike any other in the region. Two: the amount of space, and different spaces, in which to do your work, means you can find the perfect area to suit your needs. And three: The upstairs “Innovation Room” filled with various reference materials, as well as recording equipment and space for musicians and podasters, a 3D-printer available for use, and other tools to complete any project. This library has taken on a new role in fostering learning and progress.
Hard Times Cafe
1821 Riverside Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55454
There’s free WiFi, plenty of tables, and inexpensive food to keep you going. There’s coffee as well, but it’s not a coffee shop; not in the traditional sense at least. It’s a gathering place that’s brings together all types from across the Twin Cities. Indeed, the most “unconventional” aspect, might the interesting array of characters that spend their time at Hard Times; you’ll meet creatives, students, musicians, misfits full of fascinating tales of Minnesota life. Or you can disappear at a back table and get your work done alone. It’s open until 4am, and only closes for a few hours before opening again at 6 so whether you need to work late or early they’ll be open, and serving food and drink the whole time as well.
6 W 5th St, St Paul, MN 55102
It’s a different sort of bookstore. Intimate and inviting, it acts as much as a community gathering place as it does storefront. To work, they have a table set up in the middle with room to spread out as needed. The addition of street-facing couches, covered in much sunlight streaming in, let you huddle up and get done whatever reading, studying, memorizing, philosophizing you need to. And being surrounded by a carefully curated selection of books only supplements the creative flow.