Since its incorporation, the City has grown from a small, agricultural area to a thriving suburban community. Prompting this growth was great access to the Interstate Highway System and the installation of the City's water and sewer systems.

The French Canadian families Bibeau, Vadnais, Garceau, and Morrisette first settled the area now known as Vadnais Heights in the 1840s. It became part of White Bear Township in 1858, when Minnesota became a state.

In 1957, with a population of about 2,000, residents voted to incorporate as the Village of Vadnais Heights. In 1974, an act of the Minnesota State Legislature turned the village into a full-fledged city.

Vadnais Lake, an important scenic and natural area that has remained undeveloped, was named after Jean Vadnais. Among the first settlers, Vadnais and his family made a home for themselves on the southeast side of the lake.

The Vadnais Heights Volunteer Fire Department was established in 1970.

A well-conceived and much-deliberated City Center plan, developed in the 1980s, sparked commercial growth along County Road E. Important to the plan was the major infrastructure improvement to County Road E, in the area of I-35E in the 1990s. The resulting commercial enterprise includes shops, restaurants, and other businesses focusing on service for this ever-growing community.

In 2001, after much planning and discussion, Vadnais Heights constructed a new city hall. It had long ago outgrown its much-dated County Road F facility, originally built to serve as a school. The new 13,640 square foot building cost about $3.3 million dollars to plan, construct, and furnish.

The new city hall was paid for through existing funds, dollars that had been saved for 30 years for such a purpose. No bonding or new taxes were necessary. In fact, not having to bond for City Hall saved the City and its taxpayers about $2 million dollars in interest.