It goes without saying (but I guess I am saying it anyway?) that 2020 is a wash when it comes to travel. In lieu of airplanes and new stamps in passports, we all have to settle for exploring our own backyards and trying new things at home. We all know this, so I won’t speak on it too much, but I will say I’ve had more fun than I expected this summer, all in places less than 2 hours from my house.
A Day Trip to Taylor’s Falls, Minnesota
About an hours drive from the Twin Cities sits the iconic town of Taylor’s Falls. Nestled on the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin, carved by the St. Croix River, it’s home to great hiking spots and iconic eateries. It’s a fantastic destination for a day trip, and I’ve managed to visit twice in the past few months – so here are some of the highlights and ideas for things to do!
On the way – stop in Lindstrom
Literally on the route from Minneapolis to Taylor’s Falls sits the tiny town of Lindstrom, Minnesota. While I’ll say a visit here is a far cry from walking the streets of Stockholm, it’s a cute town that has an undeniable Swedish charm. Need breakfast? We did – so we stopped at Northwoods Roasterie for coffee and bagels. I had the bagel sandwich – complete with egg, cheese, and sausage. It was delicious. There are other bakeries and restaurants that I’d love to try on a future visit here too.
Interstate State Park Hiking
There’s an Interstate State Park on both the Minnesota and Wisconsin sides of the St. Croix here, and thanks to confusing instructions on the Wisconsin State Parks page on parking, I’ve been to only the Minnesota side. It’s beautiful with some great hiking along the river, just be warned that it is busy on weekends. The trails are well-maintained, some of it does go along the highway (protected, just strange and not very peaceful to be walking so close to traffic) but most of it is within the woods. It’s great for an easy day hike. Stop and dip your toes in the St. Croix, there are many little coves and beaches along the route.
Need a quick cafe lunch? This spot is right across the street from the main parking lot of Interstate Park and has good coffee and sandwiches. Juneberry Cafe is takeout only right now (2020, due to COVID) but that’s perfect if you’re looking for something to-go to get on the trail and want to support a friendly local business!
Fawn Doe Rosa
Just a 4-minute drive over the bridge and into Wisconsin is the beloved Fawn Doe Rosa. It’s a petting zoo full, and I mean full, of deer and other wildlife you’d see running around in the wild in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The animals are super tame and used to people – so some deer are roaming the park free, outside of the enclosures. It was full of children, but you can still enjoy it as a child-free adult, not only for seeing the animals, but for people watching too. I loved the baby deer and the alpacas they had. Definitely buy a bag of feed, it will help for getting the perfect Instagram shot. Wear your mask and don’t worry too much about the crazy line outside the place – it moves quickly as people are shuffled in and out of the park.
Bonus – there was a little fair food cart in the parking lot of Fawn Doe Rosa, and the smell of mini donuts was too much to resist.
The Drive-In Taylor’s Falls
The final stop on a hot, sunny day full of hiking and animals? A cold treat at a classic restaurant, of course! We stopped at The Drive In, a Taylor’s Falls staple that has been operating here since the 1950’s. I enjoyed a root beer float, possibly the first one I’ve had as an adult (not certain on that, but it’s been a long, long time) and cheese curds. The curds were alright but the root beer float was really what I came for. Their burgers and other food looked great too – a good place to hit for dinner on a summer night.
Scenic Boat Rides on the St. Croix
Another thing you can enjoy during a trip to Taylor’s Falls is a scenic boat ride on the river, on a classic old riverboat leaving from the edge of Interstate Park. We didn’t do this during our trip, but the boat was a unique focal point for photos and it was cool to see it cruise up and down the river. I’d definitely consider a trip if you were with kids or elderly people who are looking to enjoy the views without too much strain and stress from hiking and walking.
A trip to Taylor’s Falls and the nearby attractions is a fun way to spend a weekend day in the summertime. Don’t waste the good weather and your precious vacation days, get out and have an adventure in your own locale. I’m glad I’ve gotten to explore here twice this summer, and look forward to ticking more nearby destinations off my list as fall begins.
Have you been to Taylor’s Falls? Is there something I missed you’d recommend? Same goes for Lindstrom too – I’d love to go back there to try more food spots!