It’s easy to see why we think the St. Croix Valley is best. There are so many places to shop, dine and recreate that you never need to travel far to enjoy a great day any time of year. Add these St. Croix Valley “bucket list” locations to your list of best places to check out this summer.
I Scream, You Scream.
At the famed Nelson’s Ice Cream in Stillwater, finishing your mile-high ice cream cone is a rare feat. Despite the challenge—or perhaps, because of it—folks line up out the door to give it a try every day of Nelson’s Ice Cream’s open season.
920 Olive St. W., Stillwater
A River Runs Through It
A great way to experience the majestic beauty of the St. Croix River is to hike its bluffs and/or paddle its flow. In Taylors Falls and neighboring St. Croix Falls, you can do both. Take a trek at Interstate Park, which straddles both sides of the river. Explore glacial potholes, bone-up on your birding, photograph wildflowers and those scenic river views or even try a bit of rock climbing.
Canoe and kayak rentals can be found in Minnesota and Wisconsin so that everyday explorers can enjoy an excursion on the river without ever traveling too far from home. Be sure to bring your camera because even though Interstate Park isn’t far away, it’s as picturesque as most any other trip you’ll take.
If you’re looking for an easy entry into St. Croix Valley’s rich art scene, you’re going to want to check out the Franconia Sculpture Park in Shafer, Minn. Free and open to the public from dawn until dusk every day of the year, this local landmark has lots of interesting artwork to explore including a replica of the Lorraine Motel sign in Memphis, Tenn., (where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated). St. Paul artist Chris Larson uses it to further the discussion of race, inequality and violence in the United States. Regular events include hot metal pours, artist talks and musical performances.
29836 St. Croix Trail, Shafer, Minn.
Pack a picnic for a day trip or bring a tent for the weekend and prepare to cool off in the beautiful falls of Willow River State Park in Wisconsin. Just a few miles from downtown Hudson, this spectacular summer spot is a perfect get-away from all of the daily hustle and bustle. It’s scenic as well as fun for the whole family.
1034 County Highway A, Hudson, Wis.