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Plan Your Adventure
Taylors Falls, Minnesota is an adorable, unique town with so much to do. Just one hour north of Minneapolis, you can hike a state park, visit a winery, walk through a sculpture park and so much more.
In the 1840s, lumbermen arrived at Taylors Falls from Maine kicking off the country’s timber boom. And, in the 1850s, Swedes settled here, creating the largest concentration of Swedes in the world, outside of Sweden. Get off the beaten path, and explore this unique river town. There is a lot to see and experience in Taylors Falls!
1. Hike the Interstate State Park
The Interstate State Park is huge and has a lot of different trails to choose from. I’ve been to Interstate State Park a few times and the St. Croix River that rips through the park is powerful and breathtaking in any season. You can park in a paid parking lot if you buy the day pass for $7 or the annual pass for $35. You can also park somewhere in town where there is plenty of free street parking and easily walk into the park.
Start with the glacial potholes at the park entrance. It may be one of the only places where potholes, formed 10,000 years ago by melting glaciers, are actually a tourist attraction. The St. Croix River carved its way through Taylors Falls, leaving behind hard volcanic rock. Today, these steep rock formations often attract rock climbers to rappel down.
Then, walk along the most popular trail, the River Trail. It’s narrow and densely surrounded by trees, with occasional openings that give way to incredible views of the St. Croix River.
From there, continue on to the Sandstone Bluffs Trail where you’ll find many stairs and steep inclines. Although this section of the park doesn’t have as many epic views, there are fewer crowds.
2. Drink Root Beer Floats at a Drive In
The Drive In has been around since 1956 and it remains a hugely popular hot spot in town. It’s only open seasonally during the warmer months. This place keeps the nostalgia going with 1950’s style carhops, employees wearing poodle skirts, and 1950s music.
The Duke Burger is the signature burger, and you’ll of course want to order a large mug of root beer or a root beer float. And after eating, you can play mini-golf behind the restaurant.
3. Grab Coffee at Coffee Talk
If you’re looking for a caffeine boost, stop by Coffee Talk, which is in the heart of town. This coffee shop is inside an old Victorian-style house with an incredible wrap-around porch. I appreciate the character of small coffee shops like this one over large chains.
Order your coffee or latte on the main level, then climb the narrow, creaking staircase and find a large seating area upstairs with worn hardwood floors. Or, take your coffee down the road to Interstate State Park and sip your brew while surrounded by nature.
Shop some of my favorite items
4. Pick up Sandwiches To-Go
One of the most popular places in town is Juneberry Cafe. Started in 2017 by a Minneapolis native named Kristen, Juneberry focuses on Minnesota’s strong farm-to-table culture. Go in the morning for coffee, bagels, scones, and juice. Or visit in the afternoon for hot-pressed sandwiches, salads, soups, or chips.
No matter the time of day, you’ll find local, sustainable foods with organic ingredients. It’s a convenient grab-and-go kind of place to pick up a snack for a picnic or to bring on your hike.
5. Enjoy Pizza and Ice Cream
Schoony’s Malt Shop & Pizzeria is a popular spot in town for hot pizza and giant ice cream cones. A quaint old-fashioned building with hardwood floors, stamped tin ceilings, and 25 cent candy and toy machines, Schoony’s will take you back in time.
There is plenty of seating inside, as well as a few tables and chairs outside. You won’t be able to find the menu anywhere online, but the portions are huge and prices are cheap. Look at that massive slice of sausage pizza I’m eating, and it was just $5!
6. Take a Boat Ride on the River
Want to get a view of the St. Croix River from a different perspective? Take a riverboat tour. The Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tour has been around since 1906. Guided tours run for either 45 or 80 minutes and a knowledgeable captain will share interesting facts about the St. Croix River and Taylors Falls with you along your journey. This is a slow and relaxing way to enjoy the views if hiking isn’t your thing.
7. Take Pictures at a Sculpture Park
The Franconia Sculpture Park is definitely worth a stop! This park has 43-acres and a rotating collection of more than 120 contemporary sculptures made by both emerging and established artists from around the world. And, it’s totally free and open to the public.
Spend time leisurely walking around the park and taking pictures. You can even walkthrough, and climb on some sculptures. And if you have kids with you, this is definitely a great place for them to explore and let out some energy.
8. Have a Picnic at Paradise Park
Stop at Paradise Park, which is a few minutes away from the Franconia Sculpture Park. There are picnic tables, a playground for children, and a nice sandy beach to dip your toes in.
This park is a shady and quiet spot away from the summer heat and crowds. Come here to relax, cool off in the shade, or dip your toes in the water. We brought our own sandwiches and snacks and had a picnic. It’s totally free and there is a large parking lot at the park entrance.
9. Pick Up Fresh Donuts and Bread
On your way back to the Twin Cities, stop into the Lindstrom Bakery. They’ve been around for nearly 50 years and first opened in 1973. They have freshly made donuts, bread, and cookies. Their top seller is a labor-intensive Swedish cinnamon toast-like biscuit. Of course, we had to try some of these treats! The cinnamon and glazed donuts were delicious, but the donut with chocolate icing was definitely my favorite.
10. Grab Fresh Steak and Burgers
Across the street from the Lindstrom Bakery is Deutschland Meats. This family-owned meat market has been around for over 15 years. They have a huge selection of award-winning German sausages, bratwurst, pork, and steak. Pick up a variety of items to grill for dinner, or grab the take-out lunch options. Also, notice the massive hotdog on the building’s roof. It’s hard to miss when you’re driving through town!
11. Sip Wine at a Winery
Winehaven is a great winery about 15-minutes from downtown Taylors Falls. Family-owned and operated since 1995, their vineyards consist of 15 acres of various winter-hardy grapes with vines that can sustain the brutal Minnesota winters. With nearly two dozen varieties of grape, honey, and fruit-based wine, and over 200 awards for winemaking, you’ll definitely be able to find something to enjoy.
They have a big, beautiful outdoor patio with views of a lake and the gently sloping hillside, where the grapevines grow. The exterior of the building has a Tuscany feeling and when the trees are blooming, this is a popular spot for weddings. I enjoyed sipping their chilled chardonnay wine. You can also order food items like pizza and charcuterie boards.
12. Relax at a Cabin in the Woods
If you’re looking for a cozy place to stay overnight in Taylors Falls, check out Wannigan Point Cabins. There are five adorable little cabins in a row on a secluded lot surrounded by trees.
Each cabin is a little different. The one we stayed in had a full kitchen with an oven, stove, microwave, and dishwasher. There were two queen-sized beds and a full bathroom. Each cabin also has a grill and chairs on an outdoor deck. You can also purchase firewood for $5 and make s’mores! It’s a really cozy, private place, just a mile or two outside of downtown Taylors Falls.
Taylors Falls is a Great Town
Taylors Falls is a wonderful place for a day trip or a full weekend getaway. I love its small-town feel and a wide variety of things to do and places to eat. It’s not a place that’s super well known but you won’t be upset you got off the beaten path and explored this town. Looking for more inspiration? Check out my post on Red Wing, Minnesota here.
Wannigan Point Cabin hosted our stay. All thoughts and opinions are my own.