Hastings is a True Gem
Hastings is a great town located just 25 minutes south of St. Paul. As you enter Hastings from the north side, you’ll drive across a bridge. The original bridge was a one-of-a-kind spiral design intended for wagons. It was completed in 1895, then demolished and rebuilt in 1951, which is what we see today. This town has so much history, a large riverfront park, and a bustling downtown with a brewery and a handful of shops and restaurants. I believe it’s a completely underrated and often forgotten destination that is slowly becoming more popular. Read on for the best things to do in Hastings, Minnesota!
1. Take a Hike at Vermillion Falls
This hiking spot is a great way to kickoff your visit to Hastings. Park in the free parking lot and walk just a few steps to Vermillion Falls. Keep walking further along the path, which runs alongside the Vermillion River, and you’ll come across a walking bridge. The Vermillion Gorge Bridge is covered in locks with names and initials scribbled on them. Be sure to bring a lock so you can add to the collection.
The trails here split and wind and are generally unmarked. But if you follow the crowd for about five minutes past the bridge, you’ll come across the remains of a building covered in graffiti. The ruins are the remains of a flour mill that burned down in 1894. It is so artistically beautiful and unexpected.
2. Enjoy Levee Park
Located behind the historic downtown district on 2nd Street is Levee Park. Take a stroll along the paved walkway alongside the Mississippi River, marvel at the bridge or bring a blanket and snacks to set up a picnic in the large grassy area.
3. Shop for Antiques or in Boutiques
Downtown Hastings has a handful of great boutiques and antique stores. You can find the full list here. Some of my favorites are:
- Gifts Galore, for clothing, toys, wine glasses, and more
- Lah-Tee-Dah, for clothing, jewelry and purses
- Quaint & Quirky, for unique gifts and decor
- Vintage Inspirations, for antiques, repurposed furniture, and home decor
4. Take a Historic Walking Tour
Hastings was founded in 1857 and has worked hard to preserve its history. Take a self-guided walking tour past City Hall, beautiful buildings with Victorian architecture, a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and much more. Find a detailed map here.
5. Visit Froth & Cork
Froth & Cork first opened in 2020, just two days before having to close because of the COVID pandemic. Now, they are a popular spot with beautiful chairs, couches, and chandeliers inside. Outside, you’ll find their patio decorated with string lights and a great view of City Hall. Come in the morning for coffee, scones, or a bagel. Or visit in the afternoon for wine and sandwiches. I had the house Pinot Grigio and thought it was excellent, and it was just $5!
6. Grab a Milkshake
The Hastings Dairy Store was founded in 1913 as a butter manufacturer and then began bottling milk in 1920. With a variety of milkshake flavors for just $1.25, this is a great place to stop for a cheap, sweet treat. You’ll also find other dairy products for sale inside the store, like milk and cheese.
7. Visit Spiral Brewery
Stop by Spiral Brewery for a cold, refreshing brew. In warm weather, they have a huge patio blocked off in the street decorated with beautiful flowers and umbrellas. Upstairs you’ll find a small rooftop patio facing the bridge. You can also sit inside the spacious indoor seating area. Grab a pint or a flight to try a few beers. We really enjoyed the Townie, a Kolsch style ale, and the Foxtoberfest, an Oktoberfest lager. If you prefer wine, you can take a short 5-mile drive to the Alexis Bailly Winery down the road.
8. Grab a Bite to Eat in Town
There are a ton of restaurants in downtown Hastings with a great variety of options. Some popular ones include:
- 2nd Street Depot Bar and Grill, for classic pub options
- The Busted Nut Bar and Grill, self-described “chill hang out” with craft beer and burgers
- Emily’s Bakery, for bread, pies, cakes, and donuts
- The Fireside Social House, for comfort food
- Lock and Dam Eatery, for burgers, salads, and wraps
- Las Margaritas, for Mexican fare
- The Onion Grille, for burgers, salads, and large sandwiches
- Spiral Pizza, for pizza, BBQ ribs, and more
9. Visit an Apple Orchard
Depending on the season, another great thing to do in Hastings is to visit the Afton Apple Orchard. Located about ten minutes north of downtown Hastings, you’ll find beautiful sunflower fields, a large playground, and farm animals to the pet for the children. Depending on when you go, you may also get to pick a wide variety of apples, raspberries, cherries, and blueberries. There is also a gift shop and restaurant on-site for brats, nachos and apple cider donuts.
It’s a Great Town During Any Season
Hastings is a super cute river town with a lot to offer. It’s a fun spot, especially during the warmer months. It reminds me of Stillwater, Northfield and Red Wing. I just love the quaint river towns. I hope this inspires you to plan a fun day trip to Hastings!
Looking for more ideas? Check out my post on Red Wing, Minnesota here!