EXPLORE TAYLORS FALLS, MN & ST. CROIX FALLS, WI
Summer was made to enjoy the water, and in the Midwest, we know to take full advantage of it as soon as that thermometer inches up! For a canoe or kayak getaway that can be peaceful or exhilarating, whichever way your family leans, head to the St. Croix Valley and get a paddle in every hand!
Because the DNR strictly prohibits operating any watercraft while drowsy (you probably think I made that up, but do you really want to risk it?), you’d better start off with coffee. 3 Arrows Coffee Company in St Croix Falls offers a variety of gourmet brews to rival any big-city coffee shop, and Juneberry Café also boasts a creative breakfast and lunch menu that has great grab & go options, perfect for a sandbar picnic. You’re on vacation, after all. Savor it!
Plan 1: Easy Does It
For beginner kayakers looking for an easy, unintimidating paddle, or anyone who wants to have the flexibility of being done whenever you please, Deer Lake, or Lake of the Dalles in St. Croix Falls are both beautiful places to kayak, canoe or stand up paddleboard. The still, quiet waters are peaceful and relaxing, and you’re always just a short paddle from your vehicle. Organize races or scavenger hunts to keep the kids engaged or just enjoy the sun on your shoulders and the complete lack of a to-do list.
Even a tranquil glide around the lake will work up quite an appetite. To get a satisfying lunch in front of you before the kids can say “When is the food coming?” try Poco Loco. With its custom-assembled burritos, tacos, and other mouth-watering Mexican delights, this healthier approach to fast food will fill you up and get you back out into the sunshine in no time. Then it’s the perfect time to take in another of the area’s attractions, such as feeding the deer at Fawn-Doe-Rosa or stretching your legs and posing for pictures while hiking the beautiful trails along the St. Croix River.
Plan 2: Row, Row, Row Your Boat
If you need to rent your boats and want a laid-back introduction to the St. Croix River, try Eric’s Canoe and Kayak Rental’s “Local Paddle” option and meander around the river at your leisure. If this taste of water adventure leaves you hungry for more, talk to them about their day trips to take it to the next level! Or, if you’re ready for some time on terra firma (translation:dry land), head to Interstate Park WI and get a birds-eye view of our next paddling plan by hiking the Summit Rock – Echo Canyon trail sequence. You’ll climb to the highest point on the bluffs and see beautiful rock formations as well as amazing views of the river – don’t forget your camera!
Either way, at some point today you’re going to need ice cream. Schoony’s Malt Shop in Taylors Falls and Valley Sweets in St. Croix Falls do not disappoint! Their lively atmospheres and sensational variety of flavors will have you scheming to come back tomorrow and try something new!
Plan 3: Up a Creek (okay, it’s technically Down a River) With a Paddle
Get a rousing workout (and some pretty cool photos) when you take the scenic route from Interstate Park to the Osceola Landing. Reserve your canoe or kayaks online in advance at Taylors Falls Canoe & Kayak Rental. Start your excursion by swinging by the brand-new River Rock Patio, which has a fantastic view of the St. Croix River, and yummy eats and treats to fuel your adventure. Then, let your outfitter get you set up and on your way! Be sure to take in the amazing rocky cliffs on either side as you begin your voyage – bragging rights to the first to notice when the next set of bluffs comes into view!
Once the rocks fade away and you find yourself surrounded by peaceful woodlands, keep an eye out for eagles’ nests and watch for wildlife. When hunger hits, pull off onto a quiet sand bar to enjoy a snack and take a breather. Finish this 2-3-hour adventure by exiting at the Osceola Landing and catching the shuttle back to your vehicle. The Holiday Inn Express in St. Croix Falls is ready with hot showers and soft towels so you can freshen up for a well-earned dinner. Need a larger space for your family? Check out our AirBnb options, vacation homes, hotels, camping, cabins and other places to stay in the St. Croix Valley on our website. For a wide variety of delicious options in a family-friendly environment, try Village Pizzeria a few miles away in downtown Dresser. Or, for some of the best pizza in town, simply step out the door and enjoy Pizza Planet, just a few minutes’ walk away!
Plan 4: Float a Little Longer
7 miles not far enough? How about 17? Taylors Falls Canoe and Kayak Rental will shuttle you all the way back from William O’Brien State Park, a 5-7-hour journey recommended only for advanced paddlers. You will really feel at home on the St. Croix River after this trip!
You’ll need plenty of energy for this one. The Holiday Inn Express offers an excellent free hot breakfast, and the nearby Our Place Café is a fantastic alternative, especially on Sundays, when the breakfast buffet is open. Subway in St. Croix Falls opens early, so you can stash your favorite sandwiches in your travel cooler and be ready to refuel. And when you’ve conquered the river and are back on dry land, treat yourself to a hearty dinner the Dalles House Restaurant and Lounge, a classic Wisconsin supperclub located right in St. Croix Falls. Consider the beautiful (and newly expanded!) patio seating, and then go ahead and tell them how far you paddled today. You’re right; it is impressive!
While You’re Here…
You can’t take the river or the bluffs home with you, but you can score some fantastic souvenirs at any of our captivating local shops. Take a stroll down Washington Street in St. Croix Falls and don’t miss Sister’s She Shop, featuring apparel, accessories, crafts, and décor from 25 different vendors. There is definitely something for everyone! A few doors down you’ll hit 136 Vintage, where charming antiques and trendy modern wares coexist in perfect harmony. And for a shot of style, check out The Unique Boutique, where women’s fashion is updated seasonally so it’s always fresh and fabulous!
Across the river, Taylors Falls has its own gems to offer in the shopping department. Jewelry makers and wearers alike will go crazy in Taylors Falls Bead Store, with its unrivaled selection. How do you choose? Find unique and tasteful gifts (for your loved ones or yourself!) at With August – be sure to look up! Finally, River Alley Shoppes is one of those delightful stores with so many eclectic items you could circle it twice and still not have seen everything. It’s okay; go around once more. You know the guys secretly love waiting; the promise of a stop for burgers and milkshakes at the ever-classic Drive-In down the road is enough incentive.
A Few More Small-Town Charms
Here for the weekend? You’re in luck! Nothing says summertime quite like live music outdoors, and we believe in starting every weekend off right, all season long. “Music on the Overlook” has a different free concert every Friday night at 6:30. Bring your own chairs and snacks to the Severson Memorial Overlook in downtown St. Croix Falls and rock out with locals and tourists alike. Come back downtown Saturday morning at 10am for our Farmers Market at the library for fresh produce and a variety of local products. And check out our events page for other happenings you won’t want to miss!
Whatever way you get your family on the water and beyond in the St. Croix Valley this summer, we look forward to having you! Mix and match the above suggestions or explore on your own and fill us in on your best discoveries. Have a wonderful summer!
This article was written by Andrea Schmidt and edited and produced by Linda Shober Marketing + Design, a marketing firm located in the St. Croix Valley specializing in providing content, strategy, management, design, and creative for digital and traditional marketing projects.