Short Drive. More Fun.

20 Summer Fun Ideas



Regional travel is on the rise as many people take a closer look at all the amazing things to do within a short drive from home. The St. Croix Valley towns of Taylors Falls, MN and St. Croix Falls, WI are positioned on the border on MN and WI and are perfect for a regional, upper Midwest road trip. Get ready for an adventure!


Our area is open and ready to welcome our visitors back. Our area attractions and businesses take your safety seriously and have been working diligently to create safe spaces for our visitors. The time is right to create new chapters in our stories together and make amazing memories!


The St. Croix Valley area of St. Croix Falls, WI and Taylors Falls, MN has always been a place to “get-away” from it all and enjoy outdoor activities. And now, more than ever, we feel the pull to reawaken, reconnect, and rediscover the simple pleasures of summer vacation. It’s time to reclaim your moments.



Minneapolis – St. Paul Metro: 1 hour (52 miles)

Eau Claire, WI 1 hour (93 miles)

Rochester, MN 2 hours 124 miles

Duluth, MN: 2 hours (115 miles)

Chicago, IL: 6 hours (400 miles)

Milwaukee, WI: 5 hours (335 miles)

Madison, WI 4 hours (265 miles)

Green Bay: 4 hours (269 miles)

Des Moines, IA: 4.5 hours (294 miles)

Fargo, ND: 4 hours (273 miles)

Sioux Falls, SD: 5 hours (301 miles)

St. Cloud, MN 1.5 hours (81 miles)

Ironwood MI 3 hours (166 miles)


Short Drive = More time for FUN!

Winding farmland trails, many lakes, and cool bridges that cross back and forth from MN to WI over the wild and scenic St. Croix River are ready for you to take in from the seat of your car! If you’re starting to feel cooped up and need a change of scenery, why not try a scenic drive?  These drives were originally written up for our motorcycle enthusiast friends, they work just as well if you’re traveling by car. The views are pretty good from either!

Hiking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors; it requires little more than the ability to pinpoint a good trail, lace up some sturdy shoes and you are off on an adventure. From nature strolls meant to soak in the beauty and aroma of the outdoors, to a rugged, tree-root gnarled, hilly trail-run, you can be challenged in mind and body for one mile, 27 miles, or anywhere in between.

St. Croix Falls, known as the “City of Trails”, is also the western terminus for the Ice Age Trail, a 1,200 mile footpath that stretches all the way across the state of WI.

The St. Croix Valley area offers year-round riding adventure. We have thrilling mountain bike trails, scenic road routes, and miles of flat-surface trails. All of these routes include beginner to advanced options, and provide you with everything from a short family ride to an all-day adventure. 


Road Biking

Rail to Trail

MTB Biking


Fish the St. Croix River

The Upper St. Croix, just north of the St. Croix Falls dam, boasts a quiet and scenic wilderness presence and accommodates fishermen of all skill levels and preferences, from shoreline panfish and delicious trout to elusive muskie and battling bass. The smallmouth are especially active both north and south of the dam. Downstream of Taylors Falls, Minnesota, the river is home to many warmer water species: bass, walleyes, saugers, northern pike, muskellunge, catfish, suckers, sturgeon, carp, and pan fish.

Find Your Lake

Chisago County and Polk County combine to host over 400 lakes and streams.  The area is literally riddled with lakes and streams, all of which offer anglers a good shot at the freshwater fish they crave. Our area lakes typically keeps hooks busy with crappie, northern and bluegill, but may surprise you with walleye, largemouth bass or sunfish. If you’re looking for a bass lake, try Balsam Lake in WI. The largemouth are in abundance while northern and panfish are also common. If you’re willing to work for it, you may snag a walleye.

Three habitats converge along the St. Croix River: northern coniferous forest, eastern deciduous forest, and prairieland which makes it a unique spot for birdwatching. There are over 240 species of birds that live along the riverway, including uncommon and specialty species filling early morning paddles with the beautiful sound of birds.

Common birds found along the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway include:

  • Bald Eagles
  • Osprey
  • Common Mergansers
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Turkey Vultures


Paddle the St. Croix River

Grab your paddle and get ready for a canoe or kayak adventure on the St. Croix River! Near the twin towns of St. Croix Falls, WI and Taylors Falls, MN, you will see a gorge of basaltic rock that formed thousands of years ago and features vertical cliffs and spectacular potholes making the scenery a must see. Turn your paddle excursion into an extended stay with one of the many campsites nestled along the shores.


Paddle the Inland Lakes

Bring your kayak or canoe to one of our many area lakes to enjoy the beautiful scenery, get a fantastic workout, or find your calm as you glide through the water. Dip, Dip, and swing!

The recently developed Chisago Lakes Water Trail is an opportunity to explore 10 lakes with 100+ miles of shoreline and 5,000 acres of water, pristine shorelines, islands, and peninsulas.



Golf courses in Minnesota and Wisconsin are open and are enjoying a burst of popularity as people look for safe ways to get out and enjoy the fresh air.

There are many opportunities to “go green” in the St. Croix Valley with several golf courses dotting our landscape!


If mini golf is more your thing, try Adventure Falls in Taylors Falls, or the newly renovated Mt. Croix Kart & Putt in St. Croix Falls.

Disc Golf

The St. Croix Valley is right on top of this trend with our very own disc golf course in Reigel Park. The picturesque woods and meadow setting is a great place to get a game in!

Our hotels and campgrounds are open and ready for your extended stay. They are taking on all the protocols to keep you safe and creating a welcoming environment for your overnight stays. Some amenties might look a little different, so we encourage you to check with individual lodging facilities.


During this time of increased regional travel, we encourage you to extend your stay longer than you might have in the past and explore our area a little deeper. Let us be your home base for a weekend or week so you can get out and explore the St. Croix River Valley and create those lasting memories that spark joy when recalling fond vacation times.

Rev up the fun with a vacation filled with off-road powersports.

Polk County – WI is home to over 31 miles of maintained ATV/UTV trails. To ride on the county trails your ATV/UTV/Off-Road Motorcycle must be registered and licensed. Please educate yourself on trail regulations.

There are three trails open for summer use: Cattail State Trail, Sterling Trail & the Sawmill County Trail.

Most horse riders agree that the biggest reason why they love riding is the sense of freedom you get atop a horse. It is excitement, adventure and relaxation all rolled into one singular feeling. Horses have a way of making us forget all the worries of our daily lives while simultaneously reminding us to stay in the present as we work in harmony with the powerful animal.

Wild River State Park offers over 18 miles of summer trails to ride with your equine companion as well as an equestrian campground for overnight adventures.


Summer Sounds Good. The return of live music is here!


MOTO Returns!

The very popular series “Music on the Overlook” will return starting Friday, July 17th and run through August. This free concert series is held in downtown St. Croix Falls at the Severson Memorial Overlook on Friday evenings and will include live music across a variety of genres from bluegrass, to rock, and country.

Keep checking out our event calendar for the latest updates and full lineup!



Trollhaugen Aerial Adventure Park and Zip Lines

The Aerial Challenge Course and Zip Line Tour at the Trollhaugen Adventure Park in Dresser, Wisconsin, are open Memorial Day weekend through early fall!

The ziplines will have you soaring through the air at speeds up to 35 MPH for 3000 ft and the Aerial Adventure Park provides the thrill of playing on a giant, floating playground. (Think Ewok Village meets Ninja Warrior). It’s like climbing trees, hanging from tires, and swinging on ropes just like when you were a kid, on a far bigger scale and creative environment, with the backup support of world-class safety equipment. And they haven’t forgotten about your littles. The Kids Course is a safe but exhilarating activity for adventure seekers ages three to six. Reservations are required.

Wild Mountain Waterpark

The waterpark at Wild Mountain is the perfect way to cool off on a hot, steamy summer day! Wild Mountain is packed with outdoor family fun! The waterslides, lazy river, and kiddie adventure area will keep your crew busy all day. Visit their website before you arrive for hours of operation and seasonal updates.

We all scream for…

After a day of adventure, you will want to find yourself an ice cream treat! There is no shortage of options!

Try these:

Valley Sweets: St. Croix Falls, WI

The Drive-In: Taylors Falls, MN

Juneberry Cafe: Taylors Falls, MN

River Rock Patio at Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours: Taylors Falls, MN

Schoony’s Malt Shop and Pizzeria: Taylors Falls, MN

The Looking Glass: Osceola, WI

Dairy Queen: St. Croix Falls, WI & Osceola, WI

Gustaf’s On Main Eatery: Lindstrom, MN

Take a trip down the St. Croix River in good, old-fashioned style, with a guided paddleboat tour with Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours. Learn about the St. Croix River and the history of the area, all while enjoying the open air or weather-protected space of the Taylors Falls Princess or Queen. Several tours are available, including 45-minute, 80-minute, and Sundown and Twilight Cruises.

The outdoor patio scene is looking pretty sweet in the St. Croix Valley, but indoor options are also plentiful! Our innovative restauranteurs have taken the opportunity during the pandemic to up their game on take-out, delivery, and online orders. It’s never been easier to order food to go, whether you’re taking it on a picnic or back to your hotel room.

Alpine Slides at Wild Mountain

Want to see some of the best views of the entire St. Croix Valley? Take a chairlift ride to the top of the ski hill at Wild Mountain and see views of the Valley for miles!

And getting down? It’s your choice! Take the chairlift back down or opt for some extra adventure and take the alpine slide down the hillside!

Farmers Markets

Summer’s bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables is a treat and the best place to get your fix is at a Farmer’s Market or straight from the farm. The St. Croix Falls Farmers Market is held on  Saturdays, May-October from 10 am to 1 pm on the Library Plaza. Each week, our local Farmer’s Market features seasonal fresh produce and goods from area farmers and vendors.

Find your farm here.

Fawn Doe Rosa

Step into nature at FAWN-DOE-ROSA. Along the wooded path you will meet deer, elk,  geese, wolves, a mountain lion… along with other animals of the forest. Nature has so much to offer – one will never know what they may discover and learn in the FAWN-DOE-ROSA deer yard.

You will also find a petting area, pony rides, and a farmyard!

FreeFall XP

Thrill seekers, you will “jump for joy” over this Wild Mountain attraction! The FreefallXP (experience) involves a 2 story tower with 2 platforms, one at 18′ and one at 27′. Everyone is required to start with the lower platform. Once you demonstrate that you can jump safely (landing on your rear end or back) you will be allowed to go to the top platform. So, for your first ticket, you can get up to 2 jumps!

Go Carts

This is racing fun for everyone! Try out your driving skills at either Wild Mountain Recreation Area, or Mt. Croix Kart & Putt.

The shops the dot our towns and villages are open and ready to welcome you to shop! Pottery, gifts, Swedish wares, antiques, boutique clothing, and more are waiting for you in the St. Croix Valley.


We anticipate that regional travel is here to stay for a while so don’t worry if you can’t pack all the fun in on one trip.

Remember, a short drive means more time for fun!



We’re open in all seasons. Our fall scenery is legendary, and winter is a snow-lovers paradise. Bookmark our EVENT CALENDAR or our LIVE MUSIC LINKS to stay up to date with area fun!


Travel Resources

Explore Minnesota Travel Guidance

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

This article was written by Linda Shober 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.