12 Great Neighborhoods
An insider's guide to the Twin Cities nodes you need to know
(page 5 of 9)
5. MARINE ON ST. CROIX
THE SECRET GOOD LIFE
• Character: Marine is less a place than an idea. Physically, the town is little more than a crossroads, a wide spot in two-lane Highway 95 as it traverses the bluffs between Stillwater and Taylors Falls. But conceptually, Marine occupies an enormous space in the psyche of everyone who’s ever wanted to chuck it all and live amid rural beauty. Go ahead and visit. But be advised that you may never leave, forsaking city gridlock for the idyll life.
• Food: Like someplace out of northern California, Marine isn’t fancy, but the food—like the living—is good. Take the wood-fired pizza at Olives: delish, served on paper plates. And while the tablecloths aren’t white at the remodeled Brookside Bar & Grill (or even existent), the new menu is compelling, featuring a meatloaf that locals love and one of the gooiest cheesesteaks in Minnesota. Breakfast is served seasonally at the Marine Landing, right on the river. L’Etoile du Nord, a café hung with vintage bicycle gear, is where the locals get their coffee and croissants.
• shopping: Let’s be blunt: if you can’t find what you’re looking for amid the narrow aisles of the Marine General Store , do you really need it?
• Culture: Marine gets a jump on Independence Day, celebrating on July 3 with ridiculously charming festivities: fire trucks, flags, kids, and all the candy they need to pursue happiness. The second weekend in October is the St. Croix Chocolate Company’s Carmelpalooza: tastings of 15 kinds of gourmet caramel. Free. That’s our kind of town.
• Green space: William O’Brien State park has camping, fishing, hiking, geocaching, bluebird watching—all just a short paddle up the St. Croix from Marine (or an even shorter drive on Highway 95). The area is also a popular landing spot for day-trippers who’ve rented canoes upriver in Taylors Falls.
WHY I LOVE THIS PLACE
Robyn Dochterman, owner of the st. croix chocolate company
I used to live in Minneapolis, but I grew up in Iowa. So I love that Marine is close enough to the Cities that you can get anything you want, but it’s got a small-town vibe. The other day I had to pick up something at the post office—a big heavy box—and even though my business is just two blocks away, I couldn’t carry it. I was going to get my car when a total stranger said, “I’ve got my pickup outside. We’ll just put the tailgate down, and I’ll drive you and your package back to your shop.” So I did. I didn’t know who he was, but I didn’t think twice about it! People are a little unsure about whether they want to share the secret that is Marine. You know when you know about something really good? It’s so good, you can hardly stand not to share it? That’s Marine! On the other hand, you don’t want everybody in the world showing up and ruining the specialness of it.