Escape the City

Part I: Three Unforgettable Day Trips Under 90 Miles from the Twin Cities

Whether you hope to escape the monotony of everyday life or explore a new destination with family and friends, you don’t need to go far. Minnesota and Wisconsin are full of beautiful scenery and entertainment. To help you discover some of these hidden gems, we have compiled a series of day trips—all within an hour and a half of the Twin Cities.

Northfield, MN
Historic downtown Northfield, Minnesota

Courtesy of Northfield Convention and Visitors Bureau

Stroll through Northfield

Northfield is about 45 miles south of the Twin Cities and is known for its historic, walkable streets. Start your Northfield adventure by exploring its historic downtown. Grab a latte and your baked goods of choice at Goodbye Blue Monday Coffeehouse, and peruse the shopping options on Division Street. Content Bookstore and Vintage Etc. are excellent places to start. Walk along the banks of the Cannon River with its scenic riverwalk, and if you happen to be visiting on a Tuesday, Friday, or Saturday, stop by the riverside farmers market. You can’t miss Red Barn Farm for dinner, serving pizza on a 10-acre farm that’s yours for exploring. On your way out of the historic small town, try stopping at Little Prairie Sunflower Maze in Dundas to witness a blooming sunflower field, where peak season is late July to early August.

Take a Hike in Scenic Osceola

Just over the border in Wisconsin, Osceola is just under an hour from the Twin Cities. Osceola offers a similar small-town feel, ample nature, and scenic trails for exploring. On the Falls Bluff Loop, you will find incredible views of the St. Croix River and Cascade Falls. Nearby is the Wisconsin Interstate Park, which also offers various hiking trails and views of the St. Croix River. To see some scenery from a new perspective, try zip lining at Trollhaugen Outdoor Recreation Area. Activities and obstacle courses are available for adults and children. When you have worked up an appetite, check out Watershed Café, a farm-to-table restaurant with locally sourced ingredients. If you get a seat outside, you will have breathtaking views overlooking Geiger Falls.

Falls Bluff Loop Trail
Falls Bluff Loop Trail near Osceola, Wisconsin

Courtesy of Travel Wisconsin

Step Back in Time in Hastings

Hastings is a small, storied town along the Mississippi River, about 30 miles outside the Twin Cities. To tour the charming historic downtown, start by sampling a coffee flight from Forth & Cork, a coffee shop located inside of a renovated 1876 landmark home. To see one of the last remaining examples of Gothic Revival architecture, tour the LeDuc Historic Estate. Guests learn about William LeDuc, Civil War hero and U.S. Commissioner of Agriculture under President Hayes, and his family’s prominence during Minnesota’s early history. Walk into the town’s center and visit the Vermillion Falls, a waterfall stretching 35 feet high. If you continue walking downstream, you’ll see ruins of the 1850s Ramsey Mill. Before you leave town, try one of Schoolhouse Scoop’s 32 ice cream flavors.

LeDuc Historic Estate
LeDuc Historic Estate in Hastings, Minnesota

Courtesy of Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau

You don’t need to pack a suitcase or board a plane to go on vacationcountless getaway adventures lie a short drive away from the Twin Cities!

Julia Jacobson is a rising senior at the University of Notre Dame, studying political science and journalism. Outside of her coursework, she participates in her school’s mock trial team and works as a teaching assistant for an introductory political science course. Julia was born and raised in Minnesota, and loves traveling both domestically and internationally. In her free time, she enjoys reading and journaling.