Concierge-Get Out of the Office!-June 2011
Taylors Falls and St. Croix Falls
An easy hour’s drive from downtown Minneapolis, Taylors Falls is the first stop on any tour of the St. Croix River valley. Stop by Coffee Talk (taylorsfalls.com/coffeetalk) for a restorative cup of java and one of their legendary morning buns. If you and your clients are golfers, carry on across the river to the St. Croix National Golf Course. For connoisseurs of both golf and wildlife, the challenging and picturesque nine-hole, regulation-length course is a fine way to spend part of a day. Feeling adventurous? Take a hike through Interstate State Park (dnr.state.mn.us) and stop at the Glacial Gardens. Reward yourselves with a glass of Thoroughbred Red at Chateau St. Croix Winery (chateaustcroix.com), less than 15 minutes from Taylors Falls, and bring back a case of Cheesehead White for the Packer fans in the office.
Situated in a valley on the Minnesota side of the Mississippi, just over an hour southeast of the Twin Cities, Red Wing is arguably Minnesota’s prettiest river city. In 2008, it was added to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s distinctive destinations list for its “impressive architectural history and enviable natural environment.” Stop for a cup of coffee at the Best of Times Bookstore (bestoftimesbookstore.com) before picking up a pair of iconic Red Wing boots (redwing.redwingshoestore.com). At the historic St. James Hotel (st-james-hotel.com), lunch is served on the outdoor patio with sweeping views of the river. On your way home, drive up to the top of Sorin Bluff, more than 1,000 feet above sea level, and take in the views from Soldiers’ Memorial Park.
If your client is a gourmand, plan this outing (the longest driving trip on our list) for a Monday, Thursday, or Friday, when your ultimate destination—the Harbor View CafÃ© (harborviewpepin.com) in Pepin, Wisconsin—is open for lunch. Take the Great River Road south along the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River and drive through Maiden Rock to Stockholm, Wisconsin, where you’ll find shops, galleries, Swedish doughnuts, homemade pies, and other local goodies. Back in the car, continue south to Pepin and the Harbor View. Then journey a bit further south and take the bridge across the river to Wabasha, Minnesota, home of the $4 million National Eagle Center (nationaleaglecenter.org). Journey north to Lake City, where you can enjoy an excellent dinner at the Nosh Restaurant and Bar (noshrestaurant.com) while taking in one of the most beautiful sailing areas in the Upper Midwest.
For a taste of the good life, Lake Minnetonka style, take Interstate 394 west to Wayzata. Stop for coffee at Starbucks on Lake Street and eavesdrop on local deal brokers and gossip makers. Head west until Lake Street ends and pick up Ferndale Road, which is quite possibly the most exquisite stretch of real estate in Minnesota. Turn onto County Road 15 and head west, past the Lafayette Club to County Road 19, and wind around the lake until you reach Excelsior. Park your car on Water Street, walk down to the water and admire the boats. When you’ve had your fill of fresh air, kick back with a pint of Guinness at Jake O’Connor’s (jakeoconnors.com) or a platter of walleye and fries at Maynard’s (maynardsonline.com). Be sure to save room for a scoop of Adele’s famous homemade custard (adelescustard.com).