While Chanhassen, Minnesota, offers plenty of things to see and do, sometimes you just want to get away and explore someplace new. The next time you get the urge to take an exciting day trip from Chanhassen, make plans to check out a few of these top locations that are just a short drive away.
Red Wing, Minnesota
“World’s Largest Boost” licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by Michel Curi
If you travel just over an hour east of Chanhassen, you’ll discover the charming town of Red Wing. Although the town is best known as the home of Red Wing Shoes, it also offers a variety of activities that will keep you busy during your visit.
If you want to learn more about the iconic shoe company that got its start in the town, stop by the Red Wing Shoe Store & Museum. Once you finish your tour at the free museum, head into the retail store to pick out your own pair of Red Wing Shoes. Don’t forget to snap a selfie in front of the World’s Largest Boot as well!
If you’re interested in outdoor activities, you’ll want to head straight to He Mni Can-Barn Bluff. Climb to the top of this prominent bluff to get the best view of the town and the Mississippi River. If you’re visiting during the summer months, be sure to take part in one of the guided hikes offered by park naturalists so you can learn more about this unique natural feature.
Located a mere 50 minutes northeast of Chanhassen on the lower St. Croix River, Stillwater is an old logging town that’s the perfect destination when you’re pressed for time but still want to squeeze a quick getaway into your schedule. The town has won plenty of accolades, such as Best U.S. Towns for Antiquing, America’s Most Picturesque Small Towns, Best Minnesota Weekend Getaway, and Best American Towns for Fall Colors.
If you’re visiting with children, the adorable Teddy Bear Park with its play equipment, climbing areas, gazebos, and picnic areas is always a favorite place to go. For a unique way to see the town, book a ride with Gondola Romantica. You’ll enjoy a relaxing ride on a gondola as your gondolier regales you with stories about the fascinating history of Stillwater. The company offers a variety of cruise options and prices start at $100.
If you’re a literary buff, the 1.5-hour drive southeast of Chanhassen to Pepin, Wisconsin, is certainly worth the trip. This quaint town on the banks of the Mississippi River is best known as the birthplace of “Little House on the Prairie” author Laura Ingalls Wilder. Stop by the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum to learn more about her early life and see a reproduction of the cabin from “Little House in the Big Woods.” Admission to the museum is $2 for children and $5 for adults.
Of course, learning more about Laura Ingalls Wilder isn’t the only thing you can do in Pepin. Stop by the Villa Bellezza Winery to experience great wines and delicious food surrounded by some of the most picturesque landscape in the area. Or, for another unique experience, head to Pepin Sailing School and Charters at the Pepin Marina to try your hand at sailing lessons or enjoy a sailboat ride on Lake Pepin.
Just like the more well-known Texan city, Austin, Minnesota, is a quirky place that has all types of unusual attractions to explore. The town is located approximately one hour and 45 minutes south of Chanhassen and is the headquarters for Hormel Foods. It’s also where you can find the SPAM Museum. You can take a tour at this admission-free museum to learn more about SPAM’s history and how it’s used around the world.
When you’re done at the SPAM Museum, your tour of uncommon attractions can continue when you head to the Mower County Fairgrounds for a picture with Buffy the Cow. This 15-foot-tall fiberglass dairy cow has been an Austin roadside attraction for more than 40 years.
Of course, Austin has more to offer than just eccentric attractions. The Elam House is a genuine Frank Lloyd Wright creation and available for overnight stays. If you want to spend some time exploring the great outdoors, the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center has over 10 miles of hiking trails that are open year-round. The nature center also rents canoes and kayaks during the summer months and cross-country skis and snowshoes in the winter.
Taylor Falls, Minnesota
Taylor Falls is located right on the shores of the St. Croix River about an hour and 15 minutes northeast of Chanhassen. It’s a great spot for outdoor activities in both summer and winter. On the Wisconsin side of the river, head to Interstate State Park to enjoy hiking, paddling, picnicking, rock climbing, fishing, and swimming. This park is also home to the western terminus of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Daily vehicle admission to the park ranges from $3 to $11.
On the Minnesota side, you can have a good time at Wild Mountain. This sprawling resort offers skiing, snowboarding, and tubing in the winter, as well as a water park, alpine slides, and go-karts in the summer. Even though Taylor Falls has plenty of outdoor attractions worth exploring, it’s also an exceptional place to visit if you just want to kick back and relax.
You can stop by Wild Mountain Winery to savor a wood-fired pizza and a glass of wine while you take in the picturesque views from the patio. Or, if you prefer beer, you can see what’s on tap at Trap Rock Brewing Co. across the river in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin.
At Crème de la Crème of Chanhassen, we love heading out and exploring the unique towns and cities in our area. When we’re planning a day trip from Chanhassen, these are some of the top places we love to go. Where is your favorite day trip destination in the area? Please contact us and let us know so we can add it to our list!