Situated on the Sauk River Chain of Lakes, Cold Spring, Minn., is a charming town of about 4,025 founded by German immigrants in 1856. About an hour and a half northwest of the Twin Cities, the town is noted for its rich granite quarries and abundant natural springs. These two resources were the foundation for the town’s two largest industries: granite manufacturing and beer brewing.
The pure water from the region’s natural spring was used by the town’s first brewery, established in 1857. The Sauk River Valley provided the natural resource for the town’s first granite company, which was formed in 1920.
Centrally located in Minnesota’s Stearns County, Cold Spring is about 75 miles northwest of Minneapolis by way of Interstate 94 to Hwy. 23.
WHAT TO DO
From tranquil to trendy, this town offers much to do and see.
Zen: Start your visit with a moment of peace and tranquillity at Assumption Chapel. Perched on a picturesque hill on the town’s fringe, this tiny chapel is well-known to locals as Grasshopper Chapel. The original chapel was built in 1877 as a place of repentance for sins thought have brought on a plague, when millions of locusts devoured the crops in the Midwest. In the spring of 1877, as the plague worsened, Minnesota’s governor declared April 26 a day of prayer. Over several months, the area residents continued to pray, and vowed that if the area was rid of grasshoppers, they would build a chapel and offer prayers for the next 15 years. Legend has it that as soon as the chapel was built, the plague ended. The original chapel was destroyed by a tornado in 1894. It was rebuilt in 1952 using granite for its walls and floor. (Chapel Hill Road, Hwy. 23)
Brew: Founded in 1874, the Cold Spring Brewery was built on the original Red River Trail. The pure spring water along the trail was used by pioneers to replenish water supplies and later became a key ingredient in the brewing process. Today, the brewery has been transformed into the state-of-the-art Third Street Brewhouse, which produces specialty drinks and craft beers. The brewhouse offers guided tours followed by sampling of its IPAs and a variety of ales in the taproom. Tour hours change and space is limited, so reserve your spot by contacting the brewery. (219 Red River Av. N.; 1-320-685-3690; www.thirdstreetbrewhouse.com)
Shop: Trendsetters Boutique is where you’ll find the latest in handbags, jewelry, hats and gorgeous scarves. Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. (318 Main St.; 320-685-8689; www.trendsettersboutique.net)
Stop by Little Sister’s Antiques, Primitives and More for antique treasures, signs with quirky phrases sure to make you smile and homemade soaps. The shop is usually open the second Friday and Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and other times available by appointment. (318 1st St. S.; 1-320-241-5065)
Outdoors: The 684-acre Quarry Park and Nature Preserve’s winter offerings include a lighted cross-country ski trail and snowshoeing. In the spring, the preserve offers granite reflecting pools, scenic nature areas, mountain bike paths on ancient bedrock, rock climbing, trout fishing and more. The year-round park is open daily from 8 a.m. until about sunset. (1802 County Road 137, Waite Park; 1-320-255-6172; www.co.stearns.mn.us/Recreation/CountyParks/QuarryParkandNaturePreserve)
WHERE TO EAT
Italian and more: Marnanteli’s Pizza features a welcoming, down-home atmosphere with delicious saucy aromas. Enjoy their widely varied menu, including pizzas like bacon cheeseburger, meat lovers and spicy pizzas, Italian dishes such as lasagna and cheese calzones, as well as salads. The casual environment makes you feel right at home. (314 3rd St. S.; 320-685-3083; www.telispizza.com)
Sweet treats: In business for more than 50 years, the Cold Spring Bakery is a wonderful step back in time where you can partake in freshly baked goods. Don’t let the bakery’s unassuming exterior fool you. Step in and you’ll find cases of baked goods like apple fritter bread and raspberry pockets, a sitting area where you can sip a cup of Boyd’s coffee, and a warm, inviting atmosphere. Be sure to take a peek at the specialty case featuring cakes with edible images of Barbie, Mickey and other characters. (308 Main St.; 1-320-685-8681; www.coldspringbakery.com)
Cheese and wine: The Grande Depot is just minutes outside of Cold Spring and well worth the venture. The depot houses a gourmet food store, a wine shop and a coffee shop. Accentric offers apple jalapeño jelly, Maine blueberry honey, 18-year flavored balsamic chocolate olive oil and more along with other culinary and home interior items. The Cork & Cask within the depot offers daily wine samplings from some of its 400 wines from all over the world. The shop also offers more than 250 beer labels. The depot shops are open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (the Cork & Cask is closed Sundays). (8318 Hwy. 23 W.; 1-888-257-5510; www.thegrandedepot.com)
WHERE TO STAY
Bed & breakfast: Built in 1905, the Pillar Inn is an impeccably decorated Victorian-style bed and breakfast with a Victorian Suite, a Grand Suite with a two-person hot tub, and a Casablanca Suite. Breakfast is served with your stay and the hospitality room offers late-night popcorn snacks, fresh coffee and tea, and a fridge stocked with beverages. (419 Main St.; 1-320-685-3828; www.thepillarinn.com)
Themed rooms: The Riverside Inn boasts 22 themed rooms, including the Cold Spring room, the movie room, the railroad depot room and others. The hotel offers continental breakfast, an indoor heated pool, whirlpool and sauna. (118 3rd St. S.; 1-320-685-4539; www.riversideinnofcoldspring.com)
IF YOU GO
Contact the Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce for information about the area at 1-320-685-4186 or www.coldspringmn.com.
Christine Bernier Lienke is a professional writer and editor based in Northfield.