Pepin offers a day’s worth of adventure — from four-star food and wine to quaint museums and art-inspired stores. Though it’s less than 70 miles from the cities, the Wisconsin village can seem a world away. Updated Sep. 19, 2014
An occasional series in which we visit small towns and interesting neighborhoods within an hour's drive of the Twin Cities.
A horse-drawn trolley takes visitors through the Landing, an 88-acre living history museum near the Minnesota River in Shakopee.
“Our challenge is to get people to think beyond Valleyfair and come down [Hwy.] 101 and into our community,” said Shakopee spokeswoman Shelly Loberg.
Here are many reasons to do just that.)
Open since 1972, SS Billiards in Hopkins is the place to go for pinball machines. Above from upper left: Cyclists passed under Hwy. 169 in Hopkins; Hopkins Tavern has more than 30 beers on tap; “Look Closer,” a bronze and glass art piece by Nick Legeros, watched passersby on Mainstreet.
Suburbs get snubbed a lot — Pleasantvilles with no culture, no history, no nightlife. Not true in Hopkins. If there is a recipe for what’s trendy in big-city neighborhoods, Hopkins already has all the ingredients. To wit: bike paths, ethnic eateries, live theater, indie shops, a walkable downtown. Oh, and a new taproom. “A lot of communities have tried to emulate this,” said Hillary Feder, owner of Hillary’s, a personalized gift store on Mainstreet. “This is the original.” Indeed, Hopkins — first incorporated as the village of West Minneapolis in 1893 — was a proper town long before it got swallowed up by the sprawl. So exit Hwy. 169 at Excelsior Boulevard and follow the signs to downtown. Or arrive by bicycle. Four regional trails lead to Hopkins, where the Raspberry Festival is the big annual event, but there’s so much more to do.
Savannah Weiden visits with customers at her aunt's restaurant, Shar'els Caf√© in Oakdale, July 18, 2014. (Courtney Perry/Special to the Star Tribune)
It would seem to be difficult for a town with a 44-foot-tall stucco snowman to fly under the radar. But somehow, North St. Paul does it. With few exits off Hwy. 36, it’s often referred to as “the town the freeway forgot.” More accurately, it’s the town that time forgot — an erstwhile planned community with an old-style main street, the state’s oldest continuously operated bar and more historical museums (two) than stoplights (one). History matters here. Every new commercial façade has to be deemed historically suitable by a city commission. The result, according to shop owner Del Howard: “We get a lot of customers who say, ‘What a cute little town!’ ” And certainly one worth visiting.
Jordan is a small city in Scott County.
Day trip to Jordan is first in an occasional series about fun, spur-of-the-moment day trips.