Buckle up the kids and set the GPS for Taylors Falls and the Drive-In. First-rate hand-formed burgers (including a bison version), crinkle fries, corn dogs and floats topped off with house-made root beer are just a few of the reasons why this fun and spotless blast from the past is almost as much a draw as the St. Croix River scenery. Look for the gigantic rotating root beer mug. Open 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sun.

The reason why leaf-watchers in the know prefer the Wisconsin side of the Lake Pepin drive? It's because they can make a pit stop at the Smiling Pelican Bakeshop, and indulge in baker/co-owner Sandra Thielman's remarkable and affordable assortment of sweets, breads, quiches and mile-high banana cream pies, sold whole or by the slice. Enjoy your goodies on the front porch, or in the flower-filled garden. Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fri. and Sat., 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sun. Cash only.

  • Smiling Pelican Bakeshop, W3556 Hwy. 35, Maiden Rock, Wis.
  • 1-715-448-3807

Sure, there's a fast route out of Duluth to the North Shore. But a slower, postcard-perfect road runs along the lake, and takes drivers past the New Scenic Cafe, where chef/owner Scott Graden's imaginative cooking takes its inspiration from local sources and seasonal flavors. Do not, under any circumstances, miss the pie. Lunch and dinner daily.