5 great day trips not far from the Twin Cities

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day trips from twin cities
Flickr / Marc Smith

Not everyone has the time or the budget to take long vacations out of state, let alone out of the country. Sometimes after a tough week of work though, you just need to get away.

We’ve found a few options for you to get out of the Cities for the day and back in time to sleep in your own bed that will still provide some great entertainment. Here’s some of our top picks:

Stillwater, MN

Just 35-40 minutes eats of the Twin Cities is the beautiful city of Stillwater. You can spend a day here and find plenty to do and see. Downtown Stillwater boasts a wide variety of local boutique shops and restaurants. And if you’re not looking to pull your wallet out all day, there’s plenty of hiking to be done along the shore of the St Croix River with incredible scenery to view.

Taylors Falls, MN

About 45 minutes northeast of St Paul lies the town of Taylors Falls. You’ll find incredible hiking amongst the glacier carved rocky trails within Interstate State Park which lies right on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin

Interstate State Park is home to the well known Pothole Trail, which marks the beginning of the Ice Age Scenic Trail that goes for over 1,000 miles. Pothole Trail, only about a half mile long, provides some incredible views of the valley from above on the rocky cliffs.

And if you’re not into hiking, you can relax on a¬†paddlewheeler that leaves from the edge of the park on the St Croix for a trip past the well known Dalles of the St Croix.

Red Wing, MN

Take the trip southeast of the Cities about 45 minutes and you’ll find the picturesque city of Red Wing sitting right along the Mississippi River. Hike to the top of Barn Bluff between Red Wing and the river to get scenic views of boat traffic on the river below from Yachts to Paddlewheelers.

The small downtown of Red Wing is known for its pottery and stoneware. Explore the local shops during the day. Head over to Bay Point Park for a picnic at lunchtime to enjoy the beautiful river views as well.

Northfield, MN

A little under an hour south of the cities lies the college town of Northfield. It is home to St. Olaf College and the prestigious Carleton College on opposite sides of town.

Northfield is best known for its history of sending Jesse James and his gang packing in 1876 when they tried to rob First National Bank. Experience Jesse James days every Labor Day weekend for a fun filled festival and reenactment of his defeat.

Browse the local shops on Division street, take a walk in Carleton’s arboretum along the Cannon River and more. There’s plenty to see and do in this little town to make your day trip worthwhile.

New Ulm, MN

More of a hike than the previous cities we mentioned, New Ulm is about an hour and 45 minute south of the cities. However, the small German town does not disappoint if you want to get up early and make the trip down.

Most widely known to be the home of the famous Schell’s Brewery, the oldest brewery in Minnesota. You can take a tour of the rolling grounds and enjoy some great tasting beer all in one swoop.

Take a walk into town to experience German stores like Domiers which has aisles packed with German goods. Stop in at the local pubs and restaurants as well to make for an event filled day! And don’t forget all of the festivals like Oktoberfest and Bavarian Blast that go on annually if you’re looking for sometime a little more festive.