If you’re looking for an easy, quick weekend day trip from the Cities, consider taking a drive to New Prague.
This cozy, charming town is rooted in its Czech heritage (even if “Prague” here is pronounced “Praygue”), and it’s a thriving community with a robust independent retail scene. Many of the businesses are housed in grand old buildings, making wondering down New Prague’s main street enjoyable by itself. Add in a couple of places to get some authentic Czech dishes, and you’ve got a perfect day. (Note: many of the retailers are closed on Sundays, so if you’re thinking of doing a little shopping, better plan for Saturday instead.)
Antiquers and gift shoppers have some good options. Vintique has a wide-ranging variety of vintage jewelry, antiques and estate items, and numerous quirky gifts and decor pieces.
Mosaic on Main offers new gift, as well as bridal registry.
Or a visit to Merchants on Main will help you find that perfect gift.
Check out The Refinery (which also has locations in St. Peter and Waseca) for a great assortment of women’s clothing, accessories, and gifts.
It’s only open to the public from 9 a.m.-noon on Saturdays, but Farmhouse Market is well worth a visit. It’s a unique food store focused on local and organic foods, and has options from many of the farms surrounding New Prague. As to why its hours are limited, there’s an interesting answer: In order to keep overhead low, the owner keeps it open to the public just 9 hours per week, but those who purchase an annual membership get a key card to shop 24/7.
Speaking of food, there are a couple good options for trying your hand at traditional Czech treats, like the creamy vegetable soup known as vomacka or the pastries called kolacky.
Lau’s Czech Bakery has a number of authentic Czech offerings, along with more traditional cafe menu items.
Just on the edge of town is Ettlin’s Cafe, which has the aforementioned vomacka and kolachy, as well as a Czech breakfast (with specialty sausage from local purveyor Odenthal Meats), and a darned good rendition of Scotch eggs, among many other items.
If you’re in the mood for something else, you could always mosey on over to the Pioneer Saloon for some good bar food and beer.
Or for something simpler, Patty’s Place has lunch items, homebaked treats, and coffee drinks and ice cream.
New Prague even has its own winery on the main drag: Prairie Pond Winery, home of several local wines as well as a solid menu of food accompaniments. Note: The winery also has a lovely patio.
The majestic Saint Wenceslaus Church is worth a view, and for planning ahead, note that the church has a big annual festival, open to the public, coming up on Aug. 13. You can’t go wrong with festival food and a polka Mass.
What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.