Driving approximately 60 miles from Minneapolis to Taylors Falls, Minn. takes you on a journey from urban landscapes to kitsch Americana. As you travel through small towns advertising Friday night fish fry specials, the anticipation about what to do first in Taylors Falls takes over. Head to Interstate State Park? Refuel on pizza downtown? Rent a canoe and explore the St. Croix? The good news is there is no bad first choice. Taylors Falls offers numerous opportunities for any family. Here are just a few of the highlights to enjoy:
Franconia Sculpture Park
29836 St.Croix Trail, Franconia, Minn.
Hours: Dawn to dusk
Free, but donations appreciated.
Celebrating its 15th year, the Franconia Sculpture Park is three miles west of Taylors Falls at the intersection of Hwy. 8 and Hwy. 95. Pulling into the parking lot you suddenly sense you’ve stumbled onto the land of Misfit Toys. Strewn about the lawn, the sculptures range from slightly unusual to imaginative oddities. There are mowed paths to each piece, and a gravel path winding throughout the property. From April to December visitors are welcome to talk with the artists in residence about their art. There are artist led tours each Sunday at 2:00 p.m. from May to October. A 3-D concert series is held through the summer and on limited weekends during the fall, including Aug. 27, Sept. 10 and Oct. 8. Family-friendly music is a great backdrop for a picnic in the park, and tours are given during band breaks. On Sat., Sept. 24 between 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., the annual Art & Artist Celebration will mark the installation of new sculpture in the park. Spend the day with the artists and enjoy tours, live music, poetry, children’s activities and food.
Interstate State Park
307 Milltown Rd., Taylors Falls, Minn.
Hours: Dawn to dusk, with office open 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. spring and summer.
$5 per day or $25 for 12-month state park pass
One of the great natural state parks in Minnesota and Wisconsin, Interstate State Park has spectacular views, trails, rock climbing and glacial potholes. There are at least 10 different lava flows from earthquakes estimated to have erupted 1.1 billion years ago in Taylors Falls. The park is on both the Minnesota and Wisconsin sides, divided by the limestone rocks surrounding the St. Croix River. The Minnesota park was established in 1895 and the Wisconsin park in 1900, making this is the first “interstate” park in the nation.
The park hosts weekly events, 37 camp sites, 22 electrical sites, RV parking and four group camp sites for parties up to 25 people. There is also cabin rental nearby. Standard campsites range from $12-$20 per night. The park has five miles of hiking trails and three miles of self-guided trails with varying levels of difficulty. In addition to picnic areas, the park has a volleyball area and offers rock climbing with a permit. Rock climbing permits are obtained in the park office year-around at no charge. From Memorial Day to mid-October permits are also avail able in the Visitors Center.
Before you go, download a glacial pothole walking tour in .mp4 format to a music or video player, like a smartphone, for an educational aid while you walk.
Taylors Falls Canoe and Kayak
408 Milltown Road, Taylors Falls, Minn.
Hours: Memorial Day to Labor Day – 8:00 a.m. Mon.-Fri. And 8:30 a.m. weekends. After Labor Day, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Mon.-Fri. And 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. weekends.
$43.04 plus tax for day rental, additional fees may apply.
A great way to see the scenic St. Croix River and the wildlife that make the river their home, canoe or kayak day rental includes two lifejackets and two paddles. You can paddle either a one-way 7 mile route from Interstate State Park in Taylors Falls to Osceola or a 17 mile route from the park to William O’Brien State Park. Free shuttle return is provided. Group rates and local rental rates are also available. Parking at Wildwood RV Park and Campground is free and free shuttle service to Interstate State Park runs regularly. Parking at Interstate State Park is $5 per day or $25 for a year-long state park permit.
White Mountain Water Park, Alpine Slides and Go-Karts
37200 Wild Mountain Rd, Taylors Falls, Minn.
Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. until Sept. 5. After Sept. 5 until Oct. 2 from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Cost: $15.97-$29.95 per day, $79.99, season pass
Located seven miles north of Taylors Falls, White Mountain Water Park, Alpine Slides and Go-Karts is a park for the whole family. The water park boasts speed slides, hydrotubes, an open flume, a floating man-made river and a kiddie park for the littlest adventurers. If alpine slides are more your style, ride a chair lift to the top of the mountain for a 1,700 foot ride down to the base of the hill. Into horsepower? Adult go-karts rev up to 15-20 miles per hour for fast, fun action. Kiddie go-carts are available on a separate, smaller track at 5 miles per hour, with included automatic brakes.
Wildwood RV Park and Campground
20078 Lake Boulevard, Shafer, Minn.
Hours: May 6- Oct. 9
$31.95-$42.95, plus additional costs for guests and children, amenities
There’s so much to see and do in Taylors Falls, you might want to make a weekend of it. Enter Wildwood RV Park and Campground. Located about 10 minutes from Wildwood Mountain, campsites are available for tent camping, and pull-through RV sites with water and electric. A two night stay is required on weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day, three night stay on holiday weekends (with reservation). Same day walk-in camping for a single night is permitted.
Amenities on the campground include mini-golf for $2.50 per round, self-guided nature trail, heated pool, game room, basketball, volleyball and horseshoes.
Historic Walking Tour
Downtown Taylors Falls
Taylors Falls is rich in history, and the community has a fun family-friendly interactive guide of downtown Taylors Falls for all to enjoy. Before or after a hike at Interstate State Park, visit Taylors Falls’ easy walking tour on YouTube and play the video on your smartphone as you tour. If you would rather walk and listen, download the MP3 version to your iPod or portable music device. For a PDF map of the journey before you go, visit the Taylors Falls government office site.
Colleen McGuire is a digital marketing communications professional and author of the blog, Travel Snapshots. When she is not touring the Twin Cities for interesting festivals and events, she is wandering the world with her camera and notebook.