BEST DAY TRIP - 2005
St. Croix Falls
For Minnesotans, there is one truth so painful to admit that, in the interest of collective sanity, few natives ever acknowledge it publicly. The unspoken truth is this: Wisconsin is a better-looking state than Minnesota. Yes, it is home to the hated Packers, to Dahmer, to Ed Gein, to Tommy Thompson, to welfare reform, to hunting "accidents," to countless alcoholic benders. Yet the simple fact remains. Wisconsin is prettier than its neighbor to the west, both in terms of its flora and, especially, its small and mid-sized towns. The explanation? That is a matter for the sociologists, architects, and historians. In the fish wrap business, we just consider the case in point: St. Croix Falls. Located directly across the St. Croix River from Minnesota's Taylors Falls (tourist trap), St. Croix Falls is the wholesome Midwestern river town straight out of central casting. Cruise down the main drag on a lucky day and you will stumble across a senior garage sale where, for a pittance, they will just happen to be selling a commemorative album of music that was recorded at the East Coast church where your parents were married. Beyond such serendipity, there is the physical beauty of the place. North of town, you can get lost putting around on the gravel and sand roads. There are several lovely, unimproved picnic spots scattered along the east bank of the river. Get good and lost and you'll find them.