Marine on St. Croix, MN
Shop. Hike. Explore.
Friday Favorites: January 8, 2021
The first in what will be many features of my favorite small towns, I’m starting with a visit to the adorable and historic village of Marine on St. Croix. This quaint river town has been a go-to driveabout/day trip destination for me since high school. There are dozens of stunning historic homes (swoon), unique businesses to shop, trails along the St. Croix River, and it’s full of friendly people.
Read on to see some of my favorite parts of Marine on St. Croix!
Visit the Downtown on Judd Street
I first visited HWY North years ago and now every time we drive by town I want to stop! They recently moved into a beautiful storefront on the north end of the main strip, Judd Street. Enter to find a beautifully-curated shop full of locally-created art, jewelry, home decor, apparel, and much more. I could honestly spend hours perusing and emptying my bank account in this charming store.
The Marine Cafe offers a wide variety of teas, coffees, and delicious food. Grab a cappuccino and breakfast sandwich on a croissant as you explore the historic neighborhoods and trails adjacent to the little downtown.
Marine General Store
Step back in time as you walk into the Marine General Store. This fully-stocked neighborhood grocery offers aisles of dry goods, dairy, frozen foods, plus a full service deli, produce, meat and freshly-baked cookies and breads. They also have a great selection of gifts, apparel, camping gear, and village residents can even set up an account to rent movies (that in itself is probably my favorite thing about this great store!).
The Marine General Store is the oldest continuously operating general store in Minnesota!
Art & Apothecary
One door south of the Marine General Store is a staircase that leads up to Mary Jo Van Dell’s gallery and the studio of Änna’s Apothecary. Van Dell has been a mainstay of Marine on St. Croix for years, her gallery is full of beautiful paintings, pottery and more. Änna’s Apothecary’s studio space is open for pop-up shopping where you can buy her handcrafted bitters (y’all know I’m a big fan), wreaths, prints, and more.
More Along Judd Street
Downtown Marine on St. Croix offers so much more, too: a bank, post office, restaurants, gas station, investment company, ice cream shop, the village hall, a small park and gazebo, a library, historic log cabin and fire pump, and more! There are too many great businesses and places in and around Marine on St. Croix to cover here, so here’s the village’s website for more information.
P.S. Some of my favorite spots in Marine were closed when I visited this week, either because they’re seasonal or due to the pandemic. Make sure to check with individual businesses before visiting. It’s already on my calendar to visit again in the spring and do another feature: Nita Mae’s Scoop (ice cream), Brookside Bar and Grill’s patio (their bbq chicken pizza is incredible), and more!
Explore the Landscape and History
Marine Mill Historic Site
Just south of the Village Hall and library is a bridge over the Mill Stream. Walk to the center and you’ll look down on the stream flowing to the St. Croix River. Continue to the end of the bridge and you’ll come to the Marine Mill Historic Site. Marine Mill is the site of Minnesota’s first commercial sawmill, built in 1839 by the Marine Lumber Company. A wooded walking trail and overlook guide you to ruins of the historic sawmill along the St. Croix River. Explore and read the many interpretive signs about the history of the site.
Founded in 1838 as Marine Mills, the town of Marine on St. Croix was the location of the first commercial sawmill on the St. Croix River!
City of Marine Trails
There are an abundance of trails in Marine on St. Croix, taking you through historic neighborhoods, down to the river, even on a charming bridge above Mill Stream. The town is adjacent to William O’Brien State Park; you could seriously walk for days and days here! Here’s a map of all the Marine Trails to explore. Read on for two of my favorite places to walk in Marine:
Head East on Maple Street and you’ll come to a trail that leads down to the St. Croix River and loops around to the base of the Mill Stream flowing under Judd Street. This trail offers incredible views of the river, plus a great perspective of the Marine Mill overlook. There are a few benches along the way so have a rest and imagine what the area looked like as a bustling sawmill in the mid-1800s.
As you come back up the trail, head right on 3rd Street and you’ll come to the North Village, full of stunning historic homes and beautiful views. We love to walk and look at the architecture and landscapes. Please remember that these are private homes and should be enjoyed from the road, sidewalk, or pathway. P.S. I love when houses have a sign indicating the year it was built: the last picture has a sign that says “Sunwood 1848”!
I also recommend walking or driving south of downtown on Judd Street; there are some incredible houses, old and new!
The Red Bridge
Lastly, I like to head back to Maple St. and cross Hwy 95., then walk up the hill and cross over Maple St. to the little opening that leads to the Red Bridge, which leads to the south end of the Upper Village. Take a walk over the bridge and look north and south at the huge trees and Mill Stream. It’s particularly beautiful in winter when the trees are bare and you can see much further.
The Upper Village is another collection of historic homes, the 1872 Stone House Museum, the 1872 Christ Lutheran Church, and more; it’s definitely worth exploring!
In 1885 the Village Council approved $75 for construction of a footbridge across what was called ‘Rose’s Ravine.’ The Red Bridge you walk across today was rebuilt in 1987 and completely restored in 2009.
The 1872 Christ Lutheran Church appears in the 1995 movie Grumpier Old Men featuring Jack Lemmon and Water Matthau!