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Spend a day (or more) in Maiden Rock, Stockholm, Pepin for shopping, food and fun – |

Spend a day (or more) in Maiden Rock, Stockholm, Pepin for shopping, food and fun –

A visit to Maiden Rock, Stockholm and Pepin in Wisconsin offers a retreat like no other. The 90-minute drive from the Twin Cities includes majestic views along the bluffs of the Mississippi River on the Great River Road. And the quaint, laid-back villages are filled with places to shop, eat and drink. And finally, take time to enjoy pretty Lake Pepin and take in some history. After all, the area is the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Note that several businesses are open seasonally or are open only a few days a week, such as Friday through Saturday, so plan accordingly.


When driving from the Twin Cities area, the first village you’ll come to is Maiden Rock. For shopping, you’ll find Cultural Cloth, a place to shop an artful mix of home decor and fashion accessories from around the world. Standouts include throw pillows from Peru, scarves and coverlets from India, hand-woven bags from Guatemala and Indonesia and jewelry from Morocco. Many of the items here come mainly from women artisans in developing countries.

Green Queen off the main street on the right hand side as you get into Maiden Rock offers plenty of lawn and garden decor, gadgets and gifts. Friday, August 11, 2017. (Special to the Pioneer Press: Craig Lassig)

Across the street, The Green Queen is not just a clever name. The spot is a destination for native plants, outdoor mats, garden decor such as statuettes as well as other finds that inspire outdoor living and gardening. A selection of body care items such as bath soaps, balms and lotions are also available. On the same block, artist B.J. Christofferson weaves in spiritual figures, symbols and icons in her 3-D artwork at Secret Heart Gallery. In addition to dioramas, the spot also stocks art and other collectibles from the artist’s travels to Mexico


Continue on the Great River Road to Stockholm, where several shops await along Wisconsin 35.

Savvy boutique offers a little bit of everything — home decor, gift items and garden art. A sizable selection of women’s accessories can be found here, too. Next, Chandlers Books features mainly books, but also has some random finds — at last glance, we found items such as records and plants. If you’re looking for a wide range of gifts, don’t miss Hugga Bugga, spotlighting handmade items from more than 20 local crafters. Highlights include children’s knits, goat’s milk soaps and lotions and kitchen accessories. At the end of the block, Stone Fern Gallery is a place to nab hats, garden, gift items and home decor.

An outdoor porch at Savvy, which offers a little bit of everything — home decor, gift items and garden art in Stockholm, Friday, August 11, 2017. (Special to the Pioneer Press: Craig Lassig)

On the other side of Wisconsin 35, more shops can be found. On the edge of Stockholm’s main commercial area, you’ll find the sprawling Stockholm Gardens complete with a barn house, garden store, display garden and greenhouse. Shop for herbs, vegetables, perennials, trees and shrubs, as well as garden accessories and gifts. Next, Ingebretsen’s Nordic market features a quality and fun mix of crafts, home pieces, jewelry, clothing and food. Be sure to check out the store’s Sami jewelry, carvings and more from northern Scandinavia’s indigenous people. In addition, the store features pieces from local artists.

Continue down the block to Sandy’s, offering everyday to luxe finds such as jewelry, shoes and clothing that includes the coveted Neon Buddha label. Some art can also be found here. Also on the same block, The Palate is a spot to nab accessories for cooking and entertaining — gourmet foods, wines, kitchen aids and more. The store stocks quality and top brands, including linens made in France and Le Creuset cookware. Items for the home are also in the store, including French soaps and room sprays.

Bead artist Brenda Brousseau of St. Paul is on display at Indigo Swan Jewelry Fine Art, a place to find art and gifts such as jewelry, pottery and wood work in Stockholm, Friday, August 11, 2017. (Special to the Pioneer Press: Craig Lassig)

Past Mill Street, art lovers won’t want to miss Indigo Swan Jewelry and Fine Art for its varied selection of gifts and art such as jewelry, pottery and woodwork. Standouts include mosaic wall art and fair trade finger puppets from Peru. Last but not least along the highway, wander into the new Antique Future, which opened last spring. Be entertained shopping the little nooks on the grounds, the carriage house and “artisan bizarre.” At last visit, we discovered a cedar-strip canoe, maple end tables and metal art including sculptures for sale. If you’re toting children, head to The Gnome House for its arts and crafts supplies.

On Spring Street, several more shops can be found. The Purple Turtle is an artisan collective featuring a large variety of works mainly from local and regional artists. Pottery, jewelry, kitchen gadgets, salves, bath soaks, balms, lotions, candles and cards are featured. In the same building on the lower level, LIMBO records rarities just opened and highlights used records for buying, selling and trading. Cassettes, eight-track tapes, CDs, turntables, magazines, posters and other collectibles are also part of the mix.

Trek on and make sure to stop at Abode Gallery, spotlighting a well-curated selection of fine art and crafts that also make nice gifts — artsy candles, Time and Again transposed photos from different eras and one-of-a-kind home pieces. A selection of art that pays tribute to the Great River area can also be found. Up the street, the dog-friendly Juno Me offers gifts including jewelry and local art.

At the end of the block, Northern Oak Amish Furniture produces quality solid wood furniture from master craftspeople. Pieces include rocking chairs, benches, dining room sets and items for the home office.  Across the street, Har-nes Gallery is a quaint spot that carries items such as wall art, animal rugs, jewelry, candles and wood bowls.

Outside of the main retail area, Black Cat Farmstead, about four miles up the bluff, is a place to shop handspun yarn, farm-grown wool as well as a chance to check out a farm that includes sheep and goats. In addition to shopping for supplies for that DIY project, the spot features locally-made products. Demonstrations and classes are also offered on the grounds.


Pepin is also home to a few shops. Along First Street lining the waterfront, Harbor View Books, connected to Harbor View Cafe, is a place to stock up on reading materials. Nearby, you’ll find Smith Bros. Landing, offering an eclectic selection of garden art. Perennials, vegetables and herbs are also available.

Along Wisconsin 35, the roadside store Pepin Country Stop is a stop for its large selection of outdoors items. Furniture as well as garden decor such as pottery, fountains and birdhouses are among the offerings. You can also shop for gifts and local foods here, too, including produce during the growing season. Art lovers may want to make a stop at TC Latane, which has ornamental smithwork, furniture and pottery.


In addition to taking in beautiful landscapes and shopping, Maiden Rock, Stockholm and Pepin are known for vibrant food and wine scenes. The area is not lacking in restaurants, wineries and places to grab a slice of pie.

In Maiden Rock, Smiling Pelican Bake Shop is so quaint, friendly and personable you’ll feel like you’ve been a regular all along. In addition to cookies, pies and other sweets, there’s also a variety of breads that range from traditional choices to cranberry wild rice sourdough to Swiss sunflower. Other items such as quiche and soup are also available. Also in Maiden Rock, the pretty, relaxing and expansive Vino in the Valley will transport you to a place of zen. The full restaurant features a menu of appetizers, salads, pizzas and pastas.

Wines include those from the Vino in the Valley label, as well as well-curated picks from around the world. Live music and wagon rides are also offered for your entertainment.

In the heart of Stockholm’s retail area, Lena’s Lucky Star serves up Heggie’s pizzas, burgers, patty melts, pulled-pork sandwiches and salads. Grab a table or head to the wood deck and take in the Great River Road. A few doors down, Bogus Creek Cafe Bakery serves breakfast and lunch all day with a menu of sandwiches, burgers and more. Dine inside or settle in on the shady, landscaped outdoor seating area. Don’t miss the bakery across the way for delicacies such as Swedish doughnuts, scones, kolaches, macaroons and strudels. The spot also features breads, espresso and ice cream.

Quiet streets for a nice walks and shopping are easy to find in Stockholm, Friday, August 11, 2017. (Special to the Pioneer Press: Craig Lassig)

Stockholm Pie General Store has long been a destination for its pies. In addition, cookies, pot pies, quiches, sandwiches and salads are on the menu. The spot also sells preserves, honey, Wisconsin cheese, maple syrup and has an adjoining liquor store. Drive a little farther outside of Stockholm’s commercial area and you’ll find Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery, a charming spot with an Italian villa feel amid a backdrop of apple orchards on a sprawling 80-acre farm. Wines, ciders and preserves are available. Also outside of the main commercial area, the popular A to Z Produce pizza farm attracts visitors who picnic while dining on brick-oven pizzas made with ingredients fresh from the farm. The spot is also known for its brick-oven sourdough bread, with wheat grown on site.

Stockholm may be home to the majority of shops among the three villages, but Pepin houses the most eateries. The most famous that lures fans from all over is Harbor View Cafe and it’s easy to see why. The from-scratch dishes are high quality and inventive. At last visit, dishes such as pan-fried rainbow trout with horseradish cream sauce, grilled pork tenderloin with sour cherry sauce and black bean fritters with rice and salsas were among the 16 entree selections on the chalkboard menu.

Another spot where the food is top-notch is Il Forno at Villa Belleza, a new casual, outdoor restaurant that recently opened at Villa Belleza winery. It’s a place to sip wine, nosh on Italian fare and enjoy the gorgeous Tuscan design-inspired patio. While you’re at it, visit the tasting room at the winery, offering a wide-ranging selection of house wine.

Il Forno at Villa Belleza is a new casual, outdoor restaurant that recently opened at the winery. It’s a place to sip wine, nosh on Italian fare and enjoy the gorgeous Tuscan-inspired patio in Pepin, Friday, August 11, 2017. (Special to the Pioneer Press: Craig Lassig)

For more casual fare, head to Homemade Cafe for homestyle breakfasts and lunches. Make sure to order a slice of pie made from scratch daily. For a restaurant and bar, head to Pickle Factory on the shores of Lake Pepin, which offers an extensive menu of burgers, pizzas, pastas and other comfort food. Or, Garden Pub and Grille off Wisconsin 35 offers a lineup of salads, sandwiches, burgers and pizzas.

Along the water, a few casual spots for a drink or a nosh are available. The Breakwater Wine Bar Sailing features wine, craft beers and small plates and, if your timing is right, live music. The Shoreline Pub also features live music and a window sign that reads “pizza pepperoni only.” On the same block, 404 Coffee Shop offers quality coffee from Bootstrap Coffee Roasters out of St. Paul and Rishi tea from Milwaukee. The spot also offers Jenny Lind baked goods, sandwiches, muffins, scones, cinnamon and cardamom rolls.


In addition to places to shop, wine and dine, there are plenty of options for spending a leisurely day in the area.

Fans come from all over the world to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Pepin, which pays tribute to the famous author with memorabilia, historic photos and period pieces. A recent expansion allows for additional exhibition space and a gift store that includes items such as books by the author and, of course, bonnets. Seven miles away is the Little House Wayside, a log cabin built on land owned by the Ingalls family when Laura Ingalls Wilder was born.

Sisters Lyanna 5, Keira 5 and Arya, 7 (last name w/held at their request) visiting from Portland OR, picked out bonnets during their visit to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum where visitors come from all over the world to see the birthplace of the famous author and browse the museum. The museum is also home to a gift store that includes the author’s books and, of course, bonnets in Pepin, Friday, August 11, 2017. (Special to the Pioneer Press: Craig Lassig)

Another way to take in the area’s history is to pay a visit to the Stockholm Institute in the old post office building, which spotlights the town’s history through photos and other memorabilia.

In Maiden Rock, Rush River Produce features pick-your-own fruit and is a popular destination for its several varieties of blueberries available in July and August.

Don’t forget to enjoy the area’s scenic waters. In Pepin, Sail Pepin and WIMN-Sail both host sailboat rides on Lake Pepin. Another way to get out onto the water is through Captain Rob Cruises, run by the team behind Harbor Hill Inn. In Stockholm, Spring Street Canoe and Kayak rentals are offered through the Spring Street Inn.

The area is home to a few quaint, cozy bed-and-breakfasts and inns, so consider an overnight stay so you can linger awhile longer. After all, there is plenty of shopping, dining and playing to be had.

Pepin is a spot for plenty of leisure, including taking in lake views watching boats come in and out of the marina., Friday, August 11, 2017. (Special to the Pioneer Press: Craig Lassig)
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