12 Awesome Things to Do in Pine City MN This Summer

Looking for an alternative to Minnesota’s north shore this summer? Find out why Pine City is a true hidden gem, perfect for a summer weekend getaway. As someone who loves the outdoors, I cannot believe all the awesome things to do in Pine City MN!

The city is conveniently located just off of I-35W, a major artery between the Twin Cities and Lake Superior. The two nearby lakes and the Snake and St Croix Rivers offer all sorts of water-based adventures. For history lovers, Pine City has close ties to the fur trade and, once the city was established, the logging industry as well. The area was originally Dakota and eventually Ojibwe land. Even today a portion of the town is on the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation. Today, though, Pine City is a destination for outdoor recreation and relaxation.

Wanna learn more about this hidden gem in Minnesota? Check out these 12 things to do in Pine City this summer!

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Where is Pine City Minnesota?

Pine City is located just 70 miles north of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul, just over halfway to Duluth. It’s nestled just off of I35W and between Cross and Pokegama Lakes, which are connected by the Snake River. 

Map showing Minneapolis and St Paul in the south and Pine City north about halfway to Duluth.
Pine City is just 70 miles north of Minneapolis, about halfway to Duluth.

It’s convenient location offers a great alternative to more crowded summer destinations on the North Shore of Lake Superior. If you want a more scenic drive, or just prefer to avoid the sometimes crowded I35W, try taking the St Croix Scenic Byway through the countryside. It’s a gorgeous drive on a summer day!

Places to Stay in Pine City

Pine City is meant to be experienced in a cabin. It’s what we do in Minnesota! Here are three of the best rentals in Pine City MN.

Tiny Cabin Retreat in the Woods

Top: The exterior of the tiny two story cabin in the woods. Bottom left: The rocky shoreline of the Snake River is accessible from the cabin. Bottom right: A cozy reading nook with a window to the woods.
This tiny cabin in the woods has access to the Snake River and lots of cozy spaces to relax!

Be still my heart! This place is absolute perfection. If you’re looking for calm and tranquility, this is your place. The owner has truly thought of everything, from the selection of records and books to the comfy nooks throughout the cabin. Personally, I loved reading on the wraparound porch and walking the short path down to the Snake River with my morning coffee.

This cabin has no tv but good wifi, making it a perfect writers retreat or remote work location. In the winter, there’s a wood burning sauna on the property that guests can use. I’ll definitely be going back to try that out!

// Check prices and read the reviews on this Airbnb listing!

Wooded Retreat

This property offers both a Deluxe Suite and a tiny home style Cottage. Each has their own private bathroom, outdoor space, and kitchen as well as wifi access. Wooded Retreat is the place to go to disconnect and enjoy nature either on your own or with a friend/ partner. The hosts are highly rated, as is the breakfast included with your room.

// Check prices and read the reviews on Wooden Retreat!

Serene Cabin on Lake Pokegama

Looking for a rental right on the water? This cabin on Lake Pokegama has its own dock and fire pit so you can relax right next to the lake! Head out for a paddle with the provided paddleboards or canoe. Or, curl up with a book on the screened porch. There’s something for everyone!

This is the largest of the three cabins recommended with two bedrooms, a full size kitchen, and two full bathrooms. It’s ideal for a weekend away with family or friends!

// Check prices and read the reviews on this cabin!

Best Things to Do in Pine City MN in Summer

If you’re wondering what there is to do in Pine City, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered! Here are 12 awesome things to do in Pine City Minnesota in summer.

1 | Fish (or relax) along the gorgeous Snake River.

Just over 100 miles long, the Snake River is a tributary of the St Croix River and connects the two lakes in the Pine City area. The river is home to walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass, catfish and lake sturgeon. 

If fishing isn’t your thing, bring your coffee and a book down to the water and just relax to the sound of the water as it flows over the rocks along the shoreline.

2 | Go hiking in Governor Knowles State Forest.

Me hiking through a pine forest with sunlight coming in from the left. Through the trees to the left the river is visible.
The Sandrock Cliffs Trail in Governor Knowles State Forest follows the cliff along the St Croix River, just across the border in Wisconsin.

Hike along the St Croix River on the 2.6 mile out-and-back Sandrock Cliffs Trail. This park is just a short drive from Pine City, immediately across the St Croix River in Wisconsin. 

To get there, take Highway 70 and just after you cross the bridge into Wisconsin there will be an entrance to the park on the right. From the parking lot, walk north to the treeline in the direction of the highway. This trail will take you under the bridge and then onto the trail.

3 | Paddle the Snake River in a kayak or canoe.

If you love paddling, be sure to stop at Snake River Outfitters MN to rent a kayak or canoe and go exploring on the water. They offer rentals as well as guided experiences. Their website seems to be out of date but they are responsive via Facebook or just give them a call!

4 | Take a hike to Million Dollar Bridge.

A wooden footbridge rests on a large metal frame in the forest over the Snake River.
Million Dollar Bridge is a hidden gem in the Chengwatana State Forest in Pine City, Minnesota.

Just down a short trail, off of Highway 8, is Million Dollar Bridge. This footbridge takes you over the Snake River and through a portion of the Chengwatana State Forest. 

Finding this spot is part of the fun! Located right on Highway 8 as you drive towards the St Croix River from Pine City, you’ll see a small grassy area with several large rocks. This is what marks the parking spot for the trail. It’s really easy to miss, so watch closely. Once you park, walk past the rocks and follow the trail for about a half mile to the bridge.

5 | Catch some rays on the West Side Public Beach.

A pier stretches out into a small lake with colorful paddleboats tied to the end of it.
West Side Public Beach in Pine City Minnesota has free paddleboats, paddleboards and more!

This public beach and park is located right in Pine City. It’s free to use and has free paddleboats, paddleboards and life jackets available. This is a great place to spend a hot day, especially if you have kids with you as there are lifeguards and a nice playground nearby.

6 | Sip wine at Boondoggle Winery.

A sign for Boondoggle Winery is at the end of a gravel road. In the distance is the tan building with red trim where the tasting room is located.
Boondoggle Winery, in Pine City, has a tasting menu as well as wines by the glass.

As a dry wine lover, I’m always skeptical of wine from the midwest US as it’s often fruity and sweet. So, I admittedly had low expectations when I stopped at Boondoggle Winery. Well, I was pleasantly surprised by their selection of dry wine and, yes, they had sweet wines too. 

The couple who owns the winery experiment with all sorts of wine. The most unusual one for me was tomato wine! She recommends using it in bloody mary cocktails – I brought a bottle home to try out.

Pro Tip: If you do the tasting, every day they rotate a new wine in and label it ‘????’. If you guess correctly what type of wine it is they will give you an extra tasting for free! 

7 | Climb the fire tower at St Croix State Park.

Trees stretch out to the horizon as seen through the metal frame of the windows at the top of the St Croix State Park fire tower.
View from the top of the St Croix State Park fire tower in summer.

Get a view of the St Croix river and surrounding area from 100 feet above the ground at St Croix State Park’s fire tower. While you’re there check out the miles of hiking, paved biking and mountain biking trails. 

St Croix State Park is nestled between the St Croix and Kettle Rivers and is Minnesota’s largest state park. 

Pro Tip: Be sure to get a stamp in your Minnesota State Parks Passport while you’re there or pick one up at the entrance!

8 | Take a relaxing float down the river.

Enjoy a hot summer day on a river tubing adventure with Sunrise River Tubing, Ice Cream and Shoppe located in North Branch. If you haven’t gone river tubing before, you basically float down the river and light rapids in a tube. Coolers are available to rent if you want to bring along some drinks!

This company doesn’t have an active website so I recommend calling them with any questions.

9 | Grab a beer (or two) at Three Twenty Brewing Company.

Cool down after a hot day with a locally made craft beer at Three Twenty Brewing Company. Their family-friendly taproom has a great selection of brews ranging from sours to IPA’s, lagers and more. 

Pro Tip: Three Twenty Brewing Company is currently not open on Mondays and Tuesdays, so plan accordingly.

10 | Learn about the fur trading and Native American history of the area.

Take a step back in time and learn about the Native American and fur trading history of the Pine City and Snake River area at the Snake River Fur Post. There are archaeological and historical exhibits, guided tours, and interpretive trails to explore at your own pace. Get a sense of how the fur trading economy worked as well as the Ojibwe people and voyageurs.

11 | Snap a photo with the Voyageur statue in Voyageur Park.

Catch a glimpse of the largest redwood sculpture in Minnesota at Voyageur Park in Pine City. While you’re there, take a selfie with the 35 foot tall Voyageur statue! The statue was constructed in 1992 and was designed to represent the fur trading history of the area.

12 | Hit the trails at Wild River State Park.

A river is visible through tall grass on a bright sunny day at Wild River State Park in Minnesota.
The Walter Mondale River Trail at Wild River State Park follows the St Croix River, which flows between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Take a detour on your way to or from Pine City to explore Wild River State Park. This park has more than one entrance but if you go to the main entrance, there are some great trails to explore.

Follow the signs to the Visitor Center to find parking and restrooms. From here, you can create a loop by hiking the Old Logging Trail, turn down to Old Nevers Dam, come back along the river on the Walter Mondale River Trail, and Amik’s Pond. Altogether this is about 3 miles, partially paved and partially packed dirt with some small hills.

Bonus | Experience the Pine County Fair in late July/ early August.

A highlight of the fair is a three-night demolition derby that is one of Minnesota’s largest, drawing several thousand spectators each evening. The five-day event is a free gate fair and also features free on-site parking.

Are you ready to visit Pine City MN?

I have to admit, I’ve lived in Minnesota for over 10 years and I cannot believe it took me this long to discover Pine City. It’s the perfect place for a summer weekend getaway!

Related content to read next:

How to Avoid Getting Eaten Alive by Mosquitoes & Ticks (for Hikers!)

What to Wear Hiking in Summer

20 Essential Outdoor Adventure Safety Tips

Check out my Minnesota travel page for even more inspiration and tips!

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Text: Pine City, Minnesota - A Perfect Summer Getaway
Image: A metal and wood bridge appears hidden in a forest on a cloudy day.

8 thoughts on “12 Awesome Things to Do in Pine City MN This Summer

  1. This Big Wild World says:

    Ooh I hope you can find the bridge – please reach out if you need extra tips! It’s easy to miss. I agree – the folks at the winery were so lovely and friendly. We had a great time chatting with them!

  2. Kristie says:

    Next time I’m in the area, I need to find this cool bridge! My mom lives ten miles south of PC and I don’t think she even knows about this gem. We do love that winery though – some of the most friendly folks out there.

  3. This Big Wild World says:

    Ha ha yes – the names of some of the places really had me wondering too! The tomato wine is really genius and surprisingly tasty. I appreciate that they like to experiment! They even had a sweet onion wine (that one wasn’t as good though ha ha).

  4. This Big Wild World says:

    The tomato wine was surprisingly good!! I bought a bottle for bloody marys at home 🙂 Thanks for much – I’ve never been blonde but figured it was worth giving it a try!

  5. Jenni / Out in the Nature says:

    I find these names, Snake River and Million Dollar Bridge, quite interesting. But who could ever come up with a tomato wine! Hat off to a wine producer who loves to experiment. Every now and then they probably come up with a pearl.

  6. Josy A says:

    Heh! I would sort of expect a place called pine city to have amazing log cabins, and you did not disappoint me! This looks like such a fun and relaxing area to have a holiday (and to learn about the Ojibwe people)

    But tomato wine!? How was it?

    p.s. I am loving your new light coloured hair! 🙂

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