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Wine Tasting in Center City, Minnesota

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One of our favorite attractions for the Summit Inn Bed and Breakfast is that we live in wine-country. Not something you would think of when you think Minnesota but it’s true. Driving around the backroads in our county you will find vineyards, both private and commercial, peppering the rural landscape. Several of them are open on weekends, have beautiful facilities to visit, have wine tasting rooms and offer entertainment or dining! We thought we would offer an example of a “wine weekend” for when you come to stay with us.

Before we begin, we would like to remind you to please be safe while you’re touring. There is some distance between winery’s depending where you go. We do not have public transportation available in our area but we do have a limo service if you think you might need that. All the itineraries below are for the weekend of October 27-29 but making your own is as simple as visiting “A Toast to the Valley” for your info. Plan ahead to be sure your experience with us is stellar! We included directions to the locations via country backroads since the fall colors are beautiful this time of year.

October 27-29, 2017 Wine Tour Weekend 

3pm Check in at the Summit Inn Bed and Breakfast (or any of the Inns of the Valley if we are full)

4pm – Head to Northfolk Winery for pizza!  (43150 Blackhawk Rd, Harris, MN 55032) Scenic Route: Take County Road 9 West across Hwy 95, through Sunrise to Hwy 61. Take a  left on 61, go a few blocks and take a right on Stark Road/County Road 10. Continue on Stark Road. A few miles up take a left onto Blackhawk Road and the Winery is just up from there.

6pm – Dessert/Drinks at Don Julio in North Branch (5466 St Croix Trail # G, North Branch, MN 55056) then head back to the Inn. Scenic Route from Northfolk Winery: go out to Stark/Road and take a Right. In a few blocks, take a Right on Cedarcrest Trail. Follow Cedarcrest a few miles to Hwy 95 and take a left. This will bring you into North Branch. At the first stoplight you encounter, take a left into the strip mall and Don Julio’s is on the opposite side of the grocery store. NOTE: Innkeepers Amy and Dave highly recommend the Xango’s for dessert.

9pm – Head back to Summit Inn Bed and Breakfast  (208 Summit Avenue, Center City, MN 55012)  and settle in for the night.

Saturday October 28th

11am – Leave for “Paint and Sip” at Dancing Dragonfly (120th Avenue, St. Croix Falls,WI 54024)    * Be sure to have purchased ticket to the event ahead of time! * Scenic Route:  Take County Road 37 east through Shafer and into Taylors Falls. When you can no longer go straight (stop light in downtown Taylors Falls)take a right to the next light and a left at that light onto Hwy 8. Follow Hwy 8 east until the roundabout by Menards and take a left. You can follow the signs from there.

4pm –  Visit “Wine-O-Ween” at the Chateau St Croix Winery plus visit the art gallery featuring Jan Killian‘s art work (1998 Highway 87, St. Croix Falls, WI 54024). Scenic Route: (this will tack on a lot of miles to your trip and is a very indirect route). From Dancing Dragonfly, head back out to Hwy 8 and take a Right, heading east. Take a left on Wisconsin Highway 35 and head north. Go several miles through Centuria and take a left on County Road I/180th Ave. Follow that back west until you come to WI Highway 87. Take a right and head north. You will see the Chateau on your right.

6pm – Dinner at Eichten’s Bistro  (16440 Lake Blvd Center City, MN 55012) There isn’t a scenic route to here. However if you’re timeline is different and you aren’t in the dark while driving to Eichten’s, stop at Franconia Sculpture Park. You can’t miss it at the roundabout where Hwy 95 and Hwy 8 meet. Directions: From the Chateau, take a left on WI Hwy 87 through St. Croix Falls until you reach Hwy 8. Take a right onto Hwy 8 and follow it west to Center City.

8pm – Head home to Summit Inn Bed and Breakfast. (208 Summit Avenue, Center City, MN 55012) If you’re tired and wanting to settle in for the night, great. If not, park the car at the Inn, walk down to Al’s Saloon, have a few drinks while mingling with the locals at their hang-out. If you’re looking for dessert, walk a little further to Pizza Pub at the bottom of the hill in Center City and have a Rootbeer Float!

Sunday, October 29th

Two options:

If you’re heading toward the cities and need to get home, you can take Hwy 8 west to connect to the freeway (Interstate 35) stop at Winehaven for the Federweisser & Roter Rauscher Festival. They open at 11am. We have never been but it sounds like a lot of fun sampling the 2017 harvest!

If you’re heading home at a more leisurely pace and want the scenic route, head east on Hwy 8 and at the roundabout (by Franconia Sculpture Park) head south on Highway 95 to Stillwater where there are more wineries to visit along with a wonderful historic main street.

Now this will change as the weekend’s progress but we assure you, our communities have a lot to offer! Just ask any of the Innkeepers at Summit Inn Bed and Breakfast for more information, directions or suggestions.

Fall Foliage in the St. Croix River Valley in Minnesota

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A guest this summer shared with us that he was born and raised on the East Coast but after college he immediately moved to Minnesota. When asked what influenced his decision, he told us that “Minnesota is like living in a state park”. For someone who has lived her whole life in the North Star State, it was a welcomed observation. It made me slow down and take an unfiltered look at our community and the beauty of our state. We just happen to live in one of the most beautiful areas with the lakes, bluffs, rivers, waterfall, fields and hills alike, various trees offer a fantastic and colorful display of fall foliage. It is a small piece of paradise in our back yard that guests of Summit Inn Bed and Breakfast as well as community friends get to enjoy daily.

Now that it is fall our landscape truly puts on a show for visitors. Orchards, Vineyards and Gardens OH MY! Although you would not find any wizards in the Chisago Lakes Community, you very well could be a part of some fun and fabulous fall festivities. Try to say that 5 times fast. Ha! The cooler temperatures lend themselves to bonfires, apple picking, corn mazes, pumpkin patches and fall colors. Want a bit of spooky? Check out the Dead End Hayride at Pinehaven Farm. On your way stop at Lendt’s Pumpkin Patch for the best family fun photo ops out there! Don’t forget about the Shafer Corn Maze for more unique fall and Halloween fun!


Looking for a bit more earthy fall experiences? We recommend you check out Panola Valley Gardens that will take your breath away. Another great organic fall experience is to visit any of our amazing Vineyards! There is a great tour book called “A Toast to the Valley”  that can be found at Summit Inn Bed and Breakfast or any of the other Inns of the Valley. It is a detailed listing of the many vineyards near us including a map to find your way around! In an upcoming blog I will showcase some of the neatest Vineyards near us and share with you some of the fun things you can do while visiting them.

Last but not least, is a visit to the Pleasant Valley Orchard where you can not only pick off the tree several different types of apples but visit the gift shop for yummy treats. All the deliciousness without the mess in your kitchen. Not to mention that they also have hayrides, brat feeds, a bake-off, etc. It is a must-see if you’re in town! They have a listing of their fall activities on their website or you can just click HERE!

Now that we filled up your days, check out this blog post about what to do in the evening! And as always, feel free to check in with any of the Innkeepers at Summit Inn Bed and Breakfast for more information, recommendations, and/or directions.

Get on the Water in the Chisago Lakes Area in Minnesota

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Sunset on North Center Lake

One of our favorite parts about staying at the Summit Inn Bed and Breakfast is that the sunset can be watched from our gazebo out front. As if that isn’t amazing enough, it is also overlooking North Center Lake. Interestingly our community has 19 major lakes, yup I said 19 MAJOR lakes! Recently there has been a map of the watershed in our community along with portages and trails to get from one to another.The Water Trail now has it’s own website with great information on both the water trails and where to a boat, kayak or canoe for a day of fun on the water. The best place to rent a boat is from our local boat dealer Frankie’s Live Bait and Marine, 10680 South Ave, Chisago City, MN 55013. They have options from fishing boats to pontoons. You probably won’t do much portaging but you can still spend the day on the lake! Captain Shawn’s Charters and Rentals located at 12565 Lake Blvd, Lindstrom, MN 55045 would be the closest place for Summit Inn Bed and Breakfast guests to get a kayak or canoe if you wanted to explore our Water Trails system. Of course you can always bring your own kayak or canoe and skip the extra trip to a rental place.


Another water option is to spend some time on the mighty St. Croix River which is less than 20 minutes from Summit Inn Bed and Breakfast. There are many opportunities for you to rent a water-worthy vehicle of some sort and many have pick-up and drop off buses as well. A lovely amenity when you have paddled yourself miles downstream, your arms are tired and the idea of having to paddle back up stream is too much to fathom. Taylor’s Falls Canoe and Kayaking, 307 Milltown Rd, Taylors Falls, MN 55084, and Eric’s Canoe Rental 1289 S Vincent St, St Croix Falls, WI 54024 are a couple in Taylor’s Falls and St, Croix Falls however Osceola is just down Wisconsin Hwy 35 and they also have kayak and canoe rentals on the St. Croix River.



Cascade Falls in Osceola, WI


Keep in mind that most of the smaller places will have an opportunity to participate in a guided tour, hire your own guide or charter your way. Perfect for those of us who have directional disability disorder or are unable to channel our inner pirate. Ha!

Perhaps you aren’t totally comfortable with water but still want to enjoy the river valley bluffs and scenery, a great option for you would be the Taylor’s Falls Scenic Boat Tour. Jump back in time a take a leisurely trip down the river on an actual paddleboat. The captain will give you a lot of historical information on what you will be seeing and you can ride on top in the sun or on deck level in the shade. They also have dinner cruises that run if you’d like to spend your night wining and dining on the majestic river. If you decide the “Princess” or “Queen” is for you, show up early and hike through Interstate Park and see some of our geological amazements. Here is a link to a fellow blogger HutchK12 that explains that further. He also has fabulous pictures that will give you just a taste of what you will experience.

Finally if you’re looking to not work so hard at it but want to get on the water, there is always floating down the river in an inner-tube. A little further away but there are opportunities to travel down the Apple River in Somerset, Wisconsin or the Sunrise River in Sunrise Township, MN. The Apple River is well-known and hosts several Woodstock-like concerts where people show up, camp and party. Weekends are crazy busy but during the week, the river is quiet and the people pleasant. Something to consider. In Sunrise Township the Sunrise River Pub and Grill not only has great food and ice cream but also will rent you a canoe or inner tube. No one but the locals really know about this place so if you want to experience life in the Chisago Lakes Community and avoid crowds, this is where you definitely want to go!


We hope this helps make decisions on how to enjoy all the water we have near us. As you can see, there is no shortage of opportunities. Maybe add a day or two onto your trip with us and do it all, the sky is the limit! As always, talk to any of the Innkeepers at Summit Inn Bed and Breakfast if you want more information, help with directions or reservations. See ya then!