Historic Hastings, An Array of Apples, Architecture and Antiques

Eat, drink, and be amazed at the happenings in Hastings this fall. The stately river town has activities for all ages, including apple festivals, an award-winning winery, a corn maze, antique shops galore and a roaring waterfall that remains the city’s best-kept secret. The city began as a Dakota settlement called Owobopte and was visited by Lt. Zebulon Pike in 1805 before its incorporation as Hastings in 1857

Amble along the picture-perfect Second Street, lined with antique stores, art galleries, a Scandinavian import store and other businesses, many in century-old buildings with eye-catching architectural details. From downtown, with its serene park along the Mississippi, take a walking or driving tour past venerable homes and commercial buildings, 40 in all, dating to the mid 1800s.

Highlights include the historic Dakota County Courthouse and the imposing LeDuc-Simmons mansion, at 1629 Vermillion Street, an example of Gothic Revival architecture. Don’t miss the octagonal Norrish house, built in 1857. The 1880 Victorian Latto house is now “Rosewood,” a luxurious bed-and-breakfast.

Owners Pam and Dick Thorsen also operate Thorwood bed-and-breakfast in another 1880s house. For a map of the self-guided tour, stop at the chamber of commerce office at 111 East Third Street.

Tucked away in a park near the south end of Hastings is the magnificent Vermillion Falls, which thunders into a gorge. The falls are on the Vermillion River just east of Hwy. 61 off of East 21st Street; watch for the sign on the left side of the road. A hiking and biking trail parallels the river and passes the ruins of an old mill.

Fall is apple time is the Hastings area, home to several orchards. The Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center on Co. Rd. 21 makes apple cider and serves up caramel apples for sale during its Sept. 24 Harvest Fest, with hay rides and kids’ activities.

Croix Farm Orchard, Apple Junction, Afton Apple and Whistling Well Farm celebrate the St. Croix River Valley Apple Fest Oct. 7-8, with petting zoos, hay rides, and pumpkin patches, as well as fresh apples. Call 651-437-7126 for more info. (All the orchards are open throughout the fall for apple sales.)

Wander through the A-Mazing Minnesota Apple Maze, southwest of Hastings on Hwy. 50, one and a half miles west of New Trier. The giant maze is the shape of Minnesota, enclosing a 780-foot-long figure of Paul Bunyan, plus Babe the Blue Ox, all cut into a cornfield. There’s help available if you get “lost” in the maze.

By- Anne Gillespie Lewis

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Filed under: Attractions & Fun Spots, Historical Resources

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