The 6 Cities that Make Up Chisago Lakes and Why We Love Them

Welcome to the Chisago Lakes! We are so glad you’re here. Located along Highway 8, Chisago Lakes is a quick 40-minute drive north of the Twin Cities metro area – perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway. Our community comprises six distinct cities offering charm, outdoorsy activities, Swedish heritage sites, and much more. Not to mention, yummy places to eat and comfortable accommodations for all types of travelers. So whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, a family adventure, or are seeking to learn more about your Swedish roots, we have a lot to show you in our community. Ready to take a tour? Here are the 6 Cities that Make Up Chisago Lakes and Why We Love Them. Finally, to help you plan your trip, we’ve also included a few highlights for each city to get you started.

Chisago City

Known as the “gateway to the lakes”, Chisago City offers plenty of year-round activities and events to inspire your visit. Here, avid outdoor enthusiasts can discover endless seasonal activities, including some of the best fishing around! Off the water, several lovely parks and trails beckon your exploration. While couples love the winery and brewery in town, families will adore taking their kids to the unique playgrounds. Those planning to do a history and heritage tour of Chisago Lakes should start here too! 

Regardless of your travel style, start your visit to Chisago City at Moberg Park. This park was designed as a tribute to the Swedish author, Vilhelm Moberg, who famously traveled the area on his bike in the 1950s. Moberg is known for his fictional story series, The Emigrants, chronicling the lives of Swedish characters Karl Oskar and Kristina Nilsson, who emigrated and settled in this area. Keep reading to discover more highlights of visiting Chisago City!

Highlights in Chisago City

For Couples: Rent kayaks from Captain Shawn’s Rentals to enjoy a day on the lake. Then, head to Winehaven Winery to try our local grapes. Family-owned, this spot is a favorite amongst the locals. Alternatively, beer enthusiasts can enjoy a pour at Uncommon Loon Brewery (they are dog-friendly and have a lovely patio). 

For Families: Play together at Moberg Park! Kids will love the train-themed playground. The pavilion is also perfect for a picnic. Then, you can rent a pontoon through Captain Shawn’s Rentals to enjoy time on the water. Afterward, grab dinner from The Stone Inn (they have kids’ menus and changing tables available).

History + Heritage: During your visit to Chisago City, snap your picture with Vilhem Moberg, the Swedish author whose stories were set in this area, at Moberg Park. Then, embark on the Swedish Immigrant Trail.


Nicknamed “America’s Little Sweden”, Lindström is a charming destination offering history, scenic lake views, and sweet treats galore. First settled by Swedish immigrants in the 1800s, you can still feel the Swedish influence today – starting with the iconic water tower and the city’s ties to its sister city Tingsryd, Sweden. Almost entirely surrounded by water, the town of Lindström offers plenty of beautiful views and activities for all ages.

Start your exploration of this vibrant community at The Lindström Bakery. Fill your tummies with some of the best donuts in the state at prices that simply can’t be beaten. While you munch your donuts, stroll around town admiring the many statues, including those of Karl and Kristina and the Swedish coffee pot water tower. Many boutique shops line the downtown area, perfect for stocking up on souvenirs and fun Swedish-inspired finds. Then, don’t miss the highlights below!

Highlights in Lindstrom

For Couples: After a morning of shopping, grab lunch at Gustaf’s on Main Eatery. Then, stroll along the Chisago Lakes Water Trail for beautiful views. Golf enthusiasts can also enjoy a beautiful day on the greens at Chisago Lakes Golf Course.

For Families: Take your kids to Beach Park, where they can play on the lakeside playground, while you enjoy coffee from Northwoods Roasterie. When it’s warm out, be sure to have swimsuits available for those who want to dip their toes in the water. Afterward, head to Anderson’s Ice Cream Shoppe for a sweet treat, or grab a meal at The Swedish Inn.

History + Heritage: Start your day at Vilhelm Moberg’s Desk, and the statues of Karl and Kristina. Then, visit the cozy exhibits and the research library at Chisago County Historical Society. Afterward, you can see the Karl Oskar House, just south of downtown. While the museum is only open on Sunday afternoons, the grounds can be seen daily. Don’t forget to grab some food at The Swedish Inn. Those with extra time can head to nearby Scandia to enjoy the exhibits at Gammelgården Museum, which honors the story of all immigrants (museum tours are also available).

Center City

Center City proudly marks the middle of the Chisago Lakes area. Notably, this hillside town also serves as the transition area from lake to land before entering the St. Croix Valley. Those traveling by car will undoubtedly notice the change in scenery here! Center City also offers some of the top historic sites in the area, including historic lakeview homes along Summit Avenue, an inviting downtown, and Chisago Lake Luthern Church. Film enthusiasts will also recognize this church as the one where Jack marries Ann in Grumpy Old Men!

Highlights in Center City

For Couples: Meander the historic downtown and Summit Avenue areas. Don’t miss the stunning lake views from Chisago Lake Luthern Church! Afterward, grab a drink and a burger from Al’s Center Saloon.

For Families: Spend the day on North Center Lake, an excellent spot for family fishing. Then, grab dinner at The Pizza Pub nearby.

History + Heritage: If you’re interested in the area’s history, you simply can’t miss seeing Chisago Lake Luthern Church and the Victorian-era homes along Summit Avenue. Chisago Lake Luthern Church has a rich history tied to the area’s Swedish immigrants in the 1800s. The stained glass windows alone are worth a quick stop to catch a glimpse of the history here. South of town, you can also visit the Glader Cemetary, the oldest Lutheran cemetery in the area (in fact, most grave markers hold dates prior to the early 1900s).


The next city along Highway 8 is Shafer. Those seeking rolling hills and country charm will find it here! In fact, Shafer has become a top destination for weddings in the area – and it’s easy to see why! Filled with small-town charm, locals are proud of their roots and the robust farming traditions here. Breathe deeply as you explore the wide open spaces Shafer offers. There are plenty of fun places to explore for all ages, including farms and the unique art installations at Franconia Sculpture Park.

Highlights in Shafer

For Couples: Check out the iconic art installations at Franconia Sculpture Park. Challenge each other to find the most unique pieces on the sprawling property. Afterward, grab one of the daily specials at Ole’s Crossroads Bar & Grill, a local favorite!

For Families: In the summer, families love visiting the animals and learning about their care at Farmaste Animal Sanctuary, just north of Center City and Shafer. Alternatively, Pleasant Valley Orchard offers seasonal activities like berry picking and apples. In all seasons, families can also explore the eccentric art pieces at Franconia Sculpture Park.

History + Heritage: History buffs should plan their visit during Shafer Days! During this fun September event, enjoy an old bank robbery reenactment and a local craft fair.

Taylors Falls

Notice another change in scenery as your car moves along Highway 8 toward Taylors Falls, where the road begins to wind as it follows the St. Croix River. While this area is stunning in all seasons, you can immerse yourself in a kaleidoscope of autumn colors in the fall! Enjoy the beautiful scenery as you head into the historic downtown. In fact, this stretch is also a designated National Wild and Scenic Riverway! Downtown, travelers love meandering through quaint shops and seeking views of the St. Croix River. Plus, literary enthusiasts will be enamored by the city’s independent library, one of the oldest in the state. Taylors Falls Public Library has been serving the community since 1887!

Regardless of the season, travelers love catching the views at Interstate State Park. This area is well-known amongst rock climbers, who delight in scaling the cliffs along the river! Not to mention, hikers who enjoy exploring the “potholes” left by long-ago glaciers that moved through this area. From outdoor adventures to local charm, Taylors Falls is an exciting destination along the Minnesota and Wisconsin border. Keep reading to discover more highlights here!

Highlights in Taylors Falls

For Couples: Start your morning with a signature drink at Coffee Talk. Then, take a hike along one of the many trails in Interstate State Park. Alternatively, rent a kayak or a canoe from Taylors Falls Canoe & Kayak to explore the area by water. Afterward, head into town for a unique dining experience at The Drive In, or grab a drink at The Goat Saloon.

For Families: Start with breakfast at Juneberry Cafe, which prides itself on serving dishes made with local, organic ingredients. Then, head to Adventure Falls Mini Golf, where you can challenge your kids to an exciting game! If you’re up for an epic adventure on the river, snag a spot for your family on a Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tour. Then, kids will love grabbing pizza by the slice and a yummy malt from Schoony’s Malt Shop & Pizzeria, whose dazzling interior will impress kids of all ages! Or, families also love grabbing a hot dog or burger from The Drive In

History + Heritage: Trek along one of the trails at Interstate State Park, where you can see geological history in action along the many glacial potholes and rock formations! This area was also where many of the first settlers arrived, plus it holds great significance for the local indigenous tribes.


Those traveling to the area can’t miss Almelund. The slogan here is “the busiest small town in Minnesota” – and they mean it! This wholesome community offers a spectacular array of events throughout the year, including a fall threshing show. Many families here can even trace their roots to the Swedish immigration of the 1800s. They are immensely proud of their little community, heritage, and farming traditions. Almelund is also home to several outdoor adventure opportunities for all ages, including Wild River State Park and Wild Mountain. Continue your exploration of the area with the ideas below!

Highlights in Almelund

For Couples: Start your visit to Almelund with a stroll in Wild River State Park, which follows the St. Croix River. Afterward, sip on a drink at Wild Mountain Winery (one of Minnesota’s premier wineries), while enjoying epic views of the St. Croix Valley. They also offer woodfire pizzas, perfect for a fun day out!

For Families: Discover endless family fun at Wild Mountain no matter the season. In the winter, fly down the slopes by tube, skis, or snowboard. Then, summer visitors can race go-karts, splash at the waterpark, or take a thrilling ride down the alpine slide. Additionally, you can explore Wild River State Park, offering paved trails (perfect for strollers and young hikers!) and lovely river views. Afterward, stop by the Almelund Mercantile for an ice cream cone!

History + Heritage: For a bit of history of the area, head to the Amador Heritage Center, a museum located in a former two-room brick schoolhouse. You can even see a Swedish Immigrant Log Farm here. Afterward, meander the antiques and Scandinavian wares at Almelund Mercantile. You can also grab a cup of coffee or an ice cream cone.

Thanks for Stopping By!

We hope you found this blog helpful in better understanding the six unique towns that make up the Chisago Lakes area – and in planning your trip to see us! These small, but mighty towns offer big hearts and a wide array of fun things to do for all travel styles, including outdoor adventures, rich historical sites, and much more. Thanks for stopping by and spending time with our community. We can’t wait to see you again!


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