Set on the banks of the magnificent St. Croix River just 18 miles from Minneapolis-St. Paul, is a sophisticated little Wisconsin town called Hudson. In the fall, the shore is full of colorful trees elegantly reflected in the water. In the summer, you can sit on the patios at a number of wonderful restaurants offering unique ambience, fabulous food and wine as well as scenic views. As a producer for Discover Wisconsin, I’m given a front row seat to the beauty and interesting places our great state has to offer. Here are seven places I instantly loved while shooting our episode on Hudson.
Grand Duchess Cruise Ship
Grand Dutchess Cruise Ship is the perfect way to see Hudson. [Photo by Bucklew Photography]
We had the best breakfast as we cruised down the St. Croix River one cool fall Sunday morning. The ship’s captain gave us the itinerary for the year. “Our season starts mid April and ends in October. We have brunch, lunch and dinner cruises. We have our comedy dinner cruises which go every other week. We also have fajita and margarita cruises, which are fantastic with a fajita buffet, pork carnitas and chicken. Then we also do our vineyards of LaCroix Cruise. It’s an annual event with over 40 wines to taste, as well as our Oktoberfest cruise in the fall.” One cruise was not enough. I am definitely going back.
San Pedro Café
San Pedro Café is a Caribbean-themed restaurant in downtown Hudson.
A Caribbean-inspired menu offers some pretty awesome selections. My personal favorite would be the smoked duck nachos. They’re unlike any other nacho dish you’ve ever had in your life. It’s white corn chips layered with smoked duck breast and topped with mozzarella cheese, tropical mango salsa and lemon habanero aoli. Their signature dish is the Spanish Spice Red Grouper. It’s super fresh, lightly seasoned and has the tropical mango salsa on top. Incredible food. The service was superb too.
Willow River State Park
With 3,000 acres of stunning scenery, Willow River State Park offers year-round recreational opportunities. [Photo by Bucklew Photography]
Enjoy the winding roads and the gorgeous natural prairie on your way to a very worthy stop. With 3,000 acres of stunning scenery, Willow River State Park offers year-round recreational opportunities. AND DO NOT MISS THE WATERFALL. It’s dazzling in all seasons including winter, maybe even especially in winter as it is frozen and absolutely fascinating in this form. While you’re there, you can also cross country ski and go snowshoeing. Watch the Hudson show and see just how lovely this park is when it’s covered in white fluffy snow.
Troy Burne Golf Club
Troy Burne Golf Club was designed by pro golfer Tom Lehman.
Come spring and summer, take in more exquisite views at seven area golf courses including one designed by pro golfer Tom Lehman. Truth be told, I’m not a golfer. I just ride around in a golf cart while the photographers get the shots we need for the show. But man oh man, this golf course was full of dramatic aesthetics. I was captivated by one hole where a line of extremely tall pines was incorporated into the course. The complexity of the design is beyond impressive.
Winzer Stube For an amazing and affordable authentic German meal with entertainment that comes right to your table, go to Winzer Stube. You’ll feel like you’ve suddenly been transported to Europe for a true German experience. An accordion player serenades you with polka tunes and the crowd sings along as everyone eats a hearty German meal like pork schnitzel and bread dumplings. While you’re there, you can arrange to actually go to Europe with the owner of the restaurant. She organizes and leads the tours herself. Now that’s something you don’t see every day.
The Nova Wine Bar
Make a trip to the Nova Wine Bar during the Casanova Beer Cave Fest or enjoy wine on the patio with live music during the summer.
It has a fabulous wine and craft beer list, a fresh seasonal menu, live music and a unique patio. Every year, The Nova has a beer festival in the private cave on the property. We didn’t include that event in the show, but the owner gave us a tour of the cave that extends 150 feet into the hillside where The Nova is located. You can check it out at the Cassanova Beer Cave Fest or enjoy wine on the patio with live music on a beautiful evening in July like we did.
Knoke’s distinctive quality goods are known throughout the national chocolate scene – even Martha Stewart stopped by!
Not only is this little gourmet chocolate shop adorable, its distinctive quality goods are known throughout the national chocolate scene. Even Martha Stewart stopped by the shop a few years ago. One of our show’s hosts, Collin Geraghty, who hails from Hudson ordered pretty chocolates from Knoke’s for his wedding guests. Of course, everyone loved them. Don’t leave Hudson without stopping here.
After our first day of shooting, I went back to my hotel room to scour the internet for homes for sale in Hudson. I loved it that much. If Discover Wisconsin ever decides to establish a northwest bureau, I’m coming back to you Hudson!