Pine City is a city in east central Minnesota with the tagline "North. Nice and close." The Pine City zip code (55063), which is a more accurate reflection of the size of the town, has a population of approximately 10,000 people (2022) and even more native pine trees. It's an easy day trip from the Twin Cities to Pine City, the largest city in, and county seat of Pine County.
Pine City is your quintessential, American small-town but it surprisingly offers a lot for its size. The rural feel of the community has diminished some giving way to exurbia pushing outward from the Twin Cities. That said, Pine City has held true to its sense of place and community and doesn't at all feel swallowed up by its large metropolitan neighbors to the south. Pine City rests easily in the shadow of Minneapolis-St. Paul, close enough for a quick side trip, distant enough to enjoy a more tranquil existence.
Pine City is like an image that lingers in the American consciousness: An oak-lined courthouse square. Gazebos and band shells. One-chair barber shops. The town café, gossip for breakfast and meatloaf for lunch. It's small-town life as it was and as it remains.
The city's politics are split between liberal and conservative with a slight historical advantage to the liberals. Carhartt is a popular brand worn by local, middle-aged men and it's not uncommon to see fishing hooks attached to many of their hat bills. Another article of clothing commonly seen on men and women is green plaid flannels, a modern style nod to the lumberjack heritage of the town. The typical Pine Citian says "You bet" in place of "yes". Yet, this is a place that mixes the true 'Up North' with a surprising level of sophistication; after all, it's an arts community.
While it's the biggest city around it for miles — from North Branch to Cloquet, and from Mora to Rice Lake, Wisconsin (a very large geographic area) — it's not a pious place and the people aren't pretentious. They show a fine display of "Minnesota Nice" and are eager to assist the tourist. To get a deeper understanding of the city, one has to visit it.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
The weather is definitely not one of the attractions in Pine City. There's a boat load of fun to be had in any season, but it is a place where the climate has to be taken into consideration.
Obscured by Minnesota’s ferocious winters (see Cold weather) are the heat waves of summer. Many days in July and August are hot and humid. Summer nights are more comfortable, though, and you'll get a few degrees' respite along one of the many lakefronts — in the local parlance, that's "cooler by the lake". But then there are those winters. The months from November to March will see very cold temperatures, with even more bitter wind-chill factors. Blizzards and ice storms are a regular occurrence. It's a city that's well-accustomed to these winters, though, so city services and public transportation are highly unlikely to shut down.
Pine City does have a few nice months of weather. May and September are pleasant and mild; April and June are mostly fine, although thunderstorms with heavy winds can also occur suddenly. Even though there may be a chill in the air in October, it rarely calls for more than a light coat.
- Cordes, Jim (1989). Pine County-- and its memories. s.n. ASIN B00071SNAQ.
- Johnson, Nathan (2010). Images of America: Pine City. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0738577405.
- Johnson, Nathan (2014). Legendary Locals of Pine City. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9781467101196.
- 1 The Bookstore, 253 5th St SE, Ste. 2, ☏ .
Visitor information center
- 1 Pine City Area Chamber of Commerce, Pine Government Center, 315 Main Street S, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 8:30AM-2:30PM (W by appointment). Although Pine City has no official tourism/visitor's bureau, this Chamber of Commerce acts as one and does one helluva job of it!
Pine City is served by Jefferson Lines with a stop at Speedway near Exit 171. Also, other cities served by Arrowhead Transit can take that bus service into the community. Route 285 out of the Twin Cities only goes as far north as Forest Lake and a transfer to the Heartland Express and then Arrowhead Transit is a logistical tribulation. Best bet is Jefferson Lines, but it's kind of spendy.
Interstate 35 links Pine City with Duluth to the north and the Twin Cities to the south. Pine City is about an hour drive north of downtown Minneapolis and of downtown St. Paul. A driver approaching Pine City on I-35 from the Twin Cities will be rewarded by a spectacular view of native pines and thick groves of trees. After a period of relatively flat and urbane scenery, the view is a treat, especially during peak fall colors. Exit 169 is the recommended exit for most downtown attractions. Coming from Duluth, Pine City looks like the first major city with the newly expanding freeway interchange at Exit 171, with the Pine County courthouse visible to passersby. Either way you come, take the I-35 Business Loop through Pine City.
Or, you can get to Pine City on the St. Croix Scenic Byway, Old US Highway 61.
There are EV-charging stations at Family Pathways, 800 Main Street S., two fast-charging ports and a Level 2 charger.
- Rush City Regional Airport (KROS), 7.5 miles south of Pine City.
- Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP IATA). Most travelers will arrive this way via Terminal 1-Lindbergh. Terminal 2-Humphrey has been rebuilt and serves primarily charter and low-cost carriers. The Lindbergh terminal (Charles Lindbergh was a Minnesotan, and one of his transatlantic planes is suspended above the ticketing area) receives the bulk of renovation fees, however, and it is an attractive, modern, convenient, and well-designed terminal. The Humphrey terminal is also quite attractive; the terminals share the same runways, have long- and short-term parking set between them, and are equally convenient for transportation. Savvy travelers might check the terminal of their arrival or departure to communicate their location to friends, relatives, or other transport.
It's not uncommon to see hitchhiking along the Interstate 35 corridor.
- Arrowhead Transit. Offers free fares for seniors and cheap fares for all.
- Attaboys' Taxi, toll-free: .
Driving is probably the best option for getting around Pine City. The city generally does not have any traffic problems, although it can get congested before and after school hours. Pine County Highway 61 runs north-south and the Snake River runs east-west dividing the city into quadrants as such. The majority of the city is laid out in a grid based on the Snake River shoreline, dividing the city into north and south. Main Street/County 61 is considered to be the dividing line between east and west.
Pine City is an arts community and it is evident from its award-winning music program in its schools to its quality Heritage Players theater productions. Other things to see in the community include:
- 1 Dist. 69 Rural School Museum, 7th Street SW, ☏ . Learn how school was over 100 years ago in this restored, one-room schoolhouse that was relocated to near downtown Pine City. It is operated as a museum by the Pine County Historical Society.
- 2 Iconic Voyageur Statue (François), 600 1st Avenue NW, ☏ . This is the America's largest redwood chainsaw carving. Makes a great photo spot.
- 3 Snake River Fur Post, 12551 Voyageur Ln (1.5 miles west of I-35 at exit 169 (Pine County Hwy. 7)), ☏ . Memorial Day-Labor Day: M Th-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Open only by appointment the rest of the year. A historic fur trading post from the early 1800s. $8 adults, $6 seniors/students, $5 children 6-17, free for children 5 and under.
- 4 Sokol Camp, 19201 Woodland Acres S, ☏ .
- 5 Stoffel Memorabilia Museum, 10527 Emerald Road, ☏ .
- Veterans Monuments. Located throughout town. Woodpecker Ridge Park is home to a Gulf War memorial. World War I and II monuments are located outside of the Pine Government Center, downtown. And, look for them at the library, cemeteries, etc.
Pine City is filled with plenty of activities for people of all ages.
- 1 Pine Center for the Arts, 265 5th Street SE, ☏ . Take a class or browse the gallery. The arts are for everyone.
- 2 Flea Market, Pine County Fairgrounds, ☏ . Wednesdays (in season). If you can't find it at the flea market, it probably doesn't exist.
- 3 Chengwatana State Forest (approx. 10 miles east of Pine City on County Road 10). Excellent sightseeing, plenty of wildlife.
- 4 City Beach and Skate Park, West Side Park (at 6th Avenue SW and 13th Street SW), ☏ . Show off your new pair of board shorts or that rockin' henna tramp stamp. If you want to see and be seen, this is where you need to be. Join a beach volleyball match, toss the Friz, or just keep your shades down and get your creep on; this beach is your oyster, shuck it. The horseshoe pits are well-manicured and chances are you'll have them all to yourselves unless it's Monday night. The beach is home to some of the City's most beautiful sunsets. Free.
- 5 Anderson's Rock Creek Relics Corn Maze, Five miles south on Old Highway 61. Noon-6PM daily. Since 2010, Mr. Anderson has tilled his land and broken his back so city folk can spend an afternoon getting lost amid acres of America’s favorite crop. Presidents, Senators and Congressmen get in for free. Sep-Oct $5, (under 5, free.
- 6 Peaceful Pines Pumpkin Patch, 13650 Government Rd, ☏ , email@example.com. Sep 28-Oct 27: F 3PM-dusk, Sa 11AM-6PM, Su 11AM-4PM. free admission, pumpkins extra.
- 7 Haunted Pokegama Sanatorium, 10035 Pokegama Lake Road SW. In 1905, 35 acres of rural lakeside land was set aside for a tuberculosis hospital here—half a day’s journey north from St. Paul, where a prominent doctor held office. That doctor was Longstreet Taylor, and he specialized in tuberculosis patients. It was abandoned in 1986 and the building still stands. It has become commonplace to ghost hunters and "My Ghost Story" (Season 5, Episode 13) recounted one such investigation. There are lots of bats. And, this is private property so it is best to contact the owner for permission.8 Sandrock Cliffs Trail (St. Croix Trail) (Highway 70 east to State Line (at the former Marshland Center)), ☏ . The Sandrock Cliffs Trail is a 5-mile system of loop trails north of Highway 70 along the St. Croix River. The southern-most trail is a 3-mile loop. Connecting trails provide 2 additional miles to explore and feature picturesque sandstone cliffs. Trail heads are located at the Highway 70 Landing parking area and off of Tennessee Road near the north end of the trail system. The trail is open year-round and is for foot-traffic only. No motorized vehicles or bicycles are permitted.
Major annual events
Spring, summer, and fall
- 9 Highway 61 Film Festival. Early April
- Citywide Garage Sale - mid-May
- Memorial Day Parade - late May
Some of Pine City's events draw people from far and wide, including:
- 10 East Central Minnesota Pride ("Pride in the Park" LGBTQ Pride Fest), 200 5th St SE. First Saturday each June in Robinson Park. This was America's first rural gay pride. Free.
- Freedom Fest – Last Weekend in June. The largest and most popular Independence Day celebration in the Midwest that doesn't fall on Independence Day (it's always the weekend before). There's more to do here than in Brainerd, the Fourth of July Capitol of Minnesota. Classic car and tractor shows, impressive fireworks display able to be viewed from land or by boat, softball tournament, pancake breakfast and a heck of a lot more.
- Art Fest. In Robinson Park, mid-July.
- 11 Pine County Fair. Let Jul/early Aug. Home to Minnesota's largest, and hardest-hitting demolition derby.
- National Night Out. Robinson Park - early Aug.
- Czech Booyah Festival, Sokol Camp. Mid-Aug.
- 12 Pine City PRCA Championship Rodeo. Labor Day Weekend
- Snake River Fur Post's "Rendezvous" or "Festival of the Voyageur" – late Sep
- Winter Frolic, mid-Jan
- Ice Fishing Derby. Late Jan. Pokegama Lake (hosted by the Snake River Valley Conservation Club)
- Ice Fishing Derby. Cross Lake (hosted by the Pine City Lions) - early Feb
- Queen Charlotte's Birthday Ball. Snake River Fur Post - early Feb
- 13 BB32 Memorial Hockey Tournament. Hilltop Park and Korbel Arena grounds. Late Jan. This annual weekend tournament highlights the talents of many local athletes and brings spectators from far and wide. The hot and fast action nearly melts the ice, despite the frigid January temperatures. On the pond, skill, speed and toughness are tested to their limits and champions are immediately vaulted into iconic status within the community, free to revel in glory for eternity.
- PTCC Shooter's Association Gun Show – late Feb
- Holiday Madness and lighted parade – early Dec
- 2 Nordahl Marine, 13108 Canalville Lane, ☏ . Marina with boat maintenance and repair services.
- Pine-Toon Rental LLC, 15685 Norwood Ln, ☏ . Boat and pontoon rental.
- Snake River Outfitters, ☏ . Canoeing adventures and tours.
Fishing is Minnesota's favorite sport, and Pine City is an ideal place for it. While there are smaller lakes to explore, the real draws in Pine City are Cross Lake, Pokegama Lake and the lower Snake River. The lakes are full of northern pike, muskellunge, bass, perch, and Minnesota's favorite fish, the Walleye.
- 3 Holiday Stationstores - Freeway, 715 13th Street SW, ☏ . Get your Minnesota fishing license and bait here.
- 4 Holiday Stationstores - Downtown, 570 Main Street S, ☏ . Get your Minnesota fishing license and bait here.
- Adrenaline Archery and Bait, 1300 Northridge Drive NW, ☏ .
Sports and recreation
- 14 Pine City Country Club, 10413 Golf Course Rd SW, ☏ . Daily 7AM-10PM. For over 40 years, the Pine City Country Club, a nine-hole par 36 golf course, has been the primary destination for golf enthusiasts in the area. It offers PGA professional instructions for both amateurs and professionals.
- 15 Voyageur Park Disc Golf Course, 600 1st Avenue NW, ☏ . Experience disc golf where a Guinness World Record was set in 2011.
- 16 Wings North Hunt Club, 19379 Homestead Road, ☏ .
- [dead link] Pine City/Hinckley Flames Snowmobile Trails (detailed maps available in Pine City Area Chamber of Commerce office). Over 100 miles of groomed trail.
- Chengwatana OHV Trails, County Rd 10/Chengwatana Forest Rd (The forest has forested upland islands surrounded by marsh and brush. Three rivers, the Kettle, Snake, and St. Croix, flow through the forest. Recreational opportunities include hiking, snowmobiling, and horseback riding along the Willard Munger State Trail.), ☏ .
- 17 Wheel Brokers R/C Raceway and Hobby, 890 Main Street S, ☏ . R/C hobby shop with trucks, parts and accessories as well as R/C car repair.
Temporary assignments are sometimes available through the following agency:
- Masterson Staffing Services, 545 3rd Avenue SE, ☏ .
Pine City is home to the only Walmart between Forest Lake and Cloquet on I-35. There are other shopping opportunities in Evergreen Square and Northridge Center, two shopping centers on the south and north freeway interchanges, respectively. Popular chain stores in town include Verizon Wireless, O'Reilly Auto Parts and Radio Shack. Other places to be sure to shop while in Pine City include:
- 5 The Pine City Scrapbooking Co., 415 2nd Avenue SE, ☏ . Featured on CBS national news as a unique business type.
- 6 Sauser's Hardware, 229 5th Street SE, ☏ . Historic Sauser's is a living museum, an old-fashioned hardware with creaky wood floors that offers virtually everything one can think of (i.e. welding supplies, lawn mowers, paints, trimmers, appliances, unique gifts and more).
- 7 Farmers' Market in the Park. The summer market opens in July and runs through October every Friday and Saturday, 11AM-1PM. Activities for kids, farm-to-table recipes and master gardeners at your service.
- Midwest Charm, 235 Main St. S., Pine City, MN 55063, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Mon-Tues Closed / Weds 4PM-7PM, Thurs-Fri 10AM-7PM, Sat 9AM-4PM, Sun Noon-4PM. Up-cycled and vintage home decor and furniture.
With over 30 places to eat throughout Pine City, this place has some of the most restaurants per capita of anywhere in Minnesota. The freeway interchanges are home to many popular chains such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway and Pizza Hut/WingStreet. In addition to those, the city contains restaurants and cafes you wouldn't likely find in other similar sized cities:
Ethnic and specialty
- 1 More Than Sprouts, 245 5th Street SE, ☏ . Health foods, organic menu and items, with gluten-free and vegan options.
- 2 New China, 150 Main Street S, ☏ . Full Chinese menu, no MSG.
- 3 Lotus Thai Cuisine, 610 8th Avenue SW, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-9PM. One of the few Thai restaurants in Greater Minnesota, and according to Heavy Table it could be put up against any of them in the Twin Cities.
- 4 Don Julio's Mexican Restaurant Bar & Grill (Don Julio's), 1120 Hillside Ave SW, ☏ . One of six locations of Don Julio's. Excellent fajitas, salsa and other Mexican food!
- 5 Maxwell's Southern BBQ & Fresh Meats (https://maxwellssouthernbbq.com/), 515 8th Ave SE, ☏ . Tu-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su noon-6PM
Mon Closed. Black-owned business.
- 6 A&W All-American Food (Berchin's A&W), 820 Main Street S, ☏ . All-American food and carhop. Ask for the "Dragon Meal".
- 7 Pizza Pub, 500 3rd Avenue SE, ☏ . Su-Th 3-9PM, F Sa 3-10PM. Award winning pizzeria and family restaurant; considered by some to be a Pine City staple. Best time to go: Friday nights.
- 8 Rock Creek Cafe, 5737 State Hwy 70, ☏ . Great breakfasts all day long and world famous chicken dumpling soup.
- 9 Nicoll's Cafe, 255 Main Street S, ☏ . Eat like a local and hear local happenings, all with a laid back atmosphere and free WiFi Internet.
On the lake
- 10 Lake Appeil, 13646 Muffies Ln, ☏ .
- Floppy Crappie Lakeside Pub & Arcade, 10762 Lakeview Shore Drive, ☏ . Giant arcade in back. Fun for the kids.
- Mom's Parkside Cafe, 223 5th Street SE. Ice cream and a downtown stroll, parkside? Oh yeah.
Bars and nightclubs
- 1 Village Bar, 245 3rd Avenue SE, ☏ . Pine City's first and finest watering hole. Try the "Village Idiot". If in town on a Saturday, the gringo tacos are amaze-balls!
- 2 Froggy's, 209 5th St SE, ☏ . Local favorite with deejay keeping a lively dance floor weekends. Best burger in town: "The Froggy Burger".
- 3 American Legion, 525 Main St N, ☏ . Locally referred to as "The Wrinkle Room".
- 4 The Garage, 755 Main St S, ☏ . Great rooftop patio during warm months.
- 5 Three Twenty Brewing Co., 135 5th Street SE, ☏ , email@example.com. Th 4PM-10PM, F 3PM-10PM, Sa noon-10PM. A craft brewery and taproom.
- Boondoggle Winery, 31575 Saint Croix Road, ☏ . Red, fruit and white wines.
- 18 Northern Hollow Winery, 6916 Canary Rd, Grasston, ☏ , JimT@northernhollowwinery.com. F 1PM-7PM, Sa Su 11AM-5PM.
- 6 Cabina Caffe, 620 8th Ave SW, ☏ . Unique 'Up North' feel, serving an wide selection of coffee drinks and smoothies as well as bakery items.
Not finding the lodging you need in Pine City? Often times, especially during the summer months, there will be no vacancies in Pine City's lodging accommodations. Here is a partial list of some of the other nearby options:
This town, with all it offers, is in desperate need of a hotel. Are you in the hospitality industry? What are you waiting for?
- 8 Snake River Campground, Snake River Campground Road (east on County Road 8 (St. Croix Road) to Snake River Campground Road), ☏ . Campsites consist of a cleared area, fire ring and table. In addition, vault toilets, garbage cans and drinking water are available. All sites are on a first-come, first-served basis. Individual site $12.
- 9 Pokegama Lake Campground, 12965 Lake Line Road, ☏ .
- 10 Pokegama Lake RV Park, 19193 Island Resort Road, ☏ . RV Park has a 9-hole golf course (Par 3) and a large heated swimming pool, among many other amenities.
- 11 Scrapbooking in the Pines Retreat Center, 415 2nd Avenue SE, ☏ . Retreat in this perfect place to get away well-suited for scrapbooking (of course) but also stamping, quilting, gaming, and crafting.
- 19 Anytime Fitness, 925 Main Street S, ☏ .
- East Central Martial Arts, 175 Main St. S., ☏ . Karate, TKD, Hapkido, Judo, and Aikido. Adult and youth classes.
Pine City is perhaps one of the safest and most benign communities that you will ever visit -with non-existent levels of violent crime and a warm and welcoming atmosphere that is exciting and refreshing. The most significant threat to public safety comes from the high level of deer that are native to the surrounding forests. It is not uncommon to have a nighttime drive interrupted by a shocking jolt of adrenaline due to these impish mammals suddenly appearing on the side of darkened road. Constant vigilance is strongly suggested during the night in order to avoid a costly accident.
- 2 [formerly dead link] Pine County Sheriff's Office, 635 Northridge Dr. NW, Suite 100, ☏ , 911 (for emergencies), fax: .
- Fire Department, ☏ (Non-emergency), 911 (For emergencies).
- Poison Center, ☏ .
Hospitals and clinics
- Essentia Health, 705 Lundorff Dr, Sandstone (A 20-minute drive north on I-35.), ☏ .
- 3 Welia Health - Pine City Clinic, 1425 Main Street N, ☏ . Contract something at Froggy's Friday night? This clinic will have the remedy (for the disease, not your reputation).
- 4 United States Post Office, 170 Evergreen Square SW, ☏ . M-F 8:30AM-5PM. Excellent, speedy service!
There are no Internet cafes in Pine City. Most coffeehouses offer free WiFi to paying customers, but the only internet terminals available are at the public library and Pine Technical and Community College.
- 20 Pine City Public Library, 300 5th Street SE, ☏ . Unlimited free WiFi if you have your own computer. The Internet workstations can only be accessed by East Central Regional Library cardholders.
- 5 Pine Technical and Community College, 900 4th Street SE, ☏ . Unlimited free WiFi if you have your own computer. The Internet workstations can only be accessed by students and faculty with a college ID.
Pine City and the central part of Minnesota are in the 320 area code. From Pine City prefixes (213, 322, 323, 386, 438, 629, 591 and 964), local calls can be made to Rush City (215, 358, 388, 566 and 923) and Hinckley (207, 279, 280, 336, 384, 385 and 390) prefixes.
- Pine City Pioneer, Pine City's weekly newspaper aka. the "Pine Poker". See the "Happenings" section. $1.
- Rush City Aquatic Center - A pool for all ages.
- Historic Grant House- Said to be haunted, and previously investigated.
- Chucker's Bowl & Lounge - Get your bowl on. Strike!
- Grand Casino Hinckley Open 24 hours a day. Come join droves of other vagabonds and lose your mortgage payment while drinking all the free pop or coffee your bladder can handle. Enjoy Grand Casinos' best-kept secret: Play high stakes and get fed too.
- Grand Cinema To watch the cinema on the cheap, it’s recommended going “dutch", as paying for two could drain your checking account. Now hiring exchange students, emo lifestyle required.
- Bike the Willard Munger Trail (over 100 km, 70 miles between Hinckley and Duluth)
- Shop the Shops at Gateway North.
- Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, 102 E. Crex Ave., Gransburg (north on Highway F out of Grantsburg), ☏ . Visitors center open M-F 8AM-4:30PM, Sa Su 10AM-4PM, driving tours at any time. A wide variety of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects also reside here. The rare sedge marsh and brush prairie habitats make the area a utopia for wildlife which, in turn, makes Crex a paradise for bird-watchers, naturalists, botanists, hunters, trappers, and all the other hearty explorers who are interested in the great bounty that nature offers.
Twin Cities metro
It's an easy one-hour drive, give or take, on I-35 to most destinations in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, including:
- Mall of America is in Bloomington. Remember, Minnesota has no sales tax on clothing.
- Valleyfair is a 125-acre amusement park that's in the southwest suburb of Shakopee.
- Minnesota Zoo is in the southern suburb of Apple Valley.
- Drive up the North Shore of Lake Superior along 'Scenic 61'
- Set off for a camping/canoe trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area
|Routes through Pine City|
|Duluth ← Hinckley ←||N S||→ North Branch → Minneapolis/Saint Paul|