List of 10 Cozy Adventure Ideas in Lake Pepin WI

Lake Pepin Marina in March 2022.

Are you looking for a beautiful, cozy getaway that won’t break the bank? My family and I were looking for a mini vacation that wasn’t too far of a drive for us. Little did we know, one of the most beautiful scenic drives in America was only 2 hours from home. I have always felt that the beauty of the Midwest is severely underrated. Although we are hoping to go back and try more activities that happen during fall and summer time, Lake Pepin is a place we are hoping to visit again.

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1. Cruise Highway 35 Caressing Lake Pepin- one of the most beautiful drives during all seasons!

Highway 35 (or Great River Road) stretches from Red Wing, MN to Wabasha, MN. It passes through some of the most beautiful views. This picturesque day drive hugs the edges of Lake Pepin while offering beautiful views of countless rivers, such as Rush River, Buffalo Slough River, Chippewa River and more notably closer to Wabasha, the Mississippi River. There are countless scenic overlooks where you can pull over to take in the views and capture some magical pictures.

Cost: $0

2. Highway 35 passes through the cutest small towns overlooking Lake Pepin.

One of the many historical markers along Highway 35.

You know what they say- it’s not the destination, but the journey that’s the best part! If this is your mindset, you will enjoy exploring some of the small towns along the way to Pepin. Maiden Rock is a small village across Lake Pepin from Frontenac State Park (MN). It is known as the home of the Indian Legend of the Bluff, telling the story of a young Sioux girl who leapt to her death off of a bluff after being forced to marry someone she did not love. There is a memorial that is a historical marker (along with many others!) along the Great River Road that shares her story with travelers passing through. Maiden Rock also boasts beautiful culture and art studios such as Cultural Cloth, Secret Heart Gallery and Flaming Fire Art Studio. There is also a Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery. Another must see in the area- Maiden Rock State Bluff Natural Area- well worth the hike!

Stockholm, population of 78, is the next stop before Pepin and has a lot of history and culture for such a small town. If you are into camping, they have the Stockholm Village Campground near Lake Pepin. This town is also known as a “local art hub” offering unique gifts inspired by the Danish concept of “hygge” or “cozy” such as Hugga Bugga, Sandy’s Art and Clothing, Saavy and Humblemoon Folkstead. There is also a Stockholm Pie & General Store, featuring over 40 pies across the street from another bakery. An important thing to note- most of these shops do not open until 11 am they close at 2 pm.

Link to stores here:

Cost: Varies store to store. Exploring the town & the views though? $0!

3. Visit the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

If you are someone who loves history, seeing the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder is surreal. The location of her birthplace is off a winding country road (marked by historical signs) 7 miles east of Lake Pepin. We learned they moved to Kansas after her birth, but actually returned to Pepin years later before moving out west. Side note: The museum is also open off of Great River Road in the town.

Cost: Birth place site: $0 Museum entry: Adults- $5; K-12: $2; Pre-School & Under: $0

4. Stop in for some made from scratch meals.

Lake Pepin has some delicious, local food options that we were lucky to try. For me, coffee or tea is the perfect company for scenic drives and long walks. You can stop by Kyzmetic Koffee right off Great River Road for coffee, tea, fresh baked goods and sandwiches or soups. (I’d note to look up their times and days open as it can be sporadic and changes!). Homemade Cafe is a delicious breakfast diner with everything made from scratch. The staff is friendly (I was appreciative of how kid-friendly it is!) and the portions huge! By the lake, you can find Habor View Cafe and Pickle Factory. The Harbor View cafe features award-winning, made from scratch menu that changes with the season. Not to mention, it lives up to it’s name with the view and was two cabins down from our cabin we rented. The Pickle Factory was closed for the season, but locals shared it’s a favorite and it’s right on the shores of Lake Pepin. If you are wanting to buy some groceries or treats, E&S Fresh Mart has everything you need.

Link: Visit Harbor View Pepin, Kyzmet Koffee and Homemade Cafe.

5. Take a relaxing walk by Pepin Marina.

Walking the Lake Pepin Marina strep. Our AirBnB was by 2 delicious restaraunts with a harbor view!

One of the best ways to enjoy this cozy town is by taking a walk along the Pepin Marina. The view is breathtaking and walking out onto the pier gives your the most beautiful panorama of the endless lake and the bluffs. My son’s favorite part of the walk was “fossil hunting” because there are beautiful rocks along the shores as well. During spring and summer, there is a public beach as well with the entrance by Pepin Marina sign. Anyone with a boat or who loves fishing- this is the spot for you!

I do caution anyone bringing dogs or little ones that there is a railroad track that runs along the marina as well that is very active. We held on extra tight to our little ones!

Cost: $0

6. Get the Italian experience at Villa Bellezza Winery.

Used as a place for weddings and events, experiencing wonderful Italian foods and most importantly- wine tasting!- Villa Bellezza Winery is breathtaking! Even visting the winery and admiring the beautiful vineyard and buildings was a treat. This is a place where ingredients are organic and local, so the cost is more. However, the experience is well worth it! There is also an option to taste 3 different wines for $5.00 and they have a separate wine tasting room.

Link: Visit Villa Bellezza

Cost: $11-16 off the menu; Wine tasting: $5 for 3 wines

7. Get extra cozy and find a cabin, Airbnb or bed and breakfast.

One of the joys of “cabin life” is being able to slow down, unplug and focus on the present- especially with how bombarded we are living in a speed culture. At times my attention is pulled in multiple directions and I feel I am going crazy. One of the most healing things for me was to be able to do hobbies I love in a serene place with a beautiful view. I was able to journal, do yoga, cook meals from scratch, write poetry and really focus on my family without distractions. This was a blessing!

There are plenty of options for staying in Pepin, Wisconsin. We knew we wanted a lake front view, so we were able to find a lovely A-frame cabin facing the lake. This place had everything we needed and allowed us to pack light. We loved the boho vibes and spiral staircase. It’s also only two doors down from Harbor Café. There are countless other options on Airbnb as well.

*Scroll to the bottom of this post not only for the link to this beautiful, affordable A-Frame cabin, but to see others from our wishlist!

8. See the wildlife by taking an off-road.

One of the many beautiful country roads in the Lake Pepin area. Perfect and private areas for family pictures or landscape photography!

There are plenty of beautiful off roads in this area that will take you on an exciting adventure with a guarantee of beautiful views. We cruised Country Road A which wraps around Rush River, right before you pass through Maiden Rock village if you are traveling south bound on Great River Road. On our drive, we saw multiple bald eagles, white tailed deer, hawks, foxes. This was one of our favorite parts of our trip!

Cost: $0

9. Try to take a picture sitting in the every giant chair you see.

Scattered across the Lake Pepin area are a series of giant chairs you can take selfies or family vacation photos. Can you take a selfie in all of them?

If you are looking for the perfect place for a photo session, look no further! The entire Pepin Area flaunts giant chairs you can pile into and take pictures, well, anywhere! We had a lot of fun with these. My kids made it a point to try to take a picture on each one.

Cost: $0

10. Beware the Monster of Lake Pepin.

Beautiful moon shining over Lake Pepin.

I am just kidding about this one- but it’s a part of local folklore there is a Lochness monster lurking in the dark depths of Lake Pepin. I had a lot of fun reading about this and my kids actually looked for this “monster” along the shorelines and during our drive. We weren’t so lucky- but maybe you will be!

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Interested in taking a vacation to Lake Pepin? Explore our wish list of beautiful, budget-friendly rental properties!

*Here is a link to our beautiful, A-frame waterfront cabin from our trip:

A-Frame waterfront cabin we stayed in. Photo credit to the host, Peter, at Airbnb.

Click to view other options on our wish list:

Lake City Panorama Cabin– Photo Credit: Airbnb
Eagle’s Nest – Photo Credit: Airbnb
Lakefront Cottage Lake Pepin – Photo credit: Airbnb.
Villa Serra– Photo Credit: Airbnb
Plum Creek House – Photo credit: Airbnb.
Villa Del Lago– Photo credit: Airbnb.


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