Finding affordable family fun can be a challenge, but in Osceola, it’s as easy as A, B, C.
A non-profit theater and art gallery housed in an authentic early 20th century barn, the St. Croix ArtBarn fosters artists, actors, writers, musicians, and dancers of all ages. Stop in and see a show or become a participant in one of the ArtBarn’s classes ranging from comedy to canvas painting.
For just $2 per person or $5 for the whole family, you can experience a slice of Americana at Oakey Park, home of the Osceola Braves semi-pro baseball team. All the ballpark’s favorite snacks are at the concession stand—salted peanuts in the shell ($2.50), fresh popped popcorn ($1), hot dogs ($2), Wisconsin brats ($3), burgers ($3.50) and beer ($2-$3)—making it easy to have an unforgettable day of baseball without paying stadium prices.
Wisconsin’s oldest state park is a stone’s throw from Osceola. Interstate Park offers tent, RV, and handicapped accessible camping and boasts activities and recreation like world class hiking past glacial potholes, the Gorge of the Dalles and rugged wilderness, a swimming beach on Lake ‘o the Dalles, and the Ice Age Interpretive Center.
When you board the Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway, it’s like stepping back in time. The fully-restored 1916 SOO Line Depot displays vestiges of the past and hosts historic passenger cars powered by vintage locomotive engines that travel through the rugged countryside along the St. Croix River. Fares vary by excursion, but kids two and under are always free.
ENTER A RACE
In May, the Minnesota Mountain Bike Race Series kicks off with The Woolly Mountain Bike Race featuring several competition levels, including a free kids’ race, along groomed bike trails through the wooded terrain of the St. Croix Valley. The Rustic Road Fun Run in early June includes a 5K walk/run or a 10K run and a free kids’ race on paved roadways with beautiful scenery. July brings the Polk County Rockin’ Youth Triathlon which encourages kids of all ages and abilities to explore their athletic sides in swimming, running, and bicycling. Car enthusiasts will enjoy putting their automobiles to the test on Osceola Airport’s runway during the Wheels and Wings Radar Run in September.
FISH FOR TROUT
The beautiful grounds and picnic areas at Star Prairie Trout Farm make it an ideal spot for beginning anglers and young children. All you need to bring is a cooler for your catch: no license required and all fishing gear is provided, with only a small charge ($3) for live bait. Fees are assessed based on the weight of the trout you bring home and they will even clean and cut them for you. More experienced fisher-families might want to try Mill Pond Park or Osceola Creek which are both stocked annually with trout. If trout’s not your game, try one of these other Polk County Fishing hotspots.
GEIGER BREWERY PARK
The perfect place for a picnic, the one-acre Geiger Brewery Park is nestled at the base of a bluff and a freshwater stream gurgles through it. A historical marker commemorates the spot where Geiger Brewery once stood from 1867-1878.
A weekend visit to the Osceola State Fish Hatchery offers something old and something new. Most of the hatchery buildings were built in 1934, with the exception of one small stone storage building which dates back to 1894. The impressive 300,000 rainbow trout, on the other hand, are only kept for 17 months before finding new homes across Wisconsin as part of a state-wide stocking program. Call ahead to schedule your free, self-guided tour.
From soft-serve to slow-churned, you can lick your cold craving in downtown Osceola with a frozen treat from Dairy Queen or an old-fashioned ice cream while you shop for antiques at The Looking Glass or have pizza @ Thiel's American Pie.
JAMBOREES & FESTIVALS
Osceola is a fun place to come together. The first weekend in June brings Rhubarb Days, which centers around yummy rhubarb creations and includes a variety of fun for all ages and interests. Wheels & Wings draws a crowd in early September with its airshow, car show, radar run, and craft bazaar. On the same weekend in September, the Osceola Community Fair comes to town, featuring classic carnival staples like farm exhibits, amusement rides, live music, and fair food. Then the Osceola Community Bazaar is great to visit to unwind, find some cool crafts and sip on some wine in beautiful Mill Pond Park.
KAYAK, CANOE OR PADDLEBOARD
Awe-inspiring paddles await on the St. Croix River. A popular trip, from Interstate Park to Osceola Landing takes you through interesting basalt formations, flood plains, natural shorelines, sandstone and limestone bluffs and more. Rentals at Riverwood Canoe and Kayak include free parking and a shuttle to and from their Osceola location, allowing you to have a full day of family fun for $35 or less.
With so many ways to enjoy Osceola’s lakes, you can easily spend a whole day at just one of our six area bodies of water. Swim, fish, canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or boat on Big Lake, Cedar Lake, Lotus Lake, Horse Lake, or Sand Lake.
MOVIES UNDER THE STARS
What could be better than a family movie night? A free family movie night in the open air. Movies Under the Stars play at Mill Pond Park at dusk and concessions are available for purchase. Don’t forget your lawn chairs or picnic blanket!
Standing Cedars Community Land Conservancy preserves 1,800 acres along the St. Croix River. The diverse ecosystems that converge here make it ideal for hiking, birdwatching, and plant identification. Be on the lookout for the rare kittentails, a threatened plant species that can be found in the Buffalo Skull area of the preserve. Osceola Bedrock Glades preserves a large forest of scrappy trees and plant life growing out of rare exposed basalt bedrock. The vegetation persists despite minimal soil and water.
Osceola Landing is your starting point for adventure on the St. Croix River. Embark on your water craft journey from the paved boat launch and parking area, lounge on the sandy beach, take a dip in the river, or grill out at one of the picnic shelters. Located on Osceola Road/MN State Highway 242, the landing is part of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway and is managed by the National Park Service.
PRESERVE AMERICA COMMUNITY
Osceola is one of just eleven communities in Wisconsin to receive the distinction of a Preserve America Community. Its unique blend of historical and natural preservation and economic progression are evident in the Osceola Commercial Historic District which has been reinvigorated with businesses and shops that meet the needs of today’s community and historical tourist hotspots like Cascade Falls, the renovated Mill pond, and the 1916 train depot. All can be seen on foot on our Historic Village Walk. See if you can spot the oldest historical building in the district (1874) and the newest (1947).
Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life? The small, rivertown of Osceola has a relaxing vibe and a meditative journey through the woods is always just steps away on our many trails that head right off the main street. On a rainy day, the library is a peaceful sanctuary with an events calendar packed with kid-friendly activities.
The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway includes 252 miles of protected river and adjacent lands. The stretch through Osceola is a sight to behold. Hike atop tall limestone bluffs overlooking the river and its wild forest embankments below. The views are equally stunning from a boat, canoe, or kayak on the cool, clean water walled by cliffs and towering trees. Camping and fishing are favorite pastimes on the river for both locals and tourists.
There’s no better way to escape summer heat than a dip in cool water. Thanks to ancient glaciers, Osceola has several of nature’s swimming pools: the beach at Osceola Landing on the St. Croix River is a local favorite or try one of six nearby lakes, including Lotus Lake which has an adjacent park. For a more controlled water experience, look to the Osceola High School Aquatic Center or the pool at River Valley Inn which both offer open swimming for a reasonable fee.
You’ll discover waterfalls, springs, forestland, prairies, bluffs, a covered bridge, and wildlife on the more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails in the Osceola area. The St. Croix Valley is a mecca for mountain bikers with its diverse terrain and scenic beauty along groomed and natural bike trails. Bird lovers love our birding trails, too. Our unique location along a heavily traveled migratory highway with varied habitats facilitates flocks of flying fowl.
At community-supported, family-owned Demulling Farm, playing in the dirt is encouraged! When you pick your own strawberries, you not only create lasting family memories, but you get more bang for your buck—U-pick strawberries are typically much cheaper than supermarket prices and are oh so tasty!
Whether it’s the river valley, the waterfalls, the bluffs, the natural landscape or historic buildings, the sights of Osceola are worth the trip. All of these sensations and more can be viewed in one walking trip through our Walkable Community.
A set of steps marked by a statue of Chief Osceola leads down to Cascade Falls, a 25-foot high waterfall in the heart of downtown Osceola. Above, the smaller Geiger Falls tumbles its way to Osceola Creek, helping to feed Cascade Falls below. At night, the falls are lit with color-changing LED lights.
Up for a little friendly competition? Sweat it out together on the RCU Sport Court at Wild River Fitness. The outdoor, fenced-in court is lit in the evenings and outfitted for basketball, tennis, pickle ball, badminton, volleyball, and shuffleboard. The court is free to use and equipment can be borrowed inside the fitness center at no charge.
Osceola is full of affordable and delicious dining options. From family-owned farm-to-table cafes to a canoe-themed restaurant to places to pop in to prepare a picnic, the food scene here has a wide variety of family-friendly fare. The Osceola Farmer’s Market has all the fresh ingredients you need for whole food cooking when you return home. And there are plenty of places to grab some picnic food and find some of the greatest spots to throw a blanket and enjoy.
Thrill seeking families will love an aerial tour of the woodlands just outside of Osceola. Trollhaugen’s Zip Line Park includes six different zips and over 3,000 feet of line with a peak height of 50 feet in the air! Reservations are recommended.
Team of authors contribute. Germaine Ross, Chamber Director, Nancy Beck, Board Member.