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Discover Wisconsin: Twenty things to do and see in vibrant River Falls
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An artsy, outdoorsy and vibrant small town surrounded by gorgeous countryside and located just 30 minutes from Minneapolis-St. Paul, the little city of River Falls has a little bit of everything. I may be a bit biased, given the fact that it's my hometown; however, I truly think this area is worthy of a visit. And here's why:

River Falls gets its name from the falls at the Kinnickinnic River, a 22-mile world-class trout stream. "The Kinni" provides an abundance of recreational activities for locals and visitors. Between the outdoor adventures and the benefits that come with having the University of Wisconsin-River Falls right in town, there is always something to do here.


1. The biggest event of the year is River Falls Days, a weekend in July when locals come together to enjoy a parade, delicious food, live music, family events and fireworks.

2. September brings three more festivals, including Art on the Kinni (Sept. 10), which features 65 local artists and 10 musical events.

3. The weekend of Sept. 17-18 is Bacon Bash, where locals celebrate all things bacon (and let's be honest, who doesn't like bacon?)

4. Falcon Frontier Days, held this year on Sept. 10 and 11, is a UW-River Falls celebration that puts the spotlight on its annual rodeo.

5. The Roots and Bluegrass Music Festival takes place in April and involves beer and wine tasting and regional and local musical acts.

6. River Dazzle kicks off the holiday season the day after Thanksgiving with a chili crawl, cookie decorating, open skate, horse-drawn wagon rides, carolers and an evening parade down Main Street.


7. Music in the Park, part of the annual summer concert series, takes place every Friday and Saturday evening in Veterans Park.

8. Chill on the Hill goes on every Tuesday at the Melvin Wall Amphitheatre on campus, which headlines everything from pop and rock to bluegrass and jazz.


9. The beautiful Kinnickinnic River brings nature lovers to the area for activities of all kinds, whether it's a simple hike along the river and to the falls or kayaking and fly-fishing on the Kinni. Head to Kinni Creek Lodge and Outfitters for kayak rental, a fly shop and fly-fishing schools, or just stay at the on-site bed and breakfast.

10. Speaking of the Kinni, don't miss a wonderful view of the river from the swinging bridge at Glen Park.

11. Adventurers will also enjoy mountain biking or snowshoeing at Whitetail Ridge.

12. Golfers visit from near and far to take in River Falls Golf Club, Kilkarney Hills and Clifton Hollow.

Sights and Activities

13. If you're a sports fan, you'll be sure to enjoy a variety of UW-River Falls Falcons athletics throughout the year.

14. Baseball fans must visit the brand new, state-of-the-art First National Bank of River Falls Field, which hosts the high school team as well as the River Falls Fighting Fish.

15. The historical Falls Theater plays first-run movies daily at shockingly affordable prices (where else can you see a movie for $3 and enjoy popcorn for $1 these days?).

Wine and Dine

16. Eat like a local at Steve's Pizza Palace, which has everything from pizza and pasta to gyros and sandwiches.

17. Adults enjoy visits to Rush River Brewery as well as Belle Vinez Winery, a new locally-owned and family-run River Falls favorite.

18. Mariachi Loco is the city's go-to for delicious Mexican food.

19. The West Wind Supper Club or Copper Kettle are River Falls favorites for their excellent dinner specials.

20. Stop in at Dish and the Spoon Cafe for wood-fired brick oven pizza and other delicious cafe treats.

I've been in love with this town for as long as I can remember. After a visit, you surely will be too.

For more on River Falls, stream "River Falls: City on the Kinni" now on or tune in when the episode airs across the Midwest Saturday and Sunday.

- Kristen Finstad is a crew member of the nation's longest-running tourism TV show, "Discover Wisconsin." The column is published Tuesday on the Life page in the Times.