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13 Awesome Things to Do in Hastings, Minnesota

The fun things to do in Hastings begin in winter and continue throughout the year. When the snow begins, enjoy some great skiing, snowboarding along with some snowshoeing. The arrival of summer brings fantastic summer fun, with nature discoveries, horseback riding, well wishes, fresh apples, and extreme sand play. Your year-round unique adventures begin here where you will discover all the awesome things to do in Hastings and nearby.

New bridge with terra cotta colored arches over the Mississippi River in Hastings, Minnesota
New bridge over the Mississippi River in Hastings, Minnesota

1. Hastings Civic Arena

First on our list of fun things to do in Hastings is a visit to the Hastings Civic Arena. The arena is home to an ice rink that is open for recreational skating and lessons. With two sheets available, there should always be space for you. If you are new to skating or want to develop your skills, then lessons are available. The Hastings Hockey Boosters have their home at the Civic Arena, so you can also take in a game.

2. Afton Alps

Not only does Hastings offer plenty to do in summer, but it’s got winter covered too. Nearby Afton Alps has 300 acres of skiable snow, with 48 different trails. All abilities of skiers are welcome, from beginners to advanced. Grab your winter gear and enjoy some great skiing at one of the most chilling things to do in Hastings.

3. Welch Village Ski and Snowboard Area

Skier skiing downhill during a sunny day
Skier skiing downhill during a sunny day

Another place to visit for some winter fun is Welch Village Ski and Snowboard Area, which is only 20 minutes away from Hastings. Here, you will find 140 acres of skiing area. If you are an experienced skier, then hit the slopes for some excitement. Bring along your snowboard for additional fun. If you are new to skiing, you can hire equipment and have a go on the beginner slopes. Ski lessons are also available.

4. Afton State Park

Afton State Park presents expanses of beautifully restored prairies, intercut by ravines that house the St Croix River. Various trails wind their way through the park. In summer, you can explore them on foot or on horseback. In winter, enjoy the 12 miles of cross country ski trails, catering for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers.

Spend a night at one of the backpack campsites, or enjoy the swimming beach. If you are interested in birds, then Afton State Park is rich with waterfowl, grassland, and migratory birds.

5. Carpenter Nature Center

The Carpenter Nature Center was established to help develop an appreciation of the natural world amongst people. Educational programs are offered to help to achieve this. There are plenty of opportunities to learn about the environment and the conservation of natural habitats.

You can also look out for fun outdoor activities. Take a hike and appreciate the pine trees, oak savanna, and prairies.  You can also go to the visitor center, where you will find displays that introduce you to some beautiful wildlife and birds of the area.

Another attraction that Carpenter Nature Center offers trails for snowshoeing. One of the highlights of the winter is the moonlight snow showing event for adults. So, don your winter gear, grab (or rent) some snowshoes, and head for moonlight snowy fun.

6. Whistling Well Farm

Juicy, ripe apples waiting for you at one of the best things to do in Hastings, Minnesota
Juicy, ripe apples waiting for you at one of the best things to do in Hastings, Minnesota

Our next discovery on our list of awesome things to do in Hastings is full of wishes and fall fun. How would you like to bite into a crunchy, fresh apple? Visiting Whistling Well Farm will give you that and much more. This apple orchard is located in the picturesque St Croix River Valley. The apples are not the only attraction. When you visit, you must drop a penny in the wishing well and make a wish. Make sure you stop by the shop for some good country fare and take home a bunch of mums to keep your home beautiful.

7. LeDuc Historic Estate

Part of the preservation of the history of Hastings is the LeDuc Historic Estate. Visiting this beautifully preserved house will truly give you a chance to step back into history. The house was constructed between 1862 and 1866, although the family moved in during 1865 before it was finished. Owner William G. LeDuc first came to Hastings as a lawyer and bookseller. He grew to be a landowner and prominent citizen in Hastings.

The house is in the Gothic Revival style, after a design by Andrew Jackson Downing. All the woodwork is made from locally-sourced white pine, except for the main staircase rail, which is cherry. The house is owned by the City of Hastings and managed by the Dakota County Historical Society, so it is truly a property of the area. It first opened for tours in 2005 and still invites you to step back into the history of Hastings.

8. Historic Downtown Hastings

Hastings lies where the St Croix and Mississippi rivers join. This was a strategic position and the town was established as a center for shipping, with a deep harbor. As railways and highways developed in the area, Hastings grew, but still keeps its air of being a small river town. The history of Hastings is preserved in buildings in the town and in some surrounding farms, many of which are continuing as Century Farms.

Take a walk through downtown Hastings and view buildings like the Dakota County Courthouse from 1871, which was rehabilitated in 1993 to become the Hastings City Hall. Make sure to walk along East Second Street and look at the fifty or so historic buildings that keep the history of Hastings alive.

9. Historic Hastings Car Shows

When do you have the chance to enjoy a real automotive feast and feed your eyes with some of the most magnificent historic cars? Visiting the Historic Hastings Car Shows once a month will do just that for you. The youngest cars you will see date from 1985; the oldest from, well who know when? You will have a chance to visit history up close all in one place at one time.

10. Levee Park

Levee Park is a popular community park in Hasting, with many attractions to make this destination for family fun. For the kids, there is a musical playground, which will keep them busy and entertained musically all at once. For picnics, there is a picnic shelter for those rainy days, or cold winter days, when you want to get out and about into nature. In summer, there are picnic tables and a fireplace if that is more your style. You can explore the labyrinth or the seasonal ice rink, or take a walk to the Veterans Memorial.

11. This Old Horse

Every horse, whether it is a racehorse, show jumper, or carthorse, comes to the end of its working life and moves into retirement. Not every horse can be accommodated by its owners, though. This Old Horse is a private organization that takes horses that need a place to enjoy life when they are finished working. It is run by volunteers, so why not take some time out to go and bond with horses and help these magnificent animals to enjoy their retirement?

12. Extreme Sandbox

Feel the power at one of the most extreme things to do in Hastings, Minnesota
Feel the power at one of the most extreme things to do in Hastings, Minnesota

Surely it must be the ambition of every child to drive a bulldozer. Some of the most popular presents for kids are different earth-working vehicles. Now is your chance to hark back to those days. Extreme Sandbox throws you right into the dream of every child and lets you play on the vehicles commonly used for construction. From the excavator to the bulldozer, jump up, grab the controls and have fun moving earth.

Actually, you don’t have to have left your child behind, because every one of every age is welcome. Dig a hole, crush a car, move the earth. Literally. This is the stuff of dreams.

13. Mississippi River Flyaway

The appropriately named Mississippi Flyaway is a migratory corridor along which about 300 or so birds migrate every year. Undoubtedly, this is a magnificent place for birdwatching. Added to this is Hastings’s involvement in important birding areas in the region, so there is plenty of opportunity for birdwatching in the town.

Throughout the Seasons

Any time of the year, your calendar can be filled with an abundance of awesome things to do in Hastings, Minnesota. When you have the privilege to watch some of the most beautiful migratory birds in Minnesota and the chance to immerse yourself in history and the great outdoors, you’ll appreciate your active schedule during your visit to Hastings or all year long.

Beautiful seasons and awesome things to do in Hastings; which season and experience in Hastings was your favorite?