Pine City

Downtown Pine City street scene

Pine City is a city in east central Minnesota with the tagline "North. Nice and close.". The Pine City zip code has a population of approximately 10,000 people. It's an easy day trip from the Twin Cities to Pine City, the largest city in, and county seat of Pine County (pop. 29,750 in the 2010 Census).


Pine County Courthouse, home to the George W. Sausen Law Library and miles and miles of red tape.

Pine City is your quintessential, American small-town but it surprisingly offers a lot for its size. In recent years, 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, sufficiently close for a quick side trip, sufficiently distant 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, downtown life, as it was and as it remains.

The city's politics are split between liberal and conservative with a slight advantage to the liberals. Carhardt is a popular brand worn on local, middle-aged men and its not uncommon to see fishing hooks attached to many of their hat bills. 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, Wis. (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 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 21 27 38 54 67 75 80 78 69 55 39 25
Nightly lows (°F) 4 17 30 40 51 56 56 53 43 32 21 6
Precipitation (in) 0.9 0.9 1.6 2.8 3.4 4.5 4.1 4.1 3.8 3.2 1.8 1.2

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.


Visitor information center (tourism)

The information center is at:

Get in

By bus

Pine City is served by Jefferson Lines with a stop at Super America 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.

By car

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 both downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul, respectively. 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.

Alternatively, one 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.

By plane

By thumb

It's not uncommon to see hitchhiking along the Interstate 35 corridor.

Get around

By bus/taxi

If you don't have a car, you could use the public bus, Arrowhead Transit, or Attaboys' Taxi(+1 866 998-8294) offers transportation as well. Arrowhead Transit offers free fares for seniors and cheap fares for all.

By car

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. Keep in mind when finding addresses, 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.


The reconstructed fort at North West Company Fur Post


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:

Major annual events

Spring, summer, and fall

Demolition derby gang "Young Blood" lines up their cars prior to the big derby at the Pine County Fair.



Pine City is filled with plenty of activities for people of all ages.





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.

Bait shops

Sports and recreation


Temporary assignments are sometimes available through the following agency:


Historic 5th Street, near the town square, home to Sauser's Hardware and many mom and pop shoppes

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:


The award-winning, renaissance-themed Pizza Pub in the historic Rybak Building
Nicoll's Cafe's version of the Rock Creek Cafe's "world-famous" chicken and dumpling soup

There are over 30 places to eat throughout Pine City. 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 smaller sized cities:


Local favorites

On the lake






Nearby accommodations

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:

Stay healthy

Stay safe

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.


Hospitals and clinics


The rapidly-growing, high-tech Pine Technical College


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 College.


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.


Go next

The historic Grant House in nearby Rush City.
A Sandhill Crane spotted in Crex Meadows Wildlife Area.


Rush City


North Branch

Grantsburg, Wis.

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:

Up north

Routes through Pine City

Duluth Hinckley  N  S  North Branch Minneapolis/Saint Paul

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.