There's shopping on both sides of the St. Croix River. Stillwater gets the attention, but over the bridge, Hudson,Wis., works diligently to make itself a draw.

Just a 20-minute shot down I-94 from downtown St. Paul, downtown Hudson is smaller than its river rival but offers all the ingredients for an afternoon escape: a scenic river walk, patio dining and boutiques with everything from high-end home furnishings to sensational shoes. No national chains here - the stores are one-of-a-kind and most are women-owned.

Seasons on St. Croix is a great place to soak up a little local culture.The contemporary studio features fine arts from local and regional artists - some of whom work right in the gallery, so you can observe while you browse for everything from paintings and sculpture to such smaller gifts as pottery and jewelry.

If you're in the market for home improvements, two interior design firms showcase their aesthetic with retail stores.Try CocoBello for contemporary flair and Grapevine Interiors for more traditional furnishings. For smaller touches, visit Et Cetera, packed with country- inspired room accessories and dinnerware. Home, Kitchen & Bath (formerly the Futon & Home Shoppe was recently remodeled and offers gourmet foods, kitchen gadgets, wine accessories and handmade soaps in addition to futons and other furnishings.


Hudson's clothing boutiques do a good job of targeting different styles. La Rue Marche rivals Anthropologie with its whimsical fashions and standout shoe selection. Tucked in back is Tamara Schafhauser's studio, where you'll often find the jewelry designer hard at work on her next vintage-inspired gem. Across the street, Lavender Thymes serves as a nice complement with its extensive assortment of designer jeans and trendy tops for women. That's just one half of the airy store - the other side is filled with soaps, gourmet foods, jewelry and other gifts.

If low-rise jeans are not your thing, try Made Ya Look, which understands that moms want to keep up with fashion without looking like teenagers.

Next, round the corner to Locust Street, where Elan provides current apparel for grown-ups - women and men. Be sure to head downstairs to Dilly-Dally in the Alley, filled with cheery gifts and accessories. Speaking of accessories, stop by Lori's Little New York for designer-inspired handbags and budget-friendly scarves and jewelry. Warning: You won't be able to leave this block without treating yourself to Kanoke's handcrafted chocolates or ice cream.

Need a testosterone fix? St.Croix Souvenir has the men covered with wood carved yo-yos, Hudson sweat shirts and retro keepsakes related to every sport imaginable, from baseball to boating.

Your visit isn't complete without a stroll along the river and the recently redeveloped Lakefront Park. Facing the water, you'll find yet another boutique: Bella Luce for clothing, jewelry, handbags and shoes that won't break the bank. It's a good place to browse while waiting (and waiting) for a table on the patio at Pier 500, a local institution - not only for its prime location by the water.The lunch menu includes a crowdpleasing assortment of soups, salads, burgers and pasta.

Of course, you can't go wrong with pizza. Bricks Neapolitan Pizza serves authentic Neapolitan- style fare in a sleek setting.