Edit ModuleShow Tags

Collecting Memories, Collecting Treasures


It all started with my family’s inside joke about gnomes. Our favorite commercials are the ones featuring the Travelocity gnome, and one day at a bookstore we found a three-inch tall mini-gnome that looked just like him. This small purchase led to the purchase of larger garden gnomes for the backyard, a gnome thermometer for the porch, a gnome Christmas ornament, gnome potholders, and more. (It’s safe to say my parents are now those “crazy yard gnome” people.)

Last summer, while looking for things to do around Minnesota, I came across roadsideamerica.com, where you can search the weird sites and attractions in the U.S. Here I learned about Gnometown, USA, otherwise known as Dawson, Minn. The town is scattered with gnome statues, created after people in the town with the purpose of keeping their stories alive. Dawson is only about 150 miles from the Twin Cities, which made this a perfect weekend venture for my mom and me.

Though our destination was to see Gnometown, USA, we didn’t want to drive three hours just to see gnomes. We turned our drive into an old-fashioned road trip; we had no plan (except for hotel reservations in Montevideo) and stopped at random destinations along the way to discover more about the small towns in western Minnesota. However, our main goal was to find antique shops.

We headed to Dawson by taking Highway 112. The first antique shop we found was Renville Antiques, right off the highway. My mom found her first cookie jar—a blue polka dotted chicken. I got a pair of earrings for $2. (Antiquing tip: you can bargain just like at a garage sale.) My earrings were priced $6, but I pointed out that there was a slight scratch.

Also along Highway 112, there is an antique store in Olivia, and there are two in Granite Falls. We visited Prairie Mercantile in Granite Falls, an antique store that is inside of an old gas station, with the pumps still outside.

After visiting the gnomes in Dawson, we headed to Montevideo, where we found another antique store, but it was already closed for the evening. (Another tip: most antique stores in small towns are not open evenings, and close even earlier on the weekends. Make sure to start your road trip early in the day.)

Our last day we took MN-23 E. all the way to I-94 E. This route led us into more populated towns and we found antique stores in Willmar, Spicer, and Paynesville. Long Lake Antiques in Willmar was the largest antique store we visited, with the highest ceilings and least crowded walkways. This made for the most comfortable antiquing experience. Plus, right outside of the store is Long Lake.

A trip like this certainly can be taken without visiting a single antique store. Perhaps there are foods you want to eat along the way, or a place you want to camp. Sometimes you just need to journey down the road to discover a new place or treasure.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

Learn about the contributing writers.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Travel Blog

Cannon Falls Wine & Art Fest

Taste Minnesota wines and ciders, browse through local art vendors, and eat delicious food at Cannon Falls Wine & Art Fest, July 21-22

Day Trip to Taylors Falls

A Taylors Falls day trip made up of beautiful river views and a classic malt shop.

Record Store on Wheels

Like a food truck, but for music—and debuting this Sunday at Open Streets Minneapolis

Green Thumb Gardens

The 2018 Hennepin County Master Gardener Learning Garden Tour flaunts its foliage July 14

Best Caves of Minnesota

Explore Minnesota’s man-made and natural curiosities this summer

Amble Over to Afton

While you’re in Afton for Selma’s, stay a while and check out the state parks, historic buildings, quaint downtown, and more

Take a Trip for (Frozen) Treats

Grab a scoop from the state’s oldest ice cream shop in Afton: Selma’s Ice Cream Parlour

Journeys: A Minnesotan’s Happy Place

Time wasted at the lake is time well spent

Journeys: The Start of Adventure

To prep for wilderness canoe trips, Les Voyageurs brings campers out on the Mississippi River

Top 5 Instagram Spots Along the Mississippi River

Bluffs, hiking trails, and waterfalls make for beautiful summer photos

Summer Sunburn Solutions

Six ways to beat the burn

Brews and Views at the Hopped Up Caribou Festival

There's no better place to tie the knot than at a craft beer festival, and if you're not into that, you can cliff climb, too

A Day Trip to Hudson

St. Croix River views, hiking trails at Willow River State Park, and quaint downtown eats await in Hudson

Stone Arch Bridge, Saved for the Summer

We don't have to worry about our favorite bridge anymore—at least for the summer
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags