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

Hit the Road for a Fall Weekend in Alexandria, Minnesota

When fall comes around in Alexandria, Minnesota, the leaves aren’t the only things that are colorful. The fall festivals and events in Alexandria brighten up the first chilly months and give life to the city that lives on the lake during its summer.

Lantern Light Festival Celebrates Chinese Culture at Canterbury Park

Shakopee is the temporary home of dazzling lanterns illuminated in lights, Chinese performances, and a unique family-friendly experience.

Get Ready for a Sweat Fest

ALTR’s fitness classes in Minneapolis' North Loop are a high-octane thrill ride with a one-way ticket to shredded

Photographing the City on Your Lunch Break

Local photographer Wayne Moran leads afternoon tours through picture-perfect Minneapolis

Sue Z.'s Charitable Check-In: October

Help out mothers and children dealing with homelessness, fight against cancer, and contribute to a north Minneapolis bakery with the Cookie Cart.

Best Minnesota Town Last Call for Votes

Help one of these 10 cities advance to the finals for a chance to win a party in their town, $50,000 toward an advertising campaign, and an editorial feature in Minnesota Monthly magazine.

New Fall Drinks at Tattersall Harvestival

The NE Minneapolis distillery features four apple-based drinks to celebrate autumn

Small Press, Big Impact: Graywolf's 2nd Literary Salon

Graywolf invited writers Layli Long Soldier, Carmen Maria Machado, and Danez Smith to the stage to challenge the status quo

New Places to Shop and Eat at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

MSP Airport's revamp just bumped it up to 6th best in North America—now with indoor food trucks, local brews, therapy dogs, and a golfing simulator

From Writer to Mid-Wife: St. Paul Writing Workshops Highlight Strength in Vulnerability This Month

Leading workshops through October, St. Paul author Ellen Sue Stern on the healing of writing

DNR Predicts Unusually Vibrant Fall Colors: Find the Best Spots

The MN DNR is predicting an especially colorful fall season due to ideal summer weather conditions. We found five spots around the state—including Lanesboro and Lake Superior—with great autumn views.

Duluth Indie Bookstore Celebrates Opening

Zenith Bookstore opens in the face of Amazon and free two-day shipping—because this Duluth retired couple knows that people love shopping small

What It Means to Light Up the St. Anthony Lock

A colorful light show fills the now-defunct lock with its own history

Save the Date for Unveiled Bridal Show September 17

Unveiled isn't just a bridal show, it's a fun and memorable experience.
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags