Edit ModuleShow Tags

Your Weekend in Lanesboro: A Spring Guide

Biking, professional theater, fine dining, award-winning pie, and Amish treats


Published:

Lanesboro bikingBy todd buchanan

Spring smells sweet and looks green. With vibrant hills and B&Bs, so does Lanesboro. Make a weekend of it.

This itinerary will get you biking, soaking in high-end theater, checking out Minnesota's biggest Amish settlement, and possibly taking advantage of the May reopening of an award-winning pie shop. You’ll need at least a week to make reservations for fine dining. And, optionally, a bike.


Friday: In Time for Flatbread

Getting There
4­–6 p.m.

Driving could take more than two hours, so bring good music and games.

Checking In
6­–7 p.m.

The Lanesboro area hosts eight B&Bs and calls itself the B&B Capital of Minnesota. If you're looking for a cozily adventurous sojourn, with Victorian charms and views of the leaf-fringed Root River and the historic Lanesboro Dam, choose one of those. (Note that check-in times vary, and you might have to request a time outside of the B&B’s usual window.)

Pizza
7:30­–8:30 p.m.

You’re bushed from the drive. For dinner, stretch out in the laid-back atmosphere of High Court Pub downtown. Sink your teeth into any of seven $10 house-made flatbreads—such as the Krab Rangoon, with imitation crab, garlic, cream cheese, and mozzarella—and wash it down with a local brew. (You'll bike it off tomorrow.) High Court stays open until 1 a.m. Check the website to know if they'll have live music.


Saturday: Biking through Flowers—and Culture, Too

Breakfast of the Imagination
8–9:30 a.m.

If you opted for a hotel instead of a B&B, or even if you didn't, you have to check out the Lanesboro Pastry Shoppe.

Remember Table of Contents, the diner in St. Paul? If so, you'll be familiar with the way ordering here is up to your imagination. The Pastry Shoppe doesn't have a menu. Owner Brett Stecher says to order whatever you want. Omelets. Some quische. Eggs benedict, maybe with ham and crab asparagus. All kinds of hash—corn beef, hot and spicy Italian cured ham. French toast. "We've been known to do lutefisk at 5 in the morning," Stecher deadpans. An old farmer might come in and ask for whatever's in house. And everything in house is made from scratch, besides the mayo. Just don't ask for pancakes or waffles. "You can go get a pancake anywhere," Stecher says. What you can't get anywhere are the morel mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns, and wild leeks that Stecher might pick from the woods and use to season an omelet. It's all spontaneous. 

As for the baked goods: "Everything's sweet at the Pastry Shoppe but me."

Choices: The Dam AND/OR The Amish Tour
11 a.m.–Noon OR 10 a.m./1:30 p.m.

Just a five-minute walk from the scenic campgrounds of Sylvan Park, the Lanesboro Dam will interest history buffs, as it goes back nearly 150 years. In need of some repairs, it's also a good spot for those keeping tabs on where state funds are going—plus anyone seeking a photo op.

If you’re there before October, consider wrapping up breakfast early to make the three-hour Bluffscape Amish bus tour at 10 a.m. (Or: make it a late lunch and push either biking or the theater back to Sunday if you'd rather take the 1:30 p.m. tour.)

Harmony, a town right next to Lanesboro, boasts the state’s biggest Amish settlement, so you're not likely to get a better feel for the removed, anachronistic culture. Prepare to buy something at one of the Amish shops, such as buttery cashew brittle. Tours leave downtown from Stone Mill Hotel & Suites.

Local-Friendly Lunch
12:30–1:30 p.m.

Pedal Pushers Café reopens this month and prides itself on serving all-natural food sourced from local farms. Try the Norwegian meatballs ($13) or the Trailblazer turkey sandwich—with bacon, tomato, and mustard aioli on a French roll ($11)—for lunch. It’s just down the street from the general store, which could make your next stop.

Biking
2­–4 p.m.

Ready for your first spring ride? No better place: Lanesboro is a veritable biking mecca, with 42 miles of paved trail lining the valley. And no need to bring your own bike. Little River General Store offers reasonably priced rentals (a FUJI Hybrid just $12 for two hours, or $20 for a full day).

You’ll want to bike the historic Root River State Trail. Originally the Milwaukee Railroad, it brought trains through the 19th-century mill town of Lanesboro. Paved over in the 1980s, the path winds along Root River and spans fairly level, mostly shaded terrain. It crosses wooden bridges, traipses alongside a pasture and the campgrounds, and rolls through small towns, including Whalan five miles northeast of Lanesboro—where the award-winning Aroma Pie Shoppe will reopen May 13 after closing last fall (making it a great biking destination if you're there in May).

Fine Dining in a Casual Setting (Reservation Recommended)
4:30–6 p.m.

After a shower, it's time for upscale, down-to-earth dining. The Old Village Hall Restaurant would like you to make a reservation a week in advance. 

More Lanesboro history: the building is indeed the old village hall, the town's headquarters circa the late 1800s—as well as the fire station, and the jail. Amish quilts adorn the upstairs dining room, and a deck looks out over the flowers through which you just biked on the Root River trail.

Tuck into an entrée of pork tenderloin medallions ($20) or the seared duck breast with Minnesota wild rice ($27) and choose between a soup of the day or a pickled-onion-and-candied-cashews salad.

Theater
7­–9:30 p.m.

In case you're not feeling fancy enough after dinner, the Commonweal Theatre stages professional (as opposed to community) plays at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 1:30 p.m. on Sundays, opening its doors 30 minutes before curtain.

Starting April 14, When We Dead Awaken runs into mid-May and follows a disaffected artist inspired by memories of his lost and only love.


Sunday: Dessert

Check Out
10­–11 a.m.

Depending on your hotel or B&B, you might have to dip out somewhat early.

Lunch & Ice Cream
11:30­ a.m.­–12:30 p.m.

Before taking off, stop at Gil B’s Pizza & Sub Shoppe for a Gil B's Deluxe Burger, dripping in sautéed mushrooms and a special sauce, plus fries ($11.10).

Complete the weekend with ice cream from Another Time Ice Cream Parlor & Chocolates. They serve 30 flavors courtesy of Minnesota's own century-old supplier, Bridgeman's. And for the way home, pick up some fudge, truffles, or bear paw-shaped patties of milk chocolate known as grizzlies (clawed with cashews and packed with caramel). Just be sure not to eat this much every weekend, because good Lord.

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

It's Farmers Market Season

No matter where you live in Minnesota, fresh produce, flowers and homemade goodies await

Origami in the Garden

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's latest exhibit puts the art of folding paper on full display with a garden and metal twist

New Ways to Explore 3 Classic MN Destinations

From Fort Snelling to the North Shore, check out this summer's technological updates to historic and wild Minnesota places

Sue Z.'s Charitable Check-In: May

This month, Sue Z. recommends supporting local student chefs with a dinner at Saint Dinette

What to Wear + Where to Go: Music Festivals

Your style guide for Minnesota music festivals

Mesabi Trail Offers New Views in Northern Minnesota

The Mesabi Trail, a 120-mile paved cycling and hiking trail that spans the Mesabi Iron Range, recently opened a new connection in Virginia, MN that crosses the state's tallest bridge and offers amazing views of former minelands.

Glensheen Mansion Bonfire Nights

Enjoy this summer tradition from one of the most iconic estates in the state

Twin Cities Festival Spring Babies

If April showers bring May flowers, spring babies bring fun for the whole family

Record Store Day: Where to Find Rare Releases in MN

On April 21, rock out at mini-music festivals around the state, dig into gourmet donuts, and collect the rare vinyls available one time a year

Catch the Lyrids Meteor Shower

The meteor shower peaks April 21 and 22, just in time for Earth Day

A Day Trip to Excelsior

Just 20 miles west of the Twin Cities, this waterfront town is complete with charming shops and lakeside dining

Night Art Gallery Is Your Sober Night Out

The Lindstrom art gallery entertains with hors d'oeuvres, tons of art available for purchase, and non-alcholic drinks

Treasure Island Resort & Casino 2018 Summer Concert Series

Check out the awe-inspiring lineup of summer concerts at Treasure Island Resort & Casino.

Weekend Activities to Satisfy Your Inner-Child

Check out these weekend activities that will have you feeling like a kid again.
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags