Great Summer Drives
A road trip is all about the journey.
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From the sculpted bluffs to the mighty river and the vibrant streets in-between, the city of Winona has a natural beauty mixed with a cool urbanity and Old-World charm. Visit the Minnesota Marine Art Museum and enjoy “Sacred Waters: Photographs from National Geographic Society” (Aug. 1 through Oct. 27), see the “Art of Fine Furniture” exhibit showcasing works of regional and local studio furniture artisans at the Winona County History Center (through Aug. 11), and learn skills or rent equipment for your next outdoor adventure through the Outdoor Education and Recreation Center at Winona State. Winona’s Park and Recreation offers free canoeing/kayaking, and visitors can try stand-up paddleboards. One of the best panoramic views of the river valley is from the Garvin Heights Overlook. (While you’re up on the bluffs, stop at Garvin Heights Vineyard.)
Head six miles north of Winona to Fountain City, Wis., and Hawks View Cottages. Hawks View Cottages are not your typical summer cottages; they are better described as five beautiful two-story luxury treehouses built halfway up a bluff, overlooking the Mississippi River backwaters in the midst of a vineyard.
Colleges and Dairy Farms
Take US-52 from St. Paul to Hampton, then follow Northfield Boulevard to Northfield, about a 40-mile drive.
Enjoy a leisurely drive past green, rolling countryside dotted with pretty lakes and wildflowers. This is rural southeastern Minnesota farm country at its best.
Northfield is not only home to Carleton and St. Olaf colleges, but the Riverwalk Market Fair, the state’s only combined art and farmers’ market on Saturdays during the summer. While in town, browse the unique shops along Division Street, cruise the scenic Mill Town Bike Trail, dine at a cozy restaurant, or learn the story behind the famous bank raid by the Jesse James Gang. The Riverwalk Market Fair, in downtown Northfield on Bridge Square—at Division and Fourth streets—is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday from June through October—with the exception of Sept. 7 for The Defeat of Jesse James Days event. While in the area, check out The Garden of Quiet Listening at Carleton College, rated as one of the top 10 Japanese gardens in the country by the Journal of Japanese Gardening; and Beach Dude and the Viking statues, just north of Hampton on Highway 50.
Glacial Ridge Scenic byway
Drive through the towns of Glenwood, Alexandria, Sauk Centre, Terrace, Starbuck, New London, and Willmar.
Pass by giant lakes and hills created by Ice Age glaciers, and past rolling prairies and farmland, through small towns, and into hardwood forests.