Great Summer Drives
A road trip is all about the journey.
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The Kensington Runestone Museum in Alexandria,and the Douglas County Historical Museum, with guided pontoon tours on the Chain of Lakes (complete with historical commentary—booked for any group at any time). Other fun activities include hiking up Inspiration Peak, bird-watching in Lake Carlos, and fishing in Otter Tail Lake.
Even in the dog days of summer, it can be fun to splash, soak, and slide at an indoor waterpark (no sunscreen required!). The fun of staying at Alexandria’s Arrowwood Resort on Lake Darling is not only the 38,000-square-foot Big Splash Indoor Waterpark, but the Atikwa Golf Course, Darling Reflections Spa, on-site restaurant and lounge, full-service marina (with boats available for rent), opportunity to go horseback riding, and nightly campfire and marshmallow roasts.
Travel north to Detroit Lakes and stay at The Lodge on Lake Detroit, a lovely lakefront lifestyle hotel nestled in a tree-filled setting on the shore of Big Detroit Lake. Each of the 55 large, smoke-free rooms and suites were designed to face the lake and the sunset, a unique aspect of the property. Other unique features include live regional music in the fireside lobby, a full-service spa, an indoor pool and hot tub, a large sandy beach, boat slips, an expansive fitness area, and fun specials like “Martini and Manicure” Thursdays. The hotel is less than two miles from downtown Detroit Lakes.
Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway
Drive on a series of roads following the Minnesota River.
Enjoy a peaceful drive filled with views of lush prairies, billion-year-old granite outcrops, purple cornflowers, and bald eagle sightings.
Catch the western access of the Sakatah Singing Hills Bike Trail in Mankato, learn about the state’s Dakota Indian heritage (and the tragedy of the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War) at the Lower Sioux Agency, Fort Ridgely, and Lac qui Parle Mission state historic sites, celebrate German heritage (and tour the August Schell Brewery) in New Ulm, and sample delicious local wine at Fieldstone Vineyards.
For a fun weekend trip, head to the town of Sleepy Eye, named for the chief of a band of Sisseton Dakota, or Chief Sleepy Eye, “friend to all men.” Located at the intersection of State Highway 4 and US Highway 14 in Brown County, the best times to visit are during the Old-Fashioned Fourth of July, Buttered Corn Days on the third Friday in August (complete with a free corn feast, waffle feed, volleyball tournament, and parade), and in September for the Great Grassroots Gathering flea market and craft show.