The Most Charming College Town In Minnesota Is Home To Delicious Dining, Shopping, And More
Carleton College sits atop a bluff overlooking the eastern banks of the Cannon River in southern Minnesota, and St. Olaf College is perched on a bluff above the river’s western banks. Between these two respected bastions of higher learning lies the small city of Northfield, which is, arguably, the most charming college town in Minnesota. Let us show you why!
The 200-acre campus of Northfield College was established in 1866 on a bluff above the river between Northfield and Cowling Arboretum.
Carleton College, North College Street, Northfield, MN, USA
The school was renamed Carleton College in 1871 and the 800-acre arboretum became part of the campus five decades later.
In the same year that the first class of students graduated from Carleton, 1874, a group of Norwegian Lutheran pastors founded St. Olaf College on the other side of Northfield, above the west bank of the Cannon River.
St. Olaf College, 1520 St Olaf Ave, Northfield, MN 55057, USA
Northfield, itself, straddles the Cannon River, its historic downtown stretching for blocks along its course, between its two venerable colleges.
Platted in 1855, this small city of around 20,000 is steeped in history.
For example, the town's most famous historical event was an 1876 attempted robbery of the First National Bank in the Scriver Building by Jesse James and his gang of outlaws.
First National Bank, Lee And, Hitchcock, Northfield, MN 55057, USA
The town of Northfield fought back, and as a result, most of James' gang was captured or killed in Minnesota. Jesse and Frank James, however, managed to escape into the Dakota territory. The town celebrates this incident every September at its popular
Defeat of Jesse James Days
Despite the city's fascinating history, Northfield certainly doesn't dwell in its past, and there are plenty of reasons this charming college town in Minnesota deserves to be explored on its own merits.
Start with an iced cold brew (or whatever you like - that's just my preference) from
Little Joy Coffee
With its own roastery, Little Joy is part of the vibrant coffee scene that you'll find in Northfield.
I just happen to like its prime riverfront location and gorgeous patio area.
Little Joy Coffee, Division Street South, Northfield, MN, USA
Downtown Northfield's many eclectic shops and boutiques attract browsers and consumers from around the region.
You could definitely spend a whole day exploring the shops along Division and Water Streets.
When you're ready for a break from shopping or exploring, stop into Imminent Brewing for a cold beverage.
ideal downtown location makes it the perfect place for a pit stop during the day.
On any given day, you'll find a wide selection of beers in its pet-friendly taproom.
If you can't decide on one, you can always just order a flight!
Imminent Brewing, Division Street South, Northfield, MN, USA
Imminent is the best situated brewery for a downtown beverage, but it's certainly not the only game in town. Rather, it's part of a local scene that includes
three breweries, a cidery, and a distillery
in Northfield and neighboring Dundas.
After you've enjoyed your beer, mosey over to Ames Park. There, you can stroll along the river and take in some of Northfield's natural beauty.
Ames Park, Dahomey Ave, Northfield, MN 55057, USA
When you're ready for dinner, you'll have a wide array of choices in downtown Northfield.
Located in a historic building, Reunion has a spacious interior that feels modern but, at the same time, exudes an air of the past.
You will not be disappointed in its cuisine, either. In addition to upscale entrees, you'll find plenty of casual fare, like sandwiches, burgers, and appetizers, as well.
And its full bar will ensure that you have your beverage of choice at hand.
Reunion, Division Street South, Northfield, MN, USA
There's enough to do in Northfield that you could easily spend a long weekend here and still not check all the boxes.
Consider a stay at the
Fairfield Inn and Suites
- it's right downtown on the river, so the location is perfect for setting up your weekend base camp.
We certainly hope you’ll find the time to visit the charming college town of Northfield – it’s definitely worth exploring! Have you visited Northfield? Tell us about your favorite things to do there in the comments.
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Northfield, MN 55057, USA