Minnesota Attractions July 02, 2021
11 Small Towns In Minnesota That Are Full Of Charm And Perfect For A Weekend Escape
Minnesota often makes the news for happenings in larger cities such as the Twin Cities, Duluth, or Rochester. But there are many fantastic small towns in the state as well. They’re full of charming downtowns, local shops and restaurants, and – more often than not – beautiful scenery. That’s why we made this list of 11 towns in Minnesota that are perfect for a weekend escape. Read on below to find towns in just about every region that offer plenty to do and see!
With a population of around 19,000 people, Stillwater is not Minnesota’s smallest town. But it is certainly one of the most charming. There’s plenty to do in this town on the St. Croix River, including exploring the river itself. But beyond scenery, Stillwater has a lovely downtown filled with local shops and restaurants. The town’s many annual events - especially during the holiday season - only add to its immense charm. It’s the ultimate weekend getaway.
Winona is another bigger small town, with around 27,000 people residing within its city limits. It’s easy to see why people flock to Winona given its beautiful location. The town is tucked away into southeastern Minnesota’s bluff country. The most famous bluff, Sugar Loaf, rises over town from its place along the Mississippi River. And if the scenery isn’t enough for you, Winona is a great place to eat and shop. Don’t miss out on a visit to the charming - and delicious -
open since 1924!
3. Grand Marais
Minnesota’s North Shore is home to many great towns. Grand Marais might be one of the best. It’s about 110 miles north of Duluth, so it is a drive for most North Shore visitors. But it’s well worth it thanks to the town’s gorgeous landscape along Lake Superior. Grand Marais has plenty of outdoor recreation, and its downtown area is full of charming stops, from
Drury Lane Books
Sven and Ole’s
4. Two Harbors
Just 30 miles north of Duluth on Highway 61, Two Harbors is a popular town for North Shore visitors. During the summer, its population of 3,500 swells with visitors from all around Minnesota. People flock to Two Harbors to check out the gorgeous Lake Superior scenery and to enjoy the many local businesses that make their homes in the town. This classic North Shore destination is a must - and it would make a great weekend adventure!
As the gateway to the Boundary Waters, Ely has a lot going for it. Many visit this town of 3,400 as their final stop before heading far into the wilderness. But there’s plenty to do in Ely even if you aren’t going on a Boundary Waters adventure. The town has many local shops and restaurants that’ll help you enjoy the scenery. Insula, Ely Steak House, and
are a few popular eateries. But there are plenty more to discover!
Walker is one of the most popular small-town destinations in Minnesota’s lake country. It’s tucked away on the shores of Leech Lake, and it’s a popular spot for fishers, boaters, and vacationers. The town is easily walkable, with many gift shops and restaurants lining its streets. The
are two popular places to eat, and Walker General Store has many souvenirs to browse.
Henderson is a tiny town - less than 1,000 people live there. But it’s a lovely place for those looking for a quiet, small-town destination. The town is made up of only a few charming streets lined with historic buildings. Many visitors enjoy wandering these streets to take in the small-town charm. Make a pitstop at
for a bite to eat, then pop into Henderson Classical Glass to feast your eyes on beautiful glassware. If you’re feeling adventurous, book a ziplining excursion with
Kerfoot Canopy Tour
8. New Ulm
New Ulm is a small town in southern Minnesota known for its German heritage. The town has plenty of activity to keep anyone busy on a weekend excursion. There are many shops and restaurants to browse and enjoy, including the charming
, a longstanding German store full of interesting goodies.
August Schell Brewing Company
is another great stop for those looking for a taste from of the country’s oldest family-owned breweries. And if you're into ice cream, pay a visit to
for a dish of classic German spaghettieis!
Southeastern Minnesota’s bluff country is full of fantastic towns. The artsy town of Lanesboro is one of them! Though it is tiny - just 700 people live there - it is full of charm. The downtown area is walkable and full of historic buildings. You’ll find restaurants, shopping, and much more. If you have time, take a bike trip along the Root River Trail - or go floating down the river on a tube! No matter what you enjoy doing, you’re likely to find it in spades in Lanesboro. As an added bonus, this town is considered the B&B Capital of Minnesota. You’ll always be able to find somewhere lovely to stay!
10. Pine City
East-central Minnesota is not without its small towns. Pine City is one of the busiest, and it’s easy to see why. Around 3,000 people live in Pine City, which is full of fun things to do from its place along the Snake River. Many choose to explore the river or the nearby
Chengwatana State Forest
. In town, there are some great places to explore. Many stop at the old-fashioned
along the main drag, or at Three Twenty Brewing Co. across from the park in downtown Pine City. Other fun spots, such as thrift stores, also draw many visitors!
In the farthest southwestern corner of Minnesota, Pipestone stands out as a lovely place for a weekend trip. The lively downtown is full of historic buildings, many of which include interesting local stores. If you get hungry, pay a visit to the longstanding local diner,
! And if you’re interested in exploring nature and history, head over to
Pipestone National Monument
, where you can see the gorgeous sacred grounds where the Sioux peoples have quarried pipestone for generations. A visit to Pipestone is a weekend trip you won’t forget!
Have you been to any of these towns? Which is your favorite? Would you add any? Let us know in the comments!
Address: Stillwater, MN 55082, USA Address: Winona, MN 55987, USA Address: Grand Marais, MN 55604, USA Address: Two Harbors, MN 55616, USA Address: Ely, MN 55731, USA Address: Walker, MN, USA Address: Henderson, MN 56044, USA Address: New Ulm, MN 56073, USA Address: Lanesboro, MN 55949, USA Address: Pine City, MN 55063, USA Address: Pipestone, MN 56164, USA