While there’s plenty to do in Minneapolis, sometimes it’s nice to venture out of the city. There are dozens of towns all around the Twin Cities that offer natural beauty, small-town charm, and plenty of fun without the traffic or busyness of a big city. If you’re looking to get away from it all without venturing too far from the Twin Cities, plan a trip to these 15 small towns around Minneapolis where everyone knows your name.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
Blink and you might miss Henderson, Minnesota. But this little town of fewer than 1,000 people is well worth a visit next time you're in the area. Located in the Minnesota River Valley, it's surrounded by tree-covered hills in every direction. Take a scenic drive through the farmlands, or visit the small but charming downtown area. If you're really looking for adventure, visit in June when the annual Sauerkraut Days festival is going on.
Anoka, Minnesota, is the Halloween Capital of the World. But this town of 17,000 people is a delight to visit all year long. Downtown Anoka is lined with local shops and restaurants that are full of local flavor.
3. Marine on St. Croix
Marine on St. Croix is one of the most charming towns along the St. Croix River - and in Minnesota in general. The town centers on the historic Marine General Store, which dates back to 1849. It's still in operation today, and the nearby General Scoop ice cream shop just adds to the charm of this little town near Minneapolis.
Jordan is a small town of just 5,000 people. It is most known as the home of Minnesota's Largest Candy Store, but the town is so much more than a place to get sweets. Founded in 1853, the town is home to many historic buildings including the Jordan Brewery Ruins. These century-old buildings are covered in vines and backed by a hill of trees, making it one of the most picturesque spots in town.
It should come as no surprise that Stillwater is one of the loveliest towns around the Twin Cities. With a population of around 19,000 people, it's certainly not the smallest town on this list. But its charming downtown and location along the St. Croix River make it one of the most beautiful.
Home to 22,000 people, Hastings is another of the larger towns near Minneapolis on this list. But don't let its larger size fool you. This town is full of charm, from its historic downtown to its location at the confluence of three rivers. Downtown Hastings is an amazing place to wander on foot, but a quick scenic drive around town will do the trick if you're in a hurry.
This little town of about 5,000 people is centered on the farming that helped it grow. Today, Glencoe's lovely main street draws in tourists who crave a small-town experience. The friendly people and charming downtown alone make Glencoe worth a visit.
8. St. Peter
About 70 miles outside the Twin Cities, St. Peter is a charming town of about 11,000 people. Home to Gustavus Adolphus College, the town does get busy at times. But it’s quiet beauty and historic downtown still give it the small-town atmosphere you are looking for.
About 20,000 people live in Northfield, and one visit to this charming town will tell you why. The historic downtown is full of picturesque buildings, including the famous First National Bank the Younger gang failed to rob in 1876. The Cannon River runs through town, making for beautiful sights no matter where you look.
Just 20 miles from Minneapolis, Excelsior has a population of around 2,000 people. But this little town keeps its urban feel with a bustling downtown lined with beautiful buildings. There's always something going on in Excelsior, and you'd be hard-pressed to visit during a time when it isn't full of people. But that's what makes visiting so fun.
11. Cannon Falls
About 50 miles southeast of the Twin Cities, Cannon Falls is a charming little town with a population of around 4,000 people. Downtown Cannon Falls is lined with lovely historic buildings that house local businesses. Also of note is the Cannon River, which flows into a small but pretty waterfall. This small town is well worth the drive from Minneapolis.
Afton is a lovely town just 30 miles outside of Minneapolis. The charming downtown makes it a good spot for day trips, and the Afton Alps draw in snowboarders and skiers from miles around. Whether or not you take part in winter sports, you'll love your visit to Afton.
13. New Prague
Here's another spot in Minnesota that is full of small-town charm. New Prague is lined with historic buildings that house local shops and restaurants. Take a stroll through downtown to take in all of the sights in this small town of 7,000 people. It's only about a 50-minute drive from Minneapolis, and it's well worth the trip.
Lindstrom is one of the most unique towns in Minnesota. Just 41 miles north of Minneapolis, this town of about 4,400 has a Swedish heritage that is evident just about anywhere you look in its lovely downtown area. Another draw of this small town is its proximity to several lakes. In fact, if you look at Lindstrom from above, it looks like it could be an island because it is so surrounded by water.
15. Belle Plaine
Passing through Belle Plaine, Minnesota, you might be surprised that 6,600 people live there. This quiet town is as unassuming as they come, but that's what makes it so nice to visit. Because it's nestled in Minnesota prairie, there are a few spots around town where you can see Belle Plaine from above. The sight is gorgeous and well worth the drive from Minneapolis.
What do you think? Are there any other amazing small towns around Minneapolis that we should know about? Let us know in the comments below!