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Old 07-10-2013, 12:48 PM
 
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I'm driving with a friend up to Minneapolis/St. Paul from Northwestern Iowa (Spencer/Spirit Lake area), right below the border. Google maps takes you across Rt. 90 and up Rt. 35 (yawn). We'd like to see some of the beautiful southwestern Minnesota area. We're hoping to spend the night someplace between Iowa and St. Paul, would love to see beautiful countryside, maybe hit a fair, we're big history buffs. Any ideas? I'm looking to move to Minnesota (St. Paul) sometime in the future, so am looking forward to visiting St. Paul, can't wait! We've looked at Mankato, Sleepy Eye, New Ulm, but don't want to miss out on something truly great. We're traveling first weekend in August. Thanks for any info you can give.
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Old 07-10-2013, 01:23 PM
 
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Here's a link to find if there are any fairs going on: Welcome to the Minnesota Federation of County Fairs!
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Old 07-10-2013, 02:42 PM
 
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I 90 route is pretty much a yawn . Rochester might be an option. There is a medical museum at the Mayo that's kind of cool. You could also drive up through Pipestone vs going the I 90 route and see some of the sites there--maybe hit Walnut Grove?? Unfortunately SW MN isn't really that exciting for tourist stuff.

I would consider going out of your way and going toward LaCrosse, stay in the LaCrosse area overnight, it's just beautiful there--or Winona if you don't want to go that far, and then driving up Highway 61 through Red Wing into Hastings--maybe up to Stillwater from there and then over to St. Paul??
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:52 PM
 
Location: Minnesota
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To me, going east to west across Minnesota in October was gorgeous. This time of year? Have no idea.
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Old 07-11-2013, 10:08 AM
 
Location: Minnesota
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Pipestone Nat'l Monument would be a winner.

Pipestone National Monument - Pipestone National Monument
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Old 07-11-2013, 11:09 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dolly Dagger View Post
I'm driving with a friend up to Minneapolis/St. Paul from Northwestern Iowa (Spencer/Spirit Lake area), right below the border. Google maps takes you across Rt. 90 and up Rt. 35 (yawn). We'd like to see some of the beautiful southwestern Minnesota area. We're hoping to spend the night someplace between Iowa and St. Paul, would love to see beautiful countryside, maybe hit a fair, we're big history buffs. Any ideas? I'm looking to move to Minnesota (St. Paul) sometime in the future, so am looking forward to visiting St. Paul, can't wait! We've looked at Mankato, Sleepy Eye, New Ulm, but don't want to miss out on something truly great. We're traveling first weekend in August. Thanks for any info you can give.
It's a little out of your way, but you might think about Lanesboro, one of the most charming towns in the state. Great verdant hills and a beautiful river flows through. Lots of cycling/floating/hiking or even shopping to do, whatever floats your boat. Plenty of nice restaurants, B&Bs too.
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Old 07-12-2013, 07:12 PM
 
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Thanks everybody, I appreciate the info and your time.
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Old 07-15-2013, 02:49 PM
 
Location: Sector 001
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there's nothing that exciting or beautiful about western or southern MN, I'd stick to eastern or northern MN... drive highway 61 from La Crosse, WI to Red Wing, MN... visit great river bluffs state park.

Southwestern MN is quite flat due to repeated glaciation of the area... the exception to this is if you drive to Lake Benton or Hendricks where the elevation rises and you have lots of wind power.. but even then it's no where near as scenic as the east side, along the Mississippi.

As far as towns go, Rochester and Mankato are noted towns to visit. If you are in Spirit Lake the most direct route is simply to take Highway 71 but where it starts curving Northwest, get off it and just drive straight north to 60(unless you feel like visiting Windom which looks like a nice town) , and take 60 to Mankato and go from there. You won't be missing much in SW MN. Living where you do, near Lake Okoboji, you already have one of the prime destinations for us right close to where you live, so I'm jealous.

You could also drive east to "estherville" then take highway 4 all the way up to 60 and hit Mankato that way.

A little history for ya on the minnesota river valley that Mankato is built in...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glacial_River_Warren

Last edited by sholomar; 07-15-2013 at 03:00 PM..
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Old 07-18-2013, 01:59 PM
 
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great info, thanks!
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Old 07-18-2013, 03:24 PM
 
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Since she's going from NW Iowa to Mpls, all those SE MN options are maybe for future trips . . .

OP, have you been to the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, IA? It is so cool if you decide on an eastward route.

And the recommendation for Pipestone would be wonderful, too, if making a leisurely route around western MN.

But how about going up 71 to Jeffers Petroglyphs N. of Windom? It's the newest state historic site and really well done. Then stop at the Harkin Store in New Ulm (also a state historic site). I LURV the Harkin Store, it is so wonderful! If you want to stop in Mankato you can take the Betsy-Tacie tour. Then keep going to Traverse des Sioux historic site just N of St. Peter. Follow the path for exercise and memories of a very very sad moment in MN history. Then there's bound to be something interesting in New Prague - looks like there's a railroad museum and the county historical society. And after that you get into the horrible gackiness of Mpls burbs.

Links to the above

Minnesota Historic Sites and Museums Visiting Guide: Minnesota Historical Society
Visitors & Tours | Betsy-Tacy Society
Gopher State Railway Museum - Home
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