||There's so much to do in a day! Let us help you plan for your days on the Minnesota Great River Road.|
Visit the Bluffs Region page to find out more about individual communities
|Day 1 Hastings|
A bright morning of boating, biking or hiking is a great way to start your day in Hastings. This city sits at the junction of the Mississippi, St. Croix and Vermillion Rivers and opens your eyes to the beauty of the region. Or visit Lake Rebecca, a spring fed lake, great for an early morning of fishing or a quiet stroll while watching for eagles along the Koch Riverfront Nature Preserve.
On to the LeDuc Historic Estate, a nationally recognized historic property known for its unaltered Gothic Revival architecture. This estate is host to various teas, brunches, luncheons and style shows. You can enjoy a historic tour June through October with special events throughout the year. You can also take a self-guided walking tour of our picturesque and historic buildings and visit the many antique and specialty shops in historic downtown Hastings.
Enjoy a picnic lunch at the scenic Vermillion Falls Park or watch boats pass through Lock & Dam #2. The interpretive center at Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center is open daily from 8am to 4:30pm. Visitors are invited to experience the 10-miles of trails and hands-on exhibits.
The kids will love the Hastings Family Aquatic Center complete with slides, zero depth entry playground, water sprays, fountains, teeter-totter and Lily Pad Crossing while you shop the Hastings historic downtown or visit one of the 10 surrounding beautiful golf courses. In the winter months, go downhill skiing or snowboarding at Welch Village Ski Area or at Afton Alps where you can also go tubing. For those who prefer cross-country skiing, groomed trails can be found at Spring Lake Park, Afton State Park, the Cannon Valley Trail or along the riverfront in Hastings. If you would rather stay indoors, head south for some entertainment at Treasure Island Resort and Casino.
During the growing and harvest season, tour the Alexis Bailey Vineyard, where they produce full bodied wines made from 100% Minnesota grown grapes. Or visit one of the areas apple orchards to pick-your-own apples. If you plan a visit the last weekend in July, make a point to head to the Little Log House Power Show located just south of Hastings. This event features a famous one-of-a-kind replica of the Hastings Spiral Bridge and a restored Pioneer Village.
Catch your breathe and refresh while you get a massage or pedicure at Lilypad Day Spa.
Enjoy dinner at one of our distinct restaurants. With more than 40 to choose from, you are sure to find something to satisfy your craving.
Go back in time every other Saturday evening, during the summer, starting June 2, as the Hastings Histoic Saturday Night Cruise In revs up on 2nd Street East in downtown Hastings. The show is open to all cars 1976 and older and draws car lovers from near and far. While downtown, check out some of the unique shops or kick back and enjoy the music.
Return to your hotel and dream about the day's adventures.
|Day 2 Red Wing|
Arrive at Red Wing's historic depot, now the newly remodeled visitor's center. The local guide from Roaming Red Wing will join you.
9:15 - 10:45 AM
This remarkable tour takes you past an array of buildings that are on the National Register of Historic Places and will include a stop on top of Sorin's Bluff. This spectacular scenic overlook of the city and Mississippi River Valley ablaze with autumn's colors will leave you with long lasting memories.
10:45 - 11:45 AM
Watch pottery being made at the Red Wing Stoneware Company. Admire local potters creating beautiful stoneware in the tradition of Red Wing's famous Union Stoneware Company.
11:45 - 1:30 PM
Lunch at the Veranda Restaurant located at the St. James Hotel. The delectable menu includes Sturdiwheat pancakes, a local favorite. Sturdiwheat is a locally owned and operated line of pancake, bread and cereal mixes.
1:30 - 3:30 PM
In the old Pottery District, sits the historic Pottery Place Mall. Once home to the Union Stoneware Company, today you can shop antique stores and specialty shops. Next door is the Red Wing Pottery Salesroom, a must for any visit to Red Wing.
3:40 - 5:00 PM
Back to the hotel where you can freshen up or visit the St. James Shopping Court, located on the first level of the hotel.
5:00 - 6:00 PM
Enjoy dinner at one of many local restaurants.
7:00 - 10:00 PM
Find out what's playing at the Sheldon Theatre. Red Wing's turn-of-the-century Sheldon Theatre showcases the best in arts and entertainment from Minnesota's heartland and beyond. It operates year-round, presenting a broad range of touring events including music, theatre, dance, comedy, films, lectures and more.
Head back to the hotel for a good night's rest.
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|Day 3 Lake City|
Begin your day with a morning of mediation and reflection. The Villa Maria Retreat and Conference Center connects with the Frontenace State Park. Watching birds, hiking and touching base with yourself personally and spiritually in this historic area at the head of Lake Pepin is something individuals have been doing since the 1800 s.
Travel south on Highway 61 and be amazed as the beauty of the head of the lake unveils itself as you enter the city limits. Breathtaking, colorful sails fill Lake Pepin, one of the best sailing arenas in the nation.
Stretch your legs along the 2-1/2 mile riverwalk that follows Lake Pepin's scenic shoreline or visit one of the area s three beautiful golf courses providing views of the lake and surrounding bluffs. Apple orchards abound in the fall and winter frolicking whether by snowmobile, skis or skates are local favorites.
Enjoy a ride on the Pearl of the Lake
, a modern day replica of the grand riverboats that traveled on the Mississippi River in the 1800 s. The name of the riverboat depicts the significance of Lake Pepin with its history of the fresh water pearl button industry that once thrived in the area. Call ahead for excursion schedule, 651-345-5188.
Local history and architecture is featured in a walking tour brochure, available through the Chamber of Commerce office. One of the homes on the tour is the home of Ralph Samuelson, Lake City s famous inventor of waterskiing.
Dinner by reflection of the lake can be enjoyed at some of Lake City's fine restaurants.
The evening wraps up with a cocktail on the deck at Skyline on Pepin as you watch all the activities of the lake begin to go to bed for the day. The boats dock, fishermen pack up and the birds rest as you begin to plan your next day's adventure while reflecting back on your day in the city known as a true Mississippi Pearl, Lake City.
|Day 4 & 5 Wabasha / Kellogg|
8 - 9:00 AM
Start your day with the Historic City and Church Tour.
9 - 10:00 AM
Visit the fascinating Wind Whisper West Kimono Gallery, the only Japanese Wedding Kimono store in the world with over 2,000 Kimonos.
10 - 11:00 AM
Experience The National Eagle Center, and have a nose to beak meeting with Angel, Harriet and Columbia, the resident eagles. The Eagle Center is a facility dedicated to educating people about eagles and the environment.
11 - 12:00 PM
Take the tour of the Arrow Head Bluffs Museum.
Here you will experience a private collection of Native American & pioneer artifacts, mounted birds, & wildlife from all over North America.
Noon - 2:00 PM
The L.A.R.K. Toy Company, and Antique Toy Collection Museum is the largest specialty toy store in the U.S. Be a kid again and ride their spectacular hand-carved carousel. After, an enjoyable lunch is waiting for you at the Rocking Horse Cafi.
2 - 4:00 PM
Cruise the "Ole Mississippi" on the Great River Houseboats river tour and see eagle-nested bluffs and wildlife. Or feel the wind in your hair on a Sailboat Ride down the Big River.
4 - 5:30 PM
Check into the Hotel with a welcome reception.
5 - 7:00 PM
Step back in time and dine at the Historic Anderson House; a time when chivalry was legend, guests were pampered and hospitality was an art. Not to mention the food is incredible.
The choice is yours for the evening's entertainment. There is a variety of entertainment offered with "Under the Bridge Entertainment" and Horse Drawn Carriage Rides, or the Jon Hassler Theatre Broadway Show... "Broadway in your backyard".
Return to the Hotel for a good nights rest.
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|Day 6 Winona|
Winona is known as the "stained glass capital of the United States."Tour a stained glass studio and watch artists demonstrate the completion of a magnificent stained glass window.
10:15 - 10:45 AM
Drive up to Garvin Heights and admire the breath-taking views from atop this lookout, 575 feet above the Mississippi River. Discover why Winona is called the
11 - 12:00 AM
Visit Veterans Memorial Park, Rose Garden, and Windom Park to view the famous statue of Princess Wenonah. Also see The Winona National Bank; famous for its Tiffany stained-glass windows and safari museum.
12:15 - 1:15 PM
Have lunch in one of the restaurants in historic downtown Winona.
1:30 - 2:30 PM
The Watkins Museum/Store is a must for everyone who remembers the Watkins man and his famous liniment and vanilla. Then walk across the street to Winona's Polish Museum and journey through the heritage of the Kashubian Poles who made Winona their home.
2:45 - 3:30 PM
Round off your tour by visiting the Winona County Historical Museum. See what made this river town so interesting to lumber barons, laborers, and soldiers. Don't leave without stopping in the Museum Store. It's filled with historically accurate maps, artwork, toys, and old-fashioned candy.
Check into your hotel and freshen up before heading out for the night's events.
Which might include:
Having an early dinner and enjoying a free concert on the green at Winona State University before the nights highlight; a Great River Shakespeare Festival play.
A dinner cruise on the Mississippi River, aboard the Julia Belle Swaine, an authentic paddlewheel steamboat. Relax and watch the river, enjoy the entertainment, and soak up some flavor of the past.
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|Day 7 La Crescent|
Start your day with apple treats from Apple on Main Tea Room & Gifts as you begin your day in the Apple Capital of Minnesota. La Crescent roots hail the first orchard planted in this area in the 1850's.
After your breakfast jump in the car for a gorgeous drive along the Apple Blossom Drive. Head out of town and take a loop off the Great River Road (Highway 61), Apple Blossom Drive rises sharply out of La Crescent into bluff country, with wooded ravines and rolling hills covered by rows of apple trees, pastures and farmland, dotted by red barns.
Pick up some flowers from The Apple Tree Flowers and a enjoyable bottle of wine from Apple Village Liquor. Plan a picnic a few miles out of town as a pull-off of the drive overlooks the river and Lake Onalaska. At the top of the drive you ll be amazed at the outstanding views of the Mississippi River valley and Lake Onalaska. A true romantic get away.
Bird watching is a favorite of many that spend time at the Great River Bluffs State Park is perched on the bluff tops. Bird watchers enjoy the variety of songbirds here, as well as wild turkeys, ruffed grouse, hawks and eagles. During the peak of fall color in October, the view is especially breathtaking.
From late summer through fall, apple stands appear in town and at roadside orchards. There are seven area vendors from which to visit and purchase some of the finest produce in the state.
A quiet evening in town relaxing as the aroma of fresh cut apples fills the area may be just what you are looking for. If you are looking for a wilder night, cross the river to La Crosse, Wisconsin where restaurants abound.