Headed North? Stop here first!
So you headed up I-35 for the weekend. Perhaps you have a few things you are looking forward to seeing – but that drive? Ugh! Why does it have to take so long – and it’s boring and it’s straight! Why not take an extra day or two and discover your Minne-Roadtrip?
Approximately 65 miles south of Minneapolis you’ll discover the historic city of Owatonna. Owatonna has many attractions to see on your Minne-Roadtrip.
We begin at the Farmer’s National Bank in historic downtown. The National Farmers’ Bank is a premier example of Prairie School Architecture and was named one of the “11 Can’t-Miss Stops on a Tour of America’s Hidden Architecture Gems”. The bank was designed in the early 1900s by Louis Sullivan who was known as the “father of the skyscraper “and Frank Lloyd Wright’s mentor. The National Farmers Bank became the first, and most famous of Louis Sullivan’s “jewel box” banks. The building features gold leaf arches, stained glass windows, ornate terra cotta, and 2-ton electroliers. Now an operating Wells Fargo, the bank is located across from Central Park in Historic Downtown. Take a self-guided tour or call the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism to organize a group tour.
After your tour stroll through the historic downtown districts specialty shops, salons, jewelry, and shoe and clothing boutiques. Come visit on a Saturday from May through October and shop at the Farmers Market in Central Park. The market is packed with farm-fresh produce, homemade goodies, houseplants, crafts and fresh cut flowers. Grab lunch at one of Owatonna’s local dining options listed on the downtown map. Don’t forget dessert! The Historic Walking Tour Guide Brochure is available at the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism and at various downtown businesses.
Our next stop is the he site of Minnesota’s only state orphanage (1886–1945); the orphanage’s complex now houses a museum, an arts centre, and a sculpture garden. Approximately 10,635 orphaned, abandoned or abused children were sent to Owatonna between 1886 and 1945 to live at the Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children, located on what is now called the West Hills Campus. The historic campus is now home to the Owatonna Arts Center, the Little Theatre of Owatonna, City offices and the only known Orphanage Museum in the nation. The museum was founded by a former “State-Schooler” to remember the children who lived there. Explore the Museum, historic Cottage 11, the Children’s Cemetery, and an audio tour to get a glimpse of what life was like for the children who called the State School their home. Whether you schedule a guided group tour or choose a self-guided visit, you will find unforgettable history awaiting you.
Just 15 miles north of Owatonna lies the community of Faribault. Fairbault which is pronounced fair-uh-boh, is French and means great people, incredible fun. We believe you will see why the name fits when you visit!
Start you day with a trip and tour of the Faribault Woolen Mills. In this historic mill nestled along the Cannon River in Minnesota, a nearly 150-year-old story is still being woven. The Faribault Woolen Mill endures as one of the last vertical woolen mills in America. Here, fifth generation craftspeople take raw wool and create blankets, throws, scarves and accessories of remarkable comfort and quality. Irreplaceable century-old machinery stands side by side with modern technology in our "new" mill, which was built in 1892.
No trip to Faribault would be complete without a stop at the Cheese Caves. Located in downtown Faribault, Minnesota, The Cheese Cave is a mecca for cheese lovers and culinary connoisseurs. The store offers a chic and unique setting for visitors to enjoy gourmet tastings of over 40 premium cheese labels and pairings as well as culinary demonstrations and gourmet events. Started as a retail store for cheeses from The Caves of Faribault, The Cheese Cave has evolved to become an online outlet for great American cheeses from across the United States.
While you’re downtown, make sure you take the Downtown Interesting Places Tour and discover the downtown murals. Throughout the downtown, you’ll discover beautiful murals that tell the story of Faribault and some of its most famous residents. From the Tilt-O-Whirl car, to Alexander Faribault himself, this is one walking tour you won’t want to skip.
Our third and final stop is in the town of Northfield. Located on the banks of the Cannon River, Northfield was founded as a milling town. It quickly grew into a famed destination for history buffs, artists and scholars.
Come learn about Northfield’s unique history, and experience life as it was in the 1800s at the Northfield Historical Society and Museum. The bank that the James-Younger gang attempted to rob in 1876 is one of Northfield’s most famous attractions, and the museum preserves the site as it stood on that fateful day.
Open to public use year round, Cowling Arboretum at Carleton College is an ideal place to hike, run, ski, fish or simply enjoy being outdoors. The upland and lowland forests along with the 150-acre prairie restoration provide excellent bird and wildlife watching. The extensive 15-mile trail system has been ranked by Runner’s Magazine as the top place to run in Minnesota and one of the top 10 in the country. In winter, trails are groomed for both classic and skate skiing.
Live music can be found almost every day of the week in downtown Northfield, From Nordic, Irish, jazz, and bluegrass jam sessions to piano balladeers and original indie rock, you’ll find a thriving music scene in Music City, Minnesota. The Contented Cow hosts performers at their indoor or outdoor stage nearly every evening, and you’ll find the Tavern Lounge, Froggy Bottoms, and the Rueb & Stein rocking most weekend nights. While you’re downtown, take in the many public sculptures on display. Walk along the river walk and enjoy the rushing waters as they pass over the Ames Mill Dam. Downtown also features many one-of-a-kind boutiques which are filled with everything from Swedish gifts to cookware, to books and clothing and souvenirs, you will find what you’ve been searching for in Northfield.
Once you hit the open highway, the Twin Cities metro is only 35 miles to the north. We hope you’ve enjoyed our communities and the experiences that lie within each unique destination.