100 Best Midwest Small-Town Getaways
Explore the Minnesota wilderness
Ely A wear-your-hiking-boots-to-dinner spirit energizes this jumping-off point for Boundary Waters canoe trips. There are also wolf and bear centers, resorts such as Burntside Lodge (left), and authentic North Woods restaurants.
Grand Marais A onetime fishing village between the North Woods and Lake Superior draws both outdoorsy types and a big community of working artists.
Northfield The town is still proud of defeating Jesse James (celebrated at a huge fall festival), with lots more going for it, including shops and two picture-perfect college campuses.
Lanesboro This is a haven for cyclists and other lovers of the peaceful outdoors with the Root River trail, plus good food, inns and productions at the Commonweal Theatre.
Nisswa Don't miss summer's weekly turtle races at this hub for the vacation area around central Minnesota's lakes.
Park Rapids This town is so laid-back, you wouldn't guess it's surrounded by busy lake resorts; it's also near Mississippi headwaters at Itasca State Park.
Wabasha Eagle watching on the Mississippi includes the National Eagle Center; Grumpy Old Men was filmed here.
Red Wing This quaint Mississippi port is known for the restored St. James Hotel and tours of famous Red Wing pottery.
Detroit Lakes This resort town favors a folksy, relaxed mood.
New Ulm Visitors enjoy music, festivals and shops selling imports in what the U.S. Census labeled the country's "most German city."
Mantorville Explore historic buildings, bike the trails and watch drama at local theater.