5 Small Midwest Towns You'll Love | Midwest Living

5 Small Midwest Towns You'll Love

Slow down and enjoy small towns such as Zoar, Ohio; Stockholm, Wisconsin; Lanesboro, Minnesota; Nappanee, Indiana; and Louisiana, Missouri.

Stockholm, Wisconsin

You'll still find plenty of Petersons, Andersons and Ericksons in this Swedish-founded town (they originally made their living by fishing and harvesting ice on Lake Pepin). But modern Stockholm (population: 97, located 60 miles southeast of Saint Paul) got its start in the 1970s, when artists began discovering the beauty along Lake Pepin and the Mississippi River.

Travelers eager to explore this stretch of the Great River Road (left) eventually followed, curious about what they'd find along the way (wigreatriverroad.org). Explore art galleries and shops, sample Scandinavian foods and stay for one of the area's festivals that combine old-world heritage with new creative expression.

Click ahead for more details on what to do, where to eat and where to stay in Stockholm.

Zoar trip guide

WHERE TO START
Zoar Community Association
(330) 874-2646; zca.org The website has a clickable map of the historic town's 24 remaining buildings.

WHAT TO DO
Antiques in the Wash House
An original Zoar washhouse behind The Keeping Room B&B houses high-quality antiques. (330) 874-3181
The Cider Mill Located in a restored cider mill, the newest business in town sells country-style home accessories. (330) 316-9739; cidermillofzoar.com
Zoar Community Association Walking Tours Costumed guides (left) lead groups seasonally from the Zoar Store, a general store (330) 874-2646; www.ohiohistory.org/places/zoar
Zoar Town Hall and Canal Museum This museum is full of photographs and artifacts--plus a shop with Ohio-made products. (330) 874-2646

WHERE TO EAT
Firehouse Grille
Tasty standouts are chunky chicken nachos and the fist-thick club sandwich. (330) 874-2726; thefirehousegrilleandpub.com/zoar/

WHERE TO STAY
Cobbler Shop Bed and Breakfast
A beautifully restored home has a huge screen porch overlooking the gardens. (800) 287-1547; cobblershop.com

 

Stockholm, Wisconsin

You'll still find plenty of Petersons, Andersons and Ericksons in this Swedish-founded town (they originally made their living by fishing and harvesting ice on Lake Pepin). But modern Stockholm (population: 97, located 60 miles southeast of Saint Paul) got its start in the 1970s, when artists began discovering the beauty along Lake Pepin and the Mississippi River.

Travelers eager to explore this stretch of the Great River Road (left) eventually followed, curious about what they'd find along the way (wigreatriverroad.org). Explore art galleries and shops, sample Scandinavian foods and stay for one of the area's festivals that combine old-world heritage with new creative expression.

Click ahead for more details on what to do, where to eat and where to stay in Stockholm.

Stockholm trip guide

WHERE TO START
Stockholm Merchants Association
(715) 442-2266; stockholmwisconsin.com

WHAT TO DO
Abode Store and Gallery
This shop sells a variety of art reflecting river themes. (715) 442-2266; abodegallery.com
Stockholm General Wisconsin Foods, Cheese, Wines and Mercantile Everything in this gourmet food store is from Wisconsin. (715) 442-9077; stockholmgeneral.com
Ingebretsen's Handcrafted Scandinavian imports, books and foods fill this tiny storefront. (715) 442-2220; ingebretsens.com
Stockholm Pottery and Mercantile You'll find locally made stoneware, wood engravings, watercolors and jewelry. (715) 442-9012; stockholmpottery.com
Festivals These include the Midsommer Swedish Festival with Scandinavian foods, maypole dancing and an evening bonfire (stockholmwisconsin.com), and Stockholm Art Fair with more than 100 juried exhibitors (stockholmartfair.org).

WHERE TO EAT
The Stockholm Pie Company
This popular little eatery serves all kinds of pies, from cream to savory. (715) 442-5505; thestockholmpiecompany.com

 

Lanesboro, Minnesota

Three words best describe this Root River Valley town of 750: outdoors, agriculture and arts.

Mostly, visitors come for the trail system. Lanesboro (120 miles southeast of the Twin Cities) stands at the heart of the area's paved multi-use trails, including the 42-mile Root River Valley Trail and the 18-mile Harmony-Preston Trail. Many travelers bring their own bikes, but you also can rent them at the Little River General Store (lrgeneralstore.net). Be sure to get a trail map before heading out (rootrivertrail.org).

Art galleries, a seasonal farmers market and a professional theater round out a weekend trip here.

Click ahead for more details on what to do, where to eat and where to stay in Lanesboro.

Lanesboro trip guide

WHERE TO START
Lanesboro Chamber of Commerce
(800) 944-2670; lanesboro.com

WHAT TO DO
The Commonweal Theatre
While the professional theater offers comedies, family shows and musicals, it has built a reputation on its annual Henrik Ibsen Festival, honoring the “father of modern drama.” (800) 657-7025; commonwealtheatre.org
Lanesboro Art Center A classy collection of local art includes mosaics, fountains, silks and more. (507) 467-2446; lanesboroarts.org
Lanesboro Farmers Market Held seasonally at Sylvan Park, the market has dozens of vendors representing the region's 1,500 farms. (800) 944-2670; lanesboro.com

WHERE TO EAT
Old Village Hall Restaurant
This seasonal mainstay with a view of the Root River Valley Trail offers special-occasion dining with seasonally inspired snazzy entrees that start at $20 and include New Zealand lamb. (507) 467-2962; oldvillagehall.com
Pedal Pusher's Cafe and Coffee Bar Burgers, flaxseed pancakes and anything made with farm eggs rule here. Special Saturday dinners showcase ingredients that are grown locally. (507) 467-1050; pedalpusherscafe.com

WHERE TO STAY
Habberstad House
(pictured) Expect hearty breakfasts at this quiet neighborhood spot, an easy stroll to the downtown. (507) 467-3560; habberstadhouse.com

 

Nappanee, Indiana

Settled on the edge of north-central Indiana's Amish Country, Nappanee (population: 7,070) has a philosophy centered on the phrase "Embrace the Pace." The town has cultivated that spirit by supporting small businesses and an RV industry, and Amish and “English” neighbors live out the slogan in their daily interaction. Horse-drawn wagons (left) are a common sight here.

Nappanee's downtown has shops and restaurants housed in historic buildings, and family-owned shops pepper the countryside. More than 30 of these are featured on Nappanee's Shingle Shoppes Tour (amishcountry.org). Another big draw: the free Quilt Gardens Tour (quiltgardenstour.com), showcasing colorful gardens and murals along a self-guided tour.

Click ahead for more details on what to do, where to eat and where to stay in Nappanee.

Nappanee trip guide

WHERE TO START
Elkhart County Visitor Center
(800) 250-4827; amishcountry.org

WHAT TO DO
Amish Acres
Nappanee's historic farmstead is designed to preserve and give insight into Amish heritage. In addition to the farmstead, there's a restaurant, lodging, musical theater and shopping. (800) 800-4942; amishacres.com
Self-guided driving tours Free maps and CDs for the Heritage Trail Audio Tour, a 90-mile tour of Nappanee and her neighbors, are available at the visitors center and also are downloadable online at amishcountry.org. The visitors center also can help with maps for the Shingle Shoppes Tour and the Quilt Gardens Tour. (800) 250-4827; amishcountry.org

WHERE TO EAT
Main Street Coffee House Staffers roast the coffee on-site, including flavors from around the world and signature blends. Try their moist and delicious cinnamon coffee cake. (574) 773-5333; mainstreetroasters.com

WHERE TO STAY
The Homespun Country Inn Bed and Breakfast
Five flowery, comfortable rooms have their own private baths. The hosts, who enjoy chatting with their guests, will arrange in-home dinners with Amish for guests who are interested. From $79. (800) 311-2996; homespuninn.com

Louisiana, Missouri

Perhaps it's the Mississippi River that gives such an aura of permanence to Louisiana, Missouri (100 miles northwest of St. Louis). Its thoroughfares (left) have been called some of the most intact Victorian streetscapes in the state, and its antebellum-style Georgia Street Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Spending time in Louisiana might mean fishing or boating on the river, strolling the streets to see the 20 murals around town, cruising the 50 Miles of Art corridor, or visiting the ASL Pewter Foundry, which gained acclaim for the 500-plus authentic pewter articles it produced for the HBO biopic John Adams. The Great River Road scenic byway links Louisiana (population: 3,863) to Clarksville and Hannibal, which hold a biannual studio and gallery crawl. All three of these towns have seen artists' communities flourish during the past five years.

Click ahead for more details on what to do, where to eat and where to stay in Louisiana.

Louisiana trip guide

WHERE TO START
Louisiana Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau. (
888) 642-3800; louisiana-mo.com

WHAT TO DO
ASL Pewter Foundry
Tucked inside the 1881 Grand Central Hotel, the foundry's showroom gleams with heirloom-quality tableware (left). The foundry uses molds that date as far back as 1650; the pewtersmiths make original designs, too. (573) 754-3435; aslpewter.com
50 Miles of Art Studio and gallery tours are in March and November, though artists welcome visitors year-round and display work in galleries. 50milesofart.com
St. Louis University's Henry Lay Sculpture Park Sculptures dot 20 wooded acres. The 2-mile gravel walking trail is lovely. Free. (573) 754-4726; slu.edu/events/layctr.html
Stark Brothers Nurseries and Orchards Co. This nearly 200-year-old nursery is known for patented fruit trees. (800) 325-4180; starkbros.com

WHERE TO EAT

Daybreak Donuts and Diner The sweet perfume of apple fritters hangs outside. (573) 754-6060; daybreakdonutsanddiner.com
The Eagle's Nest Bistro Try the Eagle Sandwich for lunch (smoked turkey breast, bacon, baby Swiss and basil mayo on foccacia) and spice-crusted salmon for dinner. (573) 754-9888; theeaglesnest-louisiana.com

WHERE TO STAY
Eagle's Nest Inn
Rooms in this 1859 bank are tastefully modest and pleasant; rates include a hot breakfast. From $95. (573) 754-9888; theeaglesnest-louisiana.com

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