Northfield-Faribault overnight getaway
Start the day in Faribault with a bike ride along the Cannon or Straight rivers or a hike through the 750-acre River Bend Nature Center, which offers hands-on fun for little explorers, hot coffee, and comfy chairs for watching songbirds and hummingbirds buzz feeders and flowers. If it's been raining, check out the waterfall on the drive into the park.
Donahue's Greenhouse is one of the largest growers of clematis in the country.
Take a spin along Shumway Drive to admire the historic campuses of Shattuck-St. Mary's prep school (known for grooming men's and women's Olympic hockey players) and state academies for the deaf and blind.
In Northfield, stroll the River Walk and swing into Northfield Historical Society Museum to learn why the infamous Jesse James Gang rode here from Missouri and why some consider the thwarted robbery to be the last battle of the Civil War. Look for action-packed reenactments during special events, such as June's Taste of Northfield or September's Defeat of Jesse James Days.
Grab a light lunch at The Hideaway Coffeehouse and Wine Bar's bistro-style menu with items named for James.
Cap off an evening with drinks and Parmesan-crusted walleye at the The Ole Store Restaurant near St. Olaf College. Follow it up with a drive among the campus's stone buildings or a stroll through Cowling Arboretum, Carleton College's 880-acre preserve.