Northfield Trip Guide
The home of Carleton College and St. Olaf College, this town of 20,000 draws visitors for its annual Defeat of Jesse James Days festival and for year-round shopping in downtown buildings more than a century old.
What to Do
Cowling Arboretum Fifteen miles of trails through woods and prairie attract walkers, joggers and bikers (as well as cross-country skiers in winter). Bird and wildlife watching is also popular at the 880-acre preserve along the Cannon River, and spring brings an impressive display of wildflowers. apps.carleton.edu
Defeat of Jesse James Days A foiled 1876 bank robbery in Northfield gives locals reason to celebrate the first weekend after Labor Day. Kids love it when volunteers reenact the James-Younger Gang raid with pistols and horses at the scene of the crime. djjd.org
Northfield Historical Society Museum See the First National Bank where Jesse James' gang botched a robbery (and hear how townspeople fared in a shoot-out). Exhibits include the original blood-spattered bank ledger and a photocopy of the newspaper that recorded the event for the citizens of Northfield. northfieldhistory.org
Shopping You could easily spend the day among the shops, galleries and boutiques in the red-brick buildings (many dating from the late 19th century and early 20th century) along Division Street. Among our favorites: The Sketchy Artist for art supplies and funky gifts; Northfield Arts Guild for paintings and other works by guild members; The Rare Pair for clothing and accessories.
Where to Eat
Chapati Smoky tandoori kabobs, spicy curry chicken and other well-prepared traditional Indian dishes draw diners to the lunch and dinner restaurant inside Archer House River Inn. chapati.us
Goodbye Blue Monday The coffee shop serves excellent fair-trade coffees and teas, as well as delicious homemade cookies and pastries. gbmcoffee.com
Ole Store Restaurant The signature Ole Roll-sweet dough rolled with cinnamon, brown sugar, butter and chopped pecans-packs diners in for breakfast. The lunch and dinner menus are more contemporary, with options such as ahi tuna sliders, pear walnut salad and prosciutto-wrapped halibut. olestorerestaurant.com
Where to Stay
Archer House River Inn Choose from 36 rooms at the 1877 inn in the downtown shopping and entertainment area. A $1.25 million renovation in the last few years refreshed décor and added modern touches such as flat-screen TVs. archerhouse.com
More information: (800) 658-2548; visitingnorthfield.com