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.
Shopping along Division Street.
Division Street
| Credit: Blaine Moats


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.

Defeat of Jesse James Days Northfield Minnesota
Defeat of Jesse James Days
| Credit: Clint Farlinger

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.

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.


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.

Eat and Drink

Goodbye Blue Monday

The coffee shop serves excellent fair-trade coffees and teas, as well as delicious homemade cookies and pastries.

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.


Contented Cottage B&B

Close to Northfield College and St. Olaf, this B&B on a bluff offers a quiet and comfy stay. If you're there for 3 nights, your college student can join you for breakfast one morning.

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