Soaring eagles and a carousel are just two reasons to explore the area around Wabasha and Lake City.

National Eagle Center

Day 1

Ninety miles southeast of Minneapolis, Kellogg's Lark Toys operates a carousel of hand-carved, whimsical creatures.

Watch eagles from either behind a wall of windows on the ground floor or the observation deck on the second floor of the National Eagle Center in nearby Wabasha. Across the street, Flour Mill Pizzeria beckons with stone-baked pizzas; create your own, or try the carnivore-enticing T. rex made with six meats.

Dense and chewy caramels, rich truffles and gourmet chocolates await at The Chocolate Escape.

Mississippi River pearl jewelry at Jewels on the River fits most budgets.

At Reads Landing Brewing, guests enjoy craft beer and garlicky shrimp with grits. Turning Waters Bed, Breakfast and Adventure leads guided kayaking trips on the Mississippi River and has plush rooms and five-course breakfasts (from $115).

Day 2

Cheery home-turned-bistro Chickadee Cottage Cafe serves family-style Sunday brunches in Lake City, 14 miles northwest of Wabasha. Favorites include the cheesy potato casserole and homemade rolls.

See the locally harvested clamshells once used to make pearly buttons and browse antiques in the Lake Pepin Pearl Button Company.

Hop aboard Pearl of the Lake, a replica paddle-wheeler that takes passengers on 90-minute tours of Lake Pepin. Or stroll the harbor and spread out on the sandy beach after swimming or fishing in the lake.

Upscale Nosh Restaurant and Bar charms guests with views of the marina and contemporary Mediterranean-influenced American dishes. Entrees have included seafood paella, pan-roasted Alaskan cod and grilled beef tenderloin au poivre vert.

More information: (800) 565-4158;

Add a day

Even if you typically only shop for high heels, Red Wing Shoe Store and Museum's 16-foot-tall, size 638½D work boot is worth a look. (It would fit a giant 12 stories tall.)

Shopping in Red Wing also includes playful women's wear at Whimsy's Closet.

A stroganoff burger awaits at 1950s-style diner Bev's Cafe.

Guests linger over their wine on the spacious deck of nearby Falconer Vineyards and Winery.

Wooden floors, tin ceilings and an exposed brick wall set the tone for a warm, comfortable dinner at The Brickhouse Pub and Grille; try the fun Build Your Own Bruschetta appetizer.

More information: (800) 498-3444;

Night out

An evening in Winona starts with the bacon-wrapped tenderloin or Red Lake walleye at upscale Signature's at The Bridges Golf Club.

Want entertainment? The annual summer Great River Shakespeare Festival fills its calendar with its namesake's plays (including Hamlet and The Merry Wives of Windsor this June 25 to August 3), and free jazz and folk concerts.

Want quiet? Walk Garvin Heights Park's 1.5-mile trail to a Mississippi River Valley overlook. Sumptuous guest rooms and privacy await at Alexander Mansion Bed and Breakfast (from $139).

More information: (800) 657-4972;