Minnesota is a Midwestern state with a lot to offer. Its northern location provides visitors with snowy winter vacation spots and comfortable summer weather locales.
Minnesota is the United States’ 12 largest state, but it only ranks 22nd in terms of the number of people living there. The Land of 10,000 Lakes has plenty of wide-open spaces outside the large cities. Minnesota’s small towns are the types of places people escape to so they can experience starry nights and skies that never end.
The people and landmarks in these 10 beautiful small towns are perfect for travelers looking for a rural escape in the Midwest.
Biwabik is a gateway to the Minnesota wilderness. Travelers will find lush pine forests surrounding the little community. The small town in Minnesota is the trailhead of the historic Mesabi Trail.
You will find restaurants, parks, a swimming beach, campground, and boat launches along the trail. The lakes are perfect for summer vacations, but they also provide recreation during colder months, too. The trail meanders along Embarrass Lake and the Giants Ridge Golf and Ski Resort. Both are major attractions for visitors.
Address: Biwabik, MN
Known as the last great pure experience, Ely is a winter wonderland for travelers who love cold, snowy weather. Visitors can rent one of the many cabins located in the small Minnesota town. There are also lodges and resorts providing winter activities to guests.
Ely is home to the North American Bear Center. The interactive museum teaches visitors all about the American Black Bear. Other top attractions include the International Wolf Center, Arts and Heritage Center, and Dorothy Molter Museum.
Address: Ely, MN
Located on the shores of Lake Superior, Grand Marais is in the furthest northeast corner of Minnesota. With under 1,400 residents, you will feel like you are in a small Minnesota town all your own. The town’s iconic lighthouse on the shore of Lake Superior is one of the great tourist attractions to see.
The town is home to a number of festivals throughout the year. The Fisherman’s Picnic, Moose Madness, and the Grand Marais Arts Festival attract people from all over the area. Visitors will also find the Lutsen Resort on a trip to Grand Marais. Golfers can hit the links during a trip at the Gunflint Hills Golf Course and experience 18-holes in the Minnesota wild.
Address: Grand Marais, MN
Situated in southern Minnesota, Lanesboro offers rustic mid-American architecture in its quaint downtown. With a population under 1,000, Lanesboro is a real Midwestern small town. Despite its size, Lanesboro has a lot for visitors to do.
Gems include the Root River State Bike Trail. The popular trail runs through Lanesboro’s 19th century downtown. Downtown is home to local restaurants and shops. Due to the small town’s location along the Root River, visitors can participate in a number of great water recreational activities. Swimming, floating, and fishing are just three favorite pastimes in Lanesboro.
Address: Lanesboro, MN
With a population last calculated at less than 900, Henderson is truly a small town in Minnesota. The town takes its German heritage to heart and townsfolk are proud to celebrate their past from the old country.
Henderson is known for its annual Sauerkraut Days at the end of each June. The three-day festival attracts visitors from all over southern Minnesota with a variety of activities. One of the most popular events is the World Champion Kraut Eating Contest. In addition, don’t miss the Ney Nature Center or the Sibley County Historical Museums.
Address: Henderson, MN
Red Wing is a small town in Minnesota famous for the shoe company of the same name. The town has been a hub for manufacturing over the years, and due to its businesses, it has a population of just over 16,400 people. Situated along the upper Mississippi River, Red Wing is a gorgeous town with beautiful bluffs, historical landmarks, and outdoor recreational sites galore.
The Cannon Valley Trail is a favorite spot for runners, hikers, and bikers. The local wineries and craft breweries are also popular destinations for locals and travelers alike. Red Wing’s history as a local hub for entertainment has made it a beautiful little Midwestern town with character.
Address: Red Wing, MN
The Calumet Inn is one of the must-see sites in the small Minnesota town of Pipestone. The hotel was built in 1888 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The local quarries are famous for producing quartzite and many of the historic buildings around town were built with the mineral.
One of the town’s most famous landmarks is the World’s Largest Peace Pipe. It is a perfect selfie background for Instagram posts. The County Museum provides visitors with a lesson on the area’s past. There are also ghost walks organized by the museum that tell all about the spooky history of Pipestone.
Address: Pipestone, MN
Northfield is one of the larger small towns in Minnesota. Its rich history can be seen on the streets of downtown. Northfield has beautiful old buildings that line its streets giving a true northern Midwest feel. The rural farming area was originally founded by people who moved from New England in the mid-1800s.
Today, you will find Northfield’s agricultural past all over the town. Northfield is a hub of arts, culture, and attractions. The Jesse James Outlaw Trail is a popular destination for history buffs. The small Minnesota town boasts an exciting music scene. Downtown Northfield comes to life at night and the town has gained a reputation as Minnesota’s music city.
Address: Northfield, MN
Stillwater is a year-round travel destination thanks to its historical attractions, craft brewery and winery, and romantic escapes. Just minutes from the Twin Cities, Stillwater has been an escape for city dwellers for decades. Its rustic upper Midwest architecture provides a beautiful backdrop to any vacation. In fact, Stillwater’s architecture is so stunning; it has been the location of several films and television series including The Mighty Ducks and Supernatural.
Situated on the banks of the St. Croix River, you will find Stillwater is perfect for biking, hiking, golf, and any other outdoor activity on your itinerary. The small town’s river location makes it great for watersports as well. Visitors looking to have a cold beer and get exercise will love the BierCycle tours.
Address: Stillwater, MN
With fewer than 1,000 people living in Taylors Falls, you will feel like you have gotten away from everyone and everything on a visit. Despite it being a small town in Minnesota, Taylors Falls is flush with great attractions. Interstate Park is perfect for hiking and trekking. There, you will find some of the largest glacial potholes in the world.
Wild Mountain Ski and Snowboard Resort is a popular destination year-round. When the snow melts, the resort opens up its waterpark allowing visitors to cool off. Located just an hour from Minneapolis, Taylors Falls is a great daytrip from the big city. You can also find the oldest school ever built in Minnesota located in Taylors Falls.
Address: Taylors Falls, MN