One of the best-kept secrets in the Midwest turns on the charm this Valentine’s Day.
Upon entering the city limits of Lanesboro, Minnesota, you’ll quickly discover that the town seems to be frozen in time. You won’t hear buzzing neon, see a single traffic light, or pass a pair of golden arches. In fact, you’re most likely to find yourself sharing the road with a horse and buggy on your way to breakfast. Every inch of Lanesboro is photogenic from its position along the historic Root River to its quaint town square filled with local goods. Located in the heart of Bluff Country, this quiet artsy town of fewer than 800 people is ideal for couples looking to unplug and be in the moment without the fast and flashy distractions of modern day life. If small town solitude is what you and your sweetheart crave this Valentine’s Day, then read on for your Lanesboro Lovers Getaway Guide.
BEST PLACES TO STAY
When it comes to places to hang your hat, you’ve got plenty of options in Lanesboro. As the bed and breakfast capital of Minnesota, you have 10 options to choose from. If you and your partner have a fascination for things that go bump in the night, Mrs. B’s Historic Inn has a room for you! Built in 1872, this one time doctor’s office and funeral parlor transitioned into Lanesboro’s first bed and breakfast. Apparitions, disembodied voices, and a front row view of Main Street await you here.
Habberstad House is impossible to miss as it’s painted in three different shades of green. Here you can anticipate a daily two-course breakfast and plenty of gardens to walk off those extra sausages you said you weren’t going to order. See if their Carriage House is available if you’d like some extra privacy.
There is also a small hotel in town called The Stone Mill Hotel and Suites. Built in 1885, has 13 rooms that reflect its agricultural history with country style interior.
BEST PLACES TO EXPLORE
Fresh air does the body good and so does being beside moving water. Grab your lover and head to the Root River, where you can find a pair of bikes, and pedal the Root River Trail. Just stretch out first because it’s a 60-mile paved trail! Follow it along the water’s edge far enough and you’ll see 300-foot limestone bluffs, an abandoned railroad bed, and rolling fields. If the weather is agreeable, kick back and float or paddle down the river in a tube, canoe, or kayak. If it happens to snow, rent cross-country skis or snowshoes for some fun in the powder. No excuses to not enjoy the trail year ‘round.
One final thing, be sure you don’t miss the more than 149-year-old dam on the edge of town. Built in 1868, it’s one of six in the country that still provides hydroelectric power to the town.
If history is your weakness, you’ll be pleased to know Lanesboro is one of six places chosen in Minnesota for the traveling “Museum on Main Street” Smithsonian Exhibit. Best of all, it’s totally free.
BEST PLACES TO EAT AND DRINK
You won’t find a single big name chain restaurant in town, so we hope you two enjoy homemade everything! You’ll feel no judgment over that second plate of fries at The High Court Pub. Originally built as the town courthouse back in 1876, the modest two-story building has since been converted into a small LIVE music venue. Rub elbows with locals and take your brews to the roof to catch one of the best views of Main Street. Split a few flatbread pizzas and then have a dance. What do you have to be embarrassed about? You don’t know anyone here anyway.
If you’re looking for something a bit more romantic than dancing to the house band over a few pints, then make a reservation at the Old Village Hall. Originally built in 1886, this stone building was many things before it was a romantic restaurant. It was a fire station, jail, and village hall. It’s also on the National Historic Registry. Enjoy a bottle of wine with your homemade bread, soups, and entrees either on the deck overlooking the Root River or upstairs beneath Amish quilts and local art. (Here’s what’s on the menu for Valentine’s Day for your convenience.)
BEST PLACE TO GET A SOUVENIR
A bit sore from biking and dancing? Take it easy and explore the local art galleries and shops. The spirited community has many ways to feed your creative side. Local artist Val Tindall’s store, The Black Crow, features an eclectic mix of pieces for purchase, as do many of the artisan shops downtown. Take in a performance at The Lanesboro Arts Center via the historic St. Mane Theatre or Commonweal Theatre if you have the time, too!
If inspiration hits you, get creative with your camera when you snap photos of the downtown area. The buildings of Lanesboro are beautifully maintained and have changed very little since they were first built by immigrants who settled here a century and a half ago, earning the town a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
There is also an influential overlap between the town’s current lifestyle and the Amish culture. If you’re interested you can park your car at a swap meet and watch livestock being traded and taken home hitched to a horse and buggy. You also have the option to take an Amish backroads tour through the countryside. Along the way, you’ll find many Amish women have transformed their barns into shops filled with homemade candles, jams, and quilts. None of which will take up too much room in your suitcase next to the Copper Crane Pottery you couldn’t resist!
BEST PLACE TO SNAP A SELFIE
One last thing you two should do is to take a picture together at Inspiration Point. It’s located on Highway 16 on your way out of the town, so there’s no reason not to pull over for a last look at the beautiful bluffs and the town you and your partner explored. You can piece together the town from up above and recall your favorite spots before you jump back in the car. (Depending on the weather, you could end up with a more green or snowy selfie like this one. Beautiful either way!)
When you lovebirds fly home after your Lanesboro getaway, it will be on satisfied stomachs, with new memories, and a better appreciation for the simple things in life.
Do you know of another small town that offers a similarly simple lifestyle? Have you ever visited Lanesboro? Let us know in the comments below.