LANESBORO, Minn. -- You don't need a time machine to discover what small town America looked like more than a hundred years ago. Just hop in your car and head two hours south to this charming Minnesota town.
Lanesboro looks pretty much like it did in its heyday back in the late 19th and early 20th century. Nicely preserved and restored old buildings, quaint shops and art galleries, a respected regional theatre company and several good restaurants and cafes make this a perfect weekend getaway destination.
One of Lanesboro's biggest draws is the beauty of its natural setting. The spectacular Root River Trail winds along 60 miles of some of the most beautiful scenery in the state. Spectacular limestone cliffs and the rolling river make this a favorite excursion for cyclists.
Our itinerary was pretty loose. After arriving, we grabbed a bite of lunch at the Pedal Pushers Café. The place was so crowded we ended up joining a table of strangers who instantly made us feel at home.
After polishing off a patty melt, chocolate shake and fries we headed to the Little River General Store to rent bicycles. (The forecast was looking iffy, so we didn't bring our own.) We then set out on the trail for about three hours. Just enough time to get a feel for the beauty of the place and to make a dent in burning off our caloric binge at lunch.
Lanesboro has earned the title of Minnesota's Bed and Breakfast capital. There are dozens of these Mom and Pop establishments around the area. We stayed at Mrs. B's Inn on the main street. Clean and comfortable with a good breakfast this was a good home base for the weekend. Here you can step out the front door and within a few steps find plenty to do.
One highlight was the Lanesboro Museum. Lois, the charming octogenarian volunteer was a wealth of information. Lanesboro's citizenry have been very generous in handing down memorabilia. The result is that you really get a feel for who these people were and what life was like several generations ago.
Another enjoyable diversion was the Commonweal Theatre. This local regional theatre company puts on a variety of shows from Shakespeare to musical theatre show tunes. We saw a very good performance Henry James Turn of the Screw.
Definitely worth a stop, dinner at the Old Village Hall. This converted town hall and fire station now is turning out gourmet quality meals using organic meats and vegetables.
Many of southern Minnesota's Amish community live in a town called Harmony. Austere looking black horse drawn buggies are a frequent site on area roads. The Amish also sell furniture and quilts and some things like honey. Tours are also available to area farms.
When to go
Although we missed the spectacle of the turning of fall leaves, we also missed the crowds that summer and early fall bring.
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