One hundred twenty miles southeast from the Twin Cities in Minnesota is the crown jewel of the great river bluffs region in Minnesota: Lanesboro! Lanesboro is a small town with a big reputation for it’s trail system, river activities (Root River) and gorgeous views of the rolling bluffs (especially stunning in the fall time!). My family has been visiting Lanesboro since I was a kid myself, and now I take my own children here. Over the years, I couldn’t be more excited for all the new editions to the special, small town! Perfect for a getaway from the hustle and bustle of every day life. Here are 10 of our favorite things to do in Lanesboro, MN.

1. Explore the Root River Trail by Bike

If you are in Lanesboro, be prepared to be on the lookout for bikes! The Root River State Trail is 42 miles, and the Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail is 18 miles. This trail system connects to nine other communities, with Lanesboro in the middle. Be prepared to stop at river overlooks, see historic barns and wildlife along the way! Need a bike? You can rent one at the Little River General Store. Check out their options for regular pedal or electric bike rentals by the hour or for the day.

2. Go River Tubing

Get a different point of view of the driftless region from the Root River! The point of access for river tubing is by the downtown waterfalls in Lanesboro. You can rent your own tube at the Little River General Store and get a shuttle for an hour to 3.5 hour river tubing experience! Visit the Little General Store’s website for the rates.

3. See a Play by Commonweal Theater Company

We were able to see a special show (for free!) put on by the Commonweal Theater Company during the summer! This play took place along the Root River Trail (near the downtown bridge), and the audience was able to walk to trail to get to the next scene of the play. It was such a unique presentation of a play that we enjoyed!

4. Visit an Abandoned Town in Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

Mystery Cave is the longest cave system in Minnesota, with over 13 miles of underground tunnels. You can make a reservation for a guided tour, which I suggest doing in the summer time. Horseback riding is very common in both areas of the park. Forestville is famous for it’s preserved, abandoned town. You will feel like you have gone back in time walking through it! If you enjoy fishing, the rivers here offer a great selection of Trout.

5. Kayak or Canoe the Root River

If river tubing isn’t your style, but you want to get on the water, there are countless points of entry to enjoy your time on the Root River via canoe or kayak. If you are looking for a canoe or kayak rental, consider the Root River Outfitters. Check out their website to view their rates for the 3 hour or 5 hour routes for either kayaking or canoeing. They are located downtown Lanesboro.

6. Have Lunch at The Pedal Pushers Cafe

Every time I visit Lanesboro, I am always super hungry after our outdoor adventures! The Pedal Pushers Cafe never disappoints. Located downtown Lanesboro, they have the most delicious fish and chips, salads and truffle fries! If you have your heart set on eating here, note that they are closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. You can dine in or take anything to go.

7. Visit the New Coffee Shop: Paddle on Coffee

Every cute town deserves and aesthetic coffee shop, and Lanesboro is no exception! Paddle on Coffee was in it’s first few days of being open when we visited. They had delicious coffee and a little shop in their dining area. Since then, they have added smoothies, non-coffee frappes (perfect for kids!), a large bakery and brunch menu (Hawaiian breakfast sandwiches, personal flat breads, chili, Apple turnovers), and countless specialty coffee drinks. This is a definite place to add to your things to do in Lanesboro!

8. View the Lanesboro Stone Dam

We took our time to appreciate the Lanesboro Stone Dam, which was a stunning view with Root River and the thick, green bluffs. The dam was built in 1868, and is one of six dams left in the United States that is a gravity arch dam. It is also on the National Registry of Historic Places list. There are impressive overlooks surrounding this area, and not too far down stream is a point of entry for water activities.

9. Get a Sweet Treat

If you have a sweet tooth, you will be quite pleased with your options in downtown Lanesboro. We have two stops we enjoy for ice cream: Another Time Ice Cream Parlor and Clara’s Eatery. Both places have great selections for ice cream. If you are looking to do lunch and ice cream in one place, Clara’s Eatery has soups, sandwiches, pizza and paninis as well.

10. Shop Amish, Aesthetic and Vintage Downtown

Downtown Lanesboro is decorated with the cutest shops with something for everyone. I love Lanesboro because I can park and walk to all my favorite shops (which includes ice cream, coffee shops and places to eat!). If you love art, play a visit to the Lanesboro Arts shop, featuring stunning work by local artists. If you are looking for gift shops, The Peddler and Amish Experience never disappoints. I also enjoy viewing the Windy Mesa Jewelery Shop (located next to Another Time Ice Cream). Make sure to also check out the gorgeous downtown murals on your stroll.

Spring & Summer Time: Berry and Bloom Farm

If you are traveling south to Lanesboro (and are visiting in the spring or summer time), make sure to stop at Berry and Bloom Farm in Chatfield, MN. This unique farm has a blueberry field (U-pick), wildflower fields you can pick from and a sunflower field. The experience is very unique and there has been no other place exactly like this that I have visited in Minnesota.

Fall Time: Pumpkin Patch

One of my favorite pumpkin patch experiences in Minnesota is the Big Springs Farm in Lanesboro’s countryside. Not only do they have tons of activities and games for children, there is an impressive corn maze, giant slide, animals to play with and a cute shop. There is also a fun tractor ride throughout the farm. We spent a sunny fall day at Big Springs Farm, enjoying the fall colors on a walk through Root River Trail & lunch at The Pedal Pushers Cafe. It was the most perfect day with my kids! Keep watch in August for their fall dates to come out!

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