Tucked away along the Mississippi River and the bluffs is the charming town of Red Wing, MN. You may have heard of Red Wing through the famous shoe brand Red Wing Shoes, named after this cozy town. Red Wing is located in southeastern Minnesota (part of Goodhue County) and it lies along the Mississippi River. Red Wing also is an end to the Great River Road and near the Mississippi River Valley, both scenic byways rolling through the bluffs and winding through other charming towns. Red Wing also is a few minutes away from the Minnesota-Wisconsin border.

Barn Bluff Scenic Overlook in Red Wing MN
Barn Bluff Scenic Overlook in Red Wing MN

Whether you want to go wine tasting with friends, plan a family adventure, romantic getaway in MN or take a solo trip, Red Wing has something for you! No matter what your variety of interest are, Red Wing has you covered. Save this list and prepare for a fun day trip in south eastern MN!

Are you looking for other amazing day trips near Red Wing that include, hiking with scenic overlooks, wineries or lake activities? Check out our article List of 10 Cozy Adventure Ideas in Pepin, WI or read about the Great River Road in Top Scenic Byway Drives for a Road Trip in MN.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Red Wing, MN famous for?

Red Wing is famous for being the birthplace of Red Wing Shoes and it’s historic downtown area with a number of stores and places to eat.

How far is Red Wing from Lake City?

Both towns are about 15-17 miles or 20 minutes apart via US 61 Route.

Why is it called Red Wing?

Red Wing is named after a Native American, Red Wing, who was a member of the Mdewakanton, part of the Dakota tribe.

10 Things to Do in Red Wing MN

1. Hike the Bluffs

Red Wing MN offers various hikes that lead to the most beautiful overlooks of Red Wing and the Mississippi River. First, we have Barn Bluff Hike, which leads to a 340 foot bluff showcasing a gorgeous overlook of Red Wing on one side, and an overlook of the Mississippi River on the other. All trails begin at the end of East Fifth Street. Hikers should take caution for loose rocks, steep slopes and vertical drops. Children should always be accompanied! Here are the following trails & make sure to save the Barn Bluff PDF Map:

Trails in Red Wing MN

  • Prairie Trail is a moderate hike accessed through hiking the South Trail. Both ends of the trail offers scenic overlooks, but caution should be used with vertical slopes. The hike from West to East Overlook is .55 miles.
  • Midland Trail is a primitive, moderate trail that runs parallel to South Trail, offering an alternative route to south base of barn bluff.
  • South Trail starts at the Main Park Access leading to Prairie Trail & is considered easy to moderate. This trail is the easiest way to reach the Barn Bluff summit. The trail length to Linne Quarry/ Kiwanis New Stairway is .43 miles. Trail length to the East Scenic Overlook is .83 miles.

Second, Cannon Valley Trail is 20 miles of paved trail for walking, running, cross country skiing and biking between Red Wing and Cannon Falls. This trail closely follows the Cannon River and winds through a variety of landscapes. Midway on the trail is the village a Welch, a perfect place to stop to take a break. A wheel pass is required for use during April 1 to November 1. Trailheads are located in Red Wing and Cannon Falls.

Next, we have Sorin’s Bluffs which can be accessed from the 600th block of East 7th Street. Sorin’s Bluffs is part of the 268 acre Park, Memorial Park. You can hike to the top of the bluffs for scenic overlook of Red Wing and even explore caves.

Last, if you want an easy hike, consider these options: 1) an easy stroll along the Mississippi Riverfront accessed via downtown Red Wing or 2) hike Cow Path. Cow path is a .9 miles (30 minute) hike round trip.

2. Explore the Anderson Center Sculpture Garden

Located on the Anderson Center grounds is one of Minnesota’s largest sculpture gardens- the Anderson Center Sculpture Garden. This gem is the perfect place for a stroll! This sculpture garden has an observation deck, benches, picnic area and vistas of the Cannon River Valley. There are currently 30 sculptures featured in the Red Wing MN attraction. Some of their signature sculptures are Moby Dick, Keya Tanka Lucie, When It Rains, Hold and Ojala. Admission to the park is free.

3. Cruise Skyline Drive to Memory Park

If hiking is not something you enjoy, don’t worry- you can cruise the Skyline Drive to enjoy a wonderful overlook of Red Wing MN and the Mississippi River. This is an especially beautiful drive during the fall time! Once at the top of the bluff, you will notice several scenic overlooks, charcoal grills, picnic areas, Disc golf areas and trails to walk.

4. Visit Red Wing Shoes and Museum

A visit to Red Wing would not be complete without viewing the birth place of the infamous Red Wing Shoes! Admission to the museum is free. Aside from shopping for shoes, you can snap a selfie with a giant Red Wing shoe, and continue upstairs to an interactive museum to learn more about how Red Wing Shoes are made. The staff was very friendly and helpful during our visit!

5. Shop Downtown

One thing that draws visitors to Red Wing is the historic downtown area-which includes some incredible shops! Our favorites are Uffda Scandinavian Gifts, 210 Plum Crazy (boutique), Duluth Trading Co., Fair Trades Book Store and Red Wing Shoes.

6. Visit the Famous Hanisch Bakery and Mandy’s Coffee House

Whenever we are near Red Wing (even if we are crunched on time!) we MAKE time to visit the Hanisch Bakery! At Hanisch Bakery you will find the most unique donuts, cakes, pastries, cookies and homemade breads. They also have a great breakfast menu and coffee shop attached to the bakery. They offer French Toast, breakfast wraps, breakfast sandwhiches, quiche, smoothies and more!

Make sure to note they are closed Sundays and Mondays, and open Tuesday to Friday (6 am to 4 pm) and Saturdays (7 am to 4 pm).

Mandy’s Coffeehouse is located across the street from the Hanisch Bakery and offers it’s own delicious breakfast and lunch menu. If you are a coffee lover, there are quite a few options! They also have outdoor dining for the beautiful summer months and have a section in the cafe where you can browse and buy books from Fair Trade Book Store.

7. Have a Drink

Whether you prefer beer or wine flights, you will find both in Red Wing! Red Wing Brewery offers historic brands that were made for people residing in Red Wing dating back to the 1800s! Examples are brands are Remmler’s Royal Brew, Red Wing Premium Beer and Cokins Bavarian Red Wing Beer. Beer tasting is available as well as non-alcoholic drinks. They are also known for their pizzas!

Did someone say…wine flights? Pay a visit to Falconer Vineyards, open Friday to Sunday 12 pm to 8 pm. Enjoy a glass of wine on the deck with some wood fired pizza. They offer white and red wines as well as dessert wines and lumberjack hard ciders. Wine tastings include a flight of 5 wines and cost $11 per person. Great news for animal lovers- pets on a leash are allowed at Falconer Vineyards.

8. Visit a Tea House

Are you a tea house fan? Consider making a reservation at Wisteria Twig Tea Room and Cafe. High tea is only served at 2 pm every day with exception of Sundays and Wednesdays. There are 4 courses: Fresh fruit in vanilla sauce, scones du jour served with lemon curd and devonshore cream, a selection of petite sandwhiches and assortment of decadent desserts. Price per person is $38.75, including tax and gratuity. They also serve breakfast and lunch daily.

9. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

If you are visiting the Red Wing Shoe Store and Museum, make sure to pay a visit to Red Wing Confectionary next door for a sweet treat. All chocolates are made the old fashioned way. You can pick between an array of truffles, caramels, mint meltaways, peanut butter cup and toffee. They also offer ice cream and drinks like root beer floats.

10. Experience Frontenac State Park

Frontenac overlook - Lake Pepin
Frontenac overlook – Lake Pepin. Photo Credit DNR.state.mn.us

Frontenac State Park is located on the Mississippi River and is popular for birdwatchers during the spring and fall time to watch the migration of over 260 species of birds. Frontenac has over 2,300 acres of bluffs, flood plains, prairie and forest. There are 13 miles of hiking trails, with the most popular one being Bluffside Trail with a scenic overlook (3 miles round trip). If you are up for a longer hike, consider the Lake Pepin Overlook, a 3.6 mile hike. Frontenac State Club Park hiking trail offers 2.5 miles worth of gorgeous views of the Mississippi River.

BONUS: The Great River Road

The Great River Road goes along the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin via W-35 in Southeast near Red Wing MN. There are 33 little towns located on this scenic byway by the river. They are absolutely charming & have cute places to eat & shop. Notable towns for us to check out were Maiden Rock, Alma, Pepin & Stockholm. There are many overlook areas and historical markers with interesting Native American legends along this drive (check out the story behind the historical marker in Maiden Rock and hike the Maiden Rock Overlook!).

We stayed in Pepin for 3 days in an adorable, A-frame cabin facing Lake Pepin. Pepin is a place you NEED to spend some time in! They have great food, a darling winery, coffee joint, lake activities & you can also view the childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder not far from Pepin. While staying in Pepin, we took a day trip to Stockholm & of course, Wabasha. If you are going September 8th through October 22nd, make some time to experience SeptOber Fest in Wabasha, where you can explore this neat river town and enjoy artistic displays of fall items along the river. (If you have time, swing through Lake City, another town that is great to explore).

Looking for more scenic byway drives? Check out our article, Best Scenic Byway Drives in Minnesota to plan your next road trip.


  • Red Wing MN mural

    10 Things to Do in Red Wing MN

  • Red Wing MN mural

    10 Things to Do in Red Wing MN

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