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14 Most Charming Towns in Minnesota

Visiting Minnesota’s charming towns is a wonderful way to experience life outside of the hustle and bustle of the main cities. With picturesque views, locals who are more than eager to welcome you, and that unbeatable small-town charm that you can’t find anywhere else, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget. Many of these small towns offer unique cultural experiences like outdoor music festivals, historical landmarks, art galleries, and plenty of scenic hikes. From Stillwater, where you can wander by the cobblestone streets of the historic downtown and find unique shops, to Grand Marais perched on Lake Superior’s beautiful shoreline, there’s really something for everyone here. Read on for all of Minnesota’s most charming small towns.

Grand Marais Grand Marais, MN
Credit: Grand Marais, MN by © Ed8563 | Dreamstime.com

Grand Marais

Grand Marais, nestled along the shores of Lake Superior in Minnesota’s Arrowhead region, is an enchanting town full of natural beauty and outdoor adventures around every corner. From its stunning shorelines to its scenic hiking trails to its vibrant art scene, Grand Marais has plenty to offer all kinds of visitors who are looking for an escape into peaceful nature. Here, you’ll find fresh rocky beaches like Artist’s Point and Grand Portage State Park, as well as endless outdoor fun in the form of camping, fishing, hiking, paddling, and snowshoeing. It’s also got a great restaurant scene to please any foodies in your group.

Walker Walker
Credit: Walker by Unsplash

Walker

Walker comes to life during the summer season, when you’ll find plenty of locals and tourists heading out onto Leech lake for a spot of fishing. This gorgeous town is a haven for beautiful views and offers plenty of experiences for those looking to spend the majority of their time enjoying the fresh air. Explore the nature trails at Paul Bunyan State Forest or enjoy a day of golfing at one of the many golf courses in and around the town. If you’re visiting during winter time, rent snowmobiles and head to Hillcrest Campground for some seriously cool adventures.

Lanesboro Lanesboro, MN
Credit: Lanesboro, MN by © Stevengaertner | Dreamstime.com

Lanesboro

Set amongst picturesque rolling hills and surrounded by captivating wildlife, the charming town of Lanesboro is a great place to base yourself for an awe-inspiring weekend in Minnesota. A great place that truly highlights the wonders of the outdoors world, you’ll find quiet lakeside hiking and biking trails, as well as opportunities for canoeing down the Root River: the possibilities for adventure seekers never end here. Take some time to explore the downtown area and its many shops, which are famed for fiber arts and classic antiques. Lanesboro also boasts several cozy restaurants where you can sample a range of home-style treats or pick up some locally produced food and wine.

Lindstrom Famous teapot shaped watertower reads 'Welcome to Lindstrom' translated from Swedish
Credit: Famous teapot shaped watertower reads 'Welcome to Lindstrom' translated from Swedish by © Mkopka | Dreamstime.com

Lindstrom

Lindstrom, Minnesota is the very definition of quaint. But don’t let that put you off: this is a town that’s well worth a visit! From shopping and dining in the heart of the town to the nearby streams filled with bass and freshwater panfish, this is a town that has something for all members of the family to enjoy. If you’re a walking enthusiast, take a hike on one of Lindstrom’s many scenic trails or rent a kayak from a local outfitter before setting out onto Chisago Lake. Or, if you’re traveling with kids, don’t miss the unique opportunities to spot native wildlife at Pine Tree Apple Orchard – there’s even a ‘pick your own apples’ experience.

Biwabik Biwabik, Minnesota
Credit: Biwabik, Minnesota by wikimedia.org

Biwabik

Biwabik might have a more unusual name, but this town is one you’ll definitely want to schedule a trip to. Filled to the brim with natural beauty in every direction, you’ll want to bring a camera along to make the most of everything you’ll see while passing through here. Here in Biwabik, you’ll find hiking trails full of wildlife and stunning scenery, as well as more thrill-seeking opportunities at Giant’s Ridge ski resort and the nearby golf courses. For a more relaxed experience, you can pop into one of the town’s cozy pubs or restaurants for traditional Minnesotan cuisine to try dishes like wild rice crusted walleye, raspberry cream cheese-filled donuts, and hot dogs served on potato buns.

Grand Rapids Grand Rapids, MN
Credit: Grand Rapids, MN by City of Grand Rapids MN

Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids sounds a little exciting before you’ve even heard about what you’ll find there! Located in Minnesota’s scenic Northwoods, this charming town encapsulates rural living while offering guests a huge range of activities and amenities. It’s the perfect blend of the great outdoors and modern attractions, making it one of the best towns in Minnesota, no matter who you’re visiting with. Grand Rapids is best known for its world-class trout fishing, miles of hiking trails, lakefront beaches with crystal clear water, and access to one of the area’s most beloved National Forests. In short: there’s something special about Grand Rapids that you don’t find in many other places.

Winona Lake Winona in Winona MN
Credit: Lake Winona in Winona MN by © Daniel Johnson | Dreamstime.com

Winona

Grab a warm jacket and get ready to explore: Winona is located atop towering bluffs along the Mississippi and is a picture-perfect charming town with colors that seem to shine just a little bit brighter. With its brick-lined streets that buzz with activity to the teeming wildlife of Garvin Heights Park, there’s something seriously awe-inspiring to be found around every corner in this cute and cozy town. Culture enthusiasts will enjoy discovering the many local galleries and performance arts centers while outdoor adventurers can take advantage of the area’s diverse topography – from paddle boarding on Lake Winona to hiking and biking trails winding through stunning countryside vistas.

Two Harbors Two Harbors
Credit: Two Harbors by Two Harbors

Two Harbors

Located on the North Shore of Lake Superior, you’ll find Two Harbors. This is a town that’s been around since the early 1800s, giving it rich history and architecture that’s both worth exploring during your time here. Luckily, you’ll find plenty of fun activities to suit guests of all ages, from boating and fishing along the shore to check out the area’s multiple hiking trails. Looking for a beach day without having to go too far away? Agate Bay Beach is right nearby. After taking in all that nature has to offer here, relax with a bite to eat as you browse boutiques and art here or wander around the shops at Harbor Market Co-Op.

New Ulm New Ulm, MN

New Ulm

New Ulm is known for its remarkable German Heritage, and that’s something you’ll realize as soon as you’ve taken a stroll around the heart of this charming town. It’s also known for its unique culture and the various celebrations that highlight this throughout the year. With plenty of outdoor activities like boating and fishing at Cottonwood River or touring historic landmarks like the Hermann Monument, it’s easy to understand why many visitors eventually go on to call New Ulm home. There are charming restaurants, breweries, and wineries to enjoy as well as no shortage of farmers’ markets or specialty shops for foodies. Each season brings new events like Oktoberfest in the fall and Bock Fest in the spring.

Duluth Duluth, Minnesota
Credit: Duluth, Minnesota by © Jacob Boomsma | Dreamstime.com

Duluth

With its deep lush forests and its breathtaking views of Lake Superior, Duluth, Minnesota is a one-of-a-kind city that promises to stick firmly in your mind long after you’ve finally waved it goodbye. Not only does Duluth boast some incredible activities like skiing and camping, but it’s also home to inventive restaurants and galleries you won’t find anywhere else. Explore the Duluth Harbor Lift Bridge at the entrance of the harbor or spend some time kayaking along the north shore. If you’d rather hang out in town, Duluth has plenty of local theaters and museums like the Tweed Museum of Art where art lovers can spend some time appreciating the works of national and international artists.

Pipestone Pipestone
Credit: Pipestone by Pipestone Minnesota

Pipestone

Located on the beautiful prairie just southwest of the Twin Cities, Pipestone is a place that ticks all the boxes for foodies, explorers, those looking to switch off, and well pretty much anyone else! Home to many delicious restaurants, tranquil parks, and interesting shops, Pipestone is a sure-fire top spot to check out in Minnesota. One of the many highlights of Pipestone is its national monument that encompasses an area dedicated to Native American culture. It pays homage to local tribes and their traditions through artwork, performances, demonstrations, and more, offering a unique chance to learn about the area’s history.

Red Wing Boathouses in Bayfront Park in Red Wing, Minnesota
Credit: Boathouses in Bayfront Park in Red Wing, Minnesota by © John Stocker | Dreamstime.com

Red Wing

Set on the majestic Mississippi River, the picturesque small town of Red Wine offers you a chance to experience some of the most natural beauty in America – and anyone who’s visited will confirm it definitely deserves that title. Red Wing is home to historic sites and museums which share the community’s heritage, meaning you can easily split your time here between admiring the great outdoors and getting cozy (and knowledgeable) indoors. The town’s renowned pottery industry is something all visitors should check out in the iconic downtown district while the boutiques, shops, and restaurants here are also full of character and atmosphere.

Stillwater Cityscape view of Stillwater, Minnesota
Credit: Cityscape view of Stillwater, Minnesota by © Mkopka | Dreamstime.com

Stillwater

Stillwater might be an ironic name for a charming town where you’ll really want to make the most of its not-so-still water through kayaking and fishing opportunities! From its historic center, home to bustling shops and restaurants, to its range of outdoor activities, Stillwater is a town that always offers something exciting. For a different kind of adventure, Stillwater is also the best place to hike the 60-mile scenic St. Croix River Valley Trailway. Visit one of the many popular festivals here like Lift Bridge’s Summer Festival and Lumberjack Days or settle down into a cute Airbnb or hotel and make the most of this town’s peaceful nature.

Taylors Falls Interstate State Park on the St. Croix River by Taylor Falls, Minnesota
Credit: Interstate State Park on the St. Croix River by Taylor Falls, Minnesota by © Jacob Boomsma | Dreamstime.com

Taylors Falls

Taylors Falls sits right on the edge of the St. Croix River, giving everyone who visits a range of gorgeous views before you’ve even settled into your accommodation and thought about exploring. Renowned for its natural beauty, Taylors Falls is a top spot for visitors on a year-round basis but particularly in the summertime. Camp along the riverbeds, swing across the bridges, or rock climb the nearby peaks to see Taylors Falls from a unique perspective. When you’ve built up an appetite, you’ll find plenty of delicious restaurants that serve up some of the best homestyle recipes Minnesota can offer.

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