CENTRAL MINNESOTA ITINERARY AT A GLANCE
Throughout the Minnesota region, explore a land of unspoiled lakes and small towns with busy main streets, museums and historic sites, shopping and dining. Join us for plenty of fresh air and outdoor options, from a scenic lake cruise to charming gardens. Discover the culture of an early Native American tribe inhabiting the area and learn more about some names you know and some you don’t.
You’ll experience these great activities and more:
- Visit Sinclair Lewis’ Boyhood Home
- Fort Alexandria and the museum share the area’s rich Scandinavian heritage
- The Finn Creek Open Air Museum is an 18-acre site devoted to preserving the Finnish culture
- Enjoy dinner, gaming and entertainment at the Grand Casino Lillie Lacs Hotel in Onamia
- Fort Ripley Military Museum provides insight into the Gopher state’s military contributions
Details and Tips
Length: 3 Nights
Suitable for: Adults and families seeking to enjoy historical museums and outdoor activities.
CENTRAL MINNESOTA DAY-TO-DAY ITINERARY
Arrive at Elk River and the Oliver Kelley Farm, a historic 1850s farm located on the Mississippi River. Start at the visitor center with a film about farming the food we consume and innovator Oliver Kelley. Continue to the St. Cloud & St. Joseph area and the St. John’s University Pottery Tour and Johanna Kiln, the largest three-chambered wood burning kiln in North America. Check in at any St. Cloud area group-friendly flag hotels or a locally owned and operated hotel/motel. Hungry? There’s a wide variety of group dining options in the area, including American and International restaurants.
DAY ONE: Museums and More
Depart for Sauk Centre and a stop at novelist Sinclair Lewis’ Boyhood Home. Allow time to walk the streets of the Original Main Street.
It’s 30 miles to Alexandria and the Legacy of the Lakes Museum. Through exhibitions and events, the museum celebrates the traditions and legacies of Minnesota’s lakes. Enjoy lunch on your own and some free shopping time in downtown Alexandria. Arrive at Fort Alexandria and the Runestone Museum. The fort’s nine buildings and the museum share the area’s rich Scandinavian heritage. View the Kensington Runestone and more than 40 additional exhibits.
Enjoy an hour drive to New York Mills and the Finn Creek Open Air Museum, an 18-acre interpretive site devoted to preserving the Finnish culture. Nearby, the Cultural Center is a must stop with visual art displays in its historic Main Street building.
Relax on the 60-minute drive to Staples for dinner and overnight at Timber Lake Hotel.
DAY TWO: Outdoor Things to do in Minnesota
Beakfast at the hotel and depart for the 35-minute drive to Brainerd. The Northland Arboretum welcomes groups year-round to its trails for an opportunity to learn and connect with nature. Enjoy a relaxing lunch with Gull Lake Cruises. From the upper deck, capture a photo of the Minnesota common loons.
Depart on the 35-minute drive to Millie Lacs Lake and the Millie Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post. Through the museum, you’ll be immersed in the history and cultural of the Millie Lacs band of Ojibwe. Tonight, it’s dinner, gaming, entertainment and overnight at the Grand Casino Lillie Lacs Hotel in nearby Onamia.
OPTION: For the adventurers, Paul Bunyan State Trail departs from Crow Wing State Park in Brainerd and continues for 115 miles to Lake Bemidji State Park. It’s the longest paved rail trail in the country. Ideal for biking, hiking, in-line skating, mountain bikes and snowmobiles.
DAY THREE: Final Day in Minnesota
Breakfast at your hotel and depart for the 45-minute drive to Little Falls. Camp Ripley Environmental Center conserves and preserves natural and cultural resources. Visitors witness the efforts and can participate in a variety of exercises. On-site the Fort Ripley Military Museum provides insight into the Gopher state’s military contributions. Minnesota Fishing Museum and Hall of Fame offers excellent educational tours with wonderful stories. Grab a quick lunch before a visit to the Charles Lindbergh House and Museum. Get a close-up look at the famous aviator in the museum and through a guided house tour.
It’s 35 minutes to St. Cloud and a mid-afternoon stop at the Munsinger Clemens Gardens. From Spring through Fall, there will always be something blooming and plenty of photo ops to be had.