overlook above the city, there’s a magnificent view of the river valley, part of the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. Garvin Heights Vineyard sits in the bluffs above the city. Near the village of Kellogg is a
one-of-a-kind toy shop, L.A.R.K. Toys, with an antique
toy display and a large carousel populated by whimsical,
hand-carved creatures. At Plainview, 13 miles to the
west, the Center for Rural America Arts is home to the
Jon Hassler Theater, a professional company named for
the noted Minnesota author.
Wabasha is one of Minnesota’s oldest towns,
established in 1843. Many of the distinctive, 19th-
century shop fronts downtown have been carefully
restored. The National Eagle Center, in a striking new
building along the Mississippi, has exhibits and programs
featuring these majestic birds. Visitors can view the
center’s resident bald eagles or watch for wild eagles
along the river. There’s a large concentration of eagles
during the winter, since the river doesn’t freeze here.
Another unique find downtown is a gallery of Japanese
City. To get out on the big lake,
board a cruise on the Pearl of the
Lake paddleboat. A 2. 5 mile
riverwalk has good lake views from
shore. Beautifully nestled among the
bluffs, The Jewel Golf Club is a
top-notch course designed for
playability at all skill levels.
The tiny, quiet village of Frontenac tucked back
from the highway is a cluster of 1850s-60s Greek
Revival-style homes. The architecture recalls the era
when this riverside community was a summer resort,
with vacationers arriving by riverboat. Along the river
bluffs is Frontenac State Park, with hiking trails through
the woods and a picnic area overlooking Lake Pepin.
There’s good bird watching here, especially in the spring.
Red Wing is a lovely city with a wealth of 19th-
century architecture along its attractive main street and
residential boulevards. An 1890 train depot is now home
to the Red Wing visitors’ center. There are numerous
antique and specialty shops, art galleries, historic inns
and a pottery, keeping alive the tradition of the old
Red Wing Pottery. The elegant Sheldon Theatre (1904)
features a full schedule of concerts and plays. Mississippi
National Golf Links is a scenic course with 36 holes.
Just outside of town is the Treasure Island Casino, with
performances by well-known entertainers and river
cruises aboard Spirit of the Water. Falconer Vineyards is
also nearby. Red Wing is the eastern trail access for the
scenic Cannon Valley Bike Trail, which follows a lovely,
winding river 20 miles west to Cannon Falls.
In downtown Cannon Falls, right along the Cannon
River, brick 1880s storefronts are home to antique shops,
gift shops and the Cannon River Winery and tasting
room. Bike rentals are available to explore the Cannon
Valley Bike Trail; there are canoe, kayak and tubing
rentals for fun on the river.
Tucked into the southeast corner of the state,
Minnesota’s bluff country is an area of great beauty and
quiet charm. Country roads wind past limestone cliffs
and wooded ravines, through scenic valleys, rolling
farmland and delightful villages. The small towns and
villages of Bluff Country have a surprising array of bed
and breakfast inns, shops and galleries, and other
interesting finds. Over 100 Amish families live in the
area and their horse-drawn buggies are frequently seen
along the roads.
The Historic Bluff Country National Scenic Byway
runs for 88 miles along Hwy. 16 between LaCrescent on
the east and I- 90 on the west. This beautiful drive explores
Shop in Red Wing
Lake City is on the shore of Lake Pepin, three miles
wide and 21 miles long, the widest part of the Mississippi
River. Water skiing was invented here in 1922 by a
creative teenager, who was sometimes towed by airplane.
The lake is popular for sailing, boating, and fishing; the
largest small-craft marina on the Mississippi is in Lake
Cannon Valley Trail