Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway
Length: 287 miles / 459.2 km
Time to Allow: Allow 7 days to fully experience all this Byway has to offer.
Take your time and meander the Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway, where old-fashioned hospitality makes the gorgeous scenery even more beautiful. Choose this byway if you want a longer trip as this one measures 287 miles and takes a few days to a week to see properly. The trail come in two stages, the eastern and the western section starting southwest of Minneapolis and moves toward the central border of Minnesota and South Dakota.
The Minnesota River flows slowly around trees, forests, state parks, and farmland. Pass through sprawling woodlands, farms, and productive land rich with history. Find vistas up on bluffs by the river, prairies, wetlands, and something for every sense. It’s a great place for those who want to feel like explorers while leaving stress behind and meeting down-to-earth people along the way.
Begin your journey southwest of Minneapolis in Henderson, nestled in the Minnesota River Valley. It’s a small picturesque town with a beautiful brick downtown. Find antiques, food, and nice locals ready to smile and wave. Next, head down to Le Sueur and stop for lunch or the day to visit some trails and parks. You can camp in town too for a leisurely vacation. Stay for another day to explore flea markets, crafts, and antique farm machinery.
Continue heading south through St Peter and Mankato to where the river turns and heads northwest. Find a couple of great restaurants in town, including the Happy Chef Restaurant filled with iconic comfort food. The town boasts an incredible waterfall ready to steal your breath away, hidden in a secret cove. Take a boating tour, kayak, or canoeing too while in town. Find a variety of chain hotels in town or more unique options in St. Peter next door.
As the river heads north, it brings you close to Middle Lake and Poor Farm Bay, making for fantastic day trips and picnicking. Stop in the town of New Ulm along the path to see the Glockenspiel, an extremely large German grandfather-style clock in the center of town. It sports 37 bells and plays polka music with figurines several times a day. Visit several other beautiful pieces of architecture in town, including a cathedral and the Harkin Store, a vintage store selling house wears where time stands still. The town offers a variety of monuments and a veterans memorial too.
Find more amazing towns and trails along the river as you head toward the border. Redwood Falls is a necessity with a beautiful waterfall at Ramsey Park. Check out the North Redwood Park while there and the Laura Ingall’s Museum. End the tour in Granite Falls for the Upper Sioux Agency State Park and a variety of museums. Visit Lagoon park while there for a quiet place to enjoy the outdoors or walk over scenic bridges. It’s a byway rich with history, culture, and scenery worthy of awe and wonder.
More Minnesota Byways
You can check out additional Byways in Minnesota by clicking on the list of byways below, or by going to the Minnesota Byways home section. To find even more of scenic byways in the United States, visit our scenic byways map.