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RED WING: A WINNER IN MY BOOK

Riverside Town Makes This Minnesotan Proud

Image by Manda Baldwin

Out of some 14,000 small towns nationwide, Minnesota’s own Red Wing was a top five finalist in the Small Business Revolution’s Main Street contest held by Deluxe Corp. Although they didn’t win the $500,000 revitalization package awarded by the program (Bristol Borough, Pa. won), the 55-mile trek down Highway 61, or 52, from the Twin Cities remains one of the most picturesque drives anytime of year. And once in the quaint Mississippi River-side town, the treasures you’ll find there are well worth it.

Head down Highway 61, or 52, to historic Hastings then continue southeast through rolling farmland to Red Wing. Both towns offer boutique shopping lining their main drags, and are great places to just cruise around and explore—either on four or two wheels or on foot.

For more than 150 years, Red Wing’s scenic beauty has inspired artisans, craftspeople and artists, and has been home to world-famous manufacturers of quality shoes and collectible pottery. Red Wing's Art Association’s most popular event and truth be told, one of our favorites to attend, is the Fall Festival of the Arts held each October during the peak fall color season. Attracting over 10,000 visitors annually, this juried art festival brings over 90 artists to historic downtown Red Wing to sell their creations. The public is invited to purchase the artwork, enjoy the food, the music and the beauty of scenic Red Wing in the fall.

If you prefer to visit in the summertime, be sure to extend a long weekend into a Wednesday when you can enjoy perhaps the most quintessentially of small-town Concerts In The Park series. While there, hike Barn Bluff, bike the Cannon Valley Trail or simply pack a picnic and dine al fresco on Memorial Bluff.

Sheldon Theater in Red Wing.

Image by A.D. Drumm Images

What I love most about Red Wing is that it truly has something for everyone. With a park on nearly every corner—my favorites are Memorial and Colvill, the latter of which contains one of the largest outdoor water parks in the region; the former a disc golf course—and award-winning golf courses and wineries nestled among the bluffs, it is a perfect getaway. If the culinary and arts scene is more your style, try for lunch at the historic St. James Hotel or catch a performance at the beautiful Sheldon Theater.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more unique and charming place to visit along the Mississippi River. From its beautiful bluffs and abundance of outdoor activities, to its historic sites and world famous boots and pottery, Red Wing truly offers a one-of-a-kind getaway. So the next time you’re pondering a daytrip or weekend adventure, consider Red Wing and help boost its small businesses. You won’t be disappointed.

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After soaking up all that Red Wing has to offer, head back to historic 61 for a beautiful trip through the Mississippi River Valley. Although the much-touted highway is beautiful throughout, the southernmost portion boasts the best views. Some 20 miles further south, stop in at Eagle Hang Gliding in Lake City. With tandem jaunts available for novices and thrill-seekers alike, you can truly soar with the eagles and enjoy the entire area…from above. You’re welcome.

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