Are you and your favorite group of ladies looking to make a great escape? Disappear together here among the pretty lakes, small towns, prairies and woodlands of central Minnesota’s Glacial Ridge Scenic Byway. Wineries, waterside restaurants, and plenty of resorts and inns make it easy to disconnect from the distractions of daily life, and reconnect with each other.
An array of county roads create 245 byway miles. Alexandria, known for great lake vacations, anchors the north end. Carlos Creek Winery here is a popular choice, as proven by the tasting room, reliably packed on fair-weather weekends. There’s always something going on, whether it’s free tours, weekend music or a fun festival, like fall’s Grape Stomp. In Alex proper, pop in and out of antiques shops and specialty boutiques in the historic downtown shopping district, or catch a show at one of the performing arts theaters. Still have wine on the brain? Head to Sixth Avenue Wine & Ale. Call ahead for information on their occasional tastings and wine dinners.
Other gems await along the byway’s northern end. Sauk Centre’s downtown has its own collection of shops, as well as The Palmer House, a century-old hotel, bar and restaurant said to be haunted. On Highway Eight south of Glenwood, grab a spot on the Terrace Mill restaurant’s porch overlooking century-old Terrace Mill. The view is all-American, but savory brunch, lunch and dinner dishes are globally inspired.
On the Glacial Ridge Byway’s southern end, you’ll find a little something for all styles of shoppers in tiny New London. There’s a bead store, a knitting shop, a specialty food store, and even a Pottery Workshop that can accommodate one-time group classes. Latte Da, the local coffee shop, makes for a great place to refuel. You might want to if you’re headed down the road to the Glacial Ridge Winery. Expect tours and tastings, plus music and other events, year-round.
Farther south, the Spicer Castle Inn sits on the shores of Green Lake. Five-course Murder Mystery dinners are a big draw here. Believe it or not, the culprit might be one of you. The castle also offers open-air dinner cruises—listen for loon calls between bites. There are guest rooms, and even entire guest houses you can take over together. Ask about their Girlfriend Getaway packages, too.
Chocoholics, make time for Mr. B. Chocolatier in Willmar, the byway’s southernmost endpoint. Their trademark Swiss truffles and Belgian-style chocolates are made from ingredients from around the world, including fresh local cream. Call ahead for a tour; it’s sure to come with samples.
If you’re art lovers, consider planning your girls’ getaway during the area’s Studio Hop, held each June. It’s a great way to explore the southern byway towns while getting a peek into artists’ studios along the way.
However you choose to do it, you ladies will have a blast reconnecting here along the Glacial Ridge Scenic Byway. Looks like it’s time to plan your great escape. -- Berit Thorkelson