When planning a vacation in Minnesota, heading up north to a lake town is an absolute must. One of the state’s most popular destinations is Alexandria, and for good reason. With several museums, breweries, a winery, parks for cross-country skiing and hiking, plus cozy coffee shops and great shopping, it has lots to offer year-round, and it’s just two hours from Minneapolis.
Where to Stay
While visiting Alexandria, I suggest staying at the Cedar Rose Inn, a historic bed and breakfast just a few blocks from downtown Alexandria. This incredible home, run by husband-and-wife duo Brenda and Dave Baumtrog, was built in the early 1900s. It's absolutely stunning with five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, two fireplaces and a wraparound porch. Each morning, Brenda cooks a wonderful breakfast for her guests. When my husband and I visited, we enjoyed coffee, orange juice, fresh fruit, banana bread, bacon, yogurt with granola and blueberry cream cheese French toast. It's a unique and memorable place to stay.
Where to Eat and Drink
Alexandria has a great variety of places to eat. Check out Pike and Pint Grill for American fare or head over to Boulder Tap House for delicious burgers. Zorbaz is an awesome place for unique cocktails and excellent pizza. La Ferme is a popular and rustic farm-to-fork bistro, and Raapers Eatery and Ale is a great spot for its American and pub options.
Alexandria is also home to two breweries: Copper Trail Brewing and 22 Northmen Brewing. Copper Trail, located downtown, has a modern industrial space with a lot of natural light. Try the Hopper Trail IPA, Oktoberfest or Cabin Retreat. Seven miles north, 22 Northmen Brewing is named for 22 Northmen who traveled from Scandinavia to Alexandria in 1362, arriving "with a powerful thirst."
Next door to 22 Northmen, Carlos Creek Winery has a large indoor space as well as a big patio with beautiful gardens in the warmer months. Check their website to plan your visit around tastings, live music and special events.
Things to Do
Alexandria has plenty of ways to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Lake Carlos State Park is just 10 miles north of Alexandria. Sculpted by ancient glaciers, this park provides a beautiful setting for hiking kayaking, swimming, camping, biking and fishing during the summer months. In the winter you can go snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling on groomed trails.
Legacy of the Lakes Museum is a great place to spend the afternoon. Learn how this beautiful museum is working to preserve the memories and experiences of Minnesota lake life for future generations. You'll also be able to check out a few really cool old wooden boats and canoes.
If you're looking for more to do in Alexandria, check out the Runestone Museum. First opened in 1958, this museum is most known for the Kensington Runestone, which was found in Alexandria by a farmer and his two sons in 1898. The museum has over 40 items, all discovered around Minnesota, some dating back to Middle-Age Nordic explorers.
If you're looking for another unique experience, stop by the Redhead Creamery, 40 minutes south of Alexandria. This family-owned creamery offers tours where you can learn the history of the business and how it got started, as well as more about their cheese-making process. If you don't have time for a guided tour, you're invited to walk around the property at your own pace and introduce yourself to the cows. Then, head into the shop and order cheese curds, paninis, locally brewed beer or wine. My husband and I shared a Muenster and bacon jam panini with cheese curds that came with honey and mustard for dipping.
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