Take a Girls Getaway on the Glacial Ridge Scenic Byway

For a memorable Minnesota getaway with your favorite group of ladies, explore 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.

Horse drawn wagon tour of Carlos Creek Winery

Take a horse-drawn carriage tour of Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria

Alexandria, Sauk Centre & Glenwood

Known for great lake vacations and America's biggest viking, Big Ole, Alexandria anchors the byway's northern end. Kickoff your girls getaway at Carlos Creek Winery, where vineyard tours, wine tastings and the adjacent Norseman Brewery will satisfy even the most discerning of palettes. Take a free, self-guided tour of the site's wine cave for an introduction to cold-climate wine culture, an inside look at Carlos Creek's winemaking process and more, then pop upstairs to the walk-in wine tasting bar and sample some of the vineyard's 20+ varieties. Weekend afternoons are always packed with entertainment, from live music performances to fun festivals, like fall’s Grape Stomp. 

In Alex proper, touches of the area's Scandinavian and resort town heritage pop up in stores like Now and Then, which features four floors of antiques in a sturdy, elegant former bank building. You might find Norwegian sweaters, giant fishing lures and lifesavers among the many collectibles and nostalgic pieces. It’s among a handful of antique shops in Alexandria that also includes Past and Present Home Gallery and Special Memories, where you can find collectibles, toys, puzzles and unique gifts.

Two women pause in front of Palmer House Hotel

Two women chat by The Palmer House while taking a break from riding the Lake Wobegon Trail / Waqar Ahmad

Keep exploring the byway’s northern end in Sauk Centre, where you'll find fun shops downtown, as well as The Palmer House, a century-old hotel, bar and restaurant said to be haunted. For literary-inclined groups, Sinclair Lewis, best known for satirical novels of the American middle class (such as "Babbitt") and small town life (such as "Main Street"), grew up in Sauk Centre. His boyhood home is open to visitors, filled with period antiques, with tour guides who share stories of his life and career.

On Highway Eight south of Glenwood, grab a spot on the Terrace Mill restaurant’s porch overlooking century-old Terrace Mill. The pastoral view is all-American, but savory brunch, lunch and dinner dishes are globally inspired.

Field of wildflowers and colorful birdhouses

Signs of spring pop up along the Glacial Ridge Scenic Byway

New London & Willmar

On the Glacial Ridge Byway’s southern end, you’ll find a little something for all styles of shoppers in tiny New London. Pick up new and used books at Flyleaf Book Shop (one of many unique bookstores in Minnesota), pick up a one-of-a-kind flower arrangement at Wild at Heart Floral, shop for women's clothing and gifts at The Happy Sol, or simply head to the corner of Central and Main and see what stands out. Lake Affect, 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.

Chocoholics, make time for Mr. B's Chocolates 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.