5 Things to Do on a Day Trip to Buffalo and Excelsior

Scroll to Read
Image Caption
Lake Maria State Park 

5 Things to Do on a Day Trip to Buffalo and Excelsior

By Amy Barrett

Looking for the perfect day trip? Our latest Trip on a Tankful itinerary will take you on a loop from Minneapolis to Buffalo and back, with a stop in Excelsior along the way. It can be completed in about two hours total, or if you'd like to extend your stay and spend the night, we've got a couple unique options for camping as well. 

  1. Grab a bite in Excelsior
    Apple Day, Excelsior

    Excelsior's annual Apple Day festival

    Grab a bite in Excelsior

    Time your arrival to coincide with Apple Day (Sept. 15-17), the annual lakeside festival in Excelsior, and you can get lunch from one of the many vendors serving locally produced food, then check out the Happy Apple Kids Corner, poke around the craft booths and enjoy the live music.

    Unable to visit during Apple Day? There are several options on Water Street – Olive’s Fresh Pizza, Lago Tacos and 318 Café, for example  – or find a waterfront table at Maynard’s with a view of Lake Minnetonka. Save room for dessert at Licks Unlimited or nearby Adele’s Frozen Custard.

  2. Tour the town
    Excelsior's historic street car
    Tour the town

    Climb aboard a historic streetcar for a one-mile, 15-minute trip through downtown Excelsior. Get tickets online or at the ticket booth adjacent to the Excelsior Library. You can do some window shopping along the way, then go back and explore anything that catches your eye, such as Something Safari (for toys, games, puzzles and candy) or Excelsior Bay Books, which has an inviting and well-stocked children's section. 

  3. "Shoot the rapids" at Big Stone Mini Golf
    Big Stone Mini Golf, Minnetrista

    "Shoot the Rapids" at Big Stone Mini Golf / Andrew Parks

    "Shoot the rapids" at Big Stone Mini Golf

    That’s the name of just one of the 14 creatively designed and named holes at this one-of-a-kind mini golf course and sculpture garden in Minnetrista. Others include Eye of the Donut, Dead Tree Forest and Across the Universe. With water features, kinetic sculptures and occasional neighs, moos and cock-a-doodle-doos from a gallery of live farm animals, this is no ordinary mini-golf experience.

  4. Hunt for buffalo
    Buffalo statue from Buffalo, Minnesota

    Photo: Buffalo Area Chamber of Commerce Tourism Bureau

    Hunt for buffalo

    Proceed to Buffalo, where you can search for 23 life-size buffalo statues at businesses, parks and elsewhere around town. Each one is uniquely painted and just waiting for you to take a family selfie with it! Maps are available at the Chamber of Commerce or you can download one from the city’s “Do the Roam” webpage. Come back in June for Buffalo Days, which includes a carnival at Sturges Park and a grand parade downtown.

  5. Bond around a campfire
    Family standing and sitting in front of open flame campfire

    Photo: Paul Vincent

    Bond around a campfire

    Reserve a campsite or camper cabin at Lake Maria State Park in Monticello or Baker Park Reserve in Maple Plain. Something about roasting hot dogs and marshmallows around a crackling campfire sparks memories that last a lifetime.

Amy Barrett

Amy Barrett is the communications coordinator at Minnesota's Department of Human Services. She enjoys camping, hiking, biking and paddling and has visited all of Minnesota’s state parks with her husband and three sons.