6 Mild & Wild Springtime Adventures in Southern Minnesota

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This article is supported by the Southern Minnesota Tourism Association.

Spring seems to start just a little sooner in southern Minnesota. Mild temperatures melt away the snow and reveal the lush greens of the Minnesota River Valley and the wooded bluffs of southeastern Minnesota, and the water starts to flow in the region’s lakes and streams. Get out and have some adventures—ranging from mild to wild—in southern Minnesota this spring! 

Ney Nature Center Mother Son Maple Syrup1. Have your pancakes and eat them too, with syrup! Southern Minnesota has some delicious dining options, including Kenny’s Oak Grill, a ’50s themed diner in Austin with a breakfast menu that includes amazing Belgian waffles, French toast and, of course, pancakes! Round out breakfast and head on down the road to tap for your own maple syrup at the Ney Nature Center outside of Henderson in the Minnesota River Valley. Your taste buds will thank you after your visit to southern Minnesota.

2. ​Swing into spring looking good. Fresh fashion awaits with the latest trends at any number of fashion shows, including Raw Fusion in Mankato or New Ulm’s Champagne Brunch & Spring Fashion Show. Refresh your home decor this spring and head to the Odin Craft Mill in the small southwest town of Odin. Shop more than 150 crafters and artisan vendors displayed in a 1923 feed mill and the 1917 Montgomery Ward Home.

3. Fishing for fun? The diverse southern Minnesota landscape offers all varieties of fish species, from walleye at Big Stone Lake in southwest Minnesota to trout in Whitewater State Park in southeast Minnesota, to bass and crappie on the Chain of Lakes in the Fairmont area, right in the middle of southern Minnesota. The fishing opener is the second Saturday in May and kicks off Minnesota’s summer travel season.

eagle_center0172 880x880.jpg4. Spring is for the birds. Minnesota’s only alkaline lake, Salt Lake, located in Lac qui Parle County, is one-third as salty as the ocean and offers exceptional bird watching, with more than 150 species of birds frequenting the area. Or, how about a stop at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha along the banks of the Mississippi River in southeast Minnesota.? Hundreds of eagles nest along the Upper Mississippi River Valley, and the National Eagle Center offers visitors an up-close encounter with this majestic bird. Stop inside the center for interactive exhibits about the biology, ecology and natural history of bald and golden eagles.

5. Waterfalls await you. The soft trickle or loud roar of waterfalls can be found throughout the landscape. Hike through Big Woods State Park near Northfield where you will stumble across the Hidden Falls, a tranquil cascade in the middle of the woods. Or travel to southwest Minnesota to Pipestone National Monument, where Winnewisa Falls flows from the red stone of Pipestone Creek. Move up into the Minnesota River Valley to Redwood Falls where the majestic Ramsey Falls in Ramsey Park can be viewed from the thrilling swing bridge.

PLACES_TO_RIDE_sakatah_singing_hills-sq6. Hike, bike or paddle your way through spring. Hike through the depths of an underground cave at Mystery or Niagara Cave in southeast Minnesota. Take to the trail in Camden State Park in Marshall or give bike camping a try along the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail in Sakatah Lake State Park near Waterville. The Minnesota River and the mighty Mississippi River both offer paddling opportunities through the region. Or head to one of the many lakes in southern Minnesota, such as Lake Winona for picturesque views of the bluffs, or rent a canoe or kayak at the public rental station near the launch on Albert Lea Lake.  

This spring is the perfect season to explore Southern Minnesota. With incredible outdoor adventures, fresh style and natural delights to discover, you will be amazed with everything this region has to offer. Plan your trip today at ExploreSouthernMinnesota.com.