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The Best Stops on the Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway

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Stretching across southern Minnesota from Big Stone Lake to Belle Plaine, the Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway offers a nature-filled trip through the Midwestern heartland. Along the way, you’ll have opportunities to learn more about Dakota Indian heritage, explore state parks, and even visit a brewery or two, giving you a taste of the unique, unhurried life in this part of the state.
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In addition to its namesake body of water, Big Stone Lake Park is home to oak savanna, or native prairie, which is considered an endangered ecosystem in Minnesota. In the Scientific and Natural Area where the oak savanna thrives, visitors can see...
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170th St SE, Granite Falls, MN 56241, USA
If you’ve been driving the byway for a while, a stop at the Gneiss Outcrops will be a welcome—and beautiful—change of pace. Located within a large meander in the Minnesota River, the designated Scientific and Natural Area...
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32469 County Rd 2, Morton, MN 56270, USA
No trip through Minnesota would be complete without learning about the state’s Native American history. One of the best places to do so is the Lower Sioux Agency, where the U.S.-Dakota War broke out in 1862. In the years following the...
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66250 Co Rd 21, New Ulm, MN 56073, USA
An authentic general store from 1871, the Harkin offers a kitschy step back in time that shouldn’t be missed when driving the Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway. Once the social center of the community, the store was where West...
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1860 Schell's Rd, New Ulm, MN 56073, USA
The second-oldest family-owned brewery in the United States—and the oldest in Minnesota—Schell’s started way back in 1860, long before the craft-beer craze of today. Founded by German immigrant August Schell, the brewery managed...
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100 Freeman Dr, St Peter, MN 56082, USA
Minnesota’s first state hospital, St. Peter’s opened in 1866 to serve the mentally ill and dangerous. While it started with space for just 50 patients, it served almost 3,000 at its peak in 1957, housing everyone on a campus ringed...
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Ottawa Rd, Le Sueur, MN 56058, USA
Visitors are drawn to the Ottawa Bluffs Nature Preserve to see the unique oak savanna, which is among the most endangered ecological communities in Minnesota. Venture to the top of the bluff on the west side of the preserve and you’ll also...