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Unveil the Hidden Gems: Southern Minnesota’s Ultimate Motorcycle Journey

Embark on an exhilarating motorcycle journey through the heart of Southern Minnesota’s Bluff Country, where history, nature, and thrill converge on the open road.

  • Traverse the historic Great River Road along the Mississippi for breathtaking vistas.
  • Experience the charm and history of river towns like Red Wing and Winona.
  • Discover unique attractions such as the National Eagle Center and Pickwick Mill.
  • Unwind in scenic towns with rich cultural heritage, including Lanesboro and Harmony.

The dawn of a new ride

Riders in Minnesota eagerly anticipate the end of winter to revive their motorcycles from slumber. The arrival of spring signals the commencement of a season filled with exploration and adventure on two wheels. The Great River Road, following alongside the mighty Mississippi River, is especially popular among motorcyclists for its stunning views and historical significance. Starting with events like the annual “Flood Run” charity ride, motorcyclists gather in droves to revel in this iconic route’s beauty that stretches across Bluff Country’s hilly terrain.

A gateway to natural splendor

The town of Hastings marks the entrance to this magnificent landscape. Here, riders can enjoy attractions such as the Hastings Riverwalk—a paved trail offering panoramic scenes of bridges and waterscapes—and marvel at architectural feats like the towering Hastings Bridge. Venturing eastward on lesser-known paths like Ravenna Trail leads to hidden gems such as Prairie Island Indian Reservation and Treasure Island Casino, promising both natural beauty and modern entertainment without succumbing to gaming temptations.

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Towns touched by time

Red Wing’s storied past is closely intertwined with the Mississippi’s steamboat era. Now renowned for Red Wing Shoes, this town offers glimpses into history with establishments like St. James Hotel and a nostalgic train station that overlooks tranquil river currents. Further south lies Lake City, birthplace of waterskiing, where Lake Pepin expands majestically between limestone bluffs—a challenging yet enthralling visual distraction for riders captivated by nature’s grandeur.

Lunch with a view

In Reads Landing, lunchtime coincides with lessons in local lore—once a thriving lumber trade hub considered for state capital designation. The Reads Landing Brewing Company provides sustenance against a backdrop of river views while inviting visitors to reflect on the area’s vibrant past amid avian wonders overhead at spots like Wabasha’s National Eagle Center.

Cultural crossroads

The journey down south leads to Winona, a bustling college town replete with cultural offerings from art museums to diverse dining options. Nestled southeast is Pickwick Mill, a testament to industry endurance dating back to Civil War days. Navigating away from U.S. 61 onto State Route 16 unveils roads embraced by cliffs—a motorcyclist’s dream realized through winding paths connecting small towns along Root River’s edge.

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Savoring Lanesboro’s legacy

Lanesboro stands as an artistic beacon where travelers can unwind at historic accommodations like Hotel Lanesboro after feasting at local eateries such as Pedal Pushers Cafe—an ode to cycling enthusiasts frequenting nearby trails. This charming town envelops visitors in its warm embrace, offering restful nights steeped in history before continuing on exciting routes through Preston and Harmony—Amish enclaves where simplicity reigns supreme.

A journey through heritage

The voyage concludes with visits to towns etched into America’s fabric—Northfield with its notorious bank robbery by Jesse James’ gang and Henderson along another scenic byway ripe for exploration. This motorcycle odyssey through Southern Minnesota’s Bluff Country not only serves as a conduit to stunning landscapes but also connects riders to narratives woven into each mile traveled—a true embodiment of freedom on two wheels that transcends mere transportation.

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