The Southern Region
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The landscapes across the Southern region of Minnesota feature a variety of scenery. The Mississippi River, the driftless area with many small, quiet streams wind their way through scenic valleys nestled among tall, wooded Mississippi Bluffs. The Minnesota River reaches across rich farmland. Here and there are patches of prairie, remnants of the grasslands that once blanketed this land.
The spirit and traditions of the Dakota Indians and early pioneers are recalled at numerous historic sites. Southern Minnesota communities are known for their antique shops, ethnic festivals and historic architecture. Trout streams, fishing lakes and bike trails, including the Cannon River Valley bike trail, the Root River bike trail and the provide outdoor fun, and there are even cave tours for underground exploring.
German settlers were prevalent in the southern region. The city of New Ulm proudly showcases its Heritage with a glockenspiel and a popular Oktoberfest festival. Other top attractions are the National Eagle Center (Wabasha); the Pipestone National Monument; SPAM Museum (Austin); the Minnesota Marine Art Museum (Winona); and the Commonweal Theater (Lanesboro); Lark Toys (Kellogg).
Those interested in history will enjoy seeing some of the oldest architecture in the state. Faribault boasts the largest commercial district on the National Register of Historic Places including 150-year old businesses such as the Faribault Woolen Mills and Shattuck-St. Mary's School. Faribault is also birthplace of the popular carnival ride, Tilt-A-Whirl. A prize Prairie-Style bank graces downtown Owatonna. There are several historic mills along the Cannon Valley region that exhibit an important part of Minnesota's economic history . . . most pre-date those featured at the Mill City Museum in the Twin Cities. Wabasha is host to the oldest running hotel on the west side of the Mississippi River.
The Mississippi River runs wide at Lake Pepin, and the valley here is one of the most lovely in the country. After a filling breakfast at a Minnesota Bed and Breakfast, the area is easily explored by bicycle on the Cannon Valley, Root River, and Sakatah Singing Hills bike trails. Come visit Southern Minnesota; you'll be surprised at how much you find to see and do!