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Great River Road Day Trip from Minneapolis

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Great River Road day trip

One of the best day trips you can take from the Twin Cities, Minnesota is the Great River Road! While you could technically drive alongside the Mississippi River all the way to the Gulf, the itinerary below includes some of the best stops for a one-day road trip in the Midwest. Cruising alongside the river with scenic overlooks and great food, drink and activity stops is the most ideal kind of day in my books! To make the drive the most interesting, drive alongside the river on the Wisconsin side one way (the actual Great River Road) and then along the Minnesota side the other way so you can see highlights of both states.

Total Driving Time: ~4.5 Hours from Minneapolis, add extra time for stops below

Wisconsin Side (from North to South:

I love starting along the Wisconsin side and working our way south because the stops align nicely with breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Rush River Produce

One of the most idyllic berry picking farms I’ve been to is Rush River Produce! As you drive up you’ll feel like you’re at someone’s house but once you park in the backyard, you’ll be transported to a stunning berry farm. They have beautiful flowers, a stand to pick up colanders and boxes for picking and rolling hills to explore for berries. You’ll pay per pound and they’ll box it up for you to take on your way.

Maiden Rock Apples Winery & Cidery

Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery is a relaxing setting where you can enjoy delicious drinks made with local apples! We brought sandwiches from Stockholm Pie and General Store to enjoy with the cider.

Maiden Rock Bluff State Natural Area

Maiden Rock Bluff

One of the best views I’ve seen in the central MN/WI area is from Maiden Rock Bluff.  You can hike out and back or else make a loop.

Stockholm Pie and General Store

Go for the pie, but don’t miss the sandwiches at Stockholm Pie & General Store! We’ve both enjoyed lunch on their beautiful patio and taken the sandwiches to go to enjoy a fun picnic. They also have fantastic pie cookies.

Lavender Bluff Farm

A gorgeous addition to the Great River Road is the newly opened (July 2023) Lavender Bluff Farm. The farm is three years in the making and the result is a gorgeous U-Pick lavender and wildflower farm alongside the stunning bluffs. There’s also a farm shop where lavender products such as lemonade, lip balm, soaps and more can be purchased too.

Villa Bellezza Winery & Vineyards

For the closest taste to Italy in the area, head to Villa Bellezza. A very charming winery where you can also enjoy delicious and fresh pizzas.

Township 23 Distillery

A fantastic new addition to the Great River Road is Township 23 Distillery. They make delicious gin and vodka cocktails made with alcohol produced on site. Sip on drinks on their patio while overlooking the beautiful sunflower fields and bluffs.

Nelson Cheese Factory

The ultimate stop for all things dairy is Nelson Cheese Factory! We loved the giant, generous and inexpensive ice cream cones. Also a great place to stock up on cheese. The line moves very quickly so even if there are a lot of people ahead of you, it shouldn’t take too long to get your ice cream.

The Stone Barn

Pizza farms are one of the best concepts – who doesn’t love pizza made with farm fresh ingredients?! The Stone Barn is one of my favorites with a beautiful setting and great food.

Minnesota Side:


Winona is one of the most charming river towns in Minnesota and there’s a lot to do! From paddleboarding Lake Winona to hiking up Sugar Loaf to driving up to Garvin Heights Lookout! Don’t miss donuts from Bloedows (just note they’re closed on Sundays).

Read more about what to do in Winona here.

John A. Latsch State Park

John A. Latsch State Park

Make the most of your Minnesota State Parks pass and stop of a hike at John A. Latsch which has scenic river views.

Frontenac State Park

Another great stop with your Minnesota State Parks pass is Frontenac State Park, which also has beautiful views of the river.

Red Wing

While Red Wing can be its own day trip (as we did here), it’s also worth a stop on your overall Great River Road day trip. From great dining, to shopping and even more scenic views.

Are you ready to plan your Great River Road day trip? Which stops are on your list? 

For more Minnesota trip ideas, check out my top tips here.

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  1. Jenny on May 10, 2021 at 17:27

    Hi Sarah – one of the biggest things you are missing out food wise when you travel down to the Red Wing area is The Bleu Dog Cafe in Welch!
    Check out their FB menu or Instagram page to see pics of the delicious, fresh, local, scratch made food they do. It’s definitely a hidden gem and only a 30 second bike ride from the Welch stop along the Cannon Vley Trail.


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