Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links below, at no cost to you. For more information, read my full disclaimer here.
How to Plan Your Day Trip to Faribault, Minnesota
I spent three years living just outside Faribault, and this little town offers more than initially meets the eye. Located just one hour south of the Twin Cities, Faribault is a small town rich in character and history! Did you know the tilt-a-whirl was invented in Faribault, Minnesota? Herbert Sellner, a woodworker and water slide designer, invented the tilt-a-whirl in 1926 at his home in Faribault. Over the next 12 months, the first 14 tilt-a-whirls were built in Sellner’s basement and yard. Now, a handful of tilt-a-whirls are scattered around downtown Faribault, making for a fun photo op!
1. Kickoff the Day with Coffee
Start off your day with a visit to Crack of Dawn Bakehouse! They have a great selection of food including quiche, french toast, cinnamon rolls, and ice cream. There is also a super cute gift shop inside with stickers, mugs, candles, and clothing.
2. Shop for Unique Antiques
If you’re looking to step back in time, you’ll definitely want to walk around Keepers Antique Shop. It’s really amazing how many well-preserved items they have including jewelry, books, furniture, clocks, ornaments, paintings, records, and quilts. I loved seeing the tiny tin cans with salt, pepper, sage, cinnamon, and cayenne.
3. Grab Apps or a Meal
Faribault doesn’t have a huge food scene, but there are a couple of great options. The Depot is a restaurant built inside an old railroad station. The railroad tracks are outside and run along the back of the building. They have a huge menu and do the basics really well.
If you’re looking for something a little fancier, stop by Redemption, which is housed inside a historic warehouse building built in the 1870s. You’ll find a variety of options from steak and pork to salmon and salads. I highly recommend ordering sangria and the chocolate cake with raspberry drizzle for dessert. We also really like going to the Crooked Pint. They are a chain and have other locations, including one in downtown Minneapolis. They have a large beer selection and great bar food options, like big burgers!
4. Visit a Distillery
If you’re looking for fancy cocktails, head over to 10,000 Drops Craft Distillers. This distillery has only been around since 2018, and it’s already become a very popular spot for locals and tourists alike. They distill and age whiskey, rum, and gin. It’s inside an old building with a lot of exposed brick and a very cool industrial feel. We love their gin and tonics and pineapple mojitos!
Shop some of my favorite travel items
5. Relax at a Winery
If you prefer wine, head about 20 minutes out of town to Vintage Escapes Winery. Founded in 2019, they grow most of their grapes on their own land and import a few grape varieties from California. I tried a wine flight and had Edelweiss, Minnesota Gris and It’s the Berries. I prefer wines that are a little drier and not too sweet, and these were perfect. They also offer some snack options, and their charcuterie board has a nice selection of cheese, crackers, olives, and chocolate. Sit inside at the bar or at a table, or head outside to their large patio for extra sunshine.
6. Visit the Faribault Woolen Mill
Over the years, I’ve taken two tours of the Faribault Woolen Mill. The history alone is impressive, and the products they create are high quality. Tucked along the Cannon River, their 150+-year-old story is still going strong. Founded in 1865, Carl Klemer started the woolen mill and used horses to power it. As their website says, “The Faribault Woolen Mill endures as one of the last vertical woolen mills in America. Here, fifth-generation craftspeople take raw wool and create blankets, throws, scarves, and accessories of remarkable comfort and quality. Irreplaceable century-old machinery stands side by side with modern technology in our new mill, which was built in 1892.” The “new” mill of 1892 was built after a fire destroyed the original mill.
Each item goes through a 22-step process including separating, dying, yarning, carding, spinning, plying, weaving, inspection, washing, drying, fringing, and sewing. Throughout the tour, you are able to see all 22 steps in action. The tour is just $10 for adults, $5 for students, and kids are free, and it lasts a little over an hour. Definitely worth it!
7. Walk Around Shattuck-St. Mary’s Campus
Take a leisurely stroll around the Shattuck-St. Mary campus. First established in 1858, this is a coeducational boarding and day school for students grades 6-12. Their campus is open for the public to walk around and enjoy the beautiful gardens and stunning architecture! The buildings on campus give me strong Harry Potter vibes. If you’re lucky, you may even hear the clock tower bells go off!
8. Hike at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
The Nerstrand Big Woods State Park is about one hour from Minneapolis and a short drive from downtown Northfield. This is a state park so there is a state park entrance fee of $7/day or $35/year. Once inside the park, you’ll encounter a waterfall after just a few minutes.
After enjoying the view of the waterfall, I suggest you continue on the dirt path that winds around this heavily wooded peaceful, quiet trail. I find that the waterfall tends to be a crowded area, but once you move beyond it people spread out, so it’s easy to lose the crowd and spend time alone with nature.
9. Take Photos of Murals
As you walk around downtown Faribault, you’ll notice a dozen stunning murals, some with vibrant colors and others sharing historically important moments in Faribault’s history. Take a screengrab of the map above and see how many you can find!
10. Take a Self-Guided Walking Town
As you look for the murals, keep an eye out for the benches as well! You’ll encounter 21 benches scattered around town, each with a fun fact about Faribault’s history. Stop to read the plaques and learn something new!
11. Rice County Museum of History
Looking to learn even more about Faribault’s history? Check out the Rice County Museum of History. For just $3/adult and $1/children, you’ll see a collection of artifacts and images that all play a significant part in Faribault’s history.
12. Relax in a Salt Room
If you’re looking to relax and pamper yourself, stop by Studio 14 Salon and Spa. This place has everything you need to recharge and feel refreshed. Get your hair cut and colored, enjoy a manicure, pedicure, facial, or massage. Or, enjoy the salt room for a yoga class or simply relax in the salt room and breathe in the benefits. They’ve recently moved to a new building, which is so bright, clean and inviting. The salt room yoga experience really put me in a great headspace.
13. Paradise Center for the Arts
Right in the heart of downtown Faribault is a performance center. Here, you’ll find comedians, plays, an art gallery, and classes. When we visited, we saw a great line-up of comedians, mostly from the Twin Cities area. There are drinks for purchase inside.
14. Go Boating and Fishing on Circle Lake
If you’re looking for some fun on the water, head over to Circle Lake. There is a public access parking lot on the north side. Tons of people are always out fishing, kayaking, and lounging around on their pontoons. And in the winter it’s a popular lake for ice fishing.
15. Car Cruise Night
From May through September there is a car show in downtown Faribault on the third Friday of every month. Everyone is invited to join the fun and show off their car, truck, or motorcycle. Walk around and enjoy the music and some extremely rare and unique vehicles!
Faribault is Rich in History
Faribault is a small town that I don’t think gets the recognition it deserves. This town was founded by Alexander Faribault, who was of French descent, which is why you may notice the Fleur De Lis logo on murals, signs, and in gift shops. He brought a lot of culture and history to this town. With a historical downtown area, a great variety of restaurants, places to grab drinks, shop, and see a show, Faribault is the perfect place for a day trip!