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Alexandria is a Great Summer Weekend Trip
Heading up north to a lake town is an absolute must for Minnesotans in the summer. One of the most popular places is Alexandria and for good reason. I’ve been to Alexandria a few times and always have a great time. With several museums, a handful of breweries, a winery, and great shopping it’s no wonder Alexandria is a very popular summer destination. And one of the best parts is that it’s a short two-hour drive from Minneapolis!
1. Stay in a Unique Bed and Breakfast
If possible, I always prefer to stay in a bed and breakfast or Airbnb as opposed to a chain hotel. I appreciate the uniqueness and love chatting with the owners. While in Alexandria, we were able to enjoy a visit at Cedar Rose Inn, a historic bed and breakfast just a few blocks from the downtown area.
This incredible home, run by husband and wife duo Brenda and Dave, was first built in 1903 and has so much character. With five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, two fireplaces, and a wraparound porch, this home is truly stunning. And, it’s just a few blocks from some of the most popular restaurants, museums, and shops in town.
Each room is named after a specific person who is significant to the house, such as the founders, builders, and past owners. Each morning, Brenda cooks a wonderful breakfast for her guests. We enjoyed coffee, orange juice, fresh fruit, banana bread, bacon, yogurt with granola, and blueberry cream cheese french toast! It was such a lovely experience and we felt so comfortable in their bed and breakfast. They are open year-round and I highly recommend it!
Cedar Rose Inn hosted us for our stay, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
2. Visit the Runestone Museum
When Nic and I went to Norway in 2019, we learned a lot about the Vikings. When we realized there is some great Viking history in Alexandria, we wanted to learn more. The Runestone Museum first opened in 1958, and the Kensington Runestone was the only artifact at that time. Now, they have over 40 items all discovered around Minnesota, some dating back to Middle-Age Nordic explorers. And tickets to the museum are just $8/adults ($5 for students).
The Runestone was found in Alexandria by a farmer and his two sons in 1898. There’s a lot of debate and skepticism over the authenticity of the stone, however, if it is real, it proves the Vikings were on US soil much earlier than Christopher Columbus. After learning more, I definitely believe the Runestone is authentic. What do you think?
3. Take a Photo by the Big Ole Statue
Across the street from the Runestone Museum is the Big Ole Statue. This statue was in the New York World’s Fair in 1965, along with the Runestone. Big Ole looms large at 28 feet tall and weighs four tons. It’s one of the most iconic things to see in Alexandria making it a popular spot for photos!
4. Sip Wine at Carlos Creek Winery
I’ve been to Carlos Creek Winery to celebrate a bachelorette party for a friend a few years back. Located just 15 minutes outside of downtown Alexandria, the winery has a large indoor space as well as a big patio with beautiful gardens. Check their website to plan your visit around tastings, live music performances, and special events.
Shop some of my favorite travel items
5. Visit a Brewery
Alexandria is home to two breweries; Copper Trail Brewing and 22 Northmen Brewing. Copper Trail is located in downtown Alexandria and it has a very cool industrial space with a lot of natural light. Try the Hopper Trail IPA, Oktoberfest, Mule, Cabin Retreat, or Summer Suds. 22 Northmen Brewing states on their website, “In 1362 22 Northmen traveled thousands of miles from the land of the Vikings to Alexandria, Minnesota. They traveled far, risked much, overcame great obstacles, and arrived with a powerful thirst. As Viking descendants ourselves, we wanted to honor the 22 Northmen.”
Note, both breweries don’t open until noon on Sundays. We needed to head back to the Cities earlier, so we hit the road and stopped at the Nordic Brewing Co. in Monticello, photographed above. They had a great beer selection, and we enjoyed the Addled Ale and Fackler’s Golden. They also offer pulled pork sandwiches, ribs, chicken wings, beans, and coleslaw! It was the perfect place to stop for lunch.
6. Grab Coffee from Deja Bleu
Downtown Alexandria has a handful of coffee shops, and we decided to check out Deja Bleu. Located in the center of downtown, this spot has great coffee, lattes, and baked goods. They also sell artwork, jewelry, mugs, and clothing. Grab a cappuccino or smoothie, and walk a few blocks over to the park at Lake Agnes.
7. Get Your Shopping Fix
Downtown Alexandria has a lot of really cute and unique shops and boutiques. Some of my favorites are Kindred, a trendy women’s boutique with local clothing, hats, and home gifts; Creative Touch, a great spot for home decor and gift items; Hello Beautiful, which has a lot of great Minnesota-themed gift items; and Yesterday’s, an antique shop!
8. Befriend Cows at a Creamery
Redhead Creamery isn’t located in Alexandria, but if you’re driving up from the Twin Cities, you’ll pass the creamery when you’re about 40 minutes south of Alexandria. It’s such a unique experience, I highly recommend you make time for this spot!
This local family-owned creamery offers tours where you can learn the history of the business and how it got started, as well as more about their cheese-making process. If you don’t have time for a guided tour, you’re invited to walk around the property at your own pace and make friends with the cows.
I loved some of the creative names they had, like Rumchata, Milks a Lot, Coffee, and Luna. Then, head into the shop and order cheese curds, paninis, locally brewed beer, or wine! We shared a Muenster and bacon jam panini with cheese curds that came with honey and mustard for dipping.
Alexandria is a Must-See Summer Destination
Alexandria is a great summer getaway. I love how much it has to offer, and it’s just two hours from the Twin Cities. With museums, breweries, wineries, so many lakes, and a bustling downtown area, Alexandria should definitely be on your list to visit! Looking for more waterfront inspiration? Check out my blog posts on Otter Tail County, Grand Marais, and Bayfield, Wisconsin.