I often write about the things that make Minnesota towns unique, but this week I decided to switch it up and write about 5 Minnesota towns who maybe don’t get the props they deserve. The state is full of hidden gems and character which can only be found by taking a little extra time to explore. So, look no further for the top 5 most underrated towns in Minnesota!
5. St. Cloud, MN. St. Cloud gets a bad rap in my opinion. Most think of it as a college town rife with strip malls, big-box chain restaurants, and the oft-congested Division Street which seems to always be in rush hour. But there are a ton of hidden gems here that commonly get overlooked. There’s the Clemens & Munsinger Gardens, a very historic old downtown, a lot of beautiful architecture in the Southside Neighborhood Historic District near SCSU, and the local favorite Quarry Park. There are many beautiful churches, and even the local prison architecture is amazing.
4. Little Falls, MN. US Highway 10 skirts the edge of town in Little Falls, and most people passing through don’t realize there is an interesting little town found just west of the highway. Little Falls is notable for the childhood summer home of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, featuring a state park with a full size replica of The Spirit of St. Louis cockpit. There is great architecture here too, including the Morrison County Courthouse; several unique and beautiful churches and mansions; murals and shops downtown; and the Minnesota Fishing Museum. Although the eponymous “Falls” on the Mississippi are now a dam, there is still a nice area in which to explore the charming small town.
3. Owatonna, MN. Much like its neighbors Faribault, Northfield, and Albert Lea, this mid-sized small town was bypassed by the Interstate many years ago. But Owatonna’s historic downtown and idyllic central park with its bandstand, fountain and benches feels like a place out of the good ol’ days. Also within view of the park are the historic courthouse, and the Louis Sullivan-designed Farmer’s Bank (above), with its red brick with green terra cotta bands and arched stained glass window facade. There are roadside attractions here too, if that’s your thing: Cabela’s, the Three T-38 Jets Statue, and Warrior Jesus.
Photo credit: Wikimedia commons
2. Hutchinson, MN. The last time I drove through Hutchinson is was unfortunately dark out so I wasn’t able to grab many great photos. However, Hutchinson is another underrated town with a great little downtown area. The town square park features the statue of the “Singing Hutchinson Brothers” (above), a famous 1840s American singing group who founded the town. The Crow River also passes through and the town is adjacent to Otter Lake and Campbell Lake.
1. Glenwood, MN For all the touristy, populated, lake-vacation towns in Minnesota like Brainerd, Walker, Detroit Lakes, and Alexandria, Glenwood seems to fly under the radar. Driving into town from the north or the east gives visitors a stunning view of the massive Lake Minnewaska.The steep banks that surround the lake offer quite a contrast from the relatively flat, farmland feel of southwestern Minnesota. There are plenty of resorts, golf courses, and a nice little downtown with the major crowds of other destinations. Did I mention the lake is huge?
For more lists of Minnesota towns, check out: Top 10 Coolest Towns in Minnesota, 5 Minnesota Towns That Sound Cooler Than They Are, 5 Minnesota Towns You’re Pronouncing Wrong , and 5 Best Town Names in Minnesota.