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Decompressing in Lanesboro, Minnesota

Phoebe Meyer and Karen Keith bike across the Root River in Lanesboro. Submitted Photo

After coordinating two wedding extravaganzas within one week, my sister Sugi and I needed a getaway weekend to decompress. As the eldest of 8 siblings, I gently hinted to my brother Pete to invite all five sisters to his newly purchased hobby farm in Lanesboro Minnesota.

One Friday evening, we girls squeezed into Alison's fully loaded vehicle and headed southeast out of Minneapolis Beverly Hillbilly-style. It reminded me of the late '60s when Mom and Dad stuffed all of us into the station wagon for a family vacation. Those were sweltering days before air conditioning, and Dad's cigar smoke permeated the air. When the windows were down, we girls used the baby's diapers on our heads to keep our long, straight hair off our faces.

Located in the "toe" of Minnesota, Lanesboro (population 739) is situated on the Root River nestled in limestone bluffs. This community is gaining a reputation as being one of the "Best Dream Towns" in America according to Outside Magazine and Yahoo's Forbes Traveler. It's known as the "Rhubarb Capital," and Garrison Keillor helped to celebrate the 2007 Lanesboro's Rhubarb Festival.

Following a brisk Saturday morning walk through a hardwood forest, lined with hidden drop-offs, we strode into an open pasture bordered with cornfields, and were startled when the neighbor's cows gave chase.

At mid-morning, we split into two groups. The "walkers" toured Lanesboro's historic 1870s downtown storefronts, the Amish Farmer's Market and multiple art galleries. The "bikers" did a portion of the 60-mile multi-use Root River Trail system, built on an abandoned railroad bed meandering beside the Root River. Our bike ride began in the town of Whalan, home of the "Stand Still Parade." The first weekend in May, the parade units remain in place as the spectators walk by.

In the afternoon, all of the girls and Pete rendezvoused for lunch at "Das Wurst Haus." The owners, dressed in authentic German attire, were celebrating their 25th anniversary featuring the "wurst" food I have consumed, topped off with homemade root beer and oompah-pah music. I had seconds.

Following this festive dining experience, we walked across the bridge to the scenic 1869 cut stone dam and picturesque waterfall of the South Branch of the Root River. Afterwards, an excursion to the winery, complete with lefse samples, was a perfect conclusion to the afternoon.

Back at Pete and Barb's house, we girls scurried about to prepare for an evening performance of "The Rainmaker" at the Commonweal Theater. Rebuilt in 2007, this 190-seat playhouse offers several professional shows a year. Just waiting in a lobby filled with treasures hanging from the ceiling - pitchforks, shovels and chairs - or peaking into the little boxes embedded in the walls was entertaining. The small-town friendliness was abundant, as everyone seemed to know Pete and Barb.

On Sunday morning, we all slept in following the action-packed itinerary of Saturday. Soon the sweet smell of fresh brewed coffee lured us to the kitchen for some pajama talk. Since Buffalo Bill Cody did one of his first Wild West shows in Lanesboro in 1900, I suggested to Pete and Barb that they open up a show offering their own version of Vaudeville combined with their own art studio. After all, Barb is the winning terrazzo artist for the Bemidji Regional Event Center's concourse floors.

With theater, art, history and shopping there is no better place to decompress than Lanesboro, Minn.