You’ve just left your first stop on the Minne-Roadtrip in Owatonna, Minnesota. From there, it’s a 25-minute drive through pastoral landscapes. When you head into the heart of Faribault, you’ll drive past homes and businesses and into historic downtown. Nearby, is the convergence of two rivers‒the Straight River and the Cannon River.
What does a Minne-Roadtrip to Faribault, MN look like?
On this itinerary, you’ll stay in a historic bed and breakfast, tour a woolen mill, SUP down the river, and play a game of hammerschlagen. You’ll also be tempted by cave-aged cheese, lobster mash, and locally brewed beer.
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Day 1 – What To Do on Your Minne-Roadtrip to Faribault, MN
Start the morning off by fueling up at Bernie’s Grill in historic downtown Faribault. They’ve got all the breakfast favorites like biscuits and gravy, omelets, pancakes, waffles, hash and eggs to order. While enjoying breakfast decide your morning activities.
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For history buffs, I suggest learning about Faribault’s history by visiting the house of the town’s founding father‒Alexander Faribault. He built his home in 1853 and founded the town in 1855. It’s hard to believe this 163-year-old house still stands in its original location overlooking the Straight River! On the tour, you’ll learn about the life of Alexander as a trader, a man of faith, postmaster, land developer, territorial representative, and mill owner. The house even has some original pieces that belonged to the Faribault family like the family Bible and portraits. Other age appropriate items have been donated by previous owners of the home and the local community which give it a very authentic feel. If you decide to walk, it’s a 3-minute walk from Bernie’s Grill.
Tip: Tours need to be arranged before your arrival through the Rice County Historical Society. Call 507.332.2121.
For outdoor enthusiasts, I suggest getting the lay of the land by walking or biking the town’s many trails. Bikes can be rented at Faribault Rental or Adventure Fleet at the River Bend Nature Center. There are trails that lead from downtown to River Bend and 39-miles of paved trails at Sakatah Singing Hills Trail.
For lunch, head back downtown for pizza, burgers or a basket at Signature Bar and Grill. If you are craving sweets, opt for a cupcake like a Beachside Pina Colada, Salted Caramel Dream and Chocolate Cheery Sundae and a caffeine pick-me-up at Bluebird Cakery. (Above photos courtesy of Visit Faribault.)
Signature Bar and Grill hours: Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday from 3 to 9 p.m.
Bluebird Cakery hours: Monday through Saturday 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Stand up paddle board, kayak or snowshoe with The Gear ReSource Outfitters. For my adventure, I chose to SUP and spent two glorious hours on the Cannon River. Our trip started in Faribault and ended in Dundas next to the remains of one of 14 flour mills along the river. My trusty guide and instructor Nikki made me, a SUP newbie, feel right at ease in the water. We chatted, we had moments of silence, we took in the beauty of the river and pointed out birds in the woods. And, most importantly I didn’t fall in!
Afterward check into the 1892 Historic Hutchinson House B&B, which is four blocks away from historic downtown. Each of the B&B’s five rooms has plush queen-size beds (one even has an additional full-sized bed) and are decorated with antique furnishings and have all the modern amenities like en suite bathrooms, cable TV, AC, and wireless. The roomy house has plenty of sitting rooms and nooks to lounge and a large wrap-around porch to relax. The owners Tami and Doug Schluter are a wealth of information about Faribault and make a killer foodie breakfast.
Get situated, have a glass of tea, juice or a celebratory libation, and give yourself time refresh from your afternoon excursion.
Before dinner stop by F-Town Brewing Co. for a pre-dinner beer. If you are in a walking mood, the brewery is only a nine-minute walk from the B&B. (If you decide to walk, it will be a slight uphill walk back to the B&B.) The brewery has outdoor and indoor seating with lots of tasty choices for brews. While you take in the vibe, be sure to test your hammering skills and make new friends with a round or two of the German game hammerschlagen.
Taproom Hours: Wednesday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Brewery Tours: Thursdays at 3 p.m. and Saturdays at 1 p.m. Tours are free, but attendees are encouraged to bring a nonperishable food item.
After you’ve had a beer or two head down to the Depot Bar and Grill for dinner.
The Depot Bar and Grill is a 2-minute walk from the brewery and has inside seating, a bar area, and outdoor dining. If it’s a warm evening, opt to sit outside. The depot serves a range of starters like chicken wings, sweet potatoes, and house dipped pickles. I suggest ordering the Faribault Dairy’s Handcrafted Lightly Breaded Cheese Curds. Dinner continues with other tasty dishes like steak, ribs, fish, pasta, burgers and some Southwest selections like tacos, burritos, and fajitas. Whatever you choose, be sure to upgrade or order a side of lobster mash potatoes. It is life changing!
Tip: There is no need to order dessert because warm cookies are waiting for you back at the Historic Hutchinson House B&B.
Day 2 – What To Do on Your Minne-Roadtrip to Faribault, MN
During my stay at the Historic Hutchinson House B&B, a 3-course breakfast was served at 8:30 a.m. to all guests. Be sure to wake up for this delicious breakfast as it is something you do not want to miss. Tami is quite a chef and will tell you what items came from local farms and vendors like Asparagus Larry.
After breakfast, take the self-guided Immaculate Conception Neighborhood Tour or the City of Faribault Downtown Podcast Tour, or both. The neighborhood tour focuses on Faribault’s first residential homes and churches. The podcast tour focuses more on important historical business and city buildings. Combined they give an excellent overview of Faribault’s history, its people, and stunning architecture.
Tip: If you don’t have a smartphone for the podcast a device can be checked out at the Buckham Memorial Library in downtown Faribault.
Tip: Downloadable PDF of the downtown tour. The B&B will most likely have printed materials you can use too.
After the tour, head downtown to The Cheese Cave and indulge in wine and cave-aged cheeses. This spot is a must stop for cheese and wine lovers. Order a Caves grilled cheese made from Jeff’s Select Gouda and St. Mary’s Gouda, a cheese platter with St. Pete’s Select blue cheese, Jeffs’ Select Gouda, St. Mary’s Gouda, and Fini cheddar, or a cheese-inspired wrap, pizza or salad. Be sure to watch the video about their famous cheese caves, which is the birthplace of commercial American Blue Cheese, and if you have room for dessert order the Amablu cheesecake. If you want to take some cheese home with you, they have a gourmet store that sells 40 premium kinds of cheese and will ship to your home.
A Minne-Roadtrip to Faribault, MN isn’t complete without a stop at the Faribault Woolen Mill Co. The over 150-year-old mill is in a very picturesque setting next to the Cannon River. Inside, at the store, there are woolen blankets, throws, and scarves, for purchase, as well as, other accessories like dog blankets, pillow cases, and coffee sleeves. I highly recommend the mill tour which covers the 22 steps it takes from raw wool to finished product. Seeing the process and the machines run by skilled individuals who have been there for years is fascinating. If you decide to buy a blanket to take home, knowing how it was made adds to its charm.
Tours: Every Friday and second Saturday of the month at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
For your last evening, dine at 1st of Thai, which won 2015 Best Asian Food in the Best of SoMinn. (Picture courtesy of Visit Faribault.)
Hours: Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
That wraps up your Minne-Roadtrip to Faribault, MN. Not ready to go home yet? Next stop, Northfield, MN.
Visit Faribault has lots of information and brochures and is happy to help you plan your trip and activities.
Optional Faribault Activities:
- Drive the campus at Shattuck St. Mary’s School
- Cathedral of our Merciful Saviour
- Rice County Historical Society
- Paradise Center for the Arts
- Ivan Whillock Woodcarving Studio
- The Inn at Shattuck-St. Mary’s
- Americas Best Value Inn
- Be My Guest Loft
- Boarders Inn & Suites
- Days Inn
- Grandstay Residential Suites Hotel
- Regency Inn & Suites
- Vintage Ballroom Suites
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations and meal for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.