Touring the Byway
6 Days / 5 Nights | Gateway City: Rochester, Minnesota

We recommend starting your journey in Rochester, a thriving city with one of the most important healthcare facilities in the country. Engage with contemporary art at the Rochester Art Center and discover what it was like to live in 19th century Rochester at the Heritage House Victorian Museum, the History Center of Olmsted County, and the Maowood Historic Home. Spend your first evening relaxing in the rooftop pool of a beautifully restored hotel.

On Day Two, you’ll travel to Grand Meadow, a quiet country town named for the prairies that dot the surrounding landscape. Begin your drive along the Historic Bluff Country Scenic Byway on Route 16 and stop for a taste of local wine at Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery. You’ll visit three historic cities located along the Byway – Spring Valley, home to nearly a dozen buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places; Wykoff, where you can view a lifetime of quirky collections at Ed’s Museum; and Preston, which has an original 19th century Grain Elevator. Your accommodations for the evening are in a former jail converted to a cozy bed and breakfast. Explore the hidden gem of Minnesota on Day Three as you travel to Lanesboro, the geographic center of the Byway and the site of one of the last remaining gravity arch dams left in the United States. Read local Haiku in the Poetry Parking Lot and test your avian knowledge at the Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, and afterwards, curl up in front of the fireplace at a historic inn.

View the Detailed Itinerary below to see the full route, which is complete with dining, shopping,  and lodging recommendations!

Highlighted Attractions

Apple Blossom Scenic Drive

Drive a bonus Byway! The Apple Blossom Scenic Drive is a breathtaking 17-mile road that winds through the bluff-top roads overlooking the Mississippi River.

Named for the Midwest’s first apple trees planted in La Crescent, you’ll find blossoming apple trees, rolling hills, dramatic views of the Driftless Region, and roadside apple stands in the autumn selling the area’s tastiest and juiciest harvest.


Discover the hidden gem of southeastern Minnesota! Nestled in the bluffs of the Root River Valley, the historic downtown of this charming town is lined with original 19th-century brick buildings. Lanesboro was founded in 1856 when the Southern Minnesota Railroad reached the area and was able to transport milled wheat from the town to markets across the midwest, turning the region into one of the nation’s agricultural centers. Today, visitors find an inspiring and creative atmosphere in the town that is still thriving after 150 years.

Great River Bluff State Park

A stop here provides panoramic views of the Mississippi River Valley, oak-hickory and maple-basswood forests, opportunities to spot wildlife like rabbits and red foxes, birdwatching and hiking trails, and picnic and campground sites.

Riverside International Friendship Garden

This collection of public gardens in La Crosses’s Riverside Park celebrates the town’s sister-city relationships with communities on three continents. Discover unique gardens designed to highlight the principles of Chinese Feng Shui, formal French topiary, German friendship squares, and Cameroonian palm trees.


When the first pioneers pole-boated up the Root River in search of habitable lands, they had no idea they would peer through 10-foot tall grasses and discover the astonishing beauty of Minnesota bluff land and what would eventually be settled as  Rushford. The Southern Minnesota Railroad arrived shortly thereafter, forming the essential link between the city and the rest of the country. Today, Rushford is a bustling center for outdoor enthusiasts, art and history aficionados, families of all sizes, and those looking for a peaceful respite amid stunning natural wonders.

To experience all that Quintessentially Midwestern has to offer, download the complete itinerary!

The detailed itinerary includes: