If you ever find yourself passing through Southeastern Minnesota, take a few hours to stop in the small towns of Wabasha and Kellogg. They sit roughly six miles apart along the Mississippi River, so you’ll be able to get in a quick visit to both towns without too much effort.
Should you have a little more time, or if you possess the inclination to plan, we recommend coming in September or October. There are two wonderful festivals taking place in both towns during that time, but there’s plenty to do anytime of year.
If you’re just passing through
For a short trip there are two places you shouldn’t miss:
Stop #1: Lark Toys in Kellogg. This is a museum, a bookstore, a candy shop, and a play land all wrapped into one. It will transport adults back to their youth and kids to a world where toys without an internet connection are fun.
The main attraction at Lark Toys is a hand-carved wooden carousel. This is truly a work of art. You can ride the carousel for $2 every 30 minutes.
But they also house a number of old toys that are on display in their Memory Lane. There is also a toy shop, including hand-carved wooden toys.
And for good measure, there’s an 18-hole mini golf course outside. R beat me by one swing.
In the toy store, look up and see this magnificent guy looking down on all the fun.
Stop #2: The National Eagle Center in Wabasha.
Positioned right along the Mississippi River, the National Eagle Center is a treasure of a place where you can see bald and golden eagles up close, as well as view them in the wild. The center takes in injured birds that are no longer able to fly, cares for them, and gives wonderful talks about eagle physiology and behavior.
We happened to be there when they were feeding the eagles.
There’s also a fun little playground outside where you and your kids can run around and play.
If you have a few days in September or October
The Kellogg Watermelon Festival is held annually the weekend after Labor Day, and overlaps with Wabasha’s SeptOber Fest, which runs from early September to late October every year. It’s a worthy way to spend a few days.
Both of these festivals are good community fun. They are big enough that there is plenty to see and do, but small enough that you don’t feel swallowed up by a crowd.
Kellogg has held a Watermelon Festival every year for the last 70 years. It only lasts for that one weekend after Labor Day, so you’ll either need to get lucky with the timing or plan ahead. Complete with a bean bag tournament, softball, a tractor parade, and carnival rides, this town really turns out for a fun time.
Over in Wabasha, the SeptOber Fest runs a little longer and boasts a lot of fun entertainment, decorations, food, and train rides. There’s even a pumpkin derby, which we missed, sadly, but will try to get to next year.
Both of these towns offer a lot for adults and families. We highly recommend it if you’re in the area.