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Things to Do in the Lanesboro Area Over the Long 4th of July Weekend

American flag next to a "Historic Lanesboro" sign
The American flag next to a "Historic Lanebsoro" town banner.

July 1, 2024

As the 4th of July weekend approaches, the Lanesboro area of southeast Minnesota beckons with a blend of cultural festivities, outdoor adventures, and culinary delights. Whether you're a local resident or a visitor from afar, here’s a curated guide to experiencing the best of the Lanesboro area during this celebratory week.

“Art of The Grain: An Exploration of Working in Wood,” our summer group exhibition in the Lanesboro Arts Gallery
“Art of The Grain: An Exploration of Working in Wood,” exhibition in the Lanesboro Arts Gallery. Photo courtesy of Lanesboro Arts.

Lanesboro is well known for its art scene and 4th of July week is no different

With multiple opportunities to engage in art in multiple forms and fashions.  Lanesboro Art’s exhibition gallery is showing “The Art of the Grain,” featuring the work of a number of local woodworking artisans. The Commonweal Theatre Company is in full rep, and it’s opening show, Ugly Lies the Bone will be closing over the 4th of July weekend.  It’s a truly powerful show about a veteran returning home, injured and in recovery. Featuring a tour de force performance from Laurie Roberts it’s a show you shouldn’t miss.  And it’s in rep with The Outsider, a non-partisan political romp that is extremely funny. 

And a special treat, Lanesboro Arts is sponsoring another A.R.T. performance.  Audacious Raw Theatre is devised theatre that focuses on a new theme every year. These performances are built and put together through writing exercises, conversation, play, movement exploration and improvisation to create the production you’ll see. This year, their theme, "There is a Field," will feature compelling performances scheduled for July 6th at 7:00 PM and July 7th at 5:00 PM.

A group of women shopping in Lanesboro, MN
Have a blast shopping in Lanesboro. Photo courtesy of Stone Mill Clothing and Gifts.


Lanesboro's beautiful, historic downtown offers something for everyone: a charming walk back in time AND excellent retail therapy!

Amish Experience has everything from Amish popping corn and homemade goods, to silly gifts and fun trinkets for the whole family. Boutiques like the Stone Mill Clothing and Gifts and E2 Boutique offer all sorts of memorable, fashionable ensembles, and everything from water shoes to reversible sandals. At Stone Mill Clothing and Gifts, enjoy 25% off anything including the colors red, white and blue on the 4th!

A large group of people tubing on the Root River in Lanesboro, MN
A group of people tubing on the Root River in Lanesboro. Photo courtesy of Root River Outfitters.

And of course, no trip to Lanesboro is complete without some outdoor adventures!

There is nothing quite like spending a day cycling along the picturesque Root River Trail system, offering scenic views and easy access to the downtown areas of Lanesboro, Whalan, and all the charming towns that make up the Root River Trail Towns.

You could also let the river decide! There is a release of agency when floating down the root in a tube from Root River Outfitters. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon kayaking or tubing on the Root River with rentals and guided trips available, perfect for soaking in the natural beauty of the region. 

For the anglers looking to hook a big one, grab your gear and head to the river for an adrenaline-fueled fishing expedition. With its crystal-clear waters teeming with trout, bass, and more, every cast is a heart-pounding opportunity to reel in a picture-worthy catch. Local fly fishing guides Root River Rod Co. are your go-to for guided trip, great gear, and expert advice.

And for the real nature lovers in your party, there’s no better hiking trails than at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center. Their campus trails are open to the public from dawn until dusk, offering panoramic views of the Root River Valley, excellent bird-watching, exhilarating mountain biking trails, and more. 

Amish farm and buggies as seen from a tour with Bluffscape Amish Tours
Amish farm and buggies. Photo courtesy of Bluffscape Amish Tours.


Embark on a journey through the heart of Amish Country with Bluffscape Amish Tours. Step back in time to experience the timeless lifestyle of the Old Order Amish. The rolling hills of Southeastern Minnesota reveal picturesque farms, where horse-drawn buggies move at a gentle pace. You’ll visit several Amish families, learn about their traditions, and explore their retail shops. Tours happen daily at 10am and 1:30pm (except Sunday).

On Saturday, July 6th, History Alive Lanesboro presents "Walking in Their Footsteps: A Guided Town Walking Tour". These tours have plenty of fun true tales to tell! Bootleg liquor? Silent movies? Gunslingers downtown? Big fires? Come hear the tales. Some guides will portray a surprise character. Tours start at 11am and 5pm and leave from Stone Mill Inn & Suites in downtown Lanesboro.

Have a hoot during a Live Owl Program at the International Owl Center in Houston, MN! Just 40 minutes east of Lanesboro, learn about owls in-depth from the Owl Center's trained staff. Several programs are offered, and the audience gets to pick the program they prefer. Programs normally last 45-60 minutes. The center has programs on Friday the 5th and Saturday the 6th.

People enjoying a meal and beverages at Pedal Pusher's Cafe in Lanesboro
People enjoying a meal and beverages at Pedal Pusher's Cafe in Lanesboro. Photo courtesy of Pedal Pusher's Cafe.


While Lanesboro and Whalan are blessed with some amazing restaurants, depending on your accommodations, and your desire (or lack thereof) to cook on vacation, you may want to start your day on Saturday, July 6th with a visit to the Farmers Market! Local vendors offer fresh produce, fresh meat and eggs as well as canned jarred and baked goods and it’s the perfect opportunity to pick up ingredients for a delicious home-cooked meal later in the evening.

If you opted to cook a home-cooked meal using the fresh ingredients from the Farmers Market, then by all means enjoy a relaxed evening with your family, savoring the flavors of locally sourced produce and artisanal products.  However if you don’t have the accommodations with a full kitchen don’t worry!  Lanesboro has an amazing selection of restaurants (with mostly scratch kitchens and all serviced as much as possible by local farmers) to choose from.  Pedal Pushers cafe has been serving great food for 20 years, and Clara’s Eatery is great for a pizza for the fam. And don't forget the flatbread, wings, and burgers from the High Court Pub!

Situated on the bank of the Root River, with amazing deck and patio seating, Juniper's Restaurant is a great atmosphere to dine al fresco.

Of course every great day starts with a great cup of coffee. Start your morning with a latte and breakfast from Paddle On Coffee and Maker Emporium. With you sip and savor, admire the works for sale hand-crafted by local artisans. Also providing a coffee, a full espresso bar, and other beverages is Another Time Ice Cream Parlor (oh, they have delicious chocolates and caramel treats too!).

And please, whatever you do, don't forget ice cream! Another Time Ice Cream Parlor and Clara's Eatery both serve up cones and bowls of the delicious dessert we all know and love. If you prefer something a little more tropical, the Hawaiian Shaved Ice stand near the Lanesboro Dam has got you covered.

To stock up on other supplies to help you have an enjoyable weekend, visit Granny's Liquor and The Root River Saloon for off-sale liquor. For fans of CBD and cannabis products, Fifth Sun Gardens has you covered.

For excellent drink choices and great bar food, check out the American Legion Post #40. They'll have brats & chips on Saturday, and the 7th is Bloody Mary Sunday! Of course Thursday, July 4th is Men's Night where the male folk get $1 off their cold beverage from 6-9pm.

For fans of fresh squeezed lemonade, lefse chips, tacos, and sliders, you'll want to check out Lanesboro's newest walk-up Main Street eatery, Driftless Trading Post.

Live music with people on the patio of Sylvan Brewing
Live music on the patio of Sylvan Brewing. Photo courtesy of Sylvan Brewing.


Be sure to pepper your week with live music all throughout town! The High Court Pub is celebrating the week with American History on Tuesday, and then back-to-back-to-back live music Thursday-Saturday.  On Thursday July the 4th there’s Folk Music Troubadour Tim Fast, on Friday Nick Foytick will be live on stage at the pub, and on Saturday your friends and you can enjoy the musical stylings of My Friends and I.  All music at the Pub goes from 7-10 PM.

And the music doesn’t stop there.  Sunday be sure to catch Rochester, MN native Clay Fulton at Sylvan Brewing’s Summer Sunday Series. Enjoy the laid-back ambiance, exceptionally made craft brews, with a focus on easy-drinking Midwest style beer that can be comfy, crafty and sometimes a little bit crazy.  And there will be  delicious food offerings from the Blue Duck food truck, adding to the festive atmosphere.

A whole pie from Aroma Pie Shoppe in Whalan, MN
A delicious rhubarb pie from Aroma Pie Shoppe in Whalan, MN. Photo courtesy of Aroma Pie Shoppe.


Grab your bikes, or rent them from the Little River General Store in downtown Lanesboro. Heading east from Lanesboro, the trail offers tranquil scenery along the root river in forests and through pastures. It’s a peaceful ride and takes you to Whalan! If you're coming from east of Rushford, Owl City Cycles is your spot to rent your bikes on your ride west to Whalan and Lanesboro.

For those traveling by motorized vehicle, hope in your car or on your steel horse and take the breathtakingly scenic route of the Historic Scenic Byway (State Hwy 16).

It may be the smallest town on the trail, but Whalan has a lot to offer.  The world-famous Aroma Pie Shoppe serves thousands of visitors every year, making pies the same way they have for decades.  The Whalan Depot has amazing fudge, treats and gifts and Treasures on the Trail offers unique gifts handcrafted by local artisans.

Fireworks display
The big fireworks display in the area happens in Harmony at dusk on July 4th.


In the town of Harmony (just 20 minutes south of Lanesboro off Highway 52) the 4th of July festivities extend over three days. Harmony’s celebration of America's independence is a grand spectacle that shows what it means to be mighty and small. The small-town charm meets activities such as parades, live music, community events, and a fireworks display. Check out the website of the Harmony Chamber of Commerce for more information.

Cultural and Outdoor Activities

Explore Harmony's attractions like Niagara Cave -venture 550 steps below the karst limestone, and see an underground waterfall in one of the nations top 10 ranked caves.

Experience the Best of Harmony’s Culinary Scene

Start your day with a hearty breakfast at Gabby Lou's Kitchen. Indulge in dishes crafted with local ingredients, blending classic American flavors with innovative twists inspired by Chef Matt Brown's culinary journey.

End your evening with a dining experience at Estelle’s Eatery & Bar, another establishment owned and operated by Chef Brown. Here the menu showcases eclectic dishes that reflect his training and passion. Explore a variety of flavors ranging from Asian-inspired dishes to Mexican-infused cuisine, crafted with a Californian flair that sets Estelle’s apart.

Shop vintage and more with a 20% off sale at Bee Balm Boutique

Bee Balm Boutique is a consignment shop on Main Street in Harmony, offering new & used women’s clothing, gifts, vintage finds & more! Check out their 20% off sale during the 4th of July festivities!

A child fishes off the dock at the pond in Sylvan Park in Lanesboro, MN
A child fishes off the dock at the pond in Sylvan Park in Lanesboro.

Here in the Lanesboro area, we invite you to celebrate the 4th of July week with a diverse array of activities that capture the essence of summer in southeastern Minnesota.

From culinary adventures influenced by prestigious culinary backgrounds to engaging cultural performances and outdoor explorations, the Lanesboro area promises a memorable holiday filled with discovery and relaxation. Plan your itinerary, embrace the local charm, and embark on a journey that celebrates community spirit and the beauty of this scenic gem of Bluff Country, Minnesota!