The state of Minnesota usually isn’t at the top of people’s travel lists, much less the city of Alexandria. Never even heard of it? We’re not surprised, especially since it’s usually overlooked in favor of other larger, more well-known Minnesotan cities.
However, Alexandria is definitely a hidden gem. This city has plenty to offer in terms of attractions, so you’re sure to enjoy yourself if you make a stop here.
Are you now curious about this city? Then read on for the top 12 most popular things to do in Alexandria, MN. They’ll have you wanting to jump on a plane straight away!
1. Check Out the Runestone Museum
Alexandria’s claim to fame is that it’s the “birthplace of America”. These are the words written on the shield of America’s Biggest Viking, who stands outside the entrance of the Runestone Museum in Alexandria.
But why does the city claim to be the birthplace of America? Well, back in 1898, a Nordic runestone was found on a farm just under 10 miles away. It was carbon-dated back to 1382!
So the Runestone Museum opened up in 1958, and the sole thing they had on display was their treasure, the Nordic runestone.
However, this museum’s grown extensively in the last half-century. Today, it has many exhibits and displays on not just Vikings, but also native Americans. You’ll find things like a replica Viking trading ship and a Civil War-era fort.
2. Visit the Legacy of the Lakes Museum
When you’re in Alexandria, the Legacy of the Lakes Museum is somewhere you need to visit. It took 10 years of planning to set things in motion, so you need to see the fruits of labor.
The museum finally opened its doors in 2004 and is a wonderful piece of Alexandria. You’ll get to learn all about lake life in Minnesota, as well as all the traditions that have carried on for years.
You can consider the Legacy of the Lakes Museum an open-air museum since there’s much to explore outside. There’s an amazing garden where you can view beautiful plants and flowers, as well as water features.
You can also walk around and see all sorts of displays about fishing, such as legendary catches, carefully crafted wooden boats, and birch bark canoes.
If you time your visit right, you’ll be able to witness some outdoor events, such as boat shows and musical performances in the summer.
3. Conquer the Central Lakes Trail
Looking to get outside to explore what this city has to offer? Then when it comes to what to see in Alexandria, MN, the Central Lakes Trail should be on your list!
This trail is paved but spans 55 miles, so it’s quite a journey! It’ll take you through 10 communities from Fergus Falls to Osakis, and you’ll see things like woods, wetlands, and lakesides. This trail is perfect for seeing all the nature Alexandria has to offer since you’ll get peaceful countryside views.
The trail is closed to vehicles, so you’ll have to walk or bike. The exception is during wintertime, where you can ride snowmobiles on the trail.
It’s up to you how much time you want to spend here. That’s the beauty of the Central Lakes Trail; you can spend a few hours or even a few days here if you want! You can eat at the benches and picnic stops, or you can stay at the campsites or various lodging options around.
4. Have a Beer at Copper Trail Brewing Co.
The Copper Trail is a brewery that opened up right after the Surly law was passed in 2011. This meant it was legal to make and consume beer on the same premises, so you bet the owners went for it!
If you love craft beer, then you’ll have a great time here. This is one of the best places to visit in Alexandria, MN if you want fresh beer that’s made just a few feet away from where you’re sitting. You can also tour the facilities, so call ahead and book a tour if you’re interested.
Otherwise, rest your weary feet here and order a cold beer and some bar snacks or pizza. You can also order meals from other local restaurants if you wish!
Copper Trail Brewing Co. has board and card games on the premises, so it’s easy to spend an entire relaxing afternoon here. They’re open 7 days a week, so you can head over any time you wish!
5. Grab a Bite at La Ferme
This Alexandria, MN visitors guide is proud to tell you that there’s an outstanding restaurant in the city that offers farm-to-fork food. And even better is, you’ll find this establishment in the downtown area, so it won’t be hard to find!
La Ferme sources all of its dishes’ ingredients from local farmers, which means you’re guaranteed to get fresh and in-season food on your table. Everything’s cooked from scratch so it almost feels like you’re eating at home, except better!
Not only that, but La Ferme’s got a nice selection of craft beers. And if that’s not your thing, they’ve also got an impressive selection of wine.
If you’d like to have lunch, visit between Tuesday and Saturday. Otherwise, come between Thursday and Saturday for dinner.
For those of you who love to cook, consider booking a cooking class with Chef Matthews. He doesn’t just offer individual lessons either; he can do group bookings too, so gather up your friends and have an unforgettable experience!
6. See a Performance at the Theatre L’Homme Dieu (TLHD)
This one’s for the theatre geeks! The Theatre L’Homme Dieu has been part of Alexandria ever since 1961, and countless fantastic performances have graced its stages.
As you might expect, you’ll find the theatre at the lake Le Homme Dieu (the north end, to be exact). What’s interesting is this theatre used to be a resort, so it has a grand appearance. In fact, it retained some of its hospitality functions, seeing as the lodge is still used to accommodate up to 38 people at a time.
As for the theater itself, it seats up to 272 people. Every week, you’ll find different performances, which keeps things exciting.
This, plus the fact that TLHD is surrounded by 22 acres of idyllic woodland and lakeshores, makes the venue an excellent place to visit.
7. Spend an Afternoon at Lake Le Homme Dieu
Speaking of the lake, if you’re in the area, why not spend a relaxing afternoon here? Look at any tourist guide to Alexandria, MN, and you’ll find Lake Le Homme Dieu in it. It’s technically a lake, but still offers a beautiful beach where you can kick back and soak in the sun’s rays.
What’s great is it’s just 10 minutes away from Alexandria itself, so you don’t have to go far to find this little slice of paradise. There’s a paved-off bicycle path that connects Alexandria with Lake Le Homme Dieu, so if you want to bike in from the city, you can do that as well!
This lake has some of the most gorgeous views around, so make sure you snap plenty of pictures. And not only can you laze around on the beach, but you can also do water activities like swimming, boating, kayaking, tubing, and jet skiing!
But one of the best activities you can partake in at Lake Le Homme Dieu is fishing. There’s such a diverse range of fish here you’ll have a fantastic time!
8. Go to the Douglas County Historical Society
The Douglas County Historical Society is actually located in the former house of Minnesota governor Knute Nelson. After he and his family moved out, he gave it to the Lutheran Church so it could be turned into a care home for the elderly.
In 1976, the Douglas County Historical Society was formed. Because it was almost demolished in 1985, it was moved to its current location.
The museum has all the court records of the area, as well as family genealogy and business history. It’s a real treat for those who love history since you’ll learn all about not just the city of Alexandria, but also Douglas County as a whole. Their records date back to the mid-19th century!
The collections you’ll find at the Douglas County Historical Society include artifacts, historic Valentine’s Day cards, documents, maps, newspapers, photographs, reference materials, and even online exhibits.
9. Enjoy Yourself at Lake Miltona
Couldn’t get enough of Lake Le Homme Dieu but want a little change of scenery? Then pack up and go to Lake Miltona. This is a recreational lake located 10 miles away from Alexandria and is rated 3rd in the state!
Here, you’ll find crystal clear waters that look unreal. Like with Lake Le Homme Dieu, you can do the same variety of water activities at Lake Miltona. And the fishing here is spectacular as well!
If you love it so much at Lake Miltona that you want to spend several days there, you can camp and stay the night. It’ll give you a unique experience out in nature that’ll result in unforgettable memories.
10. Check Out Lake Brophy County Park
To get some of the best views of Alexandria, you should go to Lake Brophy County Park. As with many of the other attractions on this list, this park isn’t far away from downtown Alexandria at all, so a visit here is easy to fit into your itinerary.
For the more active tourist, you’ll have plenty of hiking trails to explore the surroundings. Otherwise, you can pack a basket full of food and indulge yourself at the many picnic areas where you can overlook Alexandria. Make sure to stick around for sunset or sunrise, as you’ll get a breathtaking view!
In addition, there are winter activities you can do here. They include sledding and cross-country skiing!
11. Shop at the Alexandria Farmers’ Market
If you don’t like eating out all the time while on vacation, then you’re probably familiar with farmers’ markets. In that case, you’re in luck, as Alexandria has an excellent one!
You’ll find the Alexandria Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning at Market Square from 7:00 am until 12:00 pm. It’s been around for over 260 years, which makes it the oldest farmers’ market in the nation to be held at the same site continuously!
At its busiest, there are over 70 vendors, which means you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to meat, vegetables, poultry, bread, etc.
12. Catch a Show at Andria Theatre
Another way to rest your feet and recharge is to go catch a show at Andria Theatre. Both locals and tourists flock here, so you know it’s good!
You’ll get to see what talent the city of Alexandria has, as there are plenty of improv shows to watch, as well as musical concerts. Bring your family or friends along and you won’t regret it. You’ll be talking about this experience for years to come!
FAQs on Things to Do in Alexandria, MN
Want to learn more about Alexandria, MN and the things you can do here? Then check out our FAQs!
What Is Alexandria, MN Known For?
Alexandria, MN is a flourishing city that’s known for its great trails, parks, and museums. Its claim to fame is a Nordic Runestone dating back to the 1300s.
How Many Lakes Are in Alexandria, MN?
There are over 350 lakes in the area! So make sure to visit as many as you can while in the local area.
Why Is Alexandria, MN the Birthplace of America?
The Kensington Runestone was found here in 1898. Because it dates back to the 1300s, it’s believed that Vikings visited this area back then.
Check Out These Attractions in Alexandria, MN
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Alexandria, MN. From great food and beer, amazing lakes and trails, to numerous museums and the farmers’ market, you’ll get to experience firsthand what this gem of a city has to offer!
If going to just Alexandria won’t satisfy your wanderlust, then check out the rest of our articles for some inspiration on more places to visit!