The Ultimate Zumbrota Travel Guide (2019 Edition)

Travel blogger posts are becoming a vital tool for trip planning, getting insider’s tips that you just can’t get from a Lonely Planet or Fodor’s guidebook. And since it’s doubtful that a Lonely Planet writer has ever had the pleasure of exploring Zumbrota, Minnesota, “The Ultimate Zumbrota Travel Guide” is necessary for tourists visiting this quaint southeastern Minnesota village.

Zumbrota, Minnesota – The Best!

Minnesota was recently named as the BEST PLACE for kids to grow up and although I grew up there a long, long time ago, it was pretty good even back then. It’s “The Only Zumbrota in the World”, a fact that the locals are very proud of. The town has no stoplights but cars actually stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

Back in my Zumbrota days, there were no minorities in town…well, except for that nice Reppe boy who was adopted by a local Lutheran minister and his wife. The Lutherans and Catholics lived in peace and still do. Locals often gathered in church basements for a potluck which usually included tiny ham sandwiches, hot dish, and jello salad.Bridge

I was dining recently at Bridget’s Cafe, hanging out with an old friend on a beautiful summer day when an old man drove by on his electric wheelchair, sporting a red “Maui” hat and a huge smile. “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” he greeted us as he drove on down the sidewalk. Another older couple stopped at our table as they were exiting the cafe and chatted for a bit about the perfect weather. It’s a Minnesota thing – “Minnesota nice” they call it, chatting with strangers about the weather.

Over the past decade, this small village has grown into a kind of cool, hip, artsy place and people from the Twin Cities actually make trips here, drawn by the boutique shops and the historic Covered Bridge Park. A few years ago I was walking across the famous Covered Bridge and ran into a few of these “City Folks” who were just passing through town and wondering what to see and do. I guess I looked like a local so they asked me for advice.

So, for all the tourists who run out of things to do in Minneapolis, head down to Zumbrota. Here is the “Ultimate Travel Guide” for this quaint village located on the banks of the Zumbro River.

Directions: Located 50 minutes south of Minneapolis or 20 minutes north of Rochester on highway 52.

Population: 3,341 (as of 2013)

Zumbrota Travel Guide – Tourist Attractions

Covered Bridge Park

This historic covered bridge, the only remaining covered bridge in Minnesota, was completed in 1869 and was moved to its current location in the late 1970s. A sign at the entrance warns $10 fine for driving faster than a walk across this bridge”.

Sadly, the winter of 2019 was hard on this old bridge and the roof collapsed under the weight of all the snow. The bridge was heavily insured and is currently being repaired.

Bridge entrance
The Covered Bridge
Bridge inside
Inside the old bridge

The trail through the bridge continues through Covered Bridge Park, past the children’s play area, campground, and sand volleyball courts. It connects to the Goodhue Pioneer State Trail, created along the former railroad corridor which runs throughout Goodhue County. This 5.2-mile section of the trail ends in Minneola township but reportedly will link to Red Wing (someday?). The area is popular for biking, hiking, and snowmobiling in the winter (and is my favorite place to walk on beautiful summer days.)

Directions: head north on Main Street toward Goodhue and turn left just past the VFW.

Covered Bridge Park Trail

Zumbrota Swimming Pool

Located within the park (but accessible from Aqua Drive), the pool has been a summer gathering place since the mid-’70s, back when we used to listen to the summer sounds of America’s “Sister Golden Hair” and Seals and Crofts’ “Summer Breeze”. The music today is probably different but the pool is still just as refreshing on a humid summer day.
Address: 385 Aqua Drive     Phone: 732-5439
Hours1:00 pm – 7:00 pm daily (summer only)

Zumbrota Golf Club

Founded in 1927 and originally a 9-hole golf course, it was redesigned in 2005 and expanded to 18 holes. The hills on the back nine, especially on the 13th hole, allow views of downtown and the surrounding farmlands. The popular “Kalass-Anderson Invitational” is held annually on the last weekend in June and draws golfers and golf fans from around the country – Seattle, Houston, Denver…(and France!)
Address: 80 Golf Links Avenue    Phone: 507-732-5817

Zumbrota Golf Course
Crowds gather to watch to shoot-out during the Kalass-Anderson Invitational.

Zumbrota Travel Guide – Small Town Shopping

Crossings at Carnegie

The Carnegie Public Library building was completed in  1907 and is now home to Crossings at Carnegie, an art gallery selling beautiful and unique art. Crossings also offer a wide variety of classes and workshops in art, pottery, music, and poetry as well as tons of great live concerts.

Address: 320 East Ave      Phone: 507-732-7616

Zumbrota Travel Guide - Crossings
Crossings at Carnegie

Wild Ginger Boutique

Roxanne Bartsch opened this upscale women’s clothing store in the historic and beautifully renovated Anderson building (built in 1899). Wild Ginger draws customers from all over Minnesota and offers stylish clothing as well as a variety of accessories and fair trade gifts.

Address: 320 South Main Street     Phone: 507-732-4123

Calm Reflections Yoga Studio – NEW IN 2019!

I was excited to learn of a recent addition to the Zumbrota fitness scene – a yoga studio located just below Wild Ginger. During my previous visits, I actually drove 23 miles to Rochester to get my yoga fix. Now it’s available right in downtown Zumbrota. Check the website for class schedules.

Address: 320 South Main Street (below Wild Ginger)

Zumbrota Travel Guide - Wild Ginger
Wild Ginger Boutique and All In Stitches

Luya Shoes and Other Fine Things

This high-end boutique is a recent addition to Zumbrota’s Main Street and carries a wide selection of popular brands including OTBT, Rieker, Naot, Corky’s Footwear and Corral boots. (The owner, Connie Hawley, views shoes as “wearable art”.)
Address: 236 South Main Street     Phone: 507-732-5892

Phenomenal Woman

A consignment shop geared toward affordable fashion for “real women” (plus size, curvy, whatever the current term is), they recently merged with Phenomenally Yours and now offer a small selection of smaller sizes too. They also have lots of pre-owned shoes, jewelry, and handbags.
Address: 340 South Main Street     Phone: 507-732-7500

Art Splash

The 11th annual Art Splash, a local art tour, will be held on September 17th, 2016. Sponsored by Zumbrota Area Arts Council,  this event features local artists in central locations, like City Hall, the Library, Artify, Luya, Crossings and at local artists studios. (See for event details!)

Historical Society

Open on Saturdays, it is located in the original fire station and is home to many local treasures including a drum from the Civil War. In 2014 the movie, His Neighbor Phil, was filmed here, featuring many local people and places around town.

Address: 55 East 3rd Street     Phone: 507-732-7333 

Zumbrota Travel Guide – Dining Options

Covered Bridge Restaurant

Opened in 1975 by Cork Falk and Rollie Oelschlager, this iconic Zumbrota landmark has changed management a few times but now is back in the capable hands of Cork’s daughter, Shari Kothenbeutel. Excellent food and outstanding service from Shari, Scott, Laura, and others who’ve been there forever. This restaurant is also one of the only dining options along Highway 52 between Oronoco and Cannon Falls. (You gotta try the deep-fried cheese curds- delicious!)

Address:1439 N Star Drive      Phone: 507-732-7321

Bridget’s Café

A popular hangout for the morning coffee crowd, this cute cafe also serves light lunches – delicious wraps (I recommend the chicken cordon blue wrap!), salads, soups and amazing pastries like the monster Special K bars!. There are a few outside tables too, perfect for those beautiful Minnesota summer days.

Address: 365 South Main Street     Phone: 507-732-4646

Zumbrota Travel Guide - Bridget's Cafe
Bridget’s Cafe

Coffee Mill

Made famous by President Obama during his 2012 campaign stop where he reportedly ordered lots of the homemade pie, this is another morning coffee hang-out for a local crowd and offers more hearty, meat-and-potatoes kind of meals. And delicious, Obama-endorsed pies!

Address: 256 South Main Street     Phone: 507-732-5480

VFW (Formerly known as “Gunner’s Grill”)

The VFW is a popular place on a Friday night in Zumbrota, drawing a crowd with their trivia contest and a meat raffle. The grill is a recent addition to this popular hang-out, offering pizza and the usual bar food options. A great little spot where the beer is cold and the people are warm!

Address: 25 East 1st Street     Phone: 507-732-4321

The Guilty Goose

Formerly known as “The Liquor Store” which was dark, smoky, and depressing, the place has now been renovated with bright red and white decor and an outdoor seating area. It’s light and bright and often offers live music on weekends. There is also an off-sale liquor store attached serving all your alcohol needs!

Address: 223 South Main Street     Phone: 507-732-4400

Zumbrota Travel Guide – 2019 Special Events

Covered Bridge Festival (updated for 2019)

This popular festival is held annually during the third weekend in June (13 -16) and draws fans from around the world. This weekend also tends to become the “class reunion weekend” since everyone returns to town.

The festival weekend offers something for everyone including “Art in East Park”, a petting zoo at Covered Bridge Park, a 5-K and 10-K run, street dances both Friday and Saturday nights, and the Big Event – the Parade. Held at 6 pm on Saturday evening, the parade features marching bands from around the state, big farm equipment, old cars, the beautiful Dairy Princess and other odd and assorted floats. Famous Zumbrota natives like Gus Bradley, former head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, perform Grand Marshall duties.

(Check here for a complete schedule of events for 2019!)

Zumbrota Travel Guide - Covered Bridge Festival Parade
Small town bands perform during the annual festival parade
Covered Bridge Festival Parade
Lots of Norwegians in town!
Zumbrota Travel Guide - Covered Bridge Festival Parade
Cool cars!

Music in the Park – Summer Concert Series

East Park is the happening place on Tuesday summer nights, where free music is offered during the “Summer Concert Series”. Most folks arrive early and dine on (allegedly) “the world’s best pizza”, made by Firebrick Bread. The Lion’s Club sells popcorn, the Amish people sell their Amish stuff, and free ice cream is handed out midway through the concert. Music starts at 7:00 pm and ends around 8:30. Check the 2019 concert schedule right here.

Address: East Avenue near E 6th Street

Weekly beginning Tuesday, June 11th

Final performance Tuesday, August 13th

Hours: 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Goodhue County Fair

Held the second week of August, this county fair brings together people from all over southern Minnesota. Highlights include the 4-H barn, the tractor pull, beer garden, and rides for the kids on the midway. Sadly, a few years carnival no-showed so the midway was empty. Pretty sad looking fair!) Farm kids also get to show their animals, winning honors for the best looking heifer or prized sheep. Fair food is also a draw, with lots of fattening deep-fried stuff on a stick.

Address: 44279 County 6 Boulevard     Phone: 507-732-5001

Annual Testicle Festival

Yes, this was an actual thing. The First Annual Testicle Festival back in 2010 was also the last. I just can’t understand why. But it did make AOL’s list of “World’s Strangest Festivals” coming in at number 3!

So, for a quick escape from Minneapolis or a brief stop en route to Rochester, stop by for lunch. Chat with the locals, check out the art at Crossings or stroll through the Covered Bridge. Slow down and take a deep breath…the big cities will still be there!

Sell Art Online

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16 Replies to “The Ultimate Zumbrota Travel Guide (2019 Edition)”

  1. This was very well put together!!! I got a kick out of the “no minorities except the Reppe boy” comment! Does that make me famous?

    I will continue to watch for future blogs!!!

    1. Glad you enjoyed. You’re even more famous now! I really think you should run for Zumbrota Mayor next term!

  2. Famous people hailing from our quaint little town? I can only think of Gus Bradley right now but there must be some other famous or semi-famous people. Also the local movie theatre which was a hot spot on Friday and Saturday nights back in the day and sold candy for a nickel, but now hosts some fabulous theatre productions usually starring your brother-in-law, Brian Adams.

    1. Updated to include a mention of Gus Bradley, head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who recently performed Grand Marshall duties at the parade. 🙂
      A photo of the State Theatre may be included in an upcoming photo gallery…

  3. Good info. Do wish she would have mentioned the wonderful enlarged photos of “old” places that exited (ex. school & creamery) that are in Hub Foods; plus Lands Church & park, just a mile west on Hwy 60, that has “drive up sit in your car worship services” during the summer with coffee fellowship afterwards.

    1. Thanks for the suggestions! I have more photos that I took a few weeks ago and hope to use them for a photo gallery addition to this story. I can’t really use photos other than my own due to copyright issues.

  4. Quilt shop draws a lot of out of towners…….

    1. Good point. I’ll add that right under Wild Ginger. Thanks!

  5. Patsy Pedersen says: Reply

    Scott Hinz, aka Scott Reynolds is the news anchor in Louisville KY! Sorta famous! I love this page! Great job!

    1. Hey thanks for reading! If I can think of a way to add Scott Hinz (aka Reynolds) into the mix, I’ll definitely update it. I wonder if there are other “Famous People” from Zumbrota and I can add a special section dedicated to them? Let me know if you think of any others.

  6. Hi Andi, We are pretty happy to tell people they are visiting the only Zumbrota in the world! Also found on Main Street is a new artist collective, Artify, the gallery opened August 2015. Currently it has over 30 members with a wide variety of carefully crafted items all by artists from around SE Minnesota, including Zumbrota. This September 17th, the 11th annual Art Splash, an art tour will be held. It is a sponsored event featuring local artists, in central locations, like City Hall, the Library, Artify, Luya, Crossings and at local artists studios. This year Jeff Solberg, local wood turner will have his studio open to the public for the day.
    There is also a Historical Walking tour that is available online with many interesting facts and videos about local places.
    The local Historical Society is open on Saturdays, it is located in the original fire station, it is home to many local treasures including a drum from the Civil War.
    In 2014 the movie, His Neighbor Phil, was filmed here, featuring many local people and places around town,
    Another famous person from Zumbrota for your list: The creator of Caption Marvel (Shazam), C.C. Beck.
    Thanks for sharing Zumbrota!

    1. Thanks for the great information! I’ll update the article to include these great tips! I had forgotten about the filming of His Neighbor Phil – thanks for the reminder. And I’m afraid I’ve never heard of CC Beck but that’s an interesting Zumbrota connection! Thanks so much for reading and for all your additional research!

  7. Unfortunately Artify has closed, but be sure to check out Flowers on Main, so much more than just a flower shop, My Happy Place is another unique shop, Threads & Things recently opened & Busby’s Hardware & Furniture is your hometown family owned, service oriented hardware store. Thanks for plugging Zumbrota, it is a thriving small town and every one works together & supports each other!

    1. Hi Brenda – Thanks for reading and providing updated information. I’ve removed mention of Artify. I appreciate your comments!

  8. tim oelschlager says: Reply

    You r awesome. I assume I count as the Seattle golfer. Great job. I am looking forward to making it home in about a month and hope to see u. Tim

    1. Thanks, Tim! Glad you enjoyed! I’m sure I’ll see you on the 19th hole!

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