While visiting my younger sister’s family in Apple Valley, I stayed in nearby-ish Northfield. Apple Valley is part of the huge suburban Minneapolis sprawl. The hotels there were charmless and expensive. By driving 20 miles south, I was able to stay in the lovely small town of Northfield, where their motto is “Cows, colleges, and contentment.” It was a nice drive through rolling fields and pastures to Northfield, which is home to 2 colleges: St. Olaf and Carleton. I stayed here, at the Archer House River Inn:
I’ll never understand wanting a huge hotel room. You sleep, you shower. Are you really going to lounge on that uncomfortable sofa or write a letter at that desk? So for me, this was perfect: clean, comfy bed, private bathroom, charming old building, reasonable price. And my view?
My room looked out over the Cannon River, which runs parallel to the main drag through the old part of Northfield. I sat on the river wall with my coffee and a pastry every morning before heading to Apple Valley, and at night, watching the sunset and listening to music coming from a nearby pub, the Contented Cow. The inn sits at the tail-end of a nice river walk along the Cannon that goes through the old part of town, well-maintained with plantings and benches. It is heavily used, with a lot of people fishing or strolling along the walk every time I was out there.
For Minnesota, it’s an older town with some interesting Wild-West history: it was a botched bank robbery in Northfield that signaled the beginning of the end for the James Gang. As in Jesse James! The old downtown area was bustling and a charming place to stroll around.