Stillwater, Red Wing, Lanesboro: Each has its charm, but Northfield, a touch over 40 miles south of the Twin Cities, has charm and buzz — and not just because students from two colleges, Carleton and St. Olaf, set the tone. The Archer House River Inn, tucked up against the Cannon River, opened in 1877 but has kept up appearances with a major renovation completed two years ago. The hotel is nicely situated on the town’s main drag, lined with boutiques housed in 19th-century brick buildings. Visitors will no doubt want to stroll with wallet in hand. Stores such as the well curated Swag and Hodge-Podge Que entice with modern art and antiques. For a touch of history, stop by the Northfield Historical Society Museum to learn how the smart folks of Northfield ran Jesse James and his gang out of town. 1-507-645-5604; visitingnorthfield.com
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