Alexandria is home to the Runestone Museum. This museum has displays of early pioneer life, Minnesota wildlife, Fort Alexandria with several authentic log buildings and the big claim to fame a display of Norse history including a 40ft. Viking ship. Outside the museum is a 25ft. statue of Big Ole, a Viking, which was originally created for the World’s Fair in 1964.
Bemidji is an historic logging town close to forests and lakes and it claims to be the first city on the Mississippi. The name Bemidji itself is another Indian name. The town is linked to the folklore lumberjack Paul Bunyan and Babe, his blue ox. This year, 2012, they are celebrating 75 years since the construction of the Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox statues.
The town of Roseau is about as far north as it gets, just 10 minutes from the Canadian border and it is not only known for its hockey, it is the birthplace of snowmobiling. The Polaris snowmobile factory is located in Roseau and they usually have more than enough snow for snowmobiling. You can get tours of the factory and they also have a Pioneer farm and village that are interesting to visit.
South of the Twin Cities you have Northfield which was founded in 1855. Northfield is located in the Canon River Valley and the original idea was that the Canon River would be a source of energy. Northfield is also the home of the Campbell Cereal Company and is still the only place in the world where hot cereal is produced. The Campbell Cereal Company has moved but the production facility is still there.
These four towns are fun to visit and offer some history that you may not otherwise find out about. Some are just a day trip from the Twin Cities as well.