Are you looking for a small-town getaway in Minnesota? If you are, travel 97.5 miles south of the bustling Twin Cities of Minneapolis & St Paul to Albert Lea. This cool city is home to less than 20,000 people as of the 2010 census but has plenty of things to do and see.
Before you pack your bags and head to the Albert Lea area, you’ll probably want an idea of what to do when you arrive. We’ve taken the guesswork out of planning your trip to Albert Lea, MN.
This small town offers plenty of activities for everyone to enjoy.
From history museums to wineries and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy when the weather is warm, you can’t go wrong with a vacation to Albert Lea.
Here is our list of the 12 best things to do in Albert Lea, Minnesota.
Table of Contents
- List of the Best Things to Do in Albert Lea, Minnesota
- 1. Visit the Freeborn County Historical Museum
- 2. Spend a Day on the Green at Green Lea Golf Course
- 3. Sip Award-Winning Wine at Three Oak Wines & Winery
- 4. Enjoy the Great Outdoors at Myre-Big Island State Park
- 5. Find Unique Home Good Items at Junktion Market
- 6. See Albert Lea Lake With Pelican Breeze Cruises
- 7. Attend Wind Down Wednesday
- 8. Catch a Show by the Bayside Water Ski Team
- 9. Visit the Freeborn County Fair
- 10. Tackle the Blazing Star State Trail
- 11. Hit the Ice at Albert Lea City Arena
- 12. Lounge at the City Beach
List of the Best Things to Do in Albert Lea, Minnesota
1. Visit the Freeborn County Historical Museum
The museum showcases the history of Albert Lea’s home county, plus they have a library you can read or work at and a small village to explore.
The museum has been around since 1948. They have various exhibits showing the town’s past that even those who aren’t from the Albert Lea area will appreciate. The village is a unique experience where you can see 18 buildings that range in age from the 1850s to the early 1900s.
Some of the buildings include schoolhouses where eight grades were taught in one room, what homes used to look like in town, and more.
The village is open from May through September, while the library and museum are open year-round.
2. Spend a Day on the Green at Green Lea Golf Course
There are a few excellent golf courses in Albert Lea, but one of the most popular in town is Green Lea Golf Course. This stunning 18-hole course is perfect for golfers of all skill levels. Beginners will love the course just like experienced players will.
The golf course has been open for over 60 years and remains one of the best courses in the area. The course is surrounded by mature trees, adding to the area’s aesthetic appeal. You can often watch tournaments and use the putting greens to practice your short game.
After you’ve played this beautiful course, you can check out the clubhouse and restaurant inside. They offer some delicious meals and drinks to help you relax after a long day on the course.
You may want to book your tee time in advance to ensure you get the time you want, as they can get busy during the spring and summer.
3. Sip Award-Winning Wine at Three Oak Wines & Winery
On the outskirts of Albert Lea is one of the best southern Minnesota wineries, Three Oak Wines and Winery. The owners, Jay Enderson, and Dan Sorensen came across the property that now houses the winery back in 2011 when it was a floral nursery.
They saw the potential for a vineyard and quickly bought the land and started to grow grapes that would eventually become delicious wine.
Through years of hard work, the winery opened in 2017 and has become one of the best attractions in Albert Lea.
They have several superb red, white, and rose wines in the tasting room.
For the full experience, you’ll want to pay for a tasting where you can sample whichever wines of theirs you like, then purchase a bottle or two before you leave to enjoy at home.
4. Enjoy the Great Outdoors at Myre-Big Island State Park
Arguably one of the best parks in Albert Lea is Myre-Big Island State Park. With over 1,500 acres for you to explore, there are plenty of activities to do here to keep you busy for days. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of the outdoors, you’ll love spending some time at this park.
The park and lake are huge, giving you some real space and freedom. During the summer, swimming, paddling, and boating in the lake are popular, as is lounging on the sandy shoreline, catching some rays.
There are also plenty of hiking trails with great views, grassy areas for picnics, and areas to grill and enjoy a meal with friends. Camping is another popular activity here, and you can find a list of their campsites on their website.
See Related: Best National Parks to Visit in November
5. Find Unique Home Good Items at Junktion Market
If you love shopping or browsing while on vacation, Junktion Market is a great place to spend an hour or so. This home goods store offers a variety of items from vintage furniture, handmade goods from different vendors, and more.
Some of the things you can find at Junktion Market are fun Minnesota stickers, chalkboard wax, metal home signs, and so much more.
Even if you don’t find anything you want to take home with you, it’s a fun little experience you can enjoy in between other activities in Albert Lea.
6. See Albert Lea Lake With Pelican Breeze Cruises
Albert Lea Lake is the largest lake in town, and you can see it from many places. During the spring and summer, taking a boat tour of the lake with Pelican Breeze Cruises is something locals and visitors alike love to do.
Pelican Breeze Cruises offers a large pontoon boat that is fully covered and takes you around Albert Lea Lake. It can seat 55 people and has two smokestacks. It also has 11 tables for people to sit at to enjoy a snack while touring around the lake.
They don’t sell food and drinks on board, but you’re welcome to bring your own (that includes alcoholic beverages if you’re over 21!)
The cruise lasts for an hour and a half, and service begins in June.
7. Attend Wind Down Wednesday
For those who are going to be in Albert Lea on a Wednesday, Wind Down Wednesday is a must-attend event. This market is held in historic downtown Albert Lea, and you can wander through it, perusing all the local vendors, eating delicious food, and listening to live music.
The market is on a blocked-off street where you can wander without worrying about vehicles. They usually have two stages or more set up on opposite ends featuring live music from local and up-and-coming musicians.
The food is terrific and features delicious street food from various cultures. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon. Don’t forget to check out the vendors selling unique local art to take back from your travels.
8. Catch a Show by the Bayside Water Ski Team
During the spring and summer months, you have to try and see a water show by the Bayside Water Ski Team. The company has been around since the 1970s and has been performing in Albert Lea ever since. This unique activity is a great way to spend time with friends while taking in the fresh air.
The crew practice throughout the winter to ensure their skills are as sharp as ever for when summertime rolls around.
When June hits, you and your friends can pull up a lawn chair and get ready for the 7 pm show every Thursday.
Don’t be surprised if you see dozens of locals and visitors flocking to the grassy area for the show. You’re encouraged to bring snacks and drinks to enjoy during the show!
See Related: Best Skiing Resorts in Minnesota
9. Visit the Freeborn County Fair
This isn’t an activity you can do throughout the year, but if you happen to be in town in late July or early August, the Freeborn County Fair is one of the best things to do. More often than not, the fair returns to town at the beginning of August, but it does depend, so you’ll want to check their website before going or planning your trip.
This fair has everything you could ever want in a county fair. They have a petting zoo, also known as their kiddie farm zone, food and drink vendors, carnival games and rides, and plenty of live music to dance to.
Something unique to see at the Freeborn County Fair is their collection of antique tractors. While eating fried Oreos, cotton candy, and drinking local wine or a nice soda, you can browse the factors. The Ferris wheel is the best ride to do at night when everything is lit up beautifully.
Keep in mind that when you purchase general admission tickets, that doesn’t include the price of rides. You can buy ride tickets when you arrive as you figure out which ones you want to ride or avoid.
10. Tackle the Blazing Star State Trail
Whether you love biking, running, or walking, the Blazing Star State Trail is the perfect place to do so. The main area of the trail that most people use is 6 miles from Albert Lea Lake to Myre-Big Island State Park.
The Blazing Star Trail connects to other state trails if you’re feeling a little more adventurous. Specifically from Albert Lea to Austin, Minnesota, for a total of 20 miles or so.
The six-mile portion of the Blazing Star State Trail is paved, making it an excellent choice for almost everyone. Even those who aren’t experienced hikers will find the trail easy to follow and easy on their legs.
11. Hit the Ice at Albert Lea City Arena
If you can’t get the thought of ice skating out of your head, but it’s not wintertime, you need to head to the City Arena. Here you can ice skate, play hockey, watch shows, and more throughout the year. The only catch is that you can’t ice skate during July and August.
There are several things you can do at Albert Lea City Arena. When they have their free skate sessions, you can hit the ice by yourself or with friends. They also host recreational league hockey games, which are a blast to watch.
They have open hockey sessions, skating lessons, and more. Albert Lea has a figure skating league, another great activity to watch when you need something to do while in town.
12. Lounge at the City Beach
On the shores of Fountain Lake is the small sandy area known as City Beach. As one of the only sandy areas in the town, you can imagine that people love spending time here during the summer months.
When it’s warm out, you can lay your towel down or pull up a chair to soak up the sun’s rays. The best part is when the sun gets a little too unbearable, you can wade into the refreshing waters of Fountain Lake.
You’ll see locals and visitors hanging out at the beach, having a picnic, playing music, building sandcastles, and participating in other beach activities.
It’s perfect for people of all ages and a great way to kick back and relax while on vacation.
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