Alexandria was settled in 1858 and incorporated as a city in 1909. Since its inception it has been a tourist magnet. Part of its preserved heritage reflects this. The other major historical claim is that Vikings explored the area around the Middle Ages and left artifacts as proof. Alexandria lies on the 55-mile long stretch of the abandoned Burlington North Railroad track that has been paved and made into the Central Lakes Trail, ideal for cyclists, hikers and snowmobiles. Annual events include the Grape Stomp, the Apple Fest and the Vikingland Band Festival. Every season is distinct and has its attractions.

1.Runestone Museum

Runestone Museum
© Runestone Museum

When the Runestone Museum opened in 1958, it had one artifact, a Nordic rune stone, carbon dated to 1382. It had been found in 1898 on a farm 15 km away. The museum now has several other Nordic items, dating back to the Middle Ages, that have been found in Minnesota. The Scandinavian Heritage exhibit, includes a replica of a Viking trading ship. Nine historic buildings, including a fort from the Civil War, depict fort life between 1860 and 1910. The children's discovery room encourages learning by playing, dressing up and reenactment. The museum is open 7 days a week in summer and 6 days in winter.

206 Broadway, Alexandria, MN 56308, Phone: 320-763-3160

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2.Copper Trail Craft Beer

Copper Trail Craft Beer
© Copper Trail Craft Beer

The Copper Trail opened in 2011 after the Surly law was passed in Minnesota which allowed beer to be made and consumed on the same premises. The owners pride themselves on being able to offer patrons fresh beer, 20 feet away from where it was made. The tap list changes frequently and there is an opportunity to tour the brewing facilities. There is seating for 60 people in the bar, lounge and picnic areas with plenty of board and card games to play. Bar snacks and pizzas are available in-house or food can be ordered in from local restaurants. The shop sells beer and branded merchandise. Copper Trail is open 7 days a week.

410 30th Avenue East, STE 103, Alexandria, MN, 56308, Phone: 320-219-6688

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3.Legacy of the Lakes Museum

Legacy of the Lakes Museum
© Legacy of the Lakes Museum

This museum was established in 2004, after 10 years of planning, in order to showcase Minnesota lake life, traditions and legacies. The Boat House has an indoor venue where events are held and private groups hold functions. The sumptuous lifestyle of the wealthy summer visitors is one of the exhibit themes. Fishing, including gear from 1800 to the present, legendary catches and guides, is another. Rare wooden boats, more modern fibreglass models and birch bark canoes are on display. The boat show and musical evenings are annual summer events. The gardens with their structures, plantings and walkways, are a recent addition. The museum is open 7 days a week from late in May to the end of October.

205 3rd Ave. W, Alexandria, MN 56308, Phone: 320-759-1114

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4.Central Lakes Trail

Central Lakes Trail
© LoloStock/

This 55-mile long, paved track follows the line of the abandoned Burlington North Railroad corridor through 10 communities, from Osakis to Fergus Falls. It is 14 ft wide with a shoulder on each side, totaling 100 feet. It travels through wooded areas, lakesides, wetlands and farm country. It undulates, allowing for scenic views of the countryside, wildlife and wild flowers. Snowmobiles are permitted on the trail during winter, otherwise no vehicular traffic is allowed. Visitors can spend a couple of hours or a couple of days on the trail. There are restaurants, lodgings and a return bus service at the community stops along the way, and picnic stops and benches in between.

206 N. Broadway, Alexandria, MN 56308, Phone: 320-763-3161

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5.Theatre l'Homme Dieu (TLHD)

Theatre l'Homme Dieu (TLHD)
© Theatre l'Homme Dieu (TLHD)

Since 1961, TLHD has been presenting live theatre and fine art at the north end of Lake l'Homme Dieu. The former resort has a lodge with an industrial kitchen that provides accommodation for 38 people. Almost every week, a new production is brought to the venue. The theatre seats 272 people and is set in 22 acres of thick woodland and lake shores. In summer a music series adds to the attraction. Throughout the year the theatre puts on fundraising events and conducts an education outreach.

1875 County Road 120 NE, Alexandria, MN 56308, Phone: 320-846-3150

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6.Douglas County Historical Society

Douglas County Historical Society
© Douglas County Historical Society

The Society was founded in 1976. It is housed is in the historic former home of the only foreign-born governor of Minnesota, Knute Nelson, and his family. The house was bequeathed to the Lutheran Church to be used as a care home. In 1985 it was threatened with demolition so it was moved it to its current position on the original homestead land and became the Society's headquarters. The Society focuses on the history and genealogy of the Douglas County. Court records, family genealogy, oral history and business history have been kept. There are slide shows of the history of every village in the county. The museum is open from Monday to Friday.

1219 Nokomis St, Alexandria, MN 56308, Phone: 320-762-0382

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7.Doolittle's Woodfire Grill

Doolittle's Woodfire Grill
© Doolittle's Woodfire Grill

Doolittle's has expanded to 5 locations in the USA and rotisserie cooking has been added to the menu. The comprehensive menu is complemented by daily and seasonal specials, offering a dining experience for all occasions. Combos of soup, salad and sandwiches, as well as steak, spit-roast and spare ribs are standard fare. There are gluten-free and vegetarian options available. Wine is served on the premises. Private and semi-private seating can be arranged for special occasions.

4409 Hwy 29 S, Alexandria, MN 56308, Phone: 320-759-0885

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8.La Ferne

La Ferne
© La Ferne

La Ferne is a farm-to-fork restaurant in downtown Alexandria. Ingredients are sourced fresh, in season, from local farmers. There are separate lunch and dinner menus. Meals are cooked from scratch and accompanied by craft beers and an extensive range of wines. Daily specials include 'Fish and sushi on Friday', and multi-course events are held periodically. The atmosphere is rustic and the restaurant is open from Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and Thursday to Saturday for dinner. It is closed on public holidays. Cooking classes are offered by Chef Matthews. Group bookings are welcome.

613 Broadway Street, Alexandria Minnesota, Phone: 320-846-0777

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9.Depot Express Restaurant and Saloon

Depot Express Restaurant and Saloon
© Depot Express Restaurant and Saloon

The Depot Express was formerly known as the Great Northern Railway Depot. It was built in 1907 and purchased in 1984 by Bill Seykora and Ken Neumann who restored and refurbished it. The trail that was formerly the rail track runs right past the front of the building. The venue, with its lake views and laid back atmosphere is popular with hikers, cyclists, students, locals and tourists. The pizzas are renowned and the steaks, burgers and seafood are popular. There are weekly daytime and evening specials and an express menu for those who cannot stay long. The Depot is open 7 days a week and there is a live DJ on weekends.

104 Broadway St, Alexandria, MN 56308, Phone: 320-763-7712

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9 Best Things to Do in Alexandria, MN