Let’s Go To Church… & other inspiring places

From Itineraries Minnesota Summer Issue 2008

A Four-Day Sample Itinerary

  1. Blue Cloud Abbey
  2. Big Stone Lake Area Chamber of Commerce
  3. Western Minnesota Prairie Waters
  4. Jackpot Junction Hotel & Casino
  5. Sleepy Eye Chamber
  6. New Ulm CVB
  7. St. Peter Chamber of Commerce
  8. Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism
  9. Blue Earth Area Chamber of Commerce
  10. Grotto of the Redemption


10 – 11:30 pm South Dakota

Out among the peaceful surrounding of Marvin, SD, the tall tower and sterling cross of the Blue Cloud Abbey welcomes you in. Blue Cloud Abbey is a community of 29 Benedictine Monks. Founded in 1950 by St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana.

Your guided tour of the Abbey will explore its church, public buildings, workshops – where all types of specialties are created, including beautiful vestments worn by clergy. Plus see the Native American Museum and the Gift Shop before bidding farewell.

11:30 – 1:30 pm Minnesota
Travel 30 miles into Ortonville, MN up historic Highway 75 (King of Trails) to the Ortonville Municipal Golf Course overlooking beautiful Big Stone Lake and enjoy great food and charming atmosphere. Dinning on their deck only enhances a Minnesota experience. Hear a bit about this golf courses history that began with its first nine holes back in 1940 (Be sure to call ahead for arrangements).

1:30 – 4:30 pm
Heading south on MN Hwy’s 7 and 59, about eight miles northwest of Montevideo to the Lac Qui Parle Mission. Learn about life at this pre-territorial mission, the development of the Dakota alphabet and the translation of the Bible. The wooden chapel stands on the site of the original adobe structure. A walking path and interpretive signs lead visitors through the tiny area where a small group of Protestant missionary families lived. Inside the chapel, exhibits describe the missionaries and their work. Visitors can ring the church bell, echoing the sound of the original, traditionally known as the first church bell in Minnesota. Take a short drive south to Montevideo.

Chippewa City Historical Park
Step back in time at Chippewa City Historical Park, a 23-building museum owned and operated by the Chippewa County Historical Society. Featuring a pioneer church, school and historical homes. Chippewa City Historical Park gives a glimpse of a bygone era and a simpler time. Take a guided tour, or simply stroll in the beautiful park setting. A resource center, gift shop and many interactive demonstrations are scheduled throughout the year.

4:30 – 6:30 pm Morton
Drive along the Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway, for part of your trip to Jackpot Junction Casino and Hotel, located in Morton. Check in for an evening of fun and games – literally! Dine in the new Seasons Buffet, just opened on May 1st!



8 – 9:00 am Sleepy Eye

Head 30 miles south to the curiously named town of Sleepy Eye. When in Sleepy Eye look across the prairie to see the two lofty steeples of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, reaching 170 feet into the clouds. This Gothic style, architectural work of art was created in the early 1900’s. Step inside to see the truly stunning cathedral-sized stained glass windows and beautiful art all around you.

9 – 10:30 am
Mike Mason owns Sleepy Eye Stained Glass and will give your group a tour – the only specialty stained glass shop between Michigan and Wyoming – and see true works of art right before our eyes! Your group will be shown how to make glass projects by examining students’ projects in progress.

10:30 – 12:00 pm
Next stop is the Schoenstatt Shrine and Retreat Center on Hwy 14. Located on the shores of Sleepy Eye Lake, this exact replica of the original shrine in Schoenstatt, Germany has seen many visitors and guests since it was built and dedicated in 1976. The nuns will greet your group at the charming white chapel and give a tour of the grounds. The story of this chapter of nuns and their role in modern religious life is interesting to say the least.

12 – 3:30 pm New Ulm
Twenty minute drive east to the much-loved community of New Ulm. New Ulm has several group friendly restaurants that offer a variety of German specialties as well as all-American favorites. Your group will enjoy so many beautiful pinnacles, steeples and the like, that their necks will be sore from looking up in awe! It is not hard to tell time in New Ulm; every 15 minutes your group will hear a church bell and then every hour catch the 45-foot tall Glockenspiel chime, watch the mechanical figures perform at 12 – 3 – 5pm every day! Begin at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. This third attempt (the first two buildings were destroyed) has been in place since its completion in 1903. Named the new Cathedral for the diocese that had been created by Pope Pius XII in southern Minnesota. The spire of this Cathedral soars to nearly 150 feet over the city.

Two additional spires and a grotto are of special note in New Ulm. The spire of the “Old Main” building at the Martin Luther College, directly across the street from the Hermann Monument prominently perched on the top of the Center Street hill. St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at 2nd North and State Streets is also home to an “inspiring spire.” Inside one finds stained glass windows, soaring wooden trusses and delicate artwork to compliment their impressive clock spire outside, which is easily visible from the college hill.

The Way of the Cross was completed in 1904 by the Sisters of the Order of Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. Historic photos show the dedicated ladies doing much of the manual labor, pushing wheelbarrows, digging, and hauling cobblestones.

Halfway along the walkway is a rustic grotto honoring Our Lady of Lourdes. The block and a half long path ends at the Chapel of Our Sorrowful Mother.

3:30 – 4:30 pm St. Peter
Your coach is heading west via MN Highways 14 and 99 to the pearly gates of St. Peter! Relax! It’s not the real thing; it’s an attraction unlike all others. Gazing at the gates ushers in the surreal impression that entry is gained to a heavenly place. A quick check of the pulse and pinch of the skin will bring a sigh of relief. Definitely a photo option for many!

4:30 – 5:30 pm
St. Peter is home to the unique E. St. Julien Cox House. It was home of one of the earliest settlers. Eugene Cox was an attorney, St. Peter’s first Mayor, and a representative to the State House and Senate. It’s the only Gothic Italianate structure in MN and its style resonates of the great cathedrals, castles and palaces on a smaller scale. You’ll chat with costumed guides as your group tours the house.

5:30 – 6:30 pm
As you travel the Hwy (Hwy 99 to be exact) keep your eyes on the horizon for Le Center,which has a few spires of its own as you go by.

6:30 – 9:00 pm
Arrive in Faribault and check into the AmericInn Hotel and relax a bit before dinner. Take a stroll down main street Faribault, rich in history, with quaint shops, and a variety of restaurants to choose from. The entire 200 block is on the National Register of Historic Places. Proud building owners have been restoring and renovating buildings to keep pace with the modern needs, while honoring the architecture of the 1880’s.



8 – 10:00 am Faribault

Rise and shine to an enhanced buffet breakfast, complete with waffles and check out! Take a tour of The Cathedral of Our Merciful Savior; this neo-Gothic structure was the first Episcopal Church to be built as a Cathedral.

10 – 1:00 pm
If your group likes to shop, stop in along your way south on I-35 at the Medford Outlet Center, offering more than 30 stores with a little something for everyone! Grab a bite to eat before heading back down the road.

1 – 2:30 pm Blue Earth
Rolling back down I-35 and west on I-90 is Blue Earth, MN, home of the Jolly Green Giant standing tall and proud at the Green Giant Park.

2:30 – 3:30 pm
Minnesota’s first stained glass window is beautifully displayed at the historic Episcopal Church. Built in 1872 this church has remained unaltered since its construction and includes Swiss-made stained glass windows and the original pews of wooden peg construction.

3:30 – 5:00 pm
Head south on US-169 to West Bend, Iowa home of the Grotto of the Redemption. Iowa’s eighth wonder of the world.

5 – 8:00 pm
Check into your hotel and enjoy the evening with a catered buffet dinner at the restaurant of the Grotto of the Redemption. Special arrangements will be made for groups!



9 – 11:30 pm West Bend, Iowa

Today you will tour the Grotto of the Redemption, which took nine years to build. Built out of minerals, agates, petrified materials, semi precious stones and shells from travels, plus donations. This is a favorite stop for group tours and there is much to see and do for a very full day!

Thank you for bringing your groups to Minnesota and the upper Midwest. This sample itinerary contains many ideas you can customize into a fascinating and memorable tour. For assistance in customizing your travel itinerary, or to answer your questions about regional tourism, contact an area CVB or Heartland Tours & Travel in the Twin Cities (MN) at 651-777-7170.

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