As the Mississippi River lopes languidly along through Minnesota it calls in at St Cloud, a pleasant college town. Several major roads cross here, making this a central stop for visitors passing through the middle of this northern state. Venture out of the city itself to the northwest and you'll stumble onto a part of America that feels almost frozen in time and may seem eerily familiar, and not unjustifiably so. This area was, in fact, once home to author Garrison Keillor, whose National Public Radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, has delighted a listening audience over the years and recently made movie status.
Set comfortably in the prairie land of central Minnesota, St Cloud has a handful of museums to attract visitors in the vicinity, like the Stearns History Museum and Benton County Historical Museum. For a slice of nature in this laid-back urban area, head for the Munsinger and Clemens Gardens at the edge of the Mississippi River, or have a wander along trails winding through the Quarry Park, chopped up in the early 20th century for granite.
If you're lingering on in the area long enough to do some day-tripping, consider Lake Maria State Park for easy hiking trails, or take a scenic drive through Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge to do some wildlife spotting.
St Cloud is 67 miles northwest of Minneapolis, and 72 miles east of Alexandria.