1. Apostle Islands
Copper Falls State Park
Great little stop for lunch and light hiking through this beautiful river canyon if you’re traveling between the Porcupine Mountains and Apostle Islands. The Doughboy’s Loop will take you past Copper and Brownstone Falls. I think it was about a mile or two. There is also a lake in the park, picnic areas, and a park store. You can’t really get down into the canyon for most of the route, but it’s a really nice forest hike primarily along the canyon rim. There is some elevation involved, but it’s pretty moderate. I wouldn’t consider it a must see, but it was a nice driving break to stretch your legs for sure. I can imagine if you live in the area, it would be a nice place to spend the afternoon.
Great River Road Scenic Byway
This national scenic byway was built decades ago along the Mississippi River to transport goods when the river levels were too low for boats. It’s pretty impressive in that it stretches all the way from Minnesota to Louisiana. I drove along this route from Minneapolis to Madison, which was only about 45 minutes longer and passed through a few small towns. I was expecting to be able to see more of the river along the way. I would say this drive is more of a nice break from the monotony of the highway versus something supremely beautiful. However, there are some parks along the way, though I did not have time to explore them. I did visit the National Eagle Center which rescues eagles and has some interesting information about them. Interestingly in the fall (Sep) and winter (Dec/Jan), this area is packed with Golden and Bald Eagles respectively for nesting. I didn’t even know there were eagles in this part of the country, but apparently they exist wherever there is good fishing. I would recommend starting your journey at the visitor’s center in Hastings for maps and information.