A Wonderful, though Wintry, Weekend in Northfield, MN

I traveled to Northfield, Minnesota, this past weekend with my sister and brother-in-law. The main purpose of our trip was to attend my niece’s concert at St. Olaf College on Saturday evening, but we also shopped, explored the town and university, and spent time relaxing.

Mall of America

We flew into Minneapolis on Friday morning. Since my niece was in class until early afternoon, we did some shopping at REI and the Mall of America, before heading to Northfield.

Shopping at the Mall of America

My family and I first went to the Mall of America several years ago – shortly after it opened in 1992. It wasn’t until this year that I was able to visit again.

The mall houses over 500 stores, so you should be able to find anything you are looking for. One attraction for my sister and me was that there is no tax on clothing in Minnesota. This makes the Mall of America a good place to stock up on clothing items.

Nickelodeon Adventure – Theme Park inside Mall of America

In addition to clothing, the mall has stores that carry electronics, toys, jewelry, and gifts. There is a large, varied food court in addition to several sit-down restaurants.

One of the main attractions, though, is the theme park in the center of the mall. Dozens of rides and attractions covering seven acres make up Nickelodeon Universe, making the Mall of America a great place to take a family.

St. Olaf College

We met up with my niece and her boyfriend for conversation and an early dinner in downtown Northfield. My niece had to be back to campus for her Friday evening concert. While she was singing, the rest of us watched the Mr. Rogers’ documentary, “Won’t you be my Neighbor?” The film was great – I highly recommend it.

St. Olaf College Campus

On Saturday morning, we went back to the campus of St. Olaf College where my niece gave us a campus tour. My sister and brother-in-law had seen the campus before, but we all walked around together. As we walked, the predicted snow began falling – quite heavily. In all, about five or six inches fell before it let up in the evening.

Inside the Student Center –
St. Olaf College

The beautiful campus is located at the top of a hill. On a clear day, some buildings offer breath-taking views. I loved the classic stone-covered buildings. Although the exteriors looked old, the interiors were clean and modern.

We visited my niece’s dorm, a couple classroom buildings, the library, the chapel, and the science building. Many of the rooms still had the original wood trim, making the rooms feel warm and inviting.

Town of Northfield

After our campus tour, we headed to the historical downtown area of  Northfield for lunch and shopping. The snow was still coming down, so we didn’t shop as much as we otherwise would have.

Downtown Northfield, Minnesota
– the Night Before the Snowstorm

The town, platted in 1856, is full of practical, fun, and interesting shops. I especially enjoyed the antique shop, the art supply store, and the yarn shop. There was a nice coffee shop where we took a break from shopping and the weather.

Northfield Yarn
Northfield Yarn

During her first trip to the area, my sister discovered Northfield Yarn. We made it a priority to stop in during this visit to the town. The shop was full of wonderful yarn and the staff person was very friendly. Since I had recently shopped for yarn at Vogue Live Minneapolis, I resisted the urge to buy more here. I especially loved the yarns by Knitted Wit and Abacus Dyeworks.

Highlight of the Weekend

The highlight of the weekend and the reason for our trip was the Christmas Festival concert held on Saturday evening. (If you want to listen, downloads will be available soon). The concert was presented on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, and Sunday afternoon. Five choirs and the orchestra participated, involving over 500 students.

Ready for the Concert to Begin

Some of the numbers were presented by a single choir, while others were sung by all five choirs together. Although no photos are allowed during the concert, I snuck one in just before it began. The concert lasted two hours, but when it was finished, I just wanted it to start again. It was beautiful!

After the concert, we all gathered for pictures. We went to a restaurant for snacks and dessert, before braving the snow covered roads back to the hotel.

The End of our Visit

On Sunday morning, we all attended the second morning service at the Emmaus Baptist Church where my niece has been worshiping. The service was nice – I could see why my niece chose this to be her church home while away at school.

We had lunch at Hogan Brothers – soups and hoagies – before bringing my niece back to the college for her afternoon concert. We had a very nice visit and it was hard to say good-bye.

Back to the Airport
St. Olaf College Chapel

Despite the wintry weather, we had a great trip. We were all quiet on the ride to the airport, contemplating the sights and sounds and feelings of the weekend.

I’d love to visit again – although spring or summer might be nicer. I’d like to spend more time shopping and browsing  in historic Northfield. My niece will be at the college for another two years, so maybe I’ll get a chance.


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