The weather is warming up. Motorcycle enthusiasts have been preparing their rides. It’s almost time to ride the beautiful, scenic roads of Minnesota.
As Winter comes to a close and snow continues to melt, Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners check their Spring forecasts in hopes of rising temperatures with no surprise snowfalls. Though the latter of which may extend the hibernation of their two, or three, wheeled joyride-mobile, it is inevitable that Summertime, also called Harley-season, will eventually arrive to bring joy to every Harley-Davidson motorcycle owner.
As you prepare for this upcoming season of riding, where are you going to take your motorcycle? What are the best roads to take your hog out for a joyride?
Here at Zylstra Harley-Davidson, we’ve compiled the top 4 motorcycle routes in Minnesota to check out this summer. Whether you’re looking to take a relaxing cruise along the Mississippi or experience the wooded northlands of Minnesota, we know that your Harley-Davidson will take you where you want to go.
Great River Road
This iconic road follows the Mississippi River all the way from the origin of the Mississippi River, Lake Itasca, until it reaches the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. While this trip would undoubtedly be an exciting 8-10 days of travel, there is a much more manageable portion of this drive that allows for incredible views of the mighty Mississippi. The incredible route which Harley riders in Minnesota can take advantage of lays between the Southeastern cities of Red Wing and LaCrescent. Here lies the historic US Highway 61.
The spectacular US Highway 61 isn’t a made-up road which was made popular by Minnesota’s own Bob Dylan on his aptly-named sixth studio album, Highway 61 Revisited. This road follows the Mississippi River and all of its incredible landscape features.
As you start your ride in Red Wing, be sure to make a pre-ride stop in their historic downtown area. Being the home of Red Wing Shoes, you can visit the flagship store and museum to learn more about the origins of the incredible brand and maybe pick up some new boots.
Continuing south on US Highway 61, you will pass through the historic city of Winona - home of Watkins Incorporated. This city also features an unbelievable art collection at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum where works from Picasso, Van Gough, Monet and Leutze can be found. Before leaving the city, make sure to refuel at Bloedow’s Bakery where you can eat some of the best donuts you will ever have.
As you finish your trek down the historic highway, you will end up in LeCrescent and ready to find a burger to complete your journey. The journey back will just as amazing no matter what route you choose. The two best options include returning on US Highway 61, or crossing over into LaCrosse, WI and traveling North on US Highway 53 and WI State Highway 35.
Lake Minnetonka Shoreline Drive
If you’re looking for a shorter route and one which is closer to the Twin Cities metro area, taking your Harley-Davidson for a quick spin around the incredible Lake Minnetonka area is a fantastic option. Featuring roads right alongside the lake, incredible home designs and endless eating opportunities, you can easily fill your day in the Lake Minnetonka area.
This route will begin in Wayzata and travel on two lane roads throughout winding turns as you’re surrounded by incredible views of the lake along with impressive home architecture. Continuing through these picturesque views, you will pass through the small communities of Navarre, Spring Park, Mound and Saga Hill which make their home on the many bays of Lake Minnetonka.
If you planned your trip around the afternoon lunchtime or during the sunset hours of supper, you will have plenty of food options to choose from. One of the classic mainstays of the Lake Minnetonka area is Lord Fletcher’s Old Lake Lodge where you’re able to experience an amazing live music experience along with great classic food options. Other great options can be found in Wayzata where you can eat sushi, steak, burgers, or anything in between.
As you’ve made your way around the lake and completed the miniature motorcycle trip, you can visit the same area in the future, but explore the different nooks and bays that Lake Minnetonka has to offer.
North Shore Scenic Byway
Last, but definitely not least - the North Shore Scenic Byway. Harley-Davidson motorcycle riders throughout the country consistently give amazing reviews of this route. Because there are so few areas like this in the state, it has become an extremely popular destination for motorcyclists everywhere.
Riding the North Shore Scenic Byway is a relaxing experience like no other. With the great Lake Superior on one side of you and the majestic pine trees of the northlands on the other side, this route might be the best in Minnesota.
As you take your Harley on Minnesota State Highway 61, your hog guides you through the winding roads among the trees and cliffsides overlooking the water and shorelines. On the journey, there will be several areas where you will want to pull into an overlook are to see the amazing views, visit lighthouses or see the incredible cliff sides of Palisade Head.
When you’re hungry, there will be plenty of opportunities to find a quality bit to eat. Need something sweet? The iconic Betty’s Pies and Rustic Inn are places you won’t want to pass up. Need a full meal? Sven and Ole’s pizza will fill you up in Grand Marais while Castle Danger can provide a great meal in Two Harbors.
This trek up North is a fantastic ride for those who are wanting to put the miles on and experience incredible sights. It’s a great option for both the rider who wants a simple day trip to the northwoods, but also to the rider who wants to make a two or three day ride out of it.
Now that you have some ideas on where to ride this season, it’s time to put the miles on. Get outside and ride your Harley-Davidson!