Destination Red Wing wins national honorsRed Wing is one of the nation's 12 most distinctive vacation destinations, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
By: Ruth Nerhaugen, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing is one of the nation's 12 most distinctive vacation destinations, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
That declaration does more than confirm what residents know: Red Wing is a beautiful city with a knack for preserving its historic character, although that outside validation is good.
Naming Red Wing one of the 2008 Dozen Distinctive Destinations tells a much larger audience that the it offers "cultural and recreational experiences different from the typical vacation destinations. (It) boasts a richness of character and exudes an authentic sense of place."
The National Trust said Red Wing “perfectly combines an impressive architectural history with an enviable natural environment.” Landmarks include two restored buildings, the St. James Hotel and the Sheldon Theatre.
"This is a city that knows history matters," said Richard Moe, president of the Trust. “With its historic river charm, Red Wing, Minnesota, has sensitively preserved its heritage and natural resources to create a thriving and vital community. …
"Historically and architecturally significant buildings dominate the community's landscape and reflect its mid-19th century beginnings as a riverfront trade point. This treasure trove boasts a total of 25 listings on the National Register of Historic Places while its downtown district retains the majority of the commercial buildings that were constructed during the city's early boom period of 1860 - 1910."
Former Mayor Donna Dummer attributed the city’s success to a community-wide commitment.
“Our mission … is to capture the vibrancy of growth while preserving and enhancing the city’s unique historic and natural environmental character,” Dummer said.
In addition, the trust said, Red Wing "perfectly combines an impressive architectural history with an enviable natural environment," from the riverfront and majestic bluffs to hiking trails and preserved city parks. Red Wing has been named one of the Top 10 locations in the United States for its spectacular fall foliage.
The most famous landmark, 340-foot high Barn Bluff, provides sweeping views of the area, including miles of Wisconsin's and Minnesota's urban and rural countryside. The city is also noted for a 19.7 mile paved bike trail that runs parallel to the Cannon River between Red Wing and Cannon Falls.
The trust can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.
And that wasn't the only honor the city received in recent years. In addition:
• The National Geographic Traveler Magazine in 2008 named Red Wing the 23rd best historic destination in the world. The magazine listed the top 109 destinations.
The magazine described Red Wing as "A wonderful river community that still has the wonderful charm of a small community. One gets a profound sense of town life in middle America, especially pre-1950s."
Judging was based on, among other things, the condition of the communities' historic buildings, their social and cultural integrity and their quality of tourism.
• In 2007, Red Wing received an America in Bloom award for landscape and garden efforts and a Garden’s Alive! Environmental Awareness award for its green space and wildlife habitat preservation work.
• Red Wing also made the list of the best selling 2007 travel book, “1000 Places to See in the U.S. and Canada Before You Die.”
• In 2005 the city was chosen as one of 24 Preserve America communities by the White House. The idyllic location along the Mississippi River bluffs earned Red Wing a rating as one of the top 10 fall foliage spots in the country by msn.com City Guides.
Special events like the Fall Festival of the Arts in October and the Holiday Stroll in November already attract several thousand people for day trips and longer vacations.
Most recently, in fall of 2009, tripadvisor.com named Red Wing the No. 2 destination in this region for the Labor Day Weekend. It came just after Duluth. Red Wing's ambiance, shops and amenities attract crowds, once again.