The friendly town of Harmony lies right between the area’s two largest Amish communities. The Amish drop into town quite frequently and you are much more likely to pass their horse-drawn buggies around here than anywhere else.
The region’s biggest tourist draw after Lanesboro got its name rather spontaneously. When a discussion of what to call the newly formed town became overly heated, one exasperated member of the group stood up and exclaimed: “Let’s have harmony here!” The opposing sides pondered the statement briefly, and they’ve had Harmony ever since.
Sights and Recreation
Amish Tours of Harmony (94 2nd St. NW, 507/886-2303 or 800/752-6474, www.amish-tours.com, $40 in your car, $20 per person in their van) next to the visitors center offers guided tours year-round.
In 1924 a farmer followed the squeals of his missing pigs and found they had fallen into a deep cavern, and Niagara Cave (507/886-6606 or 800/837-6606, www.niagaracave.com, 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. daily summer, 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. daily May and Sept., 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Sat.–Sun. Apr. and Oct., $10.50 adults) opened to the paying public ten years later. Stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, and fossils are found in many of the large caverns, though the highlight of this living, growing cave is the 60-foot underground waterfall. The cave is four miles outside Harmony: Take Highway 139 south, and follow the signs. Amish Tours will drive you out and back for a few bucks.
Slim’s Woodshed (160 1st St. NW, 507/886-3114, www.slimswoodshed.com, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat. year-round, noon–4 p.m. Sun. May–Dec., $4) is a combination classroom, store, and museum, and the collection of carvings from around the globe is most enjoyable. Slim figures that the more than 4,000 pieces makes this the largest collection in the world.
Harmony is the southern terminus of the Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail. A sinkhole located along the trail has been developed as a Karst Interpretive Site, with signs describing the geology of the area.
Kingsley Mercantile (2 Main Ave. N., 507/886-2323, 7:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat., 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Sun.) rents bikes, and though there is no regular shuttle service here, if you are staying in town the proprietors of your hotel or bed-and-breakfast might be able to make arrangements. Whether you are riding the trail or not, check out the Historic Hobo Camp woodcarvings at Trailhead Park.
The Jem Theatre (14 Main Ave. N., 507/886-7469, $4) is a small renovated 1940s movie house showing first-run films on weekends. The popcorn is topped with real butter.
Many shops downtown sell Amish goods and/or antiques, and an informal Amish farmers and craft market sets up by the grain elevator on Saturday mornings during the summer and fall.
Arranged around The Village Green (90–92 2nd St. NW, 507/886-2409, www.village-depot.com, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–4 p.m. Sun. mid-Apr.–Dec., Sat. only rest of year) are a handful of old buildings stocked to the rafters with authentic Amish quilts, baskets, furniture, and more.
Hotels and Restaurants
The Country Lodge (525 Main Ave. N., 507/886-2515 or 800/870-1710, $71) is a very friendly and homey hotel in a renovated creamery.
Harmony Guest House (115 2nd Ave. SW, 507/886-4331, $90) offers a pair of cozy little one-bedroom houses; one has a deck with a hot tub and barbecue pit.
Austin’s Mohair (11484 331st Ave., 507/ 886-6731, $10) has four primitive campsites along a road traveled frequently by their Amish neighbors, and children from neighboring farms will come by to sell you firewood.
Locals catch up on gossip at Harmony House (57 Main Ave. N., 507/886-4612, 5:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. daily) over burgers, pork chops, beer-battered fish dinners, and good pie.
Get pizza, sandwiches, and homemade pies at the Village Square (51 Main Ave. N., 507/886-4406, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 4–8 p.m. Sun.).
© Tim Bewer from Moon Minnesota, 3rd Edition