If you know what an Acadian Flycatcher or Louisiana Waterthrush is, you’d enjoy birdwatching around Caledonia, a city that is unique in southeastern Minnesota because of its Scottish heritage. In fact, the name Caledonia is the ancient name for Scotland.
Scottish Heritage Night, the fourth Saturday in March, pays homage to Caledonia’s founder, Samuel McPhail, with an evening of Scottish music, food and entertainment. A number of other events bring residents and visitors together, including the annual Founder’s Day Winter Wonderland Celebration with its lighted Christmas Parade, and the Bluff and Valley Hot Air Balloon Rally held the first full weekend of December.
There’s plenty to do and see outdoors since Caledonia is surrounded by hardwood forests which provide a haven for wildlife. Hunting, trapping, and angling for trout are popular. Less than fifteen miles away is the mighty Mississippi River, and Beaver Creek Valley State Park is just three miles to the west, with primitive and modern camping sites. Non-campers will find motel rooms and bed & breakfasts nearby.
Many older buildings in Caledonia are built of locally quarried native lime sandstone, including the Houston County Courthouse, Jail, and Scheck’s Mill.
The area is crisscrossed with spring-fed streams which run winter and summer. A natural supply of trout hide in the watercress-covered stream beds. Hiking, skiing, groomed snowmobile trails, camping facilities, picnic areas, a picturesque nine hole golf course, parks and playgrounds are available.
As you’re driving through the area, keep an eye out for wild turkeys, as Caledonia is known as the Wild Turkey Capital of Minnesota.
For some old-fashioned summertime fun, the Houston County Fair arrives each August with entertainment, contests, 4-H and open class exhibits, a carnival and of course, “fair food” like corn dogs, cotton candy and caramel corn. The fair is held the third week of August.
The Houston County Historical Society’s museum is also located at the fairgrounds. Visitors enjoy stopping at the fairgrounds year-round to see the historical buildings of History Lane, including an old school house, pioneer cabin, church and town hall.