Sheltered by towering 300-floot bluffs and laid out along a hairpin turn in the Root River lies the village of Whalan. Included in Midwest Living’s Ways to Play in the Root River Valley, the community affords fun and adventure at every turn.
While much of the sightseeing in Fillmore County requires exertion on the part of the participant, several tours exclusive to Whalan allow for viewing the sights, wildlife, and nature while at complete rest. Take a tour through the 100 acres of private woodlands, around and overlooking the river, with horse drawn wagon or sleigh rides. For those looking for a bit more adventure, try a Jeep tour, up the bluff along switchback trails to a towering overlook.
The town is a bustling destination for lodging and fun due to a number of established accommodations. Settle into a resort offering 11 cozy, log-sided cabins of various sizes. Winning the distinction of the Minnesota Resort and Campground Association’s 2013 Operators of the Year, the resort is full of amenities, including a retail area, frisbee golf course, sand volleyball, bocce ball, basketball court, three playgrounds, and vast green space for whatever your heart desires. In addition, bikes, canoes, kayaks, and tubes are available for rent, as are cross-country skis and snow tubes in the winter. Find the ultimate in relaxation at the resort with on-site massage, energy and Ayruveda therapies.
Or, let your group check into a river front property just 100 feet from the Root River State Trail, offering whole house rental. Adjacent, the miniature golf is a challenging and amusing lighted sculpted 9-hole course, the best in the area. Also available for lodging are a guest house, inn and campground. When it’s time for a quieter pace, visitors can kick back in the striking city park under the gazebo or stop in at the famous pie shop, serving mouth-watering, homemade pies for over 25 years. History buffs will enjoy the Whalan Museum, located in the restored 1898 village hall, complete with performance hall and community center, and Ernie’s 1917 Filling Station, a restored (non-operative) landmark. Gardeners will revel in the greenery and ponds at a greenhouse just south of town on the scenic byway.
Several festivities add to the fun in Whalan, and none is more popular that the world-famous Stand Still Parade. Held the third Saturday in May, the day-long celebration showcases the only non-moving parade. Here, “the parade doesn’t move, the spectators do!” The day is filled with artists, crafters, demonstrators, live music, Scandinavian lefse and rommegrot, a pie-eating contest, petting zoo, and laugh-inducing bed races. In July, the city hosts the three-day Fourth of July Fast Pitch Softball Tournament, while August provides an opportunity for an outdoor movie at the village hall. In September, the city hosts the Taste of the Trail, a celebration of life and culture along the Root River Trail. Even winter on the trail is exhilarating, as the city hosts a Candlelight Ski each year on the first Saturday in February. Participants will enjoy local food and a bonfire at both ends of the trail route.