Pipestone is both a city in Minnesota and the Pipestone County seat. The population of this quaint little town is 4,300 as of 2010. Here are some of the educational and entertaining things you can see and do if you visit Pipestone. Also, after you have finished walking up an appetite, there are restaurants you can go to for a good meal!
11 Fun Things To Do In Pipestone, Minnesota
The first on our fun things to do in Pipestone is to visit the Calumet Inn.
This beautiful building is on the list of the National Register of Historic Places and definitely worth visiting and photographing. The Calumet Inn is a restored historical building located in downtown Pipestone. It was built in 1888 and still operates as a functioning hotel. It features turn-of-the-century antiques and beautiful architecture. The building, both the structure and facade, was constructed from quartzite. It also has a highly-rated restaurant you can go to for your dining pleasure.
Another photo-worthy structure in Pipestone, the county courthouse, was also made of local quartzite stone. It was built in 1899, is a rectangular building, and the most stylized of the quartzite buildings. The 110 ft. clock tower has a dome on top and a statue of Lady Justice. In 1995, it was restored and then rededicated in 1996. It is a lovely building worth visiting and is included on the National Register of Historic Places.
Pipestone National Monument
Of the things to do in Pipestone, my personal favorite is visiting Pipestone National Monument.
The monument is located northwest of Pipestone, near the South Dakota border. It was created in 1937 to protect the pipestone quarries, the source of the soft red stone used by the Plains Indians to make pipes for ceremonial occasions.
Native American legend states the people and stone were made of the same material. Thus the stone was to be used for producing pipes for ceremonial and religious use only. The government took over the site in 1893.
The monument occupies 282 acres, and there is an excellent ¾ mile circular walking trail to view the quarries and a beautiful waterfall on the trail. The visitor center shows a video that explains the process of making pipes, and usually, there are Native Americans in the center making the pipes, so you can watch the process and ask questions.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow refers to the quarry in his 1855 poem, “The Song of Hiawatha.”
Rock Island Depot
Visit the gift shop and art gallery at the Rock Island Depot, constructed in 1890, which is the last depot in Pipestone. In the early days, four rail lines were entering the city. One of the primary reasons for Pipestone’s prosperity, the railroad is at the center of the history of this small Minnesota town. Because of the decrease of railroad use, in the 1960s, the depot closed.
During the 1970s, courtesy of the Pipestone County Historical Society, the depot became a center for the Native Americans called the Spirit of Peace Indian Center. In 1986, after sitting vacant for many years, Historic Pipestone, Inc. purchased the depot.
Since then, the exterior has been renovated with the help of grants from the Minnesota Historical Society. Historic Pipestone, Inc. sold the depot in January 1997 to the Native American organization, Keepers of the Sacred Tradition of Pipe Makers. They have since completed the renovation of the interior with a gift shop, art gallery, and meeting rooms.
Split Rock Bridge
Make sure you visit the unusual Split Rock Bridge in Pipestone. The Split Rock Bridge is a stone arch, with an unpaved road running north and south over Split Rock Creek. The single-span bridge is made of local quarried blue- pink Sioux quartzite with split-faced and rock-faced surfaces.
The bridge has the most extensive arch span of any highway bridge in Minnesota. A defined coping above the parapets acts as railings. On the east railing, a commemorative stone plaque states “Split Rock Bridge/Works Progress Administration/1938”.
The Split Rock Bridge was built as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project and an outstanding example of an ornamental park bridge. It achieves its aesthetic effect through the purity of form and beauty of ashlar stone.
The WPA was included in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s post-depression New Deal Program. The purpose of the WPA was to offer work to the unemployed while preserving their skills and self-respect. It was intended to stimulate the economy by providing jobs to the unemployed, which would help the economy through their spending.
The bridge cost $46,000 to build and survives in an unaltered state today, making it worthy of seeing and photographing.
Spend an afternoon shopping at Geyerman’s, a women’s clothing store that opened in 1936. The store is located on the Syndicate Block on a visible corner in the downtown area of Pipestone. It is the oldest and largest Sioux quartzite structure in the Pipestone Commercial Historic District. Also, this building acts as an anchor for the west-end business district. There were initially three different stores with three other owners in 1884 when the building was constructed.
Pipestone Performing Arts Center
When visiting Pipestone, take in a show at the PPAC. They have hosted a wide range of performances and concerts in recent years, such as dance troupes, comedy shows, traveling theater groups, cultural speakers, various community events, and documentary films.
The long history of performing arts began in Pipestone with the Pipestone Male Chorus, formed in the 1940s, and performed at the high school auditorium for many years. A women’s chorus was added in the 1960s, and the group was renamed the Pipestone Male Chorus and Friends.
From four to six special performances, called the “Presenter Series,” are booked by the Pipestone Performing Arts Center each year.
Some past performances at PPAC are the “Opera on the Farm,” two shows put on by the Guthrie Theater Tour Group, an outstanding performance by the Minnesota Orchestra, and a two-night sell-out performance by Lorie Line, a renowned pianist.
When in Pipestone, visit their first hospital. It was one and a half stories, 25′ x 50′ Sioux quartzite building. Built in 1912, the Brown Hospital is the only historic property relative to the area’s medical history. Brown Hospital is located at 116 Second Avenue SW and is open by appointment. It is also open on the first Saturday of each month for a used book sale.
The main floor had offices for two doctors, a waiting room, a dispensary, and an operating room. The elevator to the second floor was unique in that it was large enough to hold a patient bed.
Dr. Alex H. Brown practiced medicine in this building until his retirement in 1945. In the early years, the building housed a shoe store in the basement and other small businesses. In January 1997, Historic Pipestone, Inc. bought the structure. They are restoring the exterior to its 1912 appearance, with the interior remaining as original, except for the removal of the elevator.
Pipestone County Museum
No list of things to do in Pipestone would be complete without visiting the Pipestone County Museum.
Make sure you tour the Pipestone County Museum. Their mission is to foster an awareness of Pipestone County’s history and how it connects to Minnesota, the region, and the nation. They believe that the study of the past can enrich people’s perspectives on the present and provide guidance for the future.
After you tour the museum, make sure you visit the gift shop to take advantage of one of their monthly specials.
If you have done all the sightseeing you care to do for one day but still crave physical activity, go bowling! In addition to bowling, they have the standard fare of any bowling alley, such as pizza, burgers, chicken tenders and wings, and more. They charge for bowling by the hour and offer shoe rental.
Some Restaurants Worth Visiting
After visiting any of the terrific attractions above, stop in for a great meal at one of these highly-rated restaurants for a good dinner.
- Stonehouse Supper Club and Quarry Lounge is located on the historic Main Street in Downtown Pipestone. They offer quality dining options with plenty of room for social gatherings. They offer daily specials, in addition to a variety of appetizers, salads, soups, burgers, sandwiches, flatbreads, and entrées, and a full bar.
- Los Tulipanes Mexican Restaurant in Pipestone is known for its tasty fajitas, burritos, tacos, taco salads, chips and salsa, and a variety of good American food. They have an extensive menu, excellent food priced very well, and very friendly service.
- Historic Calumet Inn Restaurant in the beautiful hotel is an elegant spot for a special dinner. Their menu includes various appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, steaks, chicken, and fish dinners. They also have a breakfast menu with great choices to begin your day. Their prices are very reasonable considering the ambiance and is clearly a place worth going to for a good meal.
- Pizza Ranch is the place to go if you have a craving for pizza and a great piece of chicken. They are famous for their chicken in any town you may visit, plus you can enjoy a complete salad bar with it. They have any variety of pizza you can imagine, a good assortment of beverage options, and a variety of dessert pizzas and ice cream to top off your meal. They have special senior pricing, and kids eat free on Tuesdays. Great place to bring all the family!
Pipestone is a quaint little town full of Native American historical significance. If you ever visit the southwestern part of Minnesota, please pay a visit to Pipestone, and enjoy everything it has to offer. You are sure to have an enjoyable, stress-free experience!
Wrapping Up Our Fun Things To Do in Pipestone MN
What did you think of our list of things to do in Pipestone? Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below!
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Born in Madelia, MN, to a now 5-generation Minnesota family, Ryan’s MN roots go deep.
A painter by day, Ryan founded Life in Minnesota in 2013 with his wife Kelly to chronicle their musings on everything Minnesota. Ryan and Kelly are raising their 7 kiddos in Maple Grove, MN.
When he’s not shuttling his kids around to hockey practice, you might find him in the shop working on his leatherwork. Undoubtedly, there will be a family trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area every summer, and of course weekends at Grandpa’s cabin up north in the summer.