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Austin is a small, historic city set in Minnesota’s southeastern Mower County. The city’s quiet, tree-lined streets are speckled with heritage landmarks - from towering churches to old-fashioned movie theaters - offering a fascinating mix of architectural styles. There are also a couple of museums in the center, which are sure to excite history-buffs. But one of Austin’s real draws is its nearby nature reserve, where hiking trails cut through wild forests, across white roaring rivers, and through flowery meadows.

Things to see

Start your Austin day at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, a vast red-brick sanctuary with 2 sharp-pointed spires, established all the way back in 1857. Tour its gold-washed interiors, and marvel at its shimmering stained glass. After, head over to the Hormel Historic Home, beside the peaceful Mill Pond. This huge mansion house was built in 1871, and its bright yellow exterior, stately colonnades, and interior period furnishing gives a glimpse into Austin’s past. Afterwards, check out the Austin Spam Museum. It may sound strange, but this specialty museum - tracing the history of Spam, and its place in Austin’s industry - offers tongue-in-cheek fun and entertainment for the whole family. Lovers of the outdoors, meanwhile, should spend their day exploring the J. C. Hormel Nature Center, where over 10 miles of uncrowded hiking trails twist and turn through grassy wetlands, prairies, and forests - it’s a great way to spot some of Austin’s abundant wildlife.

Hotels in Austin

If you’re looking for budget hotels in Austin, you’ll be pleased to find a spread of cozy 2-star accommodation. Either head to a cheap motel, and enjoy free parking and guestrooms complete with mini-kitchenettes, or stay in an inexpensive inn, where you’ll benefit from free hearty breakfasts and convenient 24-hour front desks. For something more upscale, check out a 3-star Austin hotel. Here, you’ll experience a lively and sociable bar lounge, spacious rooms illuminated by natural lighting, and even a large indoor pool - perfect for a relaxing swim after a long day’s hike.

Where to stay

Austin is a laid-back residential city, with welcoming locals and a small-town vibe, so if you’re traveling with the family, you’ll feel right at home staying centrally. Wildwood Park, slightly north of the center, is a perfectly peaceful area - thanks to the adjacent green-space and trickling Murphy Creek - within easy walking distance of the charms of Main Street, like the retro theater and friendly cafés. For something completely different, there’s a popular kid-friendly campground just east of Austin, ideal for outdoorsy types who want to sleep beneath the stars.

How to get to Austin

Austin is just 40 miles from the neighboring city of Rochester, which has its own international airport. Rochester International, however, mostly serves domestic flights, from cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Phoenix. If you’re traveling from overseas, you’ll most likely catch a connecting fight to Rochester at Minneapolis or Chicago. At Rochester Airport, hire your own car onsite for speedy, hassle-free transport - it’s roughly a 45 minute drive south along Route 90 to Austin. Alternatively - although this is more expensive - you can take a cab. In Austin, you can get around the city center on foot, but it’s good to have a car if you want to explore the surrounding area.

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