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Looking for a unique Minnesota hotel? Try a renovated towboat, train or jail

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Planning a fall getaway, but looking for something out of the ordinary?

The Chicago Tribune has taken note of one of Minnesota's most unusual lodgings: a renovated towboat that offers picturesque views of the Mississippi River.

But that's just one of the oddest places you can spend the night in Minnesota. Here are a few places where you can bunk down in a renovated old school, jail or lighthouse.


Owners of the Covington Inn Bed & Breakfast say it is one of America's few floating bed and breakfasts, moored at Harriet Island in St. Paul where the reflection of the city skyline sparkles on the water at night.

The vessel entered service in 1946 and spent 30 years nudging barges on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Discarded to dry dock in Louisiana, it was later rescued by a preservation company, gutted and renovated as a four-suite B & B.

Now it is trimmed in mahogany, brass and bronze, and guests peer out of portal windows.

Train cars

Gone are the days when these old train cars might have lulled you to sleep with a gentle clickity-clack. Now they stand silent – but renovated and far better outfitted for tourists.

Among them: the Northern Rail Train Car Inn in Two Harbors, a hotel built around a line of train cars resting on track – each of which serves as a unique guest room.

The Whistle Stop Bed & Breakfast has several refurbished old train cars where guests can spend the night, including the Palace Car, formerly a 1909 club dining car that is still lavishly decked out in period decor.

And the Maplelag Resort in Callaway, Minnesota, near Detroit Lakes, has two cabooses, each with a bathroom/shower, electric heat and a double bed.


Or how about a night in the slammer? Minnesota also has not one, but two, old jailhouses converted for overnight guests. The Jailhouse Inn Bed and Breakfast in Preston, Minnesota, was built in 1869 as a county jail, and it now includes a room in an original cell block. (More on the jail history here.)

The Old Jail B & B in Taylors Falls, Minnesota, has a renovated cottage that was built in 1884, as the Taylors Falls Jail.


Readin', writin' and rental lodging? The renovated Heartland Trail Bed & Breakfast in Dorset, in northern Minnesota, was built as a community school for Hubbard County in 1920, but now it lures tourists all season round, including cross-country skiers and snowmobilers in the winter.

And the Wilson Schoolhouse Inn just outside La Crosse, Wisconsin, offers pretty modern digs for a 1917 school building.

The brick structure's single classroom is now a living area and gourmet kitchen, and what had been a lower-level gymnasium is now two bedrooms.


Or, if you were looking for something on more of a granular level, there's the Ambrosia Inn in Hazel Green in southwest Wisconsin.

It's an old 50-foot silo, with a room – with windows – a double whirlpool and gas fireplace.

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