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Downtown Austin — Bicycles, Burgers and Buffy the Cow

Except for a few interesting sites, downtown Austin is basically quiet. One remarkable exception is the Rydjor Bike Shop … home to a unique Bicycle Museum. This wonderful old building with its original tin ceilings and maple floors is the perfect venue to view the evolution of bicycles.

Each of the more then 50 bicycles has its own story, beginning in 1868 with the "Boneshaker."

What’s most fun is finding the bicycle of your childhood.

The historic 1929 Paramount Theatre is one of few remaining historic buildings in downtown Austin It is one of only four atmospheric theatres left in Minnesota and the only one outside Minneapolis still used as a theatre. Click here to learn history.

The friendly folks who work there not only invited us in for a look, but gave us a tour. The interior, which was designed to provide theatergoers the illusion of being in a Spanish Courtyard, has been carefully restored.

Also downtown is the Tendermaid Sandwich Shop, a local institution that has been serving malts and  loose meat sandwiches since the Depression-era. Inside this tiny shed like building there is just enough room for a horseshoe counter with a few red vinyl stools. The Tendermaid, by the way, is just a hamburger bun filled with a bland ground beef mixture that is served on a paper wrapper with a spoon to scoop what drops out.

Knauer’s Market is a cramped little meat market downtown that’s hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1886. The Knauer family still works here hand cutting some of the best steaks in town. In the early years, the family ran a small slaughterhouse just outside town, and had a sausage factory and smokehouse behind the market.

Adjacent to downtown is the original residence of Hormel’s founder, George Hormel. Built in 1871, the house was extensively remodeled and modernized in 1902. The modesty of this six bedroom home is in stark contrast to the 97 room chateau that Hormel’s son Jay built outside of town.

Built in 1928, the imposing Austin High School is still in use. With Hormel as the big stick in town, it came as no surprise to learn that they are known as the Austin Packers.

No trip to Austin is complete without a visit to Ankeny's Superior Dairy Foods for a look at Buffy ... an Austin landmark.

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