Move over Cooperstown, Key West, Palm Springs and Vancouver. Red Wing has joined these cities as a Distinctive Destination.

Each year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation chooses 12 Distinctive Destinations -- cities that offer cultural and recreational experiences different from the typical vacation destination. One-hundred-eight cities are now on that list.

Red Wing made the 2008 list because of its architectural history and its scenic natural environment. The city of 16,000 people, located on the Mississippi River about 60 miles south of the Twin Cities, has 25 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its downtown is lined with commercial buildings that were built during the city's boom period of 1860 through 1910.

The city's landmarks include the St. James Hotel, the Sheldon Theatre and the west residential historic district that features Italianate, Queen Anne, Classical Revival and Prairie School architectural styles. In addition to the Mississippi River, the city's natural assets include the 340-foot Barn Bluff that overlooks the city and a 19.7-mile bike trail that runs along the Cannon River.

"This is a city that knows history matters," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "With its historic river charm, Red Wing, Minnesota, has sensitively preserved its heritage and natural resources to create a thriving and vital community that has much to offer residents and visitors alike."

Red Wing Mayor Donna Dummer said tourists used to just come for a day's visit to see the fall color. "Now they come and they want to stay,'' she said. "They stay overnight to shop, play and enjoy the outdoors."

Other cities named this year are Aiken, S.C.; Apalachicola, Fla.; Columbus, Miss.; Crested Butte, Colo.; Fort Davis, Texas; Friday Harbor, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; Portsmouth, N.H.; Ste. Genevieve, Mo.; San Juan Bautista, Calif.; and Wilmington, N.C.

Mary Lynn Smith • 612-673-4788