Dorset Boardwalk Art Festival

If you’ve never been to the quaint town of Dorset, put it on your list and check it out.  Not far from Park Rapids or Itasca State Park is the town of Dorset.  Not a big town, with a population of just 22.

To give enough time to plan, we wanted to share that June 22nd happens to be their annual Boardwalk Art Festival. If you can’t make it then, August 4th is their annual Taste of Dorset.

I can still remember my first visit to Dorset.  I was about 5 and my uncle took my sisters and I there for lunch.  It’s grown since then, more businesses have been added.  Have you been to Dorset or any other fun places you would like us to spotlight or share.  We love to explore so please let us know.  Minnesota has some great off the beaten path places and we love to explore them.

Wooden Boat Show and Summer Solstice Festival

Although the Wooden Boat Show and Summer Solstice Festival doesn’t take place until June 21-23, we are telling you about it now so you can plan for it.  The North House Folk School located in the quaint town of Grand Marais, along the shore of Lake Superior.  The school brings instructors from around the world to teach traditional northern crafts on the shore of Lake Superior.  So even if you can’t attend the festival, it’s a great place to take an interesting class or two.

You can find the complete schedule of events for the festival here on their website.  Most of the of the events during the festival are free or just a small fee to attend.

Additional information about the event:

Rows of hand-made and unique watercraft, a boat parade, craft demonstrations, an evening square dance, boat and tool auction, chili and brats…there’s a bit of everything during our Wooden Boat Show and Summer Solstice Festival. Try your hand at a workshop or course; be inspired by the stories of boat builders, sailors and travelers; plan your next adventure. Join us as we welcome the summer season in the best way possible: talking boats, celebrating community and hanging out on the shores of Lake Superior.

Little House on the Prairie Cast Reunion in Walnut Grove

Little House on the Prairie Museum in Walnut Grove, MN

Did you grow up watching Little House on the Prairie?  It was one of my favorite shows!  I just wanted to share that the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove MN is hosting a large TV Little House Cast Reunion this summer.

Not all of the details are out yet, so far at least 10 cast members have been announced.  Little by little, names and more information continues to come out.


The dates of the event will be July 12-14.  We are sharing this now so you can make plans to attend this fun event. 

The museum does host a pageant during the summer and if you’ve never attended that, it’s a great show.  Keep checking the museum facebook page for additional information about the reunion and other events.


Little House on the Prairie Cast Reunion in Walnut Grove

Some of the information that we do know so far:

Question: DO I NEED TICKETS?

Answer : You need to purchase a BRACELET for all reunion related events occurring during the day, both Friday & Saturday. The bracelet allows you to obtain autographs from the cast members appearing in Walnut Grove.

The cast members will also be selling their individual photos for you to purchase separately to have autographed. You will be allowed to bring up to 2 items through the line, per trip, to have autographed. In other words, if you have 4 items, you will be asked to get back in line after your first two items have been signed. Price of the bracelet has not been determined as of now, it is planned that there will be a daily bracelet and a weekend bracelet.

Keep watching the Museum’s Facebook page for more information.

A Morning of Hiking in Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park

If you’re looking for a lovely Minnesota day trip, it’s hard to beat a few hours of hiking in Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park and an afternoon in Northfield. Kristie Probst from World is Wide shares this experience with us!

Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park is roughly an hour south of the Twin Cities and about a 20-minute drive from Northfield. (I cover a bit more about Northfield later in this post.) The park is named for Nerstrand, the small town nearest to the park, and the Big Woods, which are now only a fraction of their former majesty. These woods used to cover most of southeastern Minnesota until European settlers discovered the land there is great for farming. Sadly, this small state park is about all that is left of the Big Woods now.

A very unique feature of Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park is that it is home to the Minnesota Dwarf Trout Lily, a species of lily found in three Minnesota counties, and no where else in the world. Unfortunately, we were there in the fall and missed their bloom. We would love to go back to Nerstrand-Big Woods in the spring to see these rare flowers!

Hidden Falls, Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park, Minnesota

Our hike quickly led us to Hidden Falls, on Prairie Creek. Really, these falls are such a gem. We went in autumn, and so the fall colors in the background make the scenery really hard to beat.

From Hidden Falls we hiked parts of the Beaver, Fox, and White Oak Trails, logging in about 4.25 miles in all. There are some hills, but mostly it was a fairly relaxing, low-key hike. We started around 9:00 a.m., so we mostly had the trails to ourselves. By the time we got back to our vehicle, the parking lot was full.

Here are some highlights from our hike.

Lunch and Exploring in Downtown Northfield

Northfield, Minnesota is a fascinating river town of about 20,000 on the Cannon River, about 40 minutes south of Minneapolis. It’s absolutely deserving of its own post, but because we were only there for lunch and a little bit of wandering around, and because I didn’t get many pictures, it will just get a mention here as a fantastic Minnesota destination.

With a motto like “Cows, colleges, and contentment,” you know you’re in for a treat when you visit Northfield. The town is home to two private colleges, Carleton and St. Olaf, and the college town vibe to go with them. It’s got well-preserved historic downtown buildings with fun, quirky shops. And it’s got a great annual celebration for when the townspeople banded together back in the 1800’s to chase Jesse James and his brother out of town, while stopping his gang from robbing the First National Bank. How many towns can boast all of that?

A few highlights from our walk around downtown…

We ate at Froggy Bottoms, not because it’s the best cuisine in town, but because it had a menu that would appease our family’s (picky) food tastes. In fairness to it, Froggy Bottoms is a charming basement pub with a lovely patio overlooking the Cannon River. And our food was very tasty!

After lunch, we treated ourselves to cookie dough and a cupcake at Cake Walk. Yum!

Next, some shopping. We spent some time in Makeshift Accessories, an eclectic store featuring upcycled items made out of everything from coins to brass cash registers to silver services. Oh, and Minnesota license plates.

We were back to our home in the south metro by mid-afternoon, but I can tell you that this little escape did so much good for this over-scheduled family. Time to plan another backyard adventure!

Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park

Meat of the North Pork Passport

What’s your favorite meat?  I have to admit, I will drive out of the way for a good BBQ place or a place that smokes their meat.  We love to explore small local non-chain places when we are wandering, so I was excited to learn about the Meat of the North Pork Passport program.  It’s a passport program that highlights 11 different premier pork restaurants throughout MN.

Here’s how the passport works:

Visit at least SEVEN of Minnesota’s premier pork restaurants within 24 MONTHS:
2. Enjoy a tasty pork meal
3. Stamp your Pork Passport each time
4. Send completed form and passport to Minnesota Pork Board and receive a FREE Meat of the North T-Shirt.
 

Meat of the North Pork Passport

Explore the great state of Minnesota with your map to delicious pork!

Minnesota’s pig farmers are committed to raising healthy pigs and providing delicious pork for you, your family, and all Minnesotans. The tasty pork you will find at each of these eleven locations is provided by the amazing chefs who embrace the Meat of the North: Pork.

The Annual International Eelpout Festival

It’s A Milestone! 40 Years of Kissing the Pout! Yes, make plans to attend the 40th annual Eelpout Festival in Walker next week.  The opening ceremony takes place on Thursday, February 21st and you won’t believe all the fun that will follow! 

The Vortex is behind us and this fun festival is a great way to celebrate Minnesota Winter. You can choose to be a spectator or join in the fun.  Something for everyone can be found at the Eelpout Festival!  Information about the festival button can be found here.  

All activities for the 40th Annual International Eelpout Festival are in one convenient location! Join us in front of The Chase on the Lake … in the tent or on the ice you’ll find one of a kind “Chase the Pout” events including:

      • Opening Ceremonies (Thursday starting at 6pm): Live music w/Corey Medina in The 502 and Pre-Pout Kick-Off Party in the Chase Big Top Tent.
      • 7th Annual Eelpout Beer Pong (Qualifiers – Friday, Championship – Saturday; 3pm – 7pm both days): A Festival favorite! $40 gets your 2-person team into this bracket-style/single elimination contest happening inside the Chase Big Top Tent. Prizes include cash, Eelpout Trophy and merch. For more information and to register, go to: www.eelpoutbeerpong.com
      • Pout Curling (Saturday 11am- 2pm): Patrons can throw “The Eelpout Rock” and try “sweeping” to victory. Walker’s local curling club facilitates the “stone-pout” throws and button landings. Pout Curling is located behind the Chase Big Top Tent.
      • Chainsaw Carving (Saturday starting at 10am)
      • Dog Sled Rides (Saturday 10am- Dark): Experience a K-9 led tour of the grounds … and so mush more starting in front of the Walker Marina.
      • Helicopter Rides (Saturday): Located by City Park
      • Eelpout Weigh In: This unique “cultural submersion” operates daily, capped with an awards ceremony on (Sunday 9am-10am) in front of The Chase big Top Tent and includes thousands of dollars in prizes for the most pout pounds.
      • 6th Annual Kids Perch Jerk (Saturday Noon-1pm): Savings bonds will be awarded to three biggest perch caught. Holes will be drilled for the kids. Parents, just bring poles and bait.
      • Polar Pout Kart Races (Saturday 11am-2pm): Lake next to Chase Big Top Tent with trophies and cash prizes!
      • Human Whack-A-Mole (Saturday 11am-2pm): Chase Big Top Tent.

Annual must-see and must-try Eelpout traditions:

      • Kissing the Pouton the lips is a long-held Minnesota tradition … Not for the faint of heart, but legend says it will provide good luck for the entire year!
      • Sip an ice-cold drink at the 50,000 lb Jameson Irish Whiskey ice bar built (literally) on the lake!
      • Enjoy the Eelpout Fish Fry including REAL eelpout nuggets.
      • Arguably the biggest attraction of the Festival is the ever-growing city of lake encampments (some built from scratch).  Tour and immerse yourself in a culture simply too unique to explain to those who “haven’t been” … For example, ever ridden an Ice-Couch Land Cruiser!?

 

 

 

Ely Winter Festival

February is one of the best times to enjoy the Ely area.  It’s time for the annual Ely Winter Festival.  Taking place February 7-17, there’ll be activities for everyone.  Check out the full schedule here.

Some of the activities include:

Tom Weber 100 THINGS TO DO IN THE TWIN CITIES Book Signings

It’s no secret we love to read and we also love to explore, so we are super excited about a new book and two book signing events.  The Tom Weber 100 THINGS TO DO IN THE TWIN CITIES Book Signings are coming up October 13th.

We are always looking for new ideas of things to do in the metro. This book would be great to keep in the car for those spur of the moment times or maybe for planning ahead for the rare day your calendar is blank.  It would also be a great gift idea, there are always holidays and birthdays coming up.  You can check out this great book here

There are two different signings coming up:

Saturday, October 13 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Author book signing at the Mill City Farmers Market
Mills City Farmers Markey
704 S 2nd St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 341-7580
Free and open to the public

Saturday, October 13 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Author book signing
Barnes & Noble Calhoun
3216 W Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55416
(612) 922-3238
Free and open to the public

Behold, the second edition of this essential bucket list guide awaits you. Whether it’s strolling the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis, sipping a drink on Frost’s patio in St. Paul on a warm summer night, or biking to Stillwater for lunch on the St. Croix River, we’ve got you covered. We’re ready to introduce you to outdoor activities that will let you declare victory over the harsh Minnesota winters. But there are also plenty of things to do indoors when Jack Frost truly has it in for you. The hearty Minnesotan will know it’s a fool’s errand to let weather dictate life’s pleasures, and one hundred activities for all seasons await you. Two truly is better than one, and the Twin Cities are waiting to be explored. Enjoy some pro tips too, to enhance your adventures.

 

MN State Fair Favorites: Cheap and Free Fun!

MN State Fair Favorites: Cheap and Free Fun!

We love the MN State Fair! We started taking our kids when they were 4 months old, double stroller and all.  We usually go at least once if not twice, spending almost a whole day there.  Typically we don’t arrive when the gates open, we get there around 9 or 10 but we are there until it closes.

A couple years ago  we arrived in time to see the Milk Run take place, before many of the buildings were even open. We still stayed until almost close, and enjoyed a full day. Even spending an entire day there, we still didn’t have enough time to see everything.

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The best part about the fair is that it’s for all ages and it can be a thrifty fun day.

One of our must do’s at the fair is to head to the Educational building.  Each year we get a free calendar with our picture on it. The Minnesota Education booth, just inside the big doors, has been giving out free photo calendars for many years.  It’s a simple and free process and the line moves fast.  A great free souvenir, of course we try to do that before anyone spills fair food on their clothes!

One of our favorite inexpensive foods that we seek out is the Apple Freezies.  These are great, especially on a hot day. With a bargain price of around $1.50, it won’t break the bank.  Located in the Horticulture building in the apple area.


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There are countless places to stop and relax your tired feet.  A smaller unique venue is a seat inside in the Blue Moon Cafe. Not only do they have some unique food (this year the new thing is the Smoked Soft Serve Ice Cream), but they show old movies.  Yes old, like the black and white movies from the 1950’s era.  I recall one of the films was “Teenagers from Outer Space”.

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Another place we almost always stop at is called Sausage by Cynthia, located next to the Current Radio Station.  Their portions are perfect for sharing and our kids like it, especially the wild rice sausage.

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We don’t typically do rides, many people do, we just choose to skip out on the Midway.  (If your family does rides, then get the Minnesota State Fair Blue Bargain Book. The first coupon is to save $8 on a sheet of Midway or Kidway Tickets, so you’ve already made back more than the $5 price of the book.) We’ve done the Giant Slide, and the Skyway Rides occasionally. 

A couple years ago we decided to ride the Space Tower ride, three of us had never been on it. It wasn’t very expensive and cheaper than some of the food choices.  A fun birds eye view from the top:

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With kids, we don’t always move through the fair really fast, but we cover a lot of ground.  We love that there are so many spots to stop and catch a break or listen to music. 

The animal barns are always a huge hit, just make sure to check the hours when you arrive.  Sometimes they close early for cleaning or changing out the animals. You can also hang out in the Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum to watch animal judging or horse shows. There is LOTS of seating and it’s air conditioned inside, so it’s a comfortable place to spend a long stretch of time.

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It’s really true that the State Fair has something for everyone who goes.  Food, Fun and variety is the name of the game for the Minnesota State Fair.  You can find schedules, maps and more information on their website if you’ve never been, or just need a refresher course on the hours, schedule or layout.

Minnesota State Fair Butter Sculptures

Would love to hear why you love the fair, your favorite must see and do things each?  Or maybe a favorite food?

Ready to eat? Check out the Minnesota State Fair NEW Foods for 2018 HERE!

Minnesota State Fair Free and Cheap Fun

Northland Arboretum

Northland Arboretum

For those of you who are lucky enough to live in the Brainerd area, the Northland Arboretum is probably a familiar place.  To those of us that might visit the Brainerd area, the Northland Arboretum is a hidden gem.  This wonderful place encompasses over 500 acres and offers activities year round.

With this fresh snow it would be great time for snowshoeing or cross country skiing.   The Arboretum also offers a unique fitness trail, where you can journey through 12 different fitness stations.  The Arboretum offers a wide range of activities and events, with an easy access calendar on their website to spotlight everything.

There’s a small fee to use the trails or you can purchase a membership and access is included.   You can find more information about this hidden gem on their website.

Northland Arboretum is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to getting the community involved in and aware of nature.  We have a wide, beautiful area for you and your family to explore.   Have a peaceful walk on our nature trails.   Winter time?  We’ve got that covered too!   You can cross country ski on our spectacular groomed snow covered trails.   Snowshoe or winter hike on non-groomed trails.