Wandering the State Forest Areas of Minnesota

The best part about Minnesota is the variety of landscape it offers.  Sure, we don’t have an actual mountain range but we still have plenty of areas to climb on rocks.  There are pine trees, prairies and everything in between.  Lakes, rivers, and even some puddles to be found.  If you want to go exploring, check out the State Forest areas around Minnesota.  A great, budget friendly and thrifty way to enjoy a bit of nature.  If you go to the website, you can get more information on all the different places you can explore.

 

State forests

You can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities – hiking, camping, wildlife viewing – in any of Minnesota’s State Forests.

State forest campgrounds and day-use areas are developed with a minimum of disturbance to the natural environment and are often in remote locations. This means that they are less likely to be as accessible as many state park campgrounds and facilities. Also, state forests do not have full-time staff available.

 

What we offer:

  • 1000 campsites at 46 campgrounds,
  • 44 day-use areas,
  • about 900 miles of trails, and
  • 142 water accesses.

Campgrounds

There are two types of campgrounds in state forests, developed and primitive.

Developed campgrounds charge a fee and have at least one accessible campsite with a level surface, accessible picnic table, and fire ring. Accessible paths lead from the campsite to a well and accessible vault toilet.

Primitive camp sites are also available at no charge. Most of these do not have accessible features.

  • State forest campgrounds do not have electric hookups or showers.
  • Most drinking water is provided from hand-pumped wells. Some campgrounds have accessible wells with a concrete pad and level approach.
  • Reservations at state forest campgrounds are not required or accepted.

Day Use Areas

Many state forests have day-use areas equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, drinking water, and toilets. They are often located on lakes and have hiking trails, boat access, and swimming beaches. Some have accessible picnic tables, vault toilets, and wells. Overnight camping is not allowed at day-use areas.

Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center and Museum

It’s no secret, Duluth is a popular tourist destination.  You might be familiar with the many state parks that are in the area, and have probably watched the ships come in and out of the harbor.  We recently discovered a hidden gem in Duluth. Right along the shores of the “Gitche Gumee”  and located in the historic Canal Park area, you will find the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center and Museum.  This hidden gem is always free, but be sure to check the hours as they vary depending on the time of year.  In the summer the center offers special films as well as Pier History Tours.  The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center and Museum also offers a live webcam of the lake area, check it out here.

Photo from Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center and Museum website

 

 

The Long Prairie Drive-In Open for 2017 Season

Yes it’s April and yes the Long Prairie Drive-In is open for the 2017 season.  The Long Drive-In, is located on the edge of Long Prairie in central MN.  It’s been around since 1956 and is one of the few Drive-In theaters left in MN.  It’s only open on weekends and you can find information, directions as well as the the schedule here on their website.  We mentioned this last year, but the drive-in also has camping, so if you need to road trip, that’s a great option as well.

Welcome to The Long Drive-In Theatre! The Long Drive-In has been a favorite summer destination for central Minnesota since opening in 1956. Generations of theater-goers have had the opportunity to enjoy movies under the stars from the comfort of their car, lawn chair, or blanket.

GATES OPEN 6:30 on the nights we have movies (Weekends only) 

Enter the Drive-In before nightfall to ensure you catch the entire movie. The second movie follows the first after a brief intermission for snacks. Please see the “movies & menu” tab for concession prices. We do NOT close due to rain. We only close if it is life threatening weather. To ensure if we are open or closed, call (320)732-3142 for the answering machine.

PRICE (includes both movies)

Adults: $6.00 **6-11: $3.00 **5 & under: Free

 

National Beer Day in Granite Falls

Have you ever heard of Andrew Volstead?  I have to admit, I hadn’t until I was looking for events and things to do this weekend. I also learned that it’s National Beer Day on Friday, April 7th.  What does this have to do with Andrew you might ask.  Andrew was from Granite Falls and played a part in the ending of prohibition.  If you stop by the Chamber of Commerce in Granite Falls,  you can pick up the Prohibition Story walking tour guide.  If you can’t make it on Friday, you can check the website for other hours and dates when Andrew’s home will be open for tours.

Celebrate the end of Prohibition in Andrew Volstead’s hometown. Stop in the chamber office at 807 Prentice St and pick up a copy of the Prohibition Story walking tour guide. The Andrew J. Volstead House is open from 4-6 with local history of what happened on this day in 1933.  Then enjoy a beer at one of our bars and restaurants. The Granite Falls American Legion Post #69 has a  Free Beer special: Buy one domestic bottle, get one free from 4pm to 10pm.

Hiking and Walking in the Three Rivers Park District

I hope we can safely say that it’s spring, soon the white snow will be out of site.  With each day, I see more and more signs of spring. Thankfully we live in state that offers a lot of public land for us to be able to enjoy the outdoors.  So, even if you live in the middle of a town, you too have access to hiking and walking close by.  The Three Rivers Park District offers access to over 27, 000 acres of parks and trails.  Hiking and Walking is a way to get out and enjoy what spring has to offer.  The Three Rivers Park District recently updated and revamped their website, making it even easier to find a place to hike or walk.

“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
― John Muir

12th Annual Randolph Railroad Days

All Board, it’s time for the 12th Annual Randolph Railroad Days.  It takes place this weekend, March 25-26 at the Randolph High School.  Randolph is located just 20 minutes south of the twin cities and 45 minutes north of Rochester.  Each year the Randolph Railroad Days gets bigger and better, there’s sure to be something for everyone. Hours are Saturday 9-3 and Sunday 10-2. Admission is $6 for adults and children 10 and under are free.

Joining us will be “Cannonball” Paul! (America’s Premier Old-Fashioned Railroad Musician) and Bookworm Bonnie (International Queen of the Hobos 2013-14).  Cannonball Paul will be doing shows but also will be serenading throughout both days of the train show.  Bookworm Bonnie will be doing railroad folklore presentations both days as well.

And of course once again we will have the CHOO CHOO BOB TV show’s Engineer Paul!  He will entertain families with sing-a-longs and story telling.  He will also be doing performances on both Saturday and Sunday.

Remember at the Randolph school we have gymnasiums (and more in the hallways) of Operating Layouts and our Swap Meet.  Also be sure to check out our and Museum and its railroad artifacts.  The School AND our Museum are both handicapped accessible.

There will also be railroad slide shows and presentations on both Saturday and Sunday.

There were to be train rides this year.  But unfortunately the local railroad now finds it has limited resources the day of this year’s Randolph Railroad Days.  The railroad is however optimistic that they may be able to do rides later this year.  Hopefully better than they originally had planned!  We’ll keep you posted.

In any case an Engine and Caboose WILL be at this year’s show to explore.

Admission is $6 for adults and children 10 and under are free.

 

 

Wells Fargo History Museum

Just when I think I’ve learned about all the museums in our area, I discover another one.  The Wells Fargo History Museum is located in Minneapolis.  The best part about it, it’s free.  It’s open M-F from 9-5, so it might take some planning to get to it if those are your work hours.  It’s family friendly and includes some aspects geared towards kids.  It’s self-guided but if you want to schedule a large group they do offer guided tours.  You can find more specific information here on their website, about the location, special events and more.  History is a great thing and fascinating to see how things have changed.

The museum is on the skyway level of the Wells Fargo Center at 6th Street South and Marquette Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. The Wells Fargo History Museum offers visitors hands-on family fun.

Step off the skyway and into a storied past. Examine an authentic stagecoach from 1863, see the glimmer of real gold nuggets and coins, send coded messages by telegraph, ride in a rocking stagecoach, sing along to the Weatherball jingle—and much more!

Soar With the Eagles, Weekends in March

March is time to head to Wabasha.  It’s time for Soar With the Eagles, each weekend will have something for everyone.  There will be live animals, bird shows, arts and crafts, and more.  Check out the full schedule here.   You can find directions as well as admission information here.

March is here and it’s time to SOAR with the Eagles in Wabasha! This year’s lineup of presenters and exhibitors includes some exciting new things and some old favorites including flying bird shows, live animals, arts & crafts, exotic birds, insects and more! Don’t miss out – there’s something for everyone, so bring your family and friends! Our featured presenters are:

MARCH 4TH-5TH
EARTHQUEST

MARCH 11TH-12TH
WILD WORLD OF ANIMALS

MARCH 18TH-19TH
WINGS TO SOAR

MARCH 25TH-26TH
WINGS OF WONDER (CINCINNATI ZOO)

Glensheen Mansion $5 Tour Tuesdays

If you’ve never been to the Glensheen Mansion in Duluth now is the time to plan a Tuesday to tour it. Why a Tuesday you may ask?? – –  because from now through the end of April you can tour it for $5 on Tuesdays.  So plan a road trip, or schedule a day off from work. Glensheen is just one of the many historic gems we have in our state.  It was voted Minnesota’s 2016 Visitor Attraction of the Year by Explore Minnesota Tourism.  If you can’t make it on a Tuesday, or need the address and information about the mansion, check out their website.

A Family Affair

Chester and Clara Congdon built Glensheen between 1905 and 1908 as their home. This influential family is known for opening up iron mining in this region and setting aside land for public use, such as the North Shore Scenic Highway and Congdon Park.

 

Few Seats But Great Eats – Best Tiny Restaurants in the Twin Cities

Sometimes going out to eat is just hoping there’ll be a seat when you arrive.  Sure, some of the fancy places take reservations, but if you want down home cooking then that’s probably not an option.  We love to try off the beaten path places and have discovered a selection of few seats but great eats in Minneapolis and St. Paul. We think these are a few of the best tiny restaurants in the Twin Cities for down-home cooking!

Our most recent adventures took us to Our Kitchen, located in South Minneapolis.  This small place only has about 19 seats – yes you read that correctly 19. Some are at the counter and the rest line up to face the seat.  We lucked out and only had a short 5 minute wait before three seats opened up.  We each ordered breakfast and all agreed it was delicious and would be back.  I’m thinking our secret to lucking out and getting seats was the fact that we arrived a half hour before they closed up.  Everyone was friendly and many were greeted by name.

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Al’s Breakfast but I recall delicious pancakes. It’s located in the Dinky Town area of Minneapolis, not too far from the University of Minneapolis campus.  I’m hoping to bring our girls this summer. This little gem with only 14 seats means that you need to be prepared to wait a bit.

The third of the few seats but great eats is probably the most of famous of all.  Mickey’s Dining Car is located in St. Paul and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  This is the only one of the three where you can eat at night -the other two are morning and early afternoon only.  When we ate here it was in the evening and we enjoyed some great malts and burgers.  The best part was sitting at the counter watching the cook.  Our girls were in awe of all the tiny drawers and spaces where the food was kept.   Mickey’s does have a few more seats than the previous places I mentioned, but don’t get too excited as it’s still pretty limited seating.

I would love to know if there are other few seats but great eats around the metro or even outstate Minnesota.  Please let us know, we would love to give them a try.