Explore Minnesota’s Finest Cuisines, Wines, Beers and Spirits!

The Explore Minnesota drinking and eating guide lists and links to more than 1,500 restaurants throughout the state, as well as Minnesota breweries and wineries. Renowned chefs serve up an eclectic array of fare, ranging from international cuisine to dishes straight from the local farm. The state is seeing huge growth in craft beer and spirits, and Minnesota wines continue to win awards at international competitions. Keep checking back we’re adding new venues all the time. http://www.exploreminnesota.com/drink-eat

Did someone say Burgers?

Matt’s Bar & Grill, now a Minneapolis landmark, began in 1954 as a neighborhood burger eatery. Shortly after we opened, founder Matt Bristol explains how the “Jucy Lucy” was created when a local customer asked for two hamburger patties with a slice of cheese in the middle. Upon biting into this new, molten hot burger, he exclaimed “that’s one juicy Lucy”, and a legend was born. Customer demand grew so quickly, we forgot to add the “i” and the “Jucy Lucy” has now become a local culinary hero. Remember, if it’s spelled correctly, you just might be eating a shameless ripoff!

Matt’s has received numerous awards, and has appeared in publications from Hamburgers Across America to the The New York Times. Matt’s has been featured on the Travel Channel’s Man Vs. Food and Food Wars, where we won the best tasting “Jucy Lucy” in town. Each “Jucy Lucy” is carefully handmade with the freshest, high-quality beef and filled with the molten hot cheese you can only find at Matt’s. Once you’ve had our “Jucy Lucy”, you’ll understand why our motto is “Fear the Cheese”!

Wineries & Winery Dining

Richwood Winery is the hidden star of the North Star State. Located on 9 acres of pristine land overlooking Lake Buffalo and just 10 miles North of Detroit Lakes, it is a destination for anyone and everyone. Whether you are an oenophiliac (wine-lover), vacationer, family looking to enjoy the scenery or just someone who could use a day to relax and unwind – welcome, you’re home.

Richwood began in 2007 as a location like no other. Convinced that the grape varietals created by the University of Minnesota could not only survive the conditions of northern MN but thrive to create a great wine, co-owner and founder Penny Aguirre purchased the location to put her notion to the test. Her vision for Richwood extended far beyond just the grapes. As she fondly remembers “I wanted to make a community gathering place where people in the area can meet each other and become friends.” Today the winery and grounds of Richwood are that vision personified: a place where family, wine and science play happily all day every day.

Starting in the spring of 2008 with LaCrescent, Frontenac Gris and Marquette grapes, the winery has expanded, bringing those cold weather loving, hearty vines and their delicious products together with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir grapes from California to bring the best of both worlds together in a glass. Your glass.

All grapes are crushed on-site and the wine made, blended and bottled in the wine “laboratory,” a converted garage combining the quality of any NAPA Valley winery with all the charm of northern Minnesota. Together with the log cabin tasting room overlooking the vineyards, the former-airplane-hangar storage facility and the rest of the gorgeous nine acre, southern exposure property and you have an experience not to be missed.

So if you are looking for the right space for your next event, excited about one of our annual shindigs or simply curious how beautiful and rewarding a day with us can possibly be, come join the community!  We love the Lake Buffalo life and can’t wait to greet you with a warm welcome to the Richwood Winery family.

Breweries

Klockow Brewery, This brewery and taproom is owned and operated by husband and wife team, Andy and Tasha Klockow. Andy is from rural Northern Wisconsin. Tasha is from the Grand Rapids area. Andy is also the resident brewer. He has been working at HammerHeart Brewing Company in Lino Lakes over the past 3 years and is excited to cultivate his own recipes for the people of the Grand Rapids area. We are basically open books so please feel free to reach out to us!

Minnesota Holiday Spirit: Tis the Season!

Winter in Minnesota is the perfect time of year to get together with loved ones, embrace old traditions, or even start some new ones. Here are just five of the many ways to make the most of this special season.

GET IN THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT

Bentleyville Tour of Lights

Bentleyville Tour of Lights, Duluth

A hallmark of the holiday season in Germany and Austria, holiday markets—called Christkindlmarkts—have made their way to Minnesota. Holidazzle will take place in Loring Park again this year and will feature more than 40 vendors selling ornaments, candles and other handcrafted gifts, as well as mulled wine and brats. Other highlights include fireworks, Santa visits, holiday movie screenings and free ice skating. The destination is open Thursdays-Sundays from Nov. 25 through Dec. 23 and is free to attend.

Holiday plays and performances are a tradition for many families this time of year. Festive favorites include “A Christmas Carol” at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and the Rochester Civic Theatre, a dozen iterations of “The Nutcracker,” from classic to hip-hop, and Christmas concerts by artists including Kat Perkins, Blind Boys of Alabama, Lorie Line and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

For light shows worth a drive, don’t miss Duluth’s Bentleyville Tour of Lights, the Kiwanis Holiday Lights in Mankato and the Trester Trolley Light Tours in Winona. New in 2016, “Bruce Munro: Winter Light at the Arboretum” is the first large-scale outdoor light display at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen.

EXPLORE A NATURE CENTER

Great gray owl in Duluth; photo by Amanda Burcar-Annis

Photo by Amanda Burcar Annis

Many of Minnesota’s nature centers are open year-round, offering opportunities to interact with wildlife and the winter landscape. Owls are a big draw at the Agassiz Audubon Center near Thief River Falls, which documented dozens of snowy owl sightings last year in the surrounding Red River Valley.

At the International Owl Center in southeastern Minnesota, Alice the resident great horned owl is so popular that the International Festival of Owls in early March is held in conjunction with her hatch day.

Since nature centers are often surrounded by trails, they make a great starting point for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or snowmobiling. Options include the River Bend Nature Center in Faribault (skiing and snowmobiling), Maplewood Nature Center (snowshoeing) and Hartley Nature Center in Duluth (skiing).

CHECK OUT A MUSEUM

At the Science Museum of Minnesota in downtown St. Paul, “Mindbender Mansion” makes critical thinking and problem solving fun, and “A Beautiful Planet” is featured in the Omnitheater. Open until mid-January, the “Gridiron Glory” exhibit at the Minnesota History Center features the Vince Lombardi trophy and other artifacts from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While you’re downtown, be sure to stop by Rice Park to see the ice sculptures and live entertainment as part of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival.

Other museums worth a winter visit include the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona, the recently reopened Spam Museum in Austin, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, which recently debuted a new entrance and restaurant as part of its major renovation project.

WARM UP AT A WATER PARK

Family Cascade Bay Water Park 440x440.jpgWaterslides, lazy rivers and splash pads aren’t just for the summer months. Several Minnesota water parks can be found indoors, offering a tropical escape no matter the weather.

Paul Bunyan Water Park, inside Arrowwood Lodge in Baxter, features tube and body slides, a treehouse equipped with water cannons and an indoor/outdoor hot tub. At the Edgewater Hotel & Waterpark in Duluth, a vortex pool allows guests to swim with or against a fast-moving current.

There’s even a waterpark right by Mall of America, so you can take a dip after completing all your holiday shopping. Find more options, from Bloomington to Alexandria to Thief River Falls, on the water parks page.

GO MAPLE SYRUPING

A sure sign that spring is coming, maple syrup demonstrations and festivals start cropping up in March. On Maple Syrup Day, the Audubon Center of the North Woods in Sandstone hosts a pancake brunch as part of its syrup celebration. Or see how the sap is gathered and turned into syrup, and get a taste of the end result, at the Wargo Nature Center in Lino Lakes.

Many Minnesota state parks, including Fort Snelling in St. Paul, Whitewater near St. Charles and Lake Maria near Monticello, offer maple syrup programs. Nature centers and other parks, like the Three Rivers Park District in the metro area, also get in on the fun.

Traditional Minnesota Food; Transformation!

When you think of Minnesota food, you might think of a few classic staples: nutty wild rice, flaky walleye, and stick-to-your-guts hot dish. http://whitebirchresort.net

Change, of course, has arrived with a vengeance as a food revolution has swept the state, and tradition is increasingly seen as a platform for invention. Chefs around the state revel in adapting and sometimes completely transforming hidebound dishes, creating menus that riff playfully on familiar flavors and foods.

MPLS Dog

MPLS DOG AT UNCLE FRANKY’S, TWIN CITIES

Diners know the Chicago Dog and the Coney Island Dog but how about the MPLS Dog? Stop into Uncle Franky’s to enjoy this new creation. The MPLS Dog is an all beef hot dog topped with hot dish, a drizzle of ketchup, Cheese-Whiz and crispy tater tots. You can find the MPLS Dog at Uncle Franky’s in Minneapolis, Fridley and Plymouth.

GRAND VIEW LODGE DINING ROOM, NISSWA

Plunge into a venison wild rice meatloaf at the Grand View Lodge Dining Room if you’d like to experience an elevated take on a Midwestern classic. The venison and wild rice take you to the arboreal wilds, and the presentation and technique bring you back into the comfort of civilization.

PIGGY BLUE’S BAR-B-QUE, AUSTIN

SPAM takes center stage in Austin, Minnesota, home of the famous canned ham that fueled American troops through multiple wars (and became an intrinsic part of Hawaiian and Korean cultures in the process.) Stop by Piggy Blue’s Bar-B-Que for a Spam Town Po’ Boy or Spam Burger.

FITGER’S BREWHOUSE, DULUTH

Fitger’s is a food, drink and music hub of Duluth’s social scene, so it’s no surprise that they’ve got some inventive takes on local flavor. The brewpub’s smoked fish salad uses smoked trout from local smokehouse Northern Waters, wild rice and smoked dressing, and it brings a hearty does of flavor to the table.

If you’re up for something a bit more edgy, try the Northern Waters Smokehaus Whitefish Burger, where the locally caught fish is seasoned with breadcrumbs, eggs, mustard and spice, served on a ciabatta roll and finished with wasabi mayonnaise.

Blue Door Pub burger
Photo courtesy of The Blue Door Pub

THE BLUE DOOR PUB, ST. PAUL & MINNEAPOLIS

The humble cheese-stuffed hamburger known as the Jucy Lucy got its start in South Minneapolis taverns like Matt’s, Adrian’s and the 5-8 Club. But it has been taken to inventive heights by the team behind The Blue Door Pub in St. Paul, with a new location in Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood.

The Blue Door’s menu swims with creative versions of the stuffed favorite, but the one that caught our eye was the Bangkok Blucy, stuffed with coconut milk-soaked mozzarella and topped with pickled carrots, cucumbers, red onion, and ginger with a side of curry for dunking.

THE BOATHOUSE, ELY

Craft beer has come to Minnesota’s vacation country in force, as evidenced by frontier brewpubs like the newly founded Boathouse in Ely. The Boathouse’s beer-battered walleye uses house-made craft beer and thereby managed to capture a good percentage of a successful fishing trip in each bite taken.

Alternately, take your walleye to Mexico via India with the brewpub’s fish taco, which features breaded strips of fish on naan bread with shredded cheddar and a side of broccoli slaw.

Cold?…Here’s 5 Hot Drinks for Winter Weather!

Hot Cocoa - Photo by Angelica King
Photo by Angelica King

After hitting the slopes, riding the trails or attending an outdoor festival in Minnesota this winter, sipping something warm will taste twice as delicious. Minnesotans are no strangers to creative hot beverages, and there are generally some tempting options to wrap your hands around no matter what part of the state you’re in. Here are five hot drinks to keep you warm this winter:

BOMBAY COCOA FROM GOLDEN FIG FINE FOODS, ST. PAUL

There’s nothing quite like a mug of hot cocoa when the mercury dips below freezing. And while the old-fashioned standard is a comforting favorite, there are shops around Minnesota playing with the beverage, updating it and tricking it out with some new features. Take, for example, St. Paul’s Golden Fig local foods store, where one of the house blends includes cinnamon, ginger, cardamom,and a host of other spices; it’s known as “Bombay Cocoa,” and it evokes chai tea with a chocolatey kick. A percentage of every bag sold goes to organizations that support women coffee growers in their country of origin, and the company sources its beans from female growers whenever possible.

CITY GIRL COFFEE FROM ALAKEF, DULUTH

Coffee is not merely coffee. Good coffees are often the product of great stories, like the one behind City Girl Coffee from Alakef. After taking over her family’s 25-year-old Duluth-based roasting company, Alakef owner Alyza Bohbot created City Girl as a sustainable coffee company dedicated to empowering women in the coffee industry. A percentage of every bag sold goes to organizations that support women coffee growers in their country of origin, and the company sources its beans from female growers whenever possible.

TOM AND JERRY, STATEWIDE

If you grew up drinking the hot cocktail known as a Tom and Jerry, you have some sense of why it’s a such a good friend to those of us living in northern states. And if you didn’t, it’s time to get acquainted with this slice of Upper Midwestern beverage culture. According to the Dictionary of International Food and Cooking Terms (Myra Waldo, 1967), a Tom and Jerry is “a hot frothy alcoholic drink made with beaten egg yolks, stiffly beaten egg whites, rum, sugar, boiling water, bourbon and spices, served in mugs with a sprinkling of nutmeg.” As per an authoritative story about the cocktail, “most modern aficionados replace the water with milk and the bourbon with brandy.”

You can buy Tom and Jerry mix at stores, but if you can’t find it, there’s a great recipe for the cocktail online.

CARDAMOM LATTE FROM ANELACE COFFEE, MINNEAPOLIS

Anelace Latte_Becca Dilley
Photo by Becca Dilley

There’s nothing like a finely crafted coffee drink, particularly when the weather goes polar on you. Anelace Coffee, on Central Avenue in Minneapolis, makes some of the most beautifully balanced and smooth coffee drinks in the state. The use of a bit of cardamom syrup gives this latte a Nordic-inspired wintry flavor that is incomparable when the snow starts to fly.

HOT CIDER, STATEWIDE

Minnesota is a great state for apples: The climate and soil are friendly to the fruit, and the University of Minnesota has done a great deal to ensure new and delicious varietals keep popping up in markets around the country. Most cafes will offer hot cider of some sort, particularly in the autumn through early winter months. And if you’re interested in something a bit stronger that still packs an apple punch, you can find ambitious artisan hard ciders from makers all over the state, including Milk and Honey Ciders (Cold Spring), Keepsake Cidery (Dundas) and Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery (Spring Valley).

Find Minnesota coffee shops and other places to sip in our Drink & Eat directory.

The Northern Lights of Bentleyville!

Bentleyville Tour of Lights, Duluth

Each winter, the Bentleyville Tour of Lights transforms the Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth into an illuminated winter wonderland with colorful displays and holiday music. Dubbed “America’s Largest Free Walk-Through Lighting Display,” Bentleyville’s festive display features more than 4 million lights. The 2017 event will also feature the #OnlyinMN monument.  http://whitebirchresort.net

Bentleyville’s 12-story Christmas tree is more than twice the height of the one in Rockefeller Center and is covered with 100,000 LED lights that dance to holiday music. Using more than 5.5 miles of rope light, festive displays include Sesame Street, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys, Minnesota icons such as Split Rock Lighthouse, Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge, Paul Bunyan, Babe the Blue Ox and more.

Bentleyville Christmas Tree

As you stroll through the festive display, visitors can sip on hot cocoa, munch on popcorn or roast marshmallows over a campfire. Children have the opportunity to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus every night.

The spectacle runs from Nov. 18 through Dec. 26, 2017. The show is free, but monetary donations are appreciated. Guests are also encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy or non-perishable food items for the Salvation Army.

Parking is available in front of Bayfront Festival Park. Visitors are encouraged to use the free Jingle Bus shuttle service that is available at multiple locations throughout the city or board the festive Bentleyville Train that arrives from the Edgewater Hotel & Water Park.

Nearby family attractions include the Great Lakes AquariumLake Superior ZooSpirit Mountain Ski and Recreation Area, and numerous restaurants and hotels.

7-Northern Minnesota Snow-Filled Fun Activities!

There’s no escape from winter, but a winter escape is fun and easy. From skiing to snowmobiling and urban adventures, options for snowy recreation are practically endless in Minnesota. So, take advantage of nature’s gift to the north. The snow will be gone before you know it.  For more information contact us at  http://whitebirchresort.net

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING

Cross Country Ski Trail 440x440Minnesota is known for its great cross-country skiing, with more than 2,000 miles of dedicated trails to explore. In addition to day trips, cross-country ski resorts offer great meals, comfortable lodging, saunas and spas to round out the experience. Trails in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, near Ely and along the Gunflint Trail, are among the state’s top destinations for serious skiers.

Snow is most reliable in the northern half of the state, but good cross-country skiing can be found everywhere. In fact, snow-making machines are employed at several Minneapolis-St. Paul area trails to ensure quality conditions. More than two dozen Minnesota state parks provide groomed trails, and some rent skis.

DOWNHILL SKIING

Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn learned to ski in Minnesota, but even novices can take advantage of the state’s 16 downhill ski areas. In addition to big hills, many areas also feature terrain parks for ski and snowboard tricks, as well as cross-country ski trails.

Northeast Minnesota is home to the Midwest’s largest, longest and highest hills. Long runs and scenic vistas are memory makers. Ski areas in central and southern Minnesota also offer picturesque, high-quality experiences. Many are gracefully carved into towering river bluffs and broad forested valleys.

Minneapolis-St. Paul area visitors have several downhill ski areas within a 90-minute drive. Visitors to other parts of the state have plenty of choices, too. Equipment rentals and lessons are available at most ski destinations.

SNOWMOBILING

Snowmobilers 399 x 600Minnesota has nearly as many miles of snowmobile trails(roughly 22,000) as it does highways. These trails, many of which are maintained by local snowmobile clubs, extend to all corners of the state. Many trails run through picturesque federal, state and county forests, and can take riders to restaurants, lodging, and other popular amenities. Weekly trail condition updates are available by email.

ICE FISHING

Minnesota’s panfish season never closes, and walleye, northern pike and other seasons extend deep into winter. As a result, fishing continues to be one of Minnesota’s most popular outdoor activities long after waves have turned to ice.

Ice fishing’s ongoing allure, in part, stems from ice house improvements. Safe and reliable heaters, grills and comfortable beds are all part of the modern ice fishing experience. Warm, lifelong memories are often forged from nature’s northern lights, stunning sunsets and the hushed silence of winter.

Popular lakes for ice fishing include Leech, Gull, Mille Lacs, Lake of the Woods and more. Ice fishing festivals on these and other lakes are tons of fun, even if you’re not fishing.

FAT BIKING

Cuyuna-Fat-Biking-1The skinny on fat tire mountain biking is that Minnesota offers outstanding options. One of the most notable is the rugged and hilly Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, where winter trails slice and curve through forests and lake country. In many ways, Cuyuna isn’t a trail; it’s an experience.

Several state parks now offer winter mountain biking opportunities thanks to the sport’s increasing popularity. So do park systems in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Duluth and Winona areas, with more opening up every year.

DOG SLEDDING

Dog sledding is one of the most fun and unusual ways to experience winter. People of all ages and physical abilities can do it, and trips can be tailored to your comfort level. Short trips, day trips, overnight trips, and trips that include ice fishing are among the many iterations available.

Lodging options also vary. You can spend the night in a cozy cabin or in a yurt—an insulated tent-like shelter.

The primary destination for this sport is the Boundary Waters, but outfitters can also be found in Duluth, along the North Shore, and even in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

SNOWSHOEING

Instructor teaching people how to walk in snowshoesFor those who want to enjoy the snow with something other than skis on their feet, snowshoeing is a great, low-impact activity. Snowshoe rentals and trails are common in state and local park systems, including those in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Many nature centers provide snowshoe rentals and trails, too.

Minnesota:Peak Fall Colors

The glow of autumn is visible in all parts of the state, with many areas now at peak fall color!whitebirchresort.net

Peak fall color typically arrives in the northern one-third of the state in mid-September to early October. The central third of the state is most colorful between late September and early October. Southern Minnesota trees reach the height of their fall color late September to mid-October. One exception is the North Shore of Lake Superior, where peak fall color arrives about a week later than inland areas due to the warming effect of the lake. Please note that fall color can change rapidly due to wind, rain and frost.

The Explore Minnesota Fall Color Update will be sent each Thursday afternoon during the fall color season, with additional updates as conditions warrant. Information in this report is provided courtesy of the Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and the Three Rivers Park District.

The Hike MN Sweepstakes is underway now through Oct. 22, with an array of prizes awarded including Minnesota getaways, Gopher Sports tickets and gift cards for Mall of America and Minnesota State Parks. For information on hiking in Minnesota, visit Hike MN.

Don’t miss the spectacular fall color show! Plan ahead with a customized travel planner from our Explore Minnesota Travel Counselors at 888-VISITMN (888-847-4866), or request your planner at Contact a Travel Counselor. Before you go, be sure to check out these 10 spectacular fall color routes in Minnesota, and plan a stop at an apple orchard or pumpkin patch along the way!

Northeast Minnesota

While many state parks in the far northeast region of the state are now past peak, the parks along Lake Superior are at their peak. Near peak fall color can be found at some parks just south and west of Lake Superior. This weekend, consider a trip to Cascade River, Temperance River, Gooseberry Falls, Jay Cooke and Father Hennepin state parks. A drive along the North Shore All-American Scenic Drive is another great option.

Scenic State Park – Grand Rapids/Bigfork
While a few of the deciduous trees have not fully turned color, most will soon be bare.

Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park – Soudan
The park foliage is at or just past peak fall color. The birch and aspen are vibrant shades of yellow, and the maples are holding onto their orange and red leaves. Vermilion Park Drive, the entrance road leading to the campground, is a good spot to view the colorful leaves. Hwy 169 is also recommended. Mine tours are open weekends through MEA weekend, Oct. 20-22.

Bear Head Lake State Park – Ely
The red oaks are holding onto their burnt red and orange leaves, but windy conditions have brought down lots of bright yellow and orange aspen leaves. The tamaracks are beginning to add their brilliant gold color to the mix.

Cascade River State Park – Grand Marais
The entire park is blazing with color right now, but the leaves are dropping fast as well. Any trail within the park is sure to be exceptional for the next few days, and Lookout Mountain still offers spectacular views! Visitors will see yellow-green aspen, golden birch and raging waterfalls, along with an occasional bright red or orange maple.

Temperance River State Park – Tofte
The aspen and birch along the Lake Superior shoreline are stunning shades of bright yellow and gold, but the leaves aren’t expected to remain above ground for long. While the inland maple forests are also at peak shades of yellow, gold, coral, peach, tangerine and crimson, leaves are dropping quickly. The 6-mile, round-trip hike to Carlton Peak will reward you with broad vistas and panoramic views of the maple forests. Carefully explore the River Gorge to view the rushing waters of the Temperance River.

Gooseberry Falls State Park – Two Harbors
The fall colors are bright and beautiful with brilliant shades of yellow, orange and red filling the park. Recommended hikes include the Gitchi Gummi Trail with its view of Gooseberry River Valley and Lake Superior. High Point Lookout is a must for those who want a longer trail with great views. Programs offered Oct. 14 include a Civilian Conservation Corps hike and discussion about the men and boys who lived at and built Gooseberry Falls State Park.

Jay Cooke State Park–Carlton
The park foliage is just past its peak. While there is still plenty of color, some of the trees have lost their leaves. Driving into the park on Hwy. 210 is a great way to see the abundant fall colors along the St. Louis River. Stop at the Swinging Bridge to view the river up close. The overlooks at Oldenburg Point will give you panoramic view of the park and river valley.

Father Hennepin State Park – Isle, southeast edge of Lake Mille Lacs
The maples have turned bright yellow and orange, with a few displaying stunning red leaves. A hike to Pope’s Point is recommended — start at the beach and walk along the shore while listening to the waves on Lake Mille Lacs. A picnic at the Lakeview Shelter is also a good choice.

Northwest Minnesota

Most parks in this region of the state are past their peak for fall color, however, the oaks, aspen and tamaracks at Itasca State Park are very colorful. A drive along the Lake Country Scenic Byway should also offer some nice fall color this weekend.

Zippel Bay State Park–Williams, northwest of Baudette
The forest remains very golden but the leaves are falling fast. Hike the 1.5 miles of trails that follow Lake of the Woods.

Lake Bronson State Park – Lake Bronson, far northwest corner of Minnesota
While the leaves are quickly falling to the forest floor, some nice fall color remains in the wooded areas of the park.

Hayes Lake State Park – south of Roseau
Most of the trees are bare following recent heavy rains and wind, and the park is now closed for the season.

Big Bog Recreation Area–Waskish
The tamarack trees are bright shades of yellow and orange along the Big Bog Boardwalk. Many of the other tree species along the entrance road and Ludlow Pond are holding on to their brightly colored leaves. Be sure to climb the firetower for a spectacular view of the Upper Red Lake shoreline and the Big Bog. Canoeing on the slow moving Tamarac River is a great way to view all of the color — consider renting a canoe from the park office.

Lake Bemidji State Park – Bemidji
Although the maples are past peak, the oaks are coming on strong with dark red and copper colored leaves. The tamaracks at the bog and Sundew Pond are starting to turn golden. The bog walk and the trail to Sundew Pond are now best for fall color.

Itasca State Park – north of Park Rapids
While Itasca is now past its peak for fall color, plenty of stunning color remains as the oak and aspen reach their peak and the tamaracks begin to add their brilliant golds to the mix. This second wave of transformation has filled the forests with deep golds, yellows, oranges and reds which are especially beautiful surrounding the park’s 100 lakes. For lovely views of the oak and aspen tour the South Entrance Road and Wilderness Drive. Top picks for hiking trails include the Aiton Heights, Dr. Roberts and Brower trails.

Buffalo River State Park – Moorhead
Most of the cottonwood, aspen and poplar trees have dropped their leaves, but beautiful yellow, orange and red leaves are lingering in the oak and elm. A walk on the Prairie View Trail offers colorful sights of the oak dominated forest. For a shorter trip, head to the picnic area for an overlook of the Buffalo River.

Central Minnesota

Fall color at most parks in the central region of the state is either at, nearing or just peak. Some of the most colorful parks this weekend should be Maplewood, Glendalough and Mille Lacs Kathio state parks, as well as the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. Also consider a drive along the Glacial Ridge Trail Scenic Byway or Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway.

Maplewood State Park – Pelican Rapids
Maplewood is known for its stunning maples, and the fall colors are just about at their peak! There are bright yellow, orange and red maples throughout the park. The ripening prairie grasses are showing peak shades of gold, blue, maroon and bronze. The golden shimmer of aspens and the deep purple and bronzes of the oaks are adding to the beauty. Hallaway Hill is always an excellent vantage point to view fall colors, and the scenic park drive offers a colorful 4.5-mile drive through the heart of Maplewood’s forests and prairies. Boats, canoes and kayaks are available for rent — check with the park office for details.

Glendalough State Park – Battle Lake
While some of the trees are losing their leaves, most of the maples remain stunning shades of red and orange, and the ash and cottonwood trees are still a bright yellow. Even the oaks are turning gold and maroon. The prairie grasses continue to show an array of purple and orange. Recommended areas in the park include the bike trail, lodge, trail center, and the middle of the lake from canoe or kayak — rent one at the park office through Oct. 22!

Sibley State Park – north of Willmar
Peak fall color came on suddenly, and Sibley’s peak fall color show is starting to fade. The big bluestem and Indian grass are holding onto gold and maroon hues. The ash trees remain a striking bronze. The oaks are beginning to turn various shades of red. Most of the maples and early-turning trees and shrubs have shed their leaves. Hike the Mount Tom Trail then climb to the Mount Tom Lookout for a panoramic view of Sibley and beyond. Kayaks and canoes are available to rent most weekends — experience a unique view of the park from Lake Andrew.

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park – Little Falls
The oaks are quickly filling with burnt orange and maroon leaves, but the maples are past their peak and most of the ash and elm trees are bare.

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park – Onamia
Fall color is spectacular with crimson red, orange and yellow trees visible throughout the park. Mille Lacs Kathio’s 100-foot observation tower offers an amazing view of the fall colors along Lake Mille Lacs, Lake Shakopee and the Rum River. Rent a canoe, kayak or rowboat, or bring one of your own to explore the beautiful waters of Mille Lacs Kathio State Park. Don’t miss the trail walk offered Oct. 14.

Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area – Crosby, northeast of Brainerd
Deep reds, warm golds and bright yellows are visible throughout Cuyuna Country, with patches of vibrant red and orange showing up in the maples. Fall color enthusiasts will want to check out Miner’s Mountain Overlook for views 200 feet above the surrounding area. The overlook can be accessed by vehicle or bike. There are numerous scenic overlooks along the paved Cuyuna Lakes State Trail and the mountain bike trail system. For those who want to do some hiking away from the paved trail, the 10 mile Sagamore Unit is the place to go. Fall color viewing by boat, canoe or kayak is another great way to view the transformation. Be sure to inquire about the yurts with woodstoves.

Savanna Portage State Park – north of McGregor
The forest is golden, but the color is fading fast as leaves fall to the ground. The Continental Divide Trail, Wolf Lake, Loon Lake, and Lake Shumway are holding onto the best fall colors.

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area

Fall color continues to spread throughout the Twin Cities vicinity. Peak or near peak fall color can be found at Wild River and Interstate state parks, as well as the Big Woods parks within the Three Rivers Park District. Also consider a visit to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, or a drive along the Minneapolis Grand Rounds Scenic Byway or St. Croix Scenic Byway.

Wild River State Park – Almelund, east of North Branch
The Visitor Center deck offers stunning views of near peak conditions in the St. Croix River Valley. Cooler temperatures have led to an increase in fall color change, especially in the maples which are full of vibrant red, orange and yellow leaves. The ash, birch and aspen continue to cast a golden glow in the forests. The oaks are just beginning to turn. A few of the riverbank trails remain flooded — check with the park office for updates.

Interstate State Park – Taylors Falls
Cooler temperatures have brought out more vibrant fall colors. The yellow and orange trees are lovely across the St. Croix River Valley. Hike the River Trail for stunning views, the Sandstone Bluffs Trail for great views and a workout, or the Glacial Potholes Trail for the unique geology. Also enjoy guided Glacial Pothole Tours at noon most Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 21.

William O’Brien State Park – Marine on St. Croix/north of Stillwater
Bright fall colors fill the trees behind Lake Alice. The Prairie Overlook Trail in the northern section of the park, and the Riverside Trail that follows the St. Croix River and Lake Alice are beautiful.

Fort Snelling State Park – St. Paul
The ash and cottonwood trees are shedding their golden leaves on windy days. Many of the silver maples are still green, providing a nice contrast in color. The sumac shrubs are a brilliant red on the west side of Snelling Lake. Please note that the Pike Island Trail is currently closed due to flooding, and the boat docks on Picnic Island and Cedar have been pulled from the water.

Three Rivers Park District – Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Scott & Wright counties
The trees are at their peak this week at all of the Big Woods parks within the Three Rivers Park District, including Lake Rebecca, Baker, Carver and Elm Creek park reserves. While the recent frost may soften the colors a bit, the maples are filled with beautiful shades of red and orange. The oak-dominated parks such as Hyland and Murphy-Hanrehan park reserves, and Eagle Lake Golf, Bryant Lake and Silverwood parks are just beginning to take on fall color.

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum – Chaska
With the most diverse collection of trees in one place in the state, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum offers an amazing fall color experience. The sugar maples are in their glory right now! For the best color viewing, plan to walk through several collections. The grounds are the least crowded before 11 a.m. and after 4 p.m.

Southern Minnesota

Most state parks in southwestern Minnesota are now past peak, but parks in southeastern Minnesota are nearing peak shades of yellow, orange and red. The strongest displays this weekend should be found at Nerstrand Big Woods, Forestville and Whitewater state parks. Also consider a drive along the Historic Bluff Country National Scenic Byway and the Apple Blossom Drive Scenic Byway.

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park – Nerstrand, south of Northfield
Fall colors are at their peak, with a nice mix of red, orange and yellow leaves. The prairie grasses are adding to the beauty. Hike to the far south end of the park to Prairie Trail and enjoy a colorful 1.5 miles through the woods, and another 1.5 miles around the prairie loop. Also be sure to check out the rushing waters of Hidden Falls.

Great River Bluffs State Park – Winona
The maples and sumac continue to take on shades of bright red, orange and yellow. The other tree species and understory shrubs are quickly becoming more colorful. Hike to the five scenic overlooks for breathtaking views of the Mississippi River Valley.

Frontenac State Park – southeast of Red Wing
The ash, sumac and some prairie grass varieties are past their peak, but the rest of the park foliage is just starting to change color. A hike through the prairie and along portions of the Hiking Club Trail will offer the nicest views. Rent a canoe and paddle around the Pleasant Valley Lakelet for a different view of the fall colors in the park.

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park – Preston
There has been a resurgence of color change and the maple trees are at their peak for fall color. It won’t be long until the red oaks are also dazzling shades of red and orange. The rivers and creeks are running high which can be a challenge for trout anglers. Hikers have been enjoying the view from the Scenic Overlook off of the Sandbank Trail. Mystery Cave Scenic Tours are offered Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through the end of October.

Whitewater State Park – Altura, north of St. Charles
The maple trees are popping, with vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow throughout the park. The ash, cottonwood, sumac, cherry and blue beech are adding lovely fall color to the mix. Hike the Chimney Rock Trail to Inspiration Point for some great overlook views of the Whitewater River.

Sakatah Lake State Park – Waterville
The American elm, ash, poplar, walnut, maple and oak trees are bright shades of yellow and orange, however many are rapidly dropping their leaves. The views along the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail are best.

Fort Ridgely State Park – Fairfax, northwest of New Ulm
Leaves are changing color quickly, with lots of golden yellow in the ash and cottonwoods. The maples are adding orange and red to the mix. The bluffs along the Minnesota River are filled with rich fall color. The upper picnic area is lovely with lots of orange, yellow and brown in a variety of trees. The campground road is a beautiful drive to take in the park.

Lake Shetek State Park – Slayton
The trees are starting to drop their leaves, but many remain very yellow. Hike the Smith Lake and Loon Island trails for views of the lakes. Visit the picnic area and beach house for a view of Lake Shetek and surrounding shorelines. The docks and fishing piers are still accessible, and boat, canoe and kayak rentals are available at the park office.

Big Stone Lake State Park – Ortonville
The Bluebird Trail offers a great hike through the lingering fall color. The drive along Hwy 7 from Ortonville to Browns Valley is also very colorful. The Bonanza Area glows in the morning and evening sun, and the hillsides are beautiful.

3-Fun Filled Days along Minnesota’s I-35

Lakes food and beer banner

Curious Goat burger / TJ Turner; Castle Danger beer / Brian Jeremiason

If your first thoughts when reminiscing about summer don’t take you to a lake, you have been doing your summers wrong! Minnesota is teeming with a trifecta of summer fun statewide, with its gorgeous lakes, delicious and unique food selection, and up-and-coming brewery scene.

We’ve compiled three days’ worth of these summer treats to help you experience Minnesota the way the locals do, or if you live here, to ensure you have a summer to remember.

This tour loosely follows Interstate 35 from north to south, but feel free to start wherever you choose and create your own adventure.

DAY 1—NORTH SHORE

gooseberryfalls

Gooseberry Falls / Photo by Eve Schrank

If you’re starting your trip in Duluth (the north end of I-35), drive about an hour up the shore to begin your day on Lake Superior. (If you can’t wait to eat, stop at the Duluth Grill and order a hearty plate of corned beef hash and eggs to fuel up.) Hike or bike along the Gitchi Gami State Trail and catch a view of landmarks like Split Rock Lighthouse and the spectacular waterfall at Gooseberry Falls State Park. Snap some pictures and soak in as many beautiful hiking opportunities as possible as you make your way down the shore; the gorgeous and lengthy Superior Hiking Trail connects with the Gitchi Gami at both of these sites.

You’re going to need some hearty food to make it through the rest of your adventurous day along the North Shore. Fuel up at the Rustic Inn Cafe, a local favorite, with menu highlights including the cranberry and wild rice waffle and the Logger’s Skillet, a hash-brown assortment of Italian sausage, cheese and more, including a full side of pancakes. And be sure to save room for pie!

After brunch, continue down the shore to Castle Danger Brewery and kick back in the taproom surrounded by the beauty of the area. The brewery hosts a variety of live music performances and allows outside food to be brought in while you sample the beer selection. Try the summer seasonal Summer Crush ale to get the full “summer” effect.

lake superior canoe ride

Lake Superior / Photo by Alyssa Hei

Lastly, venture back to Duluth’s harbor and rent a watercraft to explore the greatest of the Great Lakes. Be adventurous and kayak, canoe or even take a sailboat excursion along the harbor to discover why it’s Instagrammed so often. Sunset kayak tours are offered through The Duluth Experience, and sunset cruises can be booked via Moon Shadow Sailing and Vista Fleet.

If you’re in the mood for a night cap, head to Fitger’s Brewhouse for some food and beer to reward yourself after an epic day. Other options include Canal Park Brewery (try the Pils Popper), Bent Paddle (try the Paddle Break Blonde) and Thirsty Pagan Brewing (try the Stoned Surf IPA).

>Find places to stay in the Duluth area

DAY 2—MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL AREA

lake harriet calm

Lake Harriet / Photo by Shawn Orton

After checking out of your hotel, head about two hours south for a day of urban exploration. Start in the capital city of St. Paul with brunch at the Happy Gnome on Selby Avenue. Try the Bloody Mary bar along with an artisanal cheese plate, or chow down on some apple-bacon pancakes.

Next, cross over to Minneapolis for a combination of gorgeous skylines and soaking up some sun on the calming Lake Harriet. There are walking and biking paths around the lake and other areas to explore, including a rose garden and a mysterious elf who allegedly lives in a tree on the south side of the lake and replies to letters left for him (just look for the tiny door).

Sociable Cider Werks brewery_square

Sociable Cider Werks

Lake Harriet also features a band shell for concerts in the park, food at the Bread & Pickle and lots of rentals, including paddleboards, pedal boats, double-kayaks, and single and tandem bikes. Another popular spot nearby is Minnehaha Park and Falls; be sure to grab lunch at the Sea Salt Eatery if you go.

End your day with a visit to Sociable Ciderwerks in the eclectic Northeast neighborhood. Sociable specializes in cider that even beer lovers will love. Varieties named after biking accessories—Fat Bike, Freewheeler and Spoke Wrench—flood the tap list, and each have unique flavors but remain crisp, refreshing and not full of sugar.

>Find places to stay in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area

DAY 3—SOUTHERN MINNESOTA

Before hopping back on the highway to venture south, have a hearty breakfast at The Buttered Tin in St. Paul’s hip Lowertown neighborhood. This quaint and cozy restaurant has all your breakfast favorites and some great new tries, such as the huevos rancheros Benedict and falafel burger.

Faribault Woolen Mill_Kirsten Alana

Faribault Woolen Mill / Photo by Kirsten Alana

Once you’re fed, head about 45 minutes south to the charming town of Northfield. Best known as the site of the defeat of the notorious Jesse James Gang, it’s now a shopping destination as well. Highlights include The Rare Pair, A Bag Lady, Eclectic Goat and Swag.

From Northfield, continue south to Faribault, home to the historic Faribault Woolen Mill, where throws, scarves, clothes and even puppy blankets are for sale. Tours are also offered every Friday and second Saturday of the month.

After you’ve picked up some local flair, get your daily brew at F-Town, which serves up glasses of beer with quirky names such as Nutso and Flex Less. Brewery tours are offered on Thursdays and Saturdays.

From F-Town, you can easily get to the Cheese Cave and have yourself some delicious, locally made cheese. Faribault’s esteemed blue cheese of three different kinds (they also serve artisan sandwiches, like the raved-about grilled cheese or southwest beef panini) are the perfect snack as you continue exploring southern Minnesota.

Sunset fishing in Fairmont_Greg Abel

Photo by Greg Abel

We can’t forget the lake on this leg of the trip, so we saved Albert Lea, dubbed “the land between the lakes,” for your last stop on the journey. Experience Fountain and/or Albert Lea Lake and all of the activities on them: fishing, boating, waterskiing, or just relaxing and taking a dip.

Be sure to soak up the natural landscape around these lakes at Myre Big Island State Park and Edgewater Park. There are also special events like the Bayside Water Ski Shows on Thursday nights, June through August. The Pelican Breeze II offers guided boat cruises from June to October, with themes nights and other surprises. Or bike along the Blazing Star Trail for a memorable end to your trip.

18-Free Things to do on Vacation in Minnesota

Going on vacation doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money. In Minnesota, there are plenty of attractions and activities that are completely free to visitors. Here are 18 of them:

1. MUNSINGER CLEMENS GARDENS, ST. CLOUD

munsinger gardenThis well-known, beautiful garden park is located along the Mississippi River in St. Cloud. The Munsinger portion of the gardens began in the 1880s. The gardens have experienced different stages of development, with many of the improvements coming as a result of work during the Great Depression through the WPA. The Clemens portion is dedicated to different varieties of roses. During the summer, there are free music concerts within the gardens.

2. FRANKLIN ARTS CENTER, BRAINERD

Artspace has transformed the former Franklin Junior High School building into a multipurpose arts center, with 25 affordable live/work studios for individuals and families; 37,775 square feet for artist studios, arts organizations and arts-friendly businesses; and 36,247 square feet that are operated by the Brainerd School District as community programs space. You can visit and learn from local and resident artist and craftsmen. The facility is open to the public daily and also hosts special events the second Saturday of the month.

3. SPAM MUSEUM, AUSTIN

The new and improved Spam Museum opened in spring 2016, featuring interactive exhibits and galleries dedicated to the infamous canned ham’s history, popularity and place in modern life, as well as Spam-inspired artwork and a kids play area.

4. WM. S. MARVIN TRAINING AND VISITOR CENTER, WARROAD

Experience the history of Marvin Windows and Doors in the Wm. S. Marvin Training and Visitor Center. The 6,000-square-foot museum and gift shop are open to the public from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 1-4 p.m. on weekends. Exhibits include a combination of artifacts and interactive presentations to create a memorable experience for visitors of all ages.

5. KEEPERS OF THE SACRED TRADITION OF PIPEMAKERS, PIPESTONE

pipe statue

Located in the old Rock Island Depot in Pipestone, it is on the Historic Register and is one of a very few buildings made of yellow brick. It houses the Pipemakers gift shop, Indian art gallery and displays of Indian items. Open year-round.

6. DISC GOLFING, STATEWIDE

Minnesota has around 200 disc golf courses, and most are free to play. For a complete listing of all disc golf courses in Minnesota, go to pdga.com.

7. ZUMBROTA COVERED BRIDGE, ZUMBROTA

Walk through one of Minnesota’s last covered bridges. Measuring nearly 120 feet long and 15 feet wide, it was built in 1869 and crosses the Zumbro River.

8. GRAND ROUNDS SCENIC BYWAY, MINNEAPOLIS

minneapolis skylineAs the only urban national scenic byway, Minneapolis’ Grand Rounds attests to the exceptional qualities of its host city. The byway is truly in the heart of Minneapolis, with many impressive views of the downtown skyline, yet is as green, lush and lined with waterways like most of our rural byways. Enjoy walking, running, biking or Rollerblading along the 50-mile route.

9. MINNEAPOLIS SCULPTURE GARDEN

One of the country’s largest urban sculpture parks, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden features more than 40 works of art and the Cowles Conservatory. The garden will reopen this June after extensive renovations, bringing back the playful “Spoonbridge and Cherry” as well as 18 holes of artist-designed mini golf.

10. MINNEAPOLIS INSTITUTE OF ART

This cultural attraction is regularly ranked among the top 10 comprehensive U.S. art museums. Admission, as always, is free.

11. COMO ZOO & MARJORIE MCNEELY CONSERVATORY, ST. PAUL

polar bearComo Zoo features indoor and outdoor exhibits, including large cats, primates, polar bears and aquatic animals. The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory has permanent tropical and changing seasonal plants and flowers, as well as the new Japanese garden. Donations are accepted.

12. LAKE SUPERIOR MARITIME VISITOR CENTER, DULUTH

Operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this is the most-visited marine museum on the Great Lakes. 1,000-foot freighters pass within 200 feet of the building. Open daily throughout shipping season.

13. SUPERIOR HIKING TRAIL, NORTH SHORE

The Superior Hiking Trail is a 300-mile hiking trail that follows the rocky ridge line above Lake Superior. Great for both day hikes and backpack camping.

14. GITCHI-GAMI STATE TRAIL, NORTH SHORE

The Gitchi-Gami State Trail connects Two Harbors to Grand Marais along the North Shore of Lake Superior. This 86-mile trail will eventually connect five state parks, several communities, four Scientific and Natural Areas and numerous historic sites, and provides vistas of Lake Superior.

15. FRANCONIA SCULPTURE PARK, SHAFER

sculpture garden

Open 365 days a year, this artists’ residency in the St. Croix River Valley features more than 100 large-scale sculptures scattered across 25 acres. Free guided tours are offered on Sundays in summer and fall.

16. NEW ULM GLOCKENSPIEL

This 45-foot-tall carillon tower in downtown New Ulm plays programmed music three times a day, when the clock’s animated figurines come to life. The characters are replaced by a nativity scene during the holiday season.

17. RED WING SHOE CO. MUSEUM

Located inside the flagship store in downtown Red Wing, the museum features the world’s largest boot, brand memorabilia, and a chance to dress like a iron worker and learn more about how the famous shoes are made.

18. PAUL & BABE, BEMIDJI

paul and babeSnap a photo with folklore’s favorite lumberjack and his trusty steed, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. The pair can be found in Bemidji, but they also stand tall in Brainerd, Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Akeley and elsewhere throughout the state.

Minnesota Polar Plunge Events

It”s that time of the year again…”The Polar Plunge!” whitebirchresort.net

International Eelpout Festival Polar Plunge in Walker
Highlights this week include:
Feb. 25, Wabasha
Grumpy Old Men Festival
Feb. 24, Minneapolis
Winterfest 2017
Feb. 24-26, Nisswa
Gull Lake Frozen Fore
Feb. 23-26, Walker
International Eelpout Festival
Feb. 25, Grand Rapids
Stomping on Winter Family Day & Mardi Gras Masquerade Mystery Murder

**Please note that temperatures remain unseasonably warm which could affect outdoor events — please call ahead to confirm all events held on ice or winter trails.

[Northeast] [Northwest] [Central] [Twin Cities] [Southern]

Southern Minnesota

Feb. 25, Wabasha
Grumpy Old Men Festival
The 24th Annual Grumpy Old Men Festival includes a wide array of events such as an ice fishing contest, ice bars, Stretch Raffle, Hot Dish Luncheon, bingo, minnow races, Texas Hold ’em Poker Tournament, 9th Annual Grumpy Plunge, Ragetti’s Spaghetti Feed, and live music at various venues. 651-565-4158
Feb. 25, New Ulm
Fasching
Fasching is a German Mardi Gras with live music, dancing, ethnic food and drink, “Capture the Mayor” by the Narren masked characters, the hilarious “Parade of Costumes,” and awards ceremony — costumes are encouraged! Best Western Plus Conference Center. 507-359-2941; 507-354-7112
Feb. 25, Red Wing
Bluffs & Brews: Explore the Mississippi River Backwaters
The Historical Society and Environmental Learning Center invite you to explore the Cannon River Bottoms by snowshoe or cross-country ski (or by foot if there is no snow!). Participants will meet at 2 p.m. to learn about the Mendota-Wabasha Military Road that traversed the area prior to heading out for the adventure. Staff will then lead the group through the Bottoms to explore its natural scenery. Afterwards, the group will meet up at Marie’s Underground for a social hour and door prize drawing. Environmental Learning Center. 651-388-6024; 651-388-7339
March 3-5, HoustonInternational Festival of Owls
Immerse yourself in owls at the only annual, full-weekend, all-owl festival in North America. Highlights include live owl programs, owl prowls to call in wild owls, a birding and natural history bus trip, and a banquet featuring the presentation of the World Owl Hall of Fame awards and international speakers. Families can build an owl nest box, dissect an owl pellet, make a variety of owl crafts, and have a hoot eating owl-themed food. International Owl Center. 507-896-6957
March 4, New Ulm
Bock Fest
Beckon warmer weather with a mug full of Bock, dancing, treasure hunting and great food. Seven Bocks of Winter are hiding around the brewery and in nearby Flandrau State Park, waiting to be found. Armed with completely useless clues and Bock beer, hunters will comb the park in search of these elusive bocks. Two human St. Bernards, with kegs of Bock beer strapped to their backs, are ready to assist those showing signs of thirst. If you prefer to just hang out, enjoy Schell’s beer, brats, live music and a warm fire at the brewery grounds. After the party, flocks head downtown for a fun-filled night! Schell’s Brewery grounds. 507-354-5528
March 11-12, Mankato
Natural Healing & Psychic Expo
The 16th Annual Natural Healing & Psychic Expo is focused on supporting a holistic life through refreshing your body, enlightening your mind, and renewing your spirit. Check out more than 40 exhibitors, keynote speakers, dozens of Workshops, many intuitive consultants, specialty gift products, artwork, and spirituality resources. Courtyard by Marriott Event Center. 507-340-6809, 507-388-2506
Minneapolis-St. Paul Area

Nov. 12 – April 9 (Thursdays-Sundays), Chaska
Bruce Munro: Winter Light at the Arboretum
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum will glow after dark this winter when it hosts the stunning evening exhibition Bruce Munro: Winter Light at the Arboretum. The exhibition features five unique installations outdoors, one suspended light triad sculpture indoors, plus a series of immersive, sensory audio-visual animations. Munro’s solo shows have attracted more than a million visitors since the first exhibition in 2012.
Feb. 24, Minneapolis
Winterfest 2017
Winterfest is a true showcase of Minnesota craft beer, featuring nearly 100 Guild member breweries. Winterfest 2017 will debut at Target Field in Minneapolis. In addition to unlimited sampling of specialty and seasonal beers, patrons will enjoy upscale catered food, craft beer education and music. At the end of the night, the “Best of Fest” winners will be awarded the Great Snowshoe Award. 612-677-2246
Feb. 24-26, Prior Lake
The Price is Right Live! Hosted by Jerry Springer
Minnesota fans of television’s longest-running and most popular game show can now see it come to life with host Jerry Springer. The Price is Right Live stage show is coming to the Mystic Showroom at 8 p.m. Friday, February 24, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday, February 25 and 4 p.m. Sunday, February 26. Mystic Lake Casino. 800-262-7799
Feb. 24-26 & Mar. 3-5, Minneapolis
Minneapolis Home and Garden Show
The Minneapolis Home and Garden Show features innovative products, great deals, presentations, and practical advice from professionals. Show features include the Coastal Theme Home, feature gardens, Tiny Home Village, Horticultural Society activities for kids, and New Products Showcase. Minneapolis Convention Center. 952-933-3850
Feb. 25, Minneapolis
Lyle Lovett & John Hiatt
Acclaimed singer-songwriters Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt return to the State Theatre for a joint acoustic evening of music and conversation. Lovett’s songs fuse elements of country, swing, jazz and gospel, making him one of the most captivating musicians in popular music. Hiatt is a keen observer of life’s flings and foibles, weaving these into his songs. Their joint shows are always unique and memorable. Historic State Theatre. 612-339-7007, 612-455-9500
Feb. 25-26, Hastings
Masters of the Sky
World Bird Sanctuary staff will offer a captivating program about birds of prey. Visitors will learn about raptors from around the world, and witness live hawks, eagles, owls, falcons and vultures in free-flight. The presenters will introduce methods to help protect raptors and their habitats. Programs held at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., & 3 p.m.Carpenter Nature Center. 651-437-4359
Feb. 25, Bloomington
Tech Fest
Crack open old electronics, use candy to learn about biomedical technology, explore squishy, slimy, and cold substances, and more! The annual Tech Fest event includes dozens of hands-on activities and demos designed to let families learn more about engineering and see how it’s everywhere around us. The Works Museum. 952-888-4262
March 1-5, Minneapolis
Disney on Ice Presents Dream Big
Enter a world where adventure is awaiting and courage leads the way at Disney On Ice presents Dream Big. High-flying jumps, daring acrobatics, breathtaking skating and lovable Disney friends make this an experience your family will never forget. Target Center. 612-673-1300
March 3-5, Plymouth
Winter Bluegrass Weekend
The Winter Bluegrass Weekend, a Festival of Bluegrass & Old-Time Music & Dance is packed with band showcases, headline concerts, dances, workshops, instrument exhibitors, and plenty of around the clock informal jam sessions. Two of the top acts in bluegrass and old-time music will perform: Grammy award winner Laurie Lewis, and Portland’s finest, Foghorn Stringband. Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West. 612-285-9133
March 3 – May 4, St. Paul
Omnifest 2017
Experience larger-than-life adventures — from the immense glaciers in the Arctic to the breathtaking summit of Mount Everest and the spectacular views of the Nile, known as the “Mount Everest of Rivers.” With a diverse film line-up that will appeal to all ages and interests, Omnifest 2017 is an ideal family destination! Science Museum of Minnesota. 651-221-9444
March 4, Minneapolis
Carnaval Brasileiro
This Brazilian Carnaval bash rivals a night in Rio! It is the most attended and longest-running annual Brazilian event in the Twin Cities with over 50 singers, drummers, samba dancers, Capoeiristas (Brazilian martial artists) and artisans creating an authentically festive Brazilian cultural experience! Cedar Cultural Center. 612-338-2674
March 4, Minneapolis
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live
Donning his iconic red sweater, Daniel takes the audience on an interactive musical adventure as he and his friends explore the vibrant world of their much-loved Neighborhood of Make-Believe, sharing stories of friendship, helping others and celebrating new experiences. Historic State Theatre. 612-339-7007; 612-455-9500
March 4, Minneapolis
Kristin Chenoweth with the Minnesota Orchestra
Dynamite singer/actress Kristin Chenoweth makes her Minnesota Orchestra debut with all the pizzazz and power that have made her as “popular” as one of her signature songs. She’s a genuine superstar with the Emmy and Tony awards to prove it. Orchestra Hall. 612-371-5656
Upcoming Twin Cities’ concerts and performances:
Jim Jefferies: The Unusual Punishment Tour at the Historic Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, Feb. 24
The Price Is Right Live – Stage Show at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake, Feb. 24-26
Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt at the Historic State Theatre in Minneapolis, Feb. 25
WWE Smackdown at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Feb. 28
The King and I (Touring) at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, Feb. 28 – March 5
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – Live! at the Historic State Theatre, March 4
Chris Rock: Total Blackout Tour at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, March 10-12
Rain – The Beatles Experience at the Historic State Theatre, March 11
Panic at the Disco, Misterwives & Saint Motel at the Xcel Energy Center, March 12
Ariana Grande: Dangerous Woman Tour at the Xcel Energy Center, March 16
Huey Lewis and the News at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake, March 17
Miranda Lambert at the Xcel Energy Center, March 17
Joe Monamassa at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, March 17-18
Steve Martin and Martin Short at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, March 18-19
Il Volo at the Historic State Theatre, March 20
Lionel Richie: All the Hits with Very Special Guest Mariah Carey at the Xcel Energy Center, March 24
Styx at Treasure Island Resort & Casino in Welch, March 24
Bon Jovi – This House is Not For Sale Tour at the Xcel Energy Center, March 27
Tickets available through Eventful or Ticketmaster.
Central Minnesota

Feb. 24-26, Nisswa
Gull Lake Frozen Fore
This three-day celebration of all things winter is a weekend of activities and fun for adults. Enjoy snow golfing, dancing on a frozen lake, snowmobiling, live music, pond hockey, and a food fest. Some outdoor activities are weather permitting. 218-963-2620
Feb. 25, Little Falls
Sprout Growers & Makers Marketplace
Visitors are invited to shop the many market vendors selling local food and art, and enjoy visual and performing art performances, culinary demonstrations, and educational events. February’s cultural focus will be Latino food and artists. Crestliner Building. 612-695-2721
Feb. 25, Isle
Perch Extravaganza
The annual Perch Extravaganza fishing contest includes lots of door prizes, Mad Hatter contest, bean bag toss tournament, T-shirt shooter, food & beverage booths, and free prizes for kids 12 and under while they last! Nitti’s Hunters Point Resort on Lake Mille Lacs, 8 miles north of Isle. 320-676-3811
March 3-4, Garrison
Kite Crossing
The Lake Mille Lacs Kite Crossing event includes competitors from 14 states “sailing” across the big lake by high-flying colorful kites. The event is both beautiful and amazing. Another fun event on Lake Mille Lacs March 3-4 is the Fire on Ice BBQ World Championship at Izaty’s in Onamia. In addition to nearly 50 groups competing in the BBQ competition, enjoy a warming tent, bar, outdoor games and socializing in the ballroom. 320-692-4330; 952-594-5395
March 4, Fergus Falls
The Minnesota Ballet Presents: Firebird
Experience Firebird, a favorite Russian fairy tale set in a primeval forest and an enchanted garden, filled with monsters, mayhem, and magic. It’s storytelling for the entire family—all to Igor Stravinsky’s brilliant ballet score. A Center for the Arts. 218-736-5453
March 11, Little Falls
Habitat Day
Participants will learn about two avian species that use nest boxes, the bluebird and the wood duck, then assemble a nest box to take home and place on your property. Numerous resource-oriented groups and organizations co-sponsor this annual event, with a variety of exhibits available. Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. 320-632-1575
Northwest Minnesota

Feb. 23-26, Walker
International Eelpout Festival
For the past 30 years, crowds grow 10 times more than the population of Walker, MN as anglers and fun-lovers gather on Leech Lake for a festival named after one of the ugliest bottom-dwelling fish, the eelpout. In addition to a huge ice fishing contest, enjoy a mechanical bull riding tournament, eelpout curling, 4th Annual Kids Perch Jerk, helicopter rides, eelpout fish fry, dog sled rides, 14th Annual Polar Pout Plunge, live music, fish fries, and awards ceremony. Most events at Walker Bay on Leech Lake. 218-547-1313; 800-833-1118
Feb. 25, Rochert
Animal Tracking Workshop
This workshop will help build your confidence in track identification. After an indoor session with Dr. Steven Dahlberg, head outside to practice your new skills. Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. 218-844-1756, 218-847-2641
March 4, Bemidji
Northland Fat Bike Rally
The 3rd Annual Northland Fat Bike Rally begins with a mass start on Lake Bemidji and heads up Rocky Point Trail, traversing park trails for either a 10k route or a 28k route. Non-racers are encouraged to attend and learn all about this growing sport! Lake Bemidji State Park. 218-308-2300, 218-751-2453
March 4, Longville
Winter Fireworks & Chili-Cookoff
The festivities start early at the Docksider with a chili cook-off where you can vote for the best chili. At dusk, make the short trip over to Girl Lake for a spectacular winter fireworks display. Later, enjoy dinner specials at Patrick’s on Girl Lake. 218-363-2630, 800-756-7583
March 11, Moorhead
Celtic Festival
The 14th Annual Celtic Festival is a celebration of the rich culture of the seven Celtic Nations featuring the intriguing history, arts and traditions of Brittany, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Galicia, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Enjoy lyrical Celtic music, dancers’ impressive footwork, folk tradition presentations, exhibits, vendor booths and Celtic foods. Purchase an Activity Passport, visit the many craft stations, and turn your project in for a prize. Hjemkomst Center. 218-299-5515; 701-499-6060
Northeast Minnesota

Feb. 24, Toivola
Winter Bog Exploration Field Trip
Join Head Naturalist Clinton on a search for species that may be familiar or that could be entirely new! Plan for a mix of hiking, snowshoeing, driving, and searching for new species for the Sax-Zim Bog Species List! Sax Zim Bog. 218-341-3350
Feb. 25, Grand Rapids
Stomping on Winter Family Day
Enjoy winter with indoor and outdoor games, sledding, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, wildlife presentations, tours of the logging camp, and more! Forest History Center. 218-327-4482
Feb. 25, Grand Rapids
Mardi Gras Masquerade Mystery Murder
Enjoy a murder mystery dinner event set in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. During the masquerade gala at the Hotel Royal, a murder takes place. Enjoy a 3-course meal while trying to solve the mystery. Northern Lights Community School. 218-398-7144
March 3-5, Ely
Wine, Women, and Wolves: Northwoods Winter
Enjoy a fun-filled weekend learning about wolves and the northwoods in the company of women who have the same hectic routine as you! Slow it down with some wine and cheese, then participate a variety of activities such as dog sledding, radio telemetry, and trekking through the snowy northwoods. Where else can you spend an evening lounging in your sleeping bag, sipping wine, observing wolves, and taking in the beauty of a northern Minnesota winter? International Wolf Center. 218-365-4695, 218-365-9653
March 4, Chisholm
Family Discovery Day: Fossils, Fossils, Fossils
Meet paleontologist John Westgaard and learn about the fossils that have been unearthed at the Hill Annex Project on the Iron Range. In addition, learn how fossils form, try your hand at looking for and removing real fossils, and make a clay fossil imprint to take home. Minnesota Discovery Center. 218-254-7959
March 10-11, Two Harbors
Winter Moonrise Photography 2-Day Workshop
In a setting of unsurpassed beauty, discover new ways to create stunning images and learn how the pros take photos with impact. Through classroom and hands-on learning, this two day-workshop will teach participants about their camera, proper photographic technique, lens selection, filtration, white balance, camera mode selection, auto focus and manual focus, how to achieve the sharpest image and much more. Split Rock Lighthouse. 218-226-6372