by E. Nolan
Adventure is a 26-Letter Word in Minnesota...not because we don't know how to spell, but because we LOVE to extend our "fun times"...to maximize the significance of every visible (and invisible) letter, and enthusiastically emphasize every high-octane syllable. Adventures come at us from all sides here--inside, outside and, heck, even upside down with few (if any) downsides. Everywhere you go, anywhere you are, there's fun to be had in one way or another. Have an open mind and you're apt to find plenty of good times.
A A-D-V-E-N-T-U-R-E begins with "A" (appropriately) and this alphabetical run-through follows suit, introducing you to the indoor and outdoor action of the state. "A" is for Arcades--from the digital playgrounds with high-tech toys, like Dave & Busters in Maple Grove, to the Big Thrill Factory locations in Oakdale and Minnetonka where people of literally all ages throw sharp objects (axes), drive Go Karts and play with various toys. Amusement Parks like Valleyfair take the fun and games outside until Halloween, when Mother Nature makes our fun and games a little colder. (Back off winter!)
B baseball Games are a great summer activity here, and this year it looks like they might even be good in the fall. Take in a Minnesota Twins game at Target Field this year and you just might see the makings of another Minnesota Miracle. Fingers crossed. Experts rank Minnesota as one of the most Bike-friendly states in America, with Minneapolis being among the "Top 5 Bike Cities in the Country." (Go ahead and clap...I'll wait.) That urban legend is great, but many of our rural tracks are even more legendary. We've got Bike Trails worth toasting and boasting about, like the 132-mile Mesabi Trail in Northern Minnesota's Iron Range, running from Grand Rapids to Ely--a great deal of that along abandoned railroad grade. There's the Paul Bunyan Trail in the Brainerd Lakes region--120-miles of scenic pavement connecting the Heartland, Blue Ox and Cuyana State trails. And, because we like lake views and fun words up here, we've got the Gitchi-Gami State Trail that (when complete) will connect five trails into one picturesque 88-mile path along Highway 61 on the North Shore of Lake Superior.
C Many of our best bike trails overlap with our best parks, and Camping remains a prized way to pass time through the fall, when those Chasing the Changing Colors of the trees often find even more colorful palettes in the night sky with the Northern Lights. Woodenfrog State Campground is a 63-site facility on the shores of Lake Kabetogama, mere feet away from Voyageurs National Park--one of only two drive-in public campgrounds near the national park. Woodenfrog is special, but then so is Fall Lake Camground (also Up North) just east of Ely. The facility has clean water, flushing toilets and all 64 campsites provide picnic tables, tent pads and fire rings. Best of all, Fall Lake gives guests direct access to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Looking for something a "bit more south"? Lakeview Campground in the 320-acre Father Hennepin State Park, on the shores of Mille Lacs Lake, has 62 sites with toilets and full hookups--incredible access and beauty, much closer to the metro.
D Whether you fall asleep under a ceiling of stars or plaster, you're bound to wake up hungry. For some the first activity of the day is eating breakfast. Others get out of bed then eat breakfast. Regardless of where breakfast falls on your schedule (if it even does), few morning foods are more favored than Donuts and don't cha know we've got some darn good ones. If "good" isn't good enough for you...that's fine...we've actually got the World's Best Donuts in Grand Marais (the actual name of the store) dam close to the Beaver House (fishing store). The WBD unfortunately does not have a 270-mile delivery radius, and Krispy Kreme abandoned us loyalists long ago (sniff sniff) so we (Twin Cities residents) Drive back and forth between the original Glam Doll Donuts on Eat Street (try the Bellybomb--a Mac & Cheese donut) and Gary and Margaret Tolle's A Baker's Wife in Powderhorn (famous Tea Cake), both in Minneapolis. Driving for Donuts is a legitimate adventure, consummated by devouring them.
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