Winter What To Do – WHERE: Lutsen, Minnesota

Ski Near Here? Go North

Itching to get out into the snow here in Minnesota?  Want to get some wind as you ski down the tallest mountain in the largest ski area in the Midwest?  You need to aim for Lutsen on the North Shore of Lake Superior.  If you’re like me and grew up in Minnesota hearing about “Lutsen this” and “Lutsen that,” it’s a whole lot more than just skiing up there, too.  Each time I’d pass Lutsen on the way to the Boundary Waters or Gunflint Trail or Grand Marais, I’d wonder–and now I know–what I’ve been missing by not stopping to enjoy what’s up and along Lake Superior between Tofte and Grand Marais.

Where to Go:

If you want to downhill ski, you’re going to go to the Lutsen Mountains, of which there are four: Moose Mountain, Mystery Mountain, Eagle Mountain, and Ullr Mountain.  In a tight area that bustles with activity, the chairlifts and gondola move people up so that they can ski down…but there are also multiple restaurants and bars to enjoy while on either direction of your vertical journey.  Most notably, Papa Charlie’s is a well-known bar and music venue that gets some national names on the calendar.  A great apres-ski option for those interested in ending a day on the slopes with a night of tunes.

Grand Marais is the hub of activity in Cook County with its shops, art, waterfront, and access to the start of the Gunflint Trail.  In the winter, it’s a whole different town than when it swarms with tourists in the warmer months.  I pretty much loved it, being able to wander and park wherever I wanted to.  Still warm enough to get out to amble on the rocks by the lighthouse before they iced over, the warmth of Lake Superior belied the snow that was falling further offshore where the Nordic skiing and dogsledding are popular activities.

Oh, the winter activities.  What to do?  Exactly.  So much.

My biggest piece of advice for what to do is: ask.  Get thee to Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply in Grand Marais (next to the GLBT-friendly East Bay Suites).  An attractive, newly redesigned building along the shore, Stone Harbor should be considered not only an outfitter, but a concierge.  Sitting down with owner, Jack Stone, and employee Jan Lemke, it was obvious that the people are the most valuable resource in Grand Marais.  Stone Harbor can sell you equipment and clothing for winter activities, or you can rent it there…you know, in case you don’t need an amazingly warm and weatherproof anorak for your dayjob downtown.  Want to go dogsledding?  Talk to them, they’ll set it up.  Cross-country skiing? Absolutely. Snowshoeing? Certainly. Ice fishing?  Sure. Ice climbing?  NEVER IN MY LIFE.  But…you can. You more adventurous and nimble souls can contact Stone Harbor to get set up to climb frozen waterfalls.  And, more importantly, Jack and Jan not only speak to the winter activities in Grand Marais, but the GLBT culture in Cook County.  Jack, a strong ally, sees it as pretty much a non-issue in the area.  Jan, whose partner works in an art gallery in town, jokes about how they’ve talked of organizing and having a little parade in what they could rename “Gay Marais,” there is such a large and welcoming community there. Comfort is key when we travel, as is community…whether indoors or out.

Not interested in being outdoors?  The North House Folk School may have all your answers.  Looking like a little fishing village of yore, the colorful compound of buildings in Grand Marais that houses North House beckons to anyone interested in learning “traditional northern crafts” like basketry, woodcarving, fiber arts, timber frames, wooden boats, rosemaling, knitting, and more.  Look at the extensive catalog online for more information–you may want to stay a while.

Where to Stay:

There was no question in my mind, the piece de resistance to staying in Lutsen is the iconic Lutsen Resort.  Depending upon how important proximity-to-ski is, you may choose to look at some of the accommodations on the mountains, but Lutsen Resort sang its siren song of Lake Superior to me.  The resort has a free shuttle up the mountain for skiers (which is so very convenient), so why not stay where the view is the largest freshwater lake in the world?  In buildings that were constructed before setback requirements were so strict, I slept to the sounds of waves crashing.  Being able to choose from different accommodation options is an important feature at Lutsen Resort.

Lutsen Resort is Minnesota’s oldest resort, established in 1885. The Lodge, itself, was built in the mid-1950s and is the quintessential lumber-and-stone structure that keeps the fireplaces glowing.  There are condominiums that are new and modern; particularly accommodating for couples in search of a romantic getaway. As someone who wasn’t bringing romance, but instead brought a dog, I chose the Sea Villa Townhomes, which are a bit south of the rest of the resort, and would recommend them to anyone in a heartbeat.  Each with private owners but managed by Lutsen Resort, the Sea Villas hug the shore of Lake Superior and can accommodate both small and large groups.  Dog-friendly, our Villa had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a loft…as well as wifi, cable, a gorgeously appointed granite, glass-tile, and stainless kitchen, and a view to die for.  And, the dog walks in the snow were breathtaking.

Waking up on the shore of Lake Superior is relaxing, but getting a massage while overlooking Lake Superior is almost gluttonous.  Lutsen Resort hosts WatersMeet Spa & Wellness Center, an Aveda spa.  Pulling up to the building, I parked the Jeep next to a truck for sled dogs with an HRC bumper sticker on it and knew I’d be comfortable for the next stretch of hours.  My massage therapist, Di Higgins, actually relaxed my shoulders to the point that they’re down where they should be, instead of up by my ears.  And, Nancy Lang, the owner of sled dogs, the truck with the VOTE NO and HRC bumper stickers, and also an EMT in the area, not only helped my friend in terms of massage and relaxation, but also talked to us for a great while about the welcoming and open culture in Cook County for members of the GLBT community.  Now THAT’S relaxing.

Where to Eat/Drink:

One of the most popular packages at Lutsen Resort is the Bed & Breakfast package in which breakfast at the lodge is included in the stay.  We enjoyed eggs benedict and the somewhat-famous buffet in the Scandinavian surroundings of the lodge, with bottomless cups of coffee.  It was comfortable, as was the food.

Venturing out from the resort, there are a ridiculous number of dining options in the summertime, but the winter has a pared down list.  It’s best to check websites and ask around before getting set on a place you may have eaten at or heard about before.

All along Highway 61 in Cook County are attractions and stops, not to mention places to eat.  The Bluefin Grille at Bluefin Bay in Tofte, just south of Lutsen, is a respected and solid destination for a decadent evening of drinks and dinner.  Chef David Grimsley sends out culinary combinations that are seasonal and somewhat surprising.  The Salametti and Pratost of cured Italian sausage, mild swedish cheese, on hearty freshly baked whole wheat toast, was topped with light mango.  The coolish-to-room-temperature Pumpkin and Quinoa Salad was the hit of the meal, with feta and onions all covered in an orange vinaigrette.  The fish of the day was a tasty Monkfish, enjoyed by my friend, while I devoured the Roasted Chicken that was so savory and salty, swimming in a somewhat sweet marscapone and lingonberry cream (be still, my Swedish heart).  We capped the evening with the signature dessert of Bluefin Grille: the luscious, crispy-yet-gooey chocolate chip cookie served in a mini-cast iron skillet a la mode.

Grand Marais, to the north of Lutsen, will see an increase in restaurants reopening now that we’re into 2013.  I was pleased to get to try a new restaurant that had just been open a little over a month in the former Chez Jude space, The Harbor House Grille.  Chef Ed Straub and his wife, Cindy, were lovely hosts to a lunch of woodfire oven Blue Fungi (mushrooms, caramelized onions, and blue cheese) Pizza, a Grand Grilled Cheese (with roasted onion jam, Wisconsin cheddar, and Canadian bacon), and the yummiest French Onion Soup in recent memory.

For those craving sweets in the colder months, don’t go looking for the donuts of summer, but flock to The Pie Place.  A cute restaurant right by the water, we chose to take our slices to go and enjoyed them later in the evening in the warmth and cozyness of the Sea Villa.  Must-haves? The Chocolate Cream Pie is like a pots de creme in a crust.  The Maple Pecan Pie will make you never want to go back to “just pecan” ever again.  And, there are so many Apple Pies on the menu, I have no idea which one I had…but, judging from the crumbly topped goodness of that one, they’re all worth nabbing.

Looking for dinner, drinks, and live music?  The Gun Flint Tavern was our answer to a cold night in need of warming up from the inside out.  With an extensive menu, our choices for dinner were ones that didn’t scream “North Shore” but, instead, were closer to the Equator.  When you see Jalapeno Popper Quesadilla on the menu but then read that it includes pineapple, don’t shy away: ORDER IT.  Even this Swede with what I call the “beige palate” could handle this heat–creamy, sweet, and kicky, I almost wanted to order a second one.  The Cuban was a worthy sandwich with shredded barbacoa pork, swiss cheese, pickles, and aioli…but the Tavern Burger with its jalapeno bacon, melty swiss, and–get this–coffee onions was divine.  Complete with live music, the Tavern was a warm port on a cold night.

Where to Go Online:

Lutsen Skiing/Papa Charlie’s

Lutsen Resort

WatersMeet Spa & Wellness Center

Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply

Harbor House Grille

Bluefin Grille

The Gun Flint Tavern

North House Craft School

The Pie Place Cafe

Cook County (Tofte, Lutsen, Grand Marais, Gunflint Trail, Grand Portage)

31 Days of Hallowonline: Wabasha Street Caves

If there are two things I dig as an internet voyeur and researcher, they are local lore and couchtrip urban exploration. Stories of haunting and intrigue in the Twin Cities and abandoned or now-demolished landmarks throw me down rabbit holes of adventure for hours.  Shows on SyFy about paranormal investigations and ghost hunting usually pique my interest as, if nothing else, something to consider as a possibility…ghosts, spirits, the others.  I’m a social scientist.  I’ll entertain just about any notion, particularly ones that are the slightest bit exciting.

The Twin Cities have a variety of local haunts for people with similar interests in the paranormal.  From what I’ve read over the years, there’s a young lady ghost at Forepaugh’s who is the spirit of a spurned young maid who killed herself in the mansion. I used to walk my dog past the Griggs Mansion on Summit Avenue when I lived nearby in St. Paul which is apparently the most haunted house in the region (and it’s still on the market for a lucky buyer).  While I doubt I could finagle a tour of the Griggs Mansion from a realtor, we can get our fix for curiosity and creepiness at the third most haunted location in Minnesota, the Wabasha Street Caves in St. Paul.

The Wabasha Street Caves are sandstone caves in St. Paul that are currently used as an event space for weddings, proms, and murder mysteries…in addition to weekly swing dancing. Host of multiple tours in St. Paul from gangsters to graves and ghosts, visitors can ride buses narrated by actors pointing out the locations of historical relevance…or take tours on foot, such as the Historical Cave Tour or Lost Souls Tour. On a sunny day in October, a friend and I stepped into the dank darkness for the Lost Souls Tour ($10 for 1hr) given at 12:30pm on the last Sunday of each month, with additional days in October (check the schedule).

Having already taken one of the St. Paul Gangster Tours, I knew I was in for a quality experience, with a little bit of self-aware camp thrown in.  The wry, accented Nurse did not disappoint.  She’s called the Nurse because she’s always dressed like a nurse.  Or so she says.  Each tour, whether on bus or on foot, is led by other such actors who lend a bit more flair to the historical drama or, in this case, the haunted drama.  Walking into the Caves, we had to pause for a few minutes to let our eyes adjust to the dark.  I was surprised by, even though I knew a candlelit tour would be dark, just how dark it would be the entire time.  Depending on the surrounding surfaces and whether or not light reflected off of them, it was fairly nice and creepy the whole time.

Then, the Nurse told us about the app.  It was about to get creepier.  Pulling out my iPhone, I downloaded that app faster than you can say “Wabasha.”  Ghost Radar by Spud Pickles is a free download and was to indicate where there are disturbances in our surroundings, as well as any words that are picked up as being said by something otherworldly.  Well, tickle me pink.

Trying to listen to the Nurse and monitor my glowing Ghost Radar turned out to be a bit too much for me and I pocketed it for a while so I could hear more of the background of the caves and some of the experiences had in them by previous owners and even some of the current staff.  Fascinating.  I won’t commit any spoilers here, but when standing in a space in the dark that has a storied past that involves gunshots that are still pockmarking the walls, I’m fairly suggestible.  Add a fairly credible-though-comical actress to vouch for the stories and I’m listening with rapt attention.

Walking through the various rooms of the Caves in the near-dark, it’s easy also understand how the mind can play tricks on the visitors.  Heck, I had an iPhone in my pocket that was about to mess with my head even more as soon as I took it out, thanks to the stories I was hearing.  Finally feeling like I could be able to multi-task listening to the Nurse while staring at my Ghost Radar, I turned it on, let it get a baseline, and watched for any blips on the screen.  I even had the presence of mind to do some screen grabs:

The blips on the screen indicated where there was a disturbance in the baseline readings of the room.  I watched as we walked and there were times when the radar was blank…and there were times when colored blips indicated different strengths of disturbance, or presence.  With one ear on the narration and two eyes on the glow, I wasn’t too uptight about what I was seeing.  That was, until I saw this one.

Red is the strongest signal and this one was right behind me.  Or it was me.  I don’t know.  It made the hair on my arms stand on end.

There was a kid on the tour who was using his parents’ iPhone to use Ghost Radar and I kept looking over his shoulder like I was cheating on a test, trying to see if I was getting the same information as he was.  He mentioned that his Radar was giving him words and I was immediately jealous.  I hadn’t gotten any communication yet.  The Nurse, perhaps sensing my covetousness, clarified that kids are often communicated with more than adults.  Fair enough.

Imagine my surprise when I suddenly got this series of screens:

See the words at the top in the middle?  Nothing of what the Nurse was saying involved these words at this time and nobody else was speaking.  I think, if I recall correctly, she was talking about an encounter that her daughter had in the Caves at the time these words popped up on my screen: research, development, Louis, before.  Not wanting to disrupt the tour, I decided to ask about these words later.

Without the app, the tour is interesting and varied with a look at photographs that have documented what can be considered evidence of ghosts or spirits in the Wabasha Street Caves.  With the app, it’s just a wee bit more interesting adding unpredictability to the hour-long experience.  I would have enjoyed it either way.  Wrapping up the tour with a slideshow of guest-submitted photographs was a nice touch of not-quite-so-anecdotal evidence.  Seeing what has caught the eyes of people over the years brings it a little closer to home that any one of us might encounter someone from the other side while in the Caves…especially since some of the ghosts are particularly fond of various locations in the Caves or circumstances, like playing swing music.

Coming to the end of our hour as we ventured out into the sun and people went to their cars. I asked the Nurse if the word “Louis” meant anything in the history of the Wabasha Street Caves.  She said that “Louie” did.  I was a little bummed until she spelled it, “L-o-u-i-s.”


Louis was French.

The Nurse explained that Louis Lambert was among the first to develop the Caves from being a mine for silica to being a place to grow mushrooms in the 1890s.  I did the research: Before it was a speakeasy and bar, it was a development in which Louis Lambert grew mushrooms.  See what I did there?  Italics help.

Yeah.  Sometimes, evidence corroborates stories that we want to believe…and sometimes stories are built out of evidence.  Either way you look at it, I’m sitting here at 11:24 at night in my loft which was renovated from an old warehouse…and I will not turn on that Ghost Radar to see what it has to tell me about my home.

Some things are better left unknown.

Get to know the Lost Souls of the Wabasha Street Caves in St. Paul.  It’ll be worth your while.

Wabasha Street Caves
215 Wabasha Street S
St. Paul, MN  55107

Shopping & Dining in Vacationland

The family cabin.  Through blood and good relations, I am fortunate enough to have a cabin in the family.  Built by my great grandparents in the 1950s on a small lake near Brainerd, the descendants share our inheritance between the great-grandparents’ three children, meaning the Liens get it every third week of the non-winter seasons.  And, now that I can get wifi up there with my phone (I know…gasp…it’s sacrilege), I try to get up there as often as possible.

I have memories both of time spent at the cabin as well as time spent roaming around the Brainerd Lakes area.  We’d go see Paul Bunyan.  We’d visit Deer Land.  We’d romp around the best flea market I’ve ever been to that used to be held every weekend in Nisswa.  Grandma and Grandpa would always go and be looking for something…farm implements, Skelly memorabilia, books.  We’d have breakfast at Sportland or Ganley’s.  Often, there would be evening drives to Crosslake or Gull Lake, many times finding a Supper Club for cocktails and dinner.  I’d order orange roughy or shrimp and Grandpa would tell me I’d grow monkey ears from eating the shrimp tails.  So, I’d eat more of them, hoping he was telling the truth.  Afternoons would be spent swimming, sometimes golfing.  The cabin meant leisure and this was a Vacation Wonderland.  Vacationland, even just for a weekend at a time.

As I’ve gotten older and come up here either with friends, family, or alone, I’ve challenged myself to find the places from my childhood memories.  I was thrilled when I stumbled upon Howard’s Barn, a place where my grandparents would golf.  One year, I recall that because I didn’t want to go golfing, they bought me a Tiger Beat magazine, instead.  It was one afternoon, ages ago.  To find it was more than a figment of my imagination last year by seeing it in person, I felt validated.  So, I go exploring.  I see if I can do like they did and I just start driving and see where I end up.  Or, I have a planned route and make it happen. Both scenarios are equally satisfying.

Recently, friend Aisha was up for a visit and we did a loop that took us over to Nisswa, up through Pequot Lakes, over to Breezy Point, up through Ideal Corners, and over to Crosslake…before coming back down to the cabin which is near Merrifield.  Did you get that?   It’s over, up, over, up, over, and down.  Easy.

It was an off-day, which is something I call the days when Vacationland isn’t swarming with people.  Off-days are not Saturdays.  They’re not Fridays or holidays, even.  They’re the midweek days or Sundays when everyone is heading back to the Cities.  Off-days are the best days to go adventuring in Vacationland.

Nisswa is a town that I lovingly remember for its souvenir traps.  Like a moth to a flame, I was drawn to them as a child–like my niece and nephew are drawn to them now.  I swear, the Totem Pole on Main Street shines like a beacon to all children within a 10-mile radius of Nisswa.  It was–and is–full of a lot of novelty.  Knowing exactly what’s in there, I now choose to skip it unless I’ve got the kids with me.  It used to be where I’d start, but now it’s where I walk past with a smile on my lips.

Instead of novelty, I start with Adirondack Coffee.  That belies my age, for sure.

Adirondack Coffee has a wonderful aesthetic to it–well, it’s an Adirondack aesthetic and they pull it off well with the furnishings and the construction materials.  As we ordered our coffee drinks, I scanned the bakery case and decided to get an almond-encrusted croissant.  Their pastries are baked at Adirondack daily, which surprised me, and the croissant was delicious, which delighted me.

Not only was it encrusted in almonds, but there was a channel of almond paste within.  Lovely.  Adirondack sells its own coffee, some of it named after local landmarks like “Hole In The Day Lake” which is located just outside of town.

Adirondack is attached to a lovely store called Carriage House which was closed this off-day afternoon.  Unfortunately.  What once was a bastion of knick-knacks and Americana has matured into a gallery-style boutique.  It is classy and sophisticated.  I left a nose smudge on its closed door.

Walking into Buffalo Plaid (named for the Woolrich wool pattern, I presume), I could see that it wasn’t one of the usual stores on the street.  Many of them are more pleasing to the feminine eye, this one was much more masculine.  As the gentleman who was arranging items said, its merchandise is that of a more Craftsman style toward the front of the store…and more traditional toward the back.  Yes, it would appear that way with its retro items that were both playful as well as substantial.  What I couldn’t help but think was how deliberate the staging was, that each vignette seemed carefully collected and curated.  I loved it.

There were so many nice, classic items in Buffalo Plaid.  None of them cried out “CABIN!” as so many of the other stores seem to stock and I appreciate that.  There is still an air of whimsy without embracing the full-on kitsch.

Next, Zaiser’s.  This is the hit of the street.  It’s the belle of the ball.  When I was little, it was where we’d pop in and I’d hope to get snorkels or flippers or nets or other cheap fun toys.  It might’ve even been something of a hardware store, I can’t recall.  It certainly wasn’t the Zaiser’s that’s there today.  For the folks from the Cities, you could kind of compare it to a Patina or a Bibelot. Eclectic, hip, and good-looking.  At the front, there are kitchen wares; both food and food implements.  Interspersed are some novelty items.  All are higher-end, smart goods.

Everything is appealing.  There is a large toy area for kids, but I didn’t go in the section or take any photos since I didn’t have the kids with me.  Also on the way toward the back of the store, there are shoes–both Keen active shoes and fancy dress shoes for women.  The pair that Aisha picked up to admire had a price tag of $220.  I decided not to photograph any of those, either, since there weren’t any there big enough for the drag queens and me.  So, I play favorites.  Instead, I went for the striking and funny items.  The ones that made me smile.  Gag gifts and jewelry and canny decor, again…smart wares.

As we left Zaiser’s, we didn’t realize that it was 3:57…three minutes before The Chocolate Ox closed that day.  We waltzed in just in time–Shakira was blaring and the place was still packed with people getting their sugar on.

I love me a candy store that looks like a candy store.  Bright colors, big displays, tons of candy.  A fudge counter, Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Bar, and baskets of bulk–The Chocolate Ox is a candy Mecca.  And small.  But, still.  It’s packed.

Noting the time, I marched back to the hand-dipped ice cream cone counter and tried to read the kinds of ice cream on the case through peoples’ hips.  Not knowing what their specialty is, I asked.  And, I’ll tell you, the time to ask a disinterested teenager who’s apathetic on a GOOD DAY is not 2 minutes before closing.  I got curt and cursory for responses.  She sang along to the song when I thought she was answering my question.  Don’t worry; I’m not mad.  I found out between verses that I could split my single scoop into two flavors and I chose from the descriptions that her deadpan face told me were written on the freezer case after I figured out that maybe I shouldn’t have asked her to rattle off the ingredients when they were so plainly written right there and she was so obviously singing along to a song.  Whoa.  Anyhow.  So, I chose the White Swan with pistachio and white chocolate and the blueberry cheesecake.  It was a happy ending.  The ice cream was heavenly and cheap–only $3.00.  And, she’s a lovely girl who’ll grow up to marry rich.  No worries.

I found Aisha over by the chocolate.  Atta girl.  She ordered sea salt caramels and I got some Praline Nut fudge.  The very nice salespeople behind the chocolate counter redeemed my faith in young girls in the retail industry and, really, the world.  They were helpful and pleasant, despite the fact that it was after closing time on one of the most idyllic days so far that season.

Armed with ice cream and chocolates, we left Nisswa.  Yes, there is so much more to it than this.  But, this is what you get on a roadtrip that is hand-picked by me on a random day in June.

We raced up to Pequot Lakes and chose not to stop.  I was itching to hit the open road and had used up all my will to shuffle for the day.  Instead, the Pandora station was playing Moby, the top on the Jeep was back, and we had some exploring to do.

And explore, we did.  I drove “over” from Pequot Lakes to Breezy Point.  Knowing that my favorite radio station, KLKS, comes out of Breezy Point and that many a timeshare is reserved there, I wanted to see what it was all about.  We drove in and around the resort and saw what there was to see and headed back to our loop, not really over- or underwhelmed.  It’s one of those places that probably attracts people based on what you would do while you’re there rather than what you see when you drive around the grounds.  If I were a tennis player or a golfer or a boater, I’m sure I would’ve been much more interested.  As it was, I was hungry.

So, since we were dressed casually and it was a gorgeous day, I had The Wharf in Crosslake in mind for deck dining and boat watching.  My family likes to go to The Wharf if and only if there is outdoor seating available.  Inside, it’s really quite dark.  Not dark in a bad way, but the architecture does not leave much for natural light streaming in the windows.  And, in Vacationland, windows and natural lighting are must-haves.  Luckily, it was an off-day and, again, there was no mob scene to be found.  We had our choice of almost any table on the lower deck and were able to situate ourselves for some good bar food and boat-viewing.

Located near a bridge, the boats that pass The Wharf must slow down in the no-wake zone. And, as they do, we get to do some great people watching, not to mention see some beautiful boats.  I’m not talking about the fancy, I’m-overcompensating boats…I’m talking about the restored wooden boats.  The antiques.  The floating, flying works of art.

We ordered some cheese curds and burgers–she got The Wharf burger and I got the Crosslake burger with onion rings.  The fare was perfectly fine.  The curds hit the spot and the burgers were gooey and oozey, which was exactly what they should have been.

I guess that it should’ve been expected that the lack of people doing things out and about would also carry over to the boat traffic, but I was worried that I wouldn’t get to see any of antique beauties as we dined.  But, I can gladly say I didn’t go home disappointed.  Just before we got our tab, a lovely wooden boat by the name of “Irish Ayes” paraded past.  Ahh.  A feast for the eyes that followed a feast for the belly.

And we went back to the cabin, happy to enjoy our desserts of sea salt caramels and Praline Nut fudge as the sunset shone red across the lake, promising us a gorgeous day to follow.

For more of Vacationland, see video:

Roadtripping Lake Pepin

One of the most beautiful stretches of Minnesota is found between Red Wing and Winona, along the Mississippi River. To be truthful, we owe a lot of credit to Wisconsin, as Lake Pepin is hard to enjoy wholly from only one of the two states. While I call this piece Roadtripping Lake Pepin, it’s somewhat of a misnomer. Feel free to end your trip when Lake Pepin does by crossing over to Wisconsin on Highway 25 at Wabasha, but I’d recommend seeing it through all the way down to Winona. This is a trip I’ve made each fall for many years and the adventure doesn’t feel complete without seeing a fair stretch of Bluff Country. Continue reading “Roadtripping Lake Pepin”