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Best Of Home

Guide To A Long Weekend In Minnesota

June 21, 2014 5:00 AM

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Create your own weekend excursion in Minnesota by going to the state’s website, Explore Minnesota. Choose the type of excursion that fulfills your dreams. The website has it all broken down for you. Select from Artsy, Culinary, Family, Outdoorsy or Romantic. The trip menu is filled with enticing choices for sights to see, places to stay, restaurants for dining and lodges for sleeping. The following is just an example of the many first-class alternatives chosen from the menu. 
 

(credit: Marvin Bunney)

(credit: Marvin Bunney)

Weekend 1: Take A Trip North To The Wild Side

On this trip to Ely, Minnesota, travelers will really get a taste of the Minnesota Wild as they watch the wolves at the International Wolf Center all night long, followed by a stay at the River Point Resort in Ely. The next day, travelers can take a canoe excursion on Birch Lake, then live it up at the Chocolate Moose that night before the long drive home at the end of the weekend. If you head out in early August, you might be able to catch the 8th Annual Ely Watercross Event on August 9-10.
 

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

International Wolf Center
1396 Highway 169
Ely, MN 55731
(218) 365-4695
www.wolf.org
  
The International Wolf Center in Ely has plenty of exciting adventures for budding ecologists, biologists or just animal lovers in general. It offers a variety of unique overnight packages that allow families to track wolves and monitor their behavior at night when they are most active. Different packages require certain age requirements depending on the amount of hiking and tracking the mission entails. The Wild Family Weekends are great for little ones (six years and up), as they get to make a plaster cast of a wolf track to take home and get to monitor the wolves at night from the center’s auditorium. The next Wild Family Weekend is July 5-6.
 

Related: Best Volunteer Opportunities For Animal Lovers In Minnesota
 

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

River Point Resort & Outfitting Co.
12007 River Point Road
Ely, MN 55731
(218) 365-6604
www.riverpointresort.com
 
After “roughing it” with the wolves all night long, mom and dad might want to relax in one of Northern Minnesota’s many luxury resorts. River Point is highly rated among Minnesota resorts as it is situated on a splendid but secluded, mile-long lakefront on a Birch Lake peninsula. Choose from a variety of chalets, cabins and villas directly adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Rent a boat for fishing or a canoe for paddling or get outfitted for an adventure deep into the BWCA.
 

Related: Best Resorts To Visit In Minnesota
 

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Chocolate Moose
101 N. Central Ave.
Ely, MN 55731
(218) 365-6343
www.facebook.com/The-Chocolate-Moose
 
The Chocolate Moose is a great place for local eats in Ely. It has locally brewed beer and some of the best fish in northern Minnesota. Dig in to a crusted walleye with a wild rice dish and finish with a berry pie.
 

Related: Best Chocolate Shops In Minnesota
 

(credit: Patti Wick)

(credit: Patti Wick)

Weekend 2: Take a Nostalgic Journey Down the Mississippi
 
One would have to stop in every town to catch all of the historic sites in southern Minnesota and that might last more time than one family has in a weekend. Here are some great highlights for a memorable trip down the Mississippi in Minnesota.  
 
Great River Road National Scenic Byway
www.experiencemississippiriver.com/states/minnesota
 
Get onto U.S. Highway 61 south where majestic views await you along the bluffs of the Mississippi. Stop for lunch in Red Wing. Follow the Great River Road down the scenic Mississippi River all the way to Winona. Stay at the Stone Mill Hotel and spend a morning in Lanesboro.
 

Related: Best Scenic Highways In Minnesota
 

sunny side up

(credit: Jupiter Images)

Bev’s Café
221 Bush St.
Red Wing, MN 55066
(651) 388-5227
www.bevscafe.com
 
Starting your trip early will ensure that you make it to Bev’s for breakfast because the pancakes and omelets are worth the trip. If you show up a little late, don’t worry, lunch is great too. 
 

(credit:CBS)

(credit:CBS)

Red Wing Shoe Company Museum
315 Main St.
Red Wing, MN 55066
(651) 388-6233
www.museumsofmn.com/red-wing-shoe-museum
 
See many historical items related to the 108-year history of shoe making. Try on the World’s Largest Boot and dress up like an ironworker. Take a tour of the factory but call the Visitors & Convention Bureau at (651) 385-5934 in advance to be sure of the factory tour schedule.
 

Related: Weirdest Museums In Minnesota
 

The Boat House
2 Johnson St.
Winona, MN 55987
(507) 474-6550
www.boathousewinona.com
 
Get to Winona by lunchtime and get a table outside overlooking the river in the noonday sun. The fish and chips are good, but if you are really hungry, get the immense Boathouse Lucy burger stuffed with cheese.
 

Photo Credit: cityofwinona-mn.com

Photo Credit: cityofwinona-mn.com

Watkins Heritage Museum
150 Liberty St.
Winona, MN 55987
(507) 457-6095
www.visitwinona.com/watkins-heritage-museum
 
J. R. Watkins honed his door-to-door sales strategy in 1868 that evolved into a nationwide success. The museum tells the story of Watkins through exhibits of such things as literature, product packaging and photos. Be sure to arrive before 4 p.m. weekdays or 2 p.m. Saturdays.
 

Pickwick Mill
24813 County Road 7
Winona, MN 55987
(507) 457-3296
www.pickwickmill.org
 
Older than the state of Minnesota, the Pickwick Mill is among the oldest water-powered gristmills in southeast Minnesota. The mill boasts to have been a large producer of flour for the Union Army producing 100 barrels daily running 24 hours per day. While this is an historic site, you can actually observe the mill in operation today.
 

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Norsland Lefse
210 W. Jessie St.
Rushford, MN 55971
(507) 864-2323
www.norslandlefse.com
 
Pick up a fresh supply of lefse made fresh and vacuum-sealed Friday morning. Add a tasty spread like lingonberry preserves, Ole and Lena’s Hard Times Jam or Nordic Creamery flavored butter. If you come Monday, Wednesday or Friday morning, you can tour the factory and see locals make the lefse between 7 a.m. and noon.
 

Related: Finding Minnesota: Norsland Lefse Factory
 

Stone Mill Hotel & Suites
100 Beacon St. E.
Lanesboro, MN 55949
(507) 467-8663
www.stonemillsuites.com
 
Stay in an old mill converted into the Stone Mill Hotel & Suites Lodging. Get old-fashioned ambience with items like iron-claw fireplaces, but with first-class comfort such as large double whirlpool bathtubs.
 

Heritage House Victorian Museum
225 1st St. N.W.
Rochester, MN 55901
(507) 286-9208
www.s2009hodge.wix.com/heritagehousemuseum
 
Catch the Heritage House on the way home. This Italianate home was erected in 1875 for Rochester shopkeepers. The tour, led by trained docents, gives a glimpse of life more than a century ago. Find it in downtown Rochester, two blocks north of the Mayo Clinic.

Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for Examiner.com, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at Examiner.com.


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