ALEXANDRIA, Minn. (WCCO) – Frank Vascellaro and Chris Shaffer are not letting the cold get to them on the final Goin’ to the Lake stop this winter.

Even in the cold, it’s clear to see that Alexandria is a great place to visit. The town’s slogan is “Easy to get to, hard to leave.”

The “easy to get to” part is certainly true; it’s just a two-hour drive up Interstate 94 from the Twin Cities.

And once you’re here, it’s clear their downtown is thriving. Close to 1,200 people call Alexandria home year-round, and that number swells in the summer months.

Frank and Chris visited Alec in the summer of 2013 for the Goin’ to the Lake series. Things looked a little different for them back then. They spent a good chunk of time trying to wake surf on Lake Darling. It was a good effort, but not very successful.

On Thursday, that lake is frozen solid and home to ice fisherman and other winter enthusiasts. There’s still plenty to do here in the cold months of a Minnesota year.

This town was first settled in 1858. Just 14 years later, a business opened that’s still here today!

Cowing Robards has had just three owners in its 143 years on the main drag in Alexandria.

Ed Rooney is the latest owner, and he’s been there full-time for the past 60 years.

The store’s philosophy is simple: Keep evolving to meet the needs of the community.

Ed has already given most of the control of the business to his sons, so it’s in good hands for years to come.

Cowing Robards — An Alexandria Institution


Minnesotans embrace all the seasons. You’ll see fish houses dotting all the lakes in the Alexandria area.

Besides outdoor activities, we also like to find great places to eat on these trips. Frank and Chris found one Thursday, right when they got to town.

The Broadway Bistro is located on the main drag in town. Chef and owner Matthew Jensen took over the bistro nearly two years ago. He’s an Alexandria native who went to culinary school in California, and then worked at some top-flight restaurants in the Twin Cities, like Vincent in downtown Minneapolis.

He realized the town could support a quality restaurant with locally-sourced food, and the place is now packed at lunch and dinner.

Broadway Bistro used to be a bank. The old vault has been cleverly turned into chef’s dining table!

Alexandria’s Broadway Bistro


Frank and Chris have had a few difficulties on these trips – especially when they ran out of gas on the way to Bemidji!

For some reason, Chris had to get behind the Mobile Weather Watcher and push while Frank did whatever he was doing. But Chris’ strength got them to their destination.

On Thursday, Chris got a little payback!

Frank Does Some Ski Grooming


Frank and Chris’ trip to Alexandria wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Tennessee Roadhouse.

It’s great place for food, drinks and great music — combining “Minnesota nice” with Southern hospitality.

Tennessee Roadhouse


Here are links for all the places Frank and Chris visited so far in Alexandria:
Cowing Robards
Broadway Bistro
Tennessee Roadhouse
Sixth Avenue Wine and Ale
Bella’s in Broadway
Interlachen Inn
Traveler’s Inn
Arrowwood Resort
Andes Tower Ski Area

Watch the past ‘Goin’ To The (Frozen) Lake’ segments.
Watch the past ‘Goin’ To The Lake’ segments.

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