WABASHA, Minn. (WCCO) — The WCCO winter road trip around Minnesota is coming to an end this week in Wabasha, which is about two hours southeast of the cities. And it is one of the more scenic drives you can take in the state.
It’s called “Goin’ to the (Frozen) Lake,” but Frank Vascellaro and Chris Shaffer are on the not-so-frozen Mississippi River!
Welcome To Wabasha!
Wabasha was founded in 1830. It is home today to about 2,500 people. The downtown area is thriving, and there’s no escaping the connection to the “Grumpy Old Men” movies from the early 1990s. Plaid flags even line the main street!
The Grumpy Old Men Festival takes place Saturday, when a lot more people will be in town to enjoy all the fun things to do and the great places to eat.
Chris and Frank went Thursday to one of the locations featured in the film: Slippery’s Tavern. It is the place where Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau stop for drinks and conversation. The movie was not shot in Wabasha, but it is based on people who used to visit.
The Lasting Legacy Of ‘Grumpy Old Men’
Movies like “Purple Rain,” “The Mighty Ducks” and “Drop Dead Gorgeous” shined the bright lights of Hollywood here in Minnesota.
But none embraced Minnesota quite like they did in the “Grumpy Old Men” films.
So, WCCO’s resident Grumpy Old Men — Frank and Chris — are also getting into the spirit.
The 23rd Grumpy Old Men Festival is this Saturday, which features the “Grumpy Plunge.”
Frank and Chris will do their parts and jump in the Mississippi River, which is sure to make them as grumpy as Matthau and Lemmon.
That comic duo made the movies great, and the films really captured the feel of small-town life in Minnesota.
But how did they do it? Construction foreman Blaine Marcou, who worked on the movies, gives us the lowdown. Click here to read the full story.
The Unique Suites At Wabasha’s AmericInn
Chris and Frank are staying at the AmericInn in Wabasha, but this is not your ordinary hotel. They have 14 theme rooms based on attractions in and around Wabasha.
The Grumpy Old Men Suite feels like a cabin. It has a fireplace, whirlpool and, of course, both movies to watch any time you want. And the Eagle Suite across the hall is a nod to the National Eagle Center.
Frank and Chris had a snack at the Coffee Mill Golf Course. The warm weather down here this winter means there is very little snow on the ground. And Saturday’s forecast will likely get rid of most of the rest of it.
Eagle Watching In Wabasha
Wabasha is one of the best places in the country to see eagles in their natural habitat. The Mississippi River is a flyway for them.
The National Eagle Center is doing its “Soar With the Eagles” program each weekend in March, featuring several great events as eagles start their spring migration.
‘Grumpy Old Men’ Movie Night
This weekend is the 23rd annual Grumpy Old Men Festival, in honor of the movie that came out in 1993. The bar in the movie is called Slippery’s, and it turns out that’s a real place!
Thursday night, the River Junction Arts Council showed the movie to fans young and old. It’s interesting: The movie is set in Wabasha, but none of it was actually shot here. The filmmakers instead chose locations all over Minnesota.
The guy who wrote the movie grew up visiting Wabasha, so his crazy cast of characters was based on his childhood memories.
When we’re on these trips, we’re always trying to find fun places to stop and eat. On Thursday, we checked out Los Portales. It’s got authentic Mexican food and a friendly staff. The margaritas looked pretty good!
Just south of Wabasha, in Kellogg, is a toy store that everyone in Minnesota, young and old, should visit.
Frank and Chris got in touch with their inner-kid (which as it turns out, wasn’t that hard), and checked out Lark Toys. Watch the full video above to see what they got into!