Minnesota is a pretty cool state, in terms of temperature as well as attitude and recreation. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul are the home of Prince and the Revolution, and associated acts like Morris Day and the Time. What? Hallelujah. There really are thousands of lakes, and you can explore them by canoe. You can bike around, boat in, or skate on Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, Lake Harriet, and Cedar Lake, also known as the Chain of Lakes, around uptown Minneapolis. The National Park Service staffs the Mississippi River Visitors Center in the lobby of a science museum and leads free walks, bike rides, and wintertime ice-fishing and snowshoeing trips. Check out the greatest, trendiest, most all-American sport of curling at the St. Paul Curling Club. Bring a camera to take shots of the players’ pants. Leif Erikson Park in Duluth has hiking and outdoor movies, plus a replica of Erikson’s viking ship.
If you’re looking for novelties, see the largest ball of twine in the world in Darwin, 60 miles west of Minneapolis, or visit the Spam Museum by Hormel headquarters in Austin, south of the Twin Cities toward the Iowa line. Those who want to study more serious topics can take a guided tour of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and hear about its history and innovations in the health field. To experience natural beauty and old lifeways, go to Voyageurs National Park and follow the paths of French-Canadian fur traders by kayak or snowshoes, among other conveyances. There are rocks that are up to three million years old.
Roast beef and fried smelt fish are pretty common foods in Minnesota. Fresh fish are the norm. If you’re visiting the Superior National Forest or heading for Thunder Bay, Ontario, stop by the Angry Trout Cafe for sustainable seafood selections and more. In Duluth, go for vegetarian Vietnamese or grab some smoked, sustainably harvested salmon. Enjoy some wild rice bread and lunch fare in Bemidji, or Jamaican food in Gilbert. Spice can be nice when it’s cold out! St. Paul has great locally-sourced cuisine, including artisanal cheeses, tofu steaks, and cardamom-glazed duck, along with spirits. Get a walleye BLT, a bison burger, or lemon-ricotta hotcakes in Minneapolis. You can also grab a local beer along with duck specialties or more walleye at a bowling alley with a theater. All this plus the anticipation of placing your feet in shoes only seven thousand others have worn before you, as a TV character once said.