Hidden gems

28 May

While I love to travel out of state, I sometimes forget the amazing sites and places Minnesota has to offer. Born and raised in Minnesota, I wanted to venture out to go to college. I ended up heading southeast to go to start my adulthood by attending an out of state college – I wanted to venture some place new and exotic, someplace completely unlike the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Where did I go? That’s right friends, the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Talk about a change! I went from a huge radio market 16 to a radio market 100 (for non-radio folks, that’s like going from the Twin Cities to… well, Madison). I went from having major league sports teams to a town that lived vicariously through its college team; I went from driving on 94, 694, 494, 100, 169, 36, 61, 62, 35E and 35W to driving on 94, 151 and the ‘belt line;’ I went from skyscrapers downtown as tall as the IDS Tower, to no building being built higher than the Wisconsin State Capitol. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I got to Jump Around at historic Camp Randall, drink micro-brew beer (Spotted Cow) from a boot, drink a fish bowl that will knock you off your feet, and graduate from one of the top public universities in the country – all while meeting some of the best friends a girl could ask for. Hell, three of my roommates from college were in my wedding! Madison truly is a hidden gem of the Midwest.

After coming back home though, I have a new found appreciation for the Twin Cities and the beautiful places Minnesota has to offer. Recently, Pat and I went to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts – someplace I haven’t been since grade school – and walked through the fantastic sports exhibit on display, something I wouldn’t have done before. We are slowly starting to explore the different areas of St. Paul – not only down by the Xcel Energy Center, but also venturing to places like Grand Avenue and Summit for local eateries and boutique shops. We’ll see about Minneapolis; Pat’s ‘small town’ mentality is still getting used to the size of St. Paul.

Part of the fun for Pat and I is we grew up in different parts of the state – him in Duluth and I in the Twin Cities. We have been able to show each other hidden gems in our respective cities – and one of our latest adventures was to Stillwater, Minnesota. Stillwater is a beautiful quaint town on the St. Croix River with several restaurants and boutique/novelty stores. While it is a favorite among many in the eastern suburbs, it is more of a hot spot in the summer months because of its pristine river location. This particular weekend was the first beautiful weekend weather-wise in May, so we grabbed lunch on the patio at the Freight House and walked on the boardwalk.

The lift bridge in Stillwater, connecting Minnesota and Wisconsin.

We didn’t get to walk very far on the boardwalk – not realizing how high the river was beforehand. Poor planning on my part.

View from the top of 29340 stairs we climbed. Well worth it!

Needless to say, our brief time spend in Stillwater almost convinced Pat to buy our next house out there!


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