Technically, it’s still fall and while that’s almost hard to believe with the cold temperatures, snow covered ground in the Twin Cities and the holiday decorations around town, it’s not even Thanksgiving. Before I give “thanks” for the many road trips and travels I’ve experienced this fall, it’s time to share some of my “best” discoveries of the season, all of which can translate into wonderful winter adventures in some way or another if you choose…
Best Cheese: My “tour de cheese” was an adventure in itself as I drove through Wisconsin with a “cheese” map in my hand…literarily. The challenge is picking one spot, a difficult task for anyone as each and every cheese shop that I visited offered something different yet interesting. With that said, Carr Valley in LaValle, Wisconsin provided great cheese and then some, especially with the picturesque farm country surrounding the historic plant. Friendly service, the award winning cheeses and the highly recommended “Ménage” make it my fall favorite cheese destination. Even though it’s in Wisconsin, never fear, it’s a quick day trip from the Twin Cities
Bike Trail: A challenge by a friend, “30 days of biking in September” forced me to get on the bike every…well almost every day. While the Mississippi River Road was a favorite locally, the vivid fall colors, flowing Cannon River and quiet serene on the Cannon Valley Trail allowed this bike path to outshine all others. Not only was it a great work out, all 17 plus miles, it allowed me to explore Red Wing on bike. The best part; the trail is open for all seasons.
Meat Market: Flavorful, mouthwatering and completely unexpected is how I’d describe my trip to Schmidt’s Meat Market in Nicollet, Minnesota, located on the outskirts of Mankato. A billboard, the “good” old traditional advertising got me in the door but the quality products will bring me back. No kidding aside, the German sausage, beef jerky and yes, the bacon were all well worth the drive south. In fact, a trip there in preparation for Thanksgiving may make the agenda for tomorrow’s activity.
Scenic Byway: While I’d been on the Great River Road before, the allure of apples, fall colors and a few Minnesota wineries tempted me to spend an entire day meandering south from Hastings to Le Crescent. The river bluffs, Lake Pepin and the small towns along the way made me realize that it was not only a unique, but truly a Minnesota gem. In addition, there’s so much to do and experience, one day merely scratched the surface of all this scenic byway has to offer.
Scariest Sight: It wasn’t a horror film or the Trail of Terror in Jordan, rather Lambeau Field in Green Bay during a football game. The long way to Chicago took me there, a city that I hadn’t visited before, arriving prime time in the third quarter of the Packers vs. Dolphins game If you’ve never been there, it’s a site every football fan should experience. While we can say a lot about our friends to the East, especially in front of this Sunday’s game, there is a lot of Packer pride in this town.
Oktoberfest: Deep in the heart of Southern Minnesota, New Ulm is rich in German heritage and festivals, the most popular being Oktoberfest. While I missed New Ulm’s Oktoberfest by a few weeks, my trip there in late October was all German and then some…Lunch at the Kaiserhoff didn’t disappoint and the Schell’s Brewery tour which featured Oktoberfest quickly became a favorite beer. And while my friend joked at stopping by the “visitors” Glockenspiel, we did and found it symbolized the town; full of German pride and rich history in its own right. The good news; a visit to New Ulm can be done any season, and no doubt, the holidays would be a great time to visit and shop.
While the list was too long to include everything here, look for another article on additional “finds” shortly