I can honestly say that this period of time spent at home due to COVID-19 has been the longest I’ve gone without traveling in YEARS. In fact, this upcoming weekend we were supposed to be flying down to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. As bummed out as I am about not being able to explore new places (especially with all this time off of work and obviously there are very good reasons for not being able to travel), I think this is a great time to bring up how amazing my home state of Minnesota really is.
For those of you not from the states, Minnesota is located kind of in the middle of North America. There are rolling prairies and farmland in much of the southern part of the state and beautiful old growth forests in the north. We are blessed with 4 distinct seasons and each one brings with it different activities for us Minnesotans and those who choose to visit our little midwest haven.
Minnesota consistently tops the list of states with the worst winters. From snowstorms that dumb 2 feet of snow in a day to polar vortexes that bring brutal -60°F temperatures, we definitely put up with a lot when it comes to winter. But we have found ways to make it fun.
The Minnesota ice castles are amazing. Located in New Brighton, you can sip hot chocolate while walking through literally castles made of ice. There are tunnels and caverns to explore that are all lit up with different color LED lights. This is a great date spot or adventure for little ones.
Although skiing in Minnesota is nothing like Colorado, we still enjoy it. And it’s a heck of a lot cheaper! We especially enjoy doing late night skiing. Lutsen in norther Minnesota probably has the best skiing in the state, but Afton Alps is closer to the cities.
There are obviously so many other fun winter activities we enjoy such as ice skating, building snowmen, snowmobiling, ice fishing, snowshoeing, or even just rolling around in the snow with your pup.
Spring can be messy in Minnesota and almost non existent at times. This year, it seems to have come early and we are enjoying summer-like days in April. However, in the past 2 years we have seen snowstorms in mid April.
However, late spring and early summer in Minnesota are amazing. I think the most defining feature of this time is our lakes. Minnesota has over 10,000 lakes which were created by glaciers moving across the state. Nothing beats hanging out on a boat on a hot summer day.
I am an avid scuba diver and although diving in lakes doesn’t bring as much excitement as diving in the ocean, I still enjoy it every now and then. Midwest School of Diving is a great shop near the cities if you are looking to rent gear or take a course. I actually got my Dive Master certification here. Square lake is a fun place to dive because there are concrete platforms on the bottom with lines connecting them. Each platform has fun objects such as a toilet or chainsaw. It’s a great place to practice your navigating skills or to connect with other divers.
Perhaps my FAVORITE thing about Minnesota is our state fair. We have THE biggest state fair in the country and if you like food, you’ll be in heaven. My favorite foods at the fair are fries from one of the many Fresh French Fries booths, corn on the cob from the corn stand, an ice cream cone from the dairy building, a pronto pup, and of course, Sweet Marthas cookies.
I’m pretty worried that the fair will be cancelled this year due to the pandemic. But if it is, it will be for good reasons and we will be back next year in full force.
The changing leaves in Minnesota are definitely worth seeing in late September to early October. Especially along the Mississippi River or St. Croix.
Perhaps the most notable fall activity is visiting an apple orchard. There are literally hundreds in the state where you can pick your own apples. Many orchards also have pumpkin patches, petting zoos, hay rides corn mazes, and restaurants.