All posts by travelingrachael

From weekend escapes to extended journeys, I adore exploring new places through food, music, and cultural experiences. Passionate about traveling, baseball and country music, I love having my bags packed and heading off on the next adventure. When I’m not traveling, I believe making the most of my daily journeys by checking out nearby coffee shops and boutiques...and always daydreaming about my next great getaway.

#MnMondays: On The Banks of Plum Creek

If you’re like me, perhaps you grew up watching reruns of the “Little House On The Prairie” series with Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert, and reading the classic collection of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder—including “On the Banks of Plum Creek” which accounts Laura’s experiences living in a dugout home in southern Minnesota.

While she was born in Wisconsin, Laura Ingalls Wilder spent some of her childhood in Walnut Grove, MN. Today, fans of the beloved author can visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and Gift Store right in the charming downtown area, as well as the Ingalls Dugout Site outside of town.

A while back I finally made the trek to Walnut Grove to check out the Laura-related sites—which I highly recommend if you’re a fan of the books.

The museum has a series of outdoor buildings  including a dugout home, school house, covered wagon, 1898 chapel and an early settler home—all of which visitors can step inside and learn about life on the prairie in the 1800s. Plus there’s a museum building with some of Laura’s personal items, as well as scale models and memorabilia from the TV show, and a gift shop with books and Laura-focused items.

WG-Museum-OutsideIf you grew up reading the books, you must head out of town to the Ingalls Dugout Site. While the dugout home has long ago caved in, you can still see the depression on the banks of Plum Creek where the home once was, and the very spot Laura describes in her book, “On The Banks of Plum Creek.” Standing there, you can just imagine Laura playing in the creek and hear the sounds of the prairie grasses flowing in the breeze.

Serious fans will want to plan their visit on weekends in July for the Wilder Pageant, which is an outdoor family-friendly drama about Laura’s life in Walnut Grove during the 1970s. In 2016, there are shows July 8-9, 15-16, and 22-23.

What’s your favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder book?

Fireworks with a Chance of Purple Rain

To me, the Fourth of July isn’t complete without fireworks, and in my eyes, the best place to watch fireworks in Minnesota is at Red, White and Boom! Ideally, I like to grab some ice cream at Izzy’s and then find a great spot along the riverfront, just behind the Guthrie and the Mill City Museum. The fireworks show over the Stone Arch Bridge, Mississippi River and the city really is a sight to behold.Version 2

But this year, there’s something new and very Minnesota–fireworks will be set to Prince tunes. The show is being sponsored by The Current, a local radio station and onlookers will  see the sky lit up with breathtaking fireworks as they hear songs like Raspberry Beret, Little Red Corvette and most likely–Purple Rain.Minneapolis-Fireworks-2

So if you’re in the area, be sure to check out this year’s special fireworks show. Earlier in the day there will be the Red, White and Boom! TC Half Marathon, Relay and 5K, plus live music in Mill Ruins Park and Father Hennepin Bluffs Park.

Where’s your favorite spot to watch fireworks on the 4th?

Happy Fourth of July everyone! Have a safe and happy Independence Day!

One, Two, Three Strikes and Fireworks!

It’s almost the Fourth of July, which has me thinking about fireworks…and I have to say, one of my favorite spots to see a great show is at Target Field.

Target_Field_Fireworks_2From Memorial Day to Labor Day, every Minnesota Twins Friday night home game at Target Field is a Fireworks Night. That’s right…even if it’s not the Fourth of July you can enjoy a spectacle of fireworks!

Target_Field_Fireworks_3jpgThe show happens in Center Field, just beyond Minnie & Paul. On Friday nights, after nine innings of baseball, fans can stay in their seats (or move closer for a better view of the outfield) and watch the countdown clock. The stadium will go dark, and “bing, bang, boom” the sky above Target Field will become illuminated with an array of fireworks that usually inspire  a good deal of “oohs and ahhs” from the crowd, regardless of the game’s final score.

What’s your favorite fireworks memory at Target Field?

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Flying Into Summer: The Aveda Butterfly Garden

As summer officially begins, there’s something special in the air at the Minnesota Zoo—the Aveda Butterfly Garden.  Just beyond of the Tropics Trail, visitors step outside and into a screen tent filled with flowers and plants…and lots of butterflies!

It’s a beautifully serene environment, where the birds outside of the tent are chirping, the scent of wildflowers fills the air and butterflies slowly bat their wings as they fly from one flower to another, sometimes landing on the shoulder (or nose) of zoo visitors. As a guest, you are asked to be cautious, as you never know where the butterflies may land…often it can be right on the path in front of you. The varied amounts of colors and sizes of butterfly species within the garden is amazing…it seems like no two are exactly alike.

The special summer exhibit is open from June 18 to September 5. If you visit, be sure to bring your camera. There’s plenty of photo opportunities to capture nature’s bounty of colors. #MnMondays

Bridge Back In Time

The Stone Arch Bridge crosses over the Mississippi River, connecting downtown Minneapolis to St. Anthony Main. Built by James J. Hill in 1883, the granite and limestone bridge consists of 23 arches.

StoneArch_MillCityViewFeaturing fantastic views of St. Anthony Falls, downtown skyline and the river, the pedestrian-only bridge is a popular place for locals and visitors. On the downtown side you’ll find Gold Medal Park where you can enjoy an urban park setting, the Guthrie Theater for local entertainment and the Mill City Museum which celebrates the city’s flour-focused beginnings.

StoneArch_CityViewOn the other side of Stone Arch is St. Anthony Main, a historic area which was once the home of flour mills. Today, you’ll find a variety of eateries including Tugg’s Tavern which offers an outdoor patio ideal for sipping a fresh-squeezed spiked lemonade.

Insider tip: when you’re in Gold Medal Park, grab ice cream at Izzy’s Ice Cream.

Where’s your favorite vantage point of the Stone Arch Bridge?

A Lift Bridge, Lighthouse and Loss of a Legendary Lady

As a tribute to my Great-Great Aunt Ruby—one of Duluth’s finest residents who passed away last week, today’s #MnMondays is all about Canal Park in Duluth, Mn.

Situated on the westernmost tip of Lake Superior, Canal Park is home to lighthouses, the famous Lift Bridge, Lake Superior Marine Museum and a variety of shops, hotels and restaurants. Popular with visitors and locals alike, the park welcomes guests and ships from around the world. This summer, the port will host the Tall Ships Festival from August 18-21. In addition to a variety of ships, the celebration will include the arrival of the Draken Harald Hårfagre—a hand-constructed Viking replica ship from Norway.

One of the loveliest views of the city, port and lakefront can be found by taking a walk out to the Duluth North Pier Lighthouse. Built in 1909, the structure is not open for tours, but it’s the perfect spot for photos.

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For those craving in-depth details about Lake Superior, shipwrecks and historical details, the Lake Superior Marine Museum. Need a little retail therapy? The DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace is former manufacturing warehouse built in 1909 that was transformed into a shopping and restaurant space in the 1980’s. If breweries are your thing, the Canal Park Brewing Company offers lake views, craft brews and pub foods.

 

LakeSuperiorProud Duluth resident for more than 50 years, my Great-Great Aunt Ruby was one of a kind. She and her dear husband Bob met many years ago in camera club and traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada capturing nature’s beauty through their camera lenses. Avid storytellers, they shared their photos and experiences with such great detail. As a young girl, I was inspired by their stories and credit them for my early interest in photography and travel writing. She’d come to the cities to visit, always bringing candy and bars to share while catching up over coffee.

The last time I visited with Ruby at the nursing home, we asked her what she missed the most and she said “My Freedom.” After 92 years on earth she has her angel wings along with the freedom to explore heaven with Bob, sip coffee with her siblings and flaunt her Norwegian pride.

In Ruby (and Bob’s) honor, I shall go forth with my camera in hand to capture all of life’s journeys…

Photo credit: the above photo was taken by Ruby’s late husband, Bob.

Historic Fort Snelling and National Cemetery

For centuries, brave men and women have volunteered to put their lives on the line to protect our freedom. In honor of Memorial Day, this week’s Minnesota Mondays focuses on Historic Fort Snelling. Situated where the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers meet, the fort was founded in 1820 to protect the fur trade. Throughout the years the fort played a key role in the American expansion while housing multiple military dignitaries, Presidents and enslaved people, including Dred and Harriet Scott. It also served as an internment camp in 1862, after the U.S.-Dakota War and the fort was used as a training center from the Civil War through World War II.Today, visitors to the historic site can experience what life was like in the 1800’s. They can visit the hospital and learn about the medicinal practices of the times, step into Sutler’s Store to see what items were available to soldiers for purchase, check out the barracks, Commanding Officer’s House, schoolhouse, Squad Room, Post Shops, Half-Moon Battery and the Round Tower.


Throughout the site, there are costumed staff to describe life at the fort. There’s also a variety of events throughout the day including Cannon and Infantry Drills, cooking demonstrations and Retreat Parades.

Give yourself plenty of time (at least 2.5 hours) to take in the site…and be sure to go to the top of the Round Tower for a great overview of the entire fort and an ideal spot for photos.


In addition to the historic site, Fort Snelling National Cemetery is just a few miles away. The final resting place of generations of military heroes (including my own beloved Grandfather), it’s a beautiful place to visit and honor those who have served our country with pride.

Cheers to Patio Season!

PubCollage

As the days grow longer and temps get higher in Minneapolis, there’s no place quite like the Rooftop Garden at Brit’s Pub. Located along the Nicollet Mall, the pub offers an authentic British Pub atmosphere with a dark wood bar, brown leather couches and plenty of TVs tuned into soccer matches.

While the atmosphere in the pub is rather inviting, if the weather is warm you need to make your way up the stairwell and onto the patio where you can sip a pint with views of the surrounding downtown buildings, listen to the British flags blowing in the breeze and perhaps enjoy some lawn bowling.

GardenFeeling hungry? The menu offers a variety of good eats including a superb Fish & Chips. On select summer evenings you can enjoy a movie on the lawn and other special events.

Be sure to take a selfie at the red phone booth! IMG_6059

Cheers!Drink

Deliciously Retro

Is there anything more refreshing than a frosted mug of A&W Root beer?

MugIf you’re in need of a nostalgic dining experience, drive along I-35 to Faribault, MN. There you’ll find the Faribault A&W Drive-In  with carhop service during warmer months and an eat-in restaurant.

If you dine inside, you’ll be greeted by the classic Spokesbear Rooty, along with a mod take on the classic A&W color scheme with table service. Grab a spot to sit, peruse through the menu, and the restaurant’s speedy servers will get you a frosted mug of root beer in no time at all (and refill it while you enjoy your burger and fries).

It’s the ideal place to sip and remember the good ‘ol days of road trips, drive-ins and classic cars. #MNMondays #OnlyinMN #A&WRootbeer #Frostymug

 

 

Minnehaha Falls—A Minnesota Tradition

With Memorial Day less than three weeks away, I’ve got summer on the brain. One of my favorite warm weather spots in the metro is Minnehaha Falls. Situated right off the light rail line and close to the Mall of America, the Minnehaha Regional Park is the ideal place for enjoying some time outside.

Visitors can take the stairs/trail down to get an up close view of the 53-foot waterfall, or they can meander around the park area exploring river overlooks, limestone bluffs and historic buildings such as the Princess Depot, Longfellow House and John H. Stevens House. There’s also a variety of walking trails leading to Fort Snelling State Park, as well as gardens, picnic areas, a disc golf course and art sculptures.

MinnehahaFalls1If you have a hankering to dine on some fish, the park’s seasonal Sea Salt Eatery is open from April to late October in the Minnehaha Park Pavilion. Serving a variety of fish entrees and craft beers, the restaurant is a popular spot to grab a bite to eat—plan ahead there’s often a very long line!SeaSalt

Now, if we could just get this rain to move out of town…

#MNMondays #MinnehahaFalls #OnlyinMN