Minnesota

Minnesota

Having travelled in the rocky mountain states, four corners, the south and North east, we arrived in Minnesota on a fine August afternoon after 280days (9m). The timing was a combination of a couple of things; a new baby in the family, summer, and Midwest happened to be on pour route as we navigated from the North east region of US to the PNW region of US. PS-You could divide the USA in so many different ways, we have found the below map very helpful for us.

Grand Marais

The north shoreline of Lake Superior runs from Duluth, Minnesota to Ontario, Canada. 

The lakeside city of Duluth, MN is the gateway to Minnesota’s North Shore Scenic Drive, especially if you are looking for natural beauty and breathtaking views of the rugged landscape in North Minnesota. As you travel on highway 61, you will hit a town called Grand Marais, along the way, you will see historic towns, scenic beauty, and at this time of the year- a great view of the fall colors.
We concluded our trip in Minnesota by visiting Grand Marais. Despite the rainy conditions, we made the best of it; we explored the lakeside, soaked in the panoramic views of Lake Superior, carefully walked on the gigantic boulders, played with some rocks (the kids enjoy skipping rocks on the water) and then enjoyed icecream at the local dairy queen before heading back to our airbnb rental in Corelaine MN.
Next time we come in the area, we will be sure to enjoy donuts at the World’s Best Donuts and we will drive all the way to Grand Portage to learn about the vital Anishinaabeg Ojibwe heritage and check out Minnesota's tallest waterfall. Grand Portage is on the northeastern part of Minnesota, at the very tip where the United States and Canadian borders meet.
If you enjoy skiing- Lutsen is a ski resort-turned adventure park and is right on this route as well Link in comments for fall pictures in Grand Marais (not taken by us)

Itasca State Park

When in Minnesota, be sure to visit the origins of the mighty Mississippi river which flows from Northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico and climb the Aiton Heights fire tower at Itasca State Park, you will be rewarded with a great view of the Fall colors. You can also go hiking, play volleyball at the beach or just lounge at the beach. You can find the origin of the mighty Mississippi at Lake Itasca in Itasca State Park in Northern Minnesota.

We also spotted our 1st bear during the road trip to the state park where we camped at Bear Paw Campground for the night. AND!!!!we forgot our tent! so we slept in our screen while keeping an eye out for the bears haha, campfires were not allowed due to the drought in MN so our wonderful propane stove came in handy for our night time meal. That being said, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at the headwaters of Mississippi, we were brave enough to swim in the lake (Eddie refused to participate and that's ok) The River Connects Us All because water from 13 states is transported to the Gulf of Mexico through the main channel of Mississippi.

Como Zoo

Whether you are an animal lover or a plant lover, Minnesota’s Como Park Zoo and conservatory is the place to be and you can do all of this for FREE. Yes, this zoo and conservatory is funded via donations. We went to the zoo during our visit in MN and we reserved out tickets online due to the timed entry (pandemic related). We arrived at the site with 2minutes to spare and thankfully found a nice parking spot that was not too far from the main entrance. Tip: Be sure to allow ample time for parking and making your way from the car to the main entrance.

There is a café at the zoo and also COMO town where the littles can enjoy rides-the food at the café and the tickets for the rides costs $$ 

There is a beautiful Japanese garden in the conservatory that we really loved and can see our front yard looking like that some day. 

During winter, and we all know how cold it gets in Minnesota, you can come here and still experience the greenness and warmth (summer feeling). 

There is also a big park right next to it with grilling spots, trees, a playground where you can host a family reunion or just gather with friends 

When you visit, please consider making a donation to preserve this wonderful piece of gem.

Accommodation in Minnesota

We were in Minnesota for 6weeks and during this time, we primarily stayed in Sauk Rapids (Calebs hometown) with Caleb’s parents. WE also managed to stay with other family, friends and former co-workers for free! We rented Airbnbs in Bethel, Mora MN and we also stayed at a hotel in Blaine MN.

We highly recommend these locations for your accommodation needs and here is why;

Bethel MN:

This is an entire guesthouse hosted by a sweet family in Becker MN. It is a sweet little camper to rest for the night while you are traveling or have an event in the area! Just minutes from Hwy 10 in Becker. Great amenities e.g kitchen, onsite parking, pets are allowed, and few essentials are provided. Just bring your own water as the water available is not for drinking. The neighborhood is very quiet, and the hosts were superb!

 

Link to Airbnb

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/49364118?source_impression_id=p3_1633109537_af9HXHZL4LYpY53f&guests=1&adults=1

 

Mora MN:

This is a large spacious luxurious camper on a 5acre property that also has a pond. Knife lake outdoor getaway lets you relax in nature and forget about the hustle and bustle of the city. 

This is a seasonal accommodation and during winter, the camper is driven to Texas where you can rent it while in Texas. Dogs are allowed but no cats. Plenty of amenities-wifi, kitchen, tv, fireplace, kids cribs, outdoor patio and Gazebo shelter

Link to Airbnb

 

Blaine MN:

We had few errands to run in the Metro area of MN so we booked few days at the Best Western Hotel at the National Sports Center in Blaine. Thankfully we booked right after a huge tournament that had taken place at the sports center, so the hotel was very quiet and not as busy

Due to our travel lifestyle, we made sure to book a hotel with a kitchenette to enable us to make our own meals thereby cutting down on food costs while ensuring we eat what we want. The pool and hot tub were open, so our kids spent a good amount of time learning how to swim. Dad is a great swimmer, so the kids learn swimming from Dad, by the time we were checking out of the hotel, our eldest daughter had mastered her back stroke. Plenty of other amenities e.g free breakfast (sausages, bacons included), fitness room, laundry room, business center, friendly staff, free wi-fi etc.
Link to Best Western Hotel at the National Sports Center in Blaine.

https://www.bestwestern.com/

Other things to do in MN

MN list
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