It’s been another crazy day here in Minneapolis. Up early and busy all day attending presentations, meeting people from all over the country, speed networking, and picking up information from various travel related businesses. I’ve been running non-stop since I got here.
Yesterday, I was treated to a tour of the historic town of Red Wing by Erica from Explore Minnesota, along with 3 fellow bloggers. It was a great way to spend the day. A nice drive through rolling hills, farms, lakes and rivers. It took about an hour or so to get to get there. We crossed the Mississippi River, drove through town and headed to Memorial Park atop the bluffs.
We had about an hour to enjoy the view overlooking the town of Red Wing and the Mississippi River. I spent my time wandering through the park, enjoying the cool fresh air. I learned some interesting Minnesota history (first ski jumping in America began here), by reading the ‘interpretive signs’ while following the path of the ‘disc golf course’. This park would be a great place for a picnic. 🙂
We were on a ‘schedule’ so we headed back down to town. The historic downtown was very pretty. Lots of old stone buildings, flower baskets and American flags hanging from the lampposts and shady trees fronting quirky little shops. Our first stop was the Fair Trade Books store.
They have a great ‘marketing strategy’. On your first visit to their store, they give you a free book. 🙂
They pick it out for you (they ask first what kind of books you like). The only catch is, you have to say “books make great gifts’- loud enough for everyone to hear. 😉
My free book was “Lieutenant Hornblower” by C.S. Forester. A very popular series featuring naval hero Horatio Hornblower. I haven’t read any of this series yet, but it’s right up my alley. I bought “Dead Wake” by Erik Larson (about the Lusitania) while I was browsing around. I can hardly wait to start it.
I really liked this little bookstore. It’s right downtown, in an interesting old building with architectural details like high, patterned metal ceilings. There are cozy chairs and tables where you can linger a little longer making up your mind on the reading material.
They were very knowledgeable about all kinds of books, helpful and friendly (even to dogs). It’s an independent bookstore, but more than just a bookstore. They’re very community focused, they have all kinds of other things going on. Not only the ‘usual’ book signing events, but ‘open read’ where you can come share your writing with others, game nights, and open mike nights. They share other local events and even have an ‘arts and entertainment auction’ coming up on July 1. 🙂
From the bookstore, we headed to the shoe store. The Red Wing store, home of the “World’s Largest Boot“. I wear Red Wing (steel toed) boots all the time for work, but I didn’t know anything about this giant boot- or the shoe museum upstairs– until this visit. Since I already have a half dozen pairs of Red Wings in my closet, I passed on the shopping and spent my time in the museum- which actually was pretty interesting. If you’re into that kind of thing. 😉
We were all ready for lunch so we headed across the construction zone* on the main drag to the St James Hotel.
It’s located in a historic building (1874-1875) next to a pretty little park with a fountain right downtown and convenient to everything. We sat at the rooftop patio to enjoy the view over the park, train depot, and glimpses of the river.
Sunday brunch was tempting. The buffet was loaded with fresh strawberries and cream, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, apples, bananas, and pineapple slices. There were fresh cinnamon buns, french toast sticks, blueberry muffins, waffles, biscuits and gravy, cold cuts and cheeses. Cereals, yogurt and oatmeal were out if you didn’t want to splurge. There were chocolate cakes and dainty little squares of petit fours if you did. There was an omelet bar, with eggs cooked to order with your choice of ham, cheese, onions, or peppers added. Next to that was a ham sliced to order. Yum!
If you could eat your way through all of that, you were welcome to go back for more. 🙂
We all enjoyed our meal there. The food was great, the service was fast and friendly, and the prices were reasonable. It’s worth a try if you’re in the area.
On the way back to the car, I just had to stop in the chocolate shop I had noticed on the way over. The Red Wing Confectionary makes the cutest little chocolate critters.
They also had a great selection of other sweets, including taffy, jelly beans, chocolate covered cherries, gift boxes, ice cream and a large menu of coffees and other hot (and cold) drinks.
After tasting a free sample, I made up my mind and bought a few things- sea salted caramels, chocolate covered cherries to share, and a small gift box.
Next stop was the “Uffda” Shop– full of Scandinavian stuff. Enough to make you think you somehow landed in small town Sweden instead of Minnesota. They had everything from sweaters to socks, snacks to snowmen. Lots of beautiful decorated china, crystal and jewelry. A great place for Christmas shopping.
We headed back to the city before we spent too much money. The drive back was just as pretty. Rolling farmlands, green fields, and hills passed by quickly. We got back just in time for a quick nap before the ‘Opening Night Party” at the Nickelodeon Universe. 🙂
I’ll have to tell you about that tomorrow. Stay tuned. 😉
In the meantime, check out what my fellow bloggers had to say about our journey through small town Minnesota (and other things).
* to ease the pain of the construction, the town has been promoting Hard Hat Thursdays.