The Very Best of Minnesota

The Very Best of Minnesota

Minnesota – the land of 10,000+ lakes and more

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I’ve called Minnesota home for 25 years, and here are a few must-see-and-do experiences from a local’s perspective. All destinations are appropriate for most ages except where noted, and all accessible by vehicles.

Mall of America offers more than shopping

MOA Escalators

If you‘re a first-timer, the Mall of America (or MOA as we locals call it) can be daunting and overwhelming as the 5.6 million-square-foot mall features more than 500 stores. Located in Bloomington, Minn., it’s only a few miles from the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

Nickelodean Universe Dora Ferris Wheel

 

Then there’s this seven-acre amusement park in the center – Nickelodean Universe – the largest indoor theme park in the U.S. In all, the Mall of America features 27 rides and attractions, including the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium.

How to get there: It’s drivable and offers plenty of parking. Or you can take the blue line on the light rail from Minneapolis or the MSP Airport.

 

Go jump into one of the 10,000+ lakes

Lake Marion Geese

 

With 11,842 lakes, you’ll never be at a loss on water activities from fishing to boating to paddleboarding to tubing to swimming. Here are few popular lake destinations.

Minneapolis Chain of Lakes Regional Park – Located right in Minneapolis; this park includes Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Bde Maka Ska, and Lake Harriet, with trails connecting them.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area – Looking for a place to completely unplug? This is the place. Located in the northern part of Minnesota, this wilderness area covers more than one million acres and features 1,200 miles of canoe routes and 12 hiking trails. This is a fairly rugged area so probably not suitable for younger children.

Lake Minnetonka – At more than 14,000 square feet, this is the largest lake in the Twin Cities metropolitan area that boasts fun activities for the entire family.

Lake Mille Lacs – a popular family vacation destination, it’s one of the state’s largest lakes where you can enjoy activities year-round

 

Miles and miles of bike and hiking trails

 

 

Minnesota offers 4,000 miles of paved bike trails with many created from former railroad beds in scenic areas. Check this rails-to-trails site for locations, trail terrain, length and reviews. Hiking trails are also quite abundant with various degrees of difficulty – from paved paths to steep rocky climbs. Check this site for details on everything from easy daytrips to multi-day backpacking adventures. These resources are also good in determining age-appropriateness.

 

Stroll through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Spoon and Cherry

 

The iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture is just one of the many works of arts you’ll find at the Minneapolis Sculpture GardenDownload the interactive self-guided tour experience.

 

Take a nature break at Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls

 

One of Minneapolis’ oldest parks features the 53-foot Minnehaha Falls waterfall right in the heart of the Twin Cities. And if visiting late spring to early fall, be sure to stop at the nearby Sea Salt Eatery, one of my favorite al fresco restaurants.

 

Take the scenic drive along the North Shore to Gooseberry Falls

Gooseberry Falls

If you love waterfalls, take a three-hour drive north of the cities along Lake Superior and visit the beautiful Gooseberry Falls. The whole family can enjoy an easy hike on a paved trail around the falls top to bottom.

 

Tour the historic Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock Lighthouse

 

Drive seven miles north of Gooseberry Falls to tour the beautiful and historical Split Rock Lighthouse that sits above Lake Superior in Two Harbors, Minn. If you don’t mind stairs (there’s a lot of them), you can check out the lighthouse from the shores of Lake Superior. Take caution especially with small children as it is very rocky and can become dangerous during inclement weather.

 

Lutsen Mountains offers year-round activities

Lutsen Gondola

 

Take a scenic road trip another 45 miles north on the North Shore and visit Lutsen Mountains. This area offers year-round activities including hiking trails, a gondola ride, alpine slide and skiing. The gondola ride is especially incredible during leaf-peeping season.

 

Duluth – the gateway to Lake Superior

Aerial Lift Bridge Night

 

I could write an entire blog series on all the great things to experience in Duluth, one of my favorite places in Minnesota. My son attends the University of Minnesota-Duluth (Go Bulldogs!) so we visit often (about a 2.5-hour drive from the Twin Cities – depending on weather and construction, of course).

Here’s an abbreviated list of things to do in Duluth.

  • Lake Superior Lakewalk and Boardwalk – a paved 7.5-mile trail where you can enjoy lake views, shopping and restaurants; and can walk up to the harbor lighthouse during the summer
  • Aerial lift bridge – Duluth’s most famous landmark – stay long enough to watch it rise to let boats and even ships through (here’s a ship schedule)
  • Glensheen Mansion tour – this historic two-acre estate overlooks Lake Superior and features gardens, bridges, and a 39-room mansion
  • Great Lakes Aquarium – features animals and habitats found within the Great Lakes Basin as well as animals from other freshwater ecosystems such as the Amazon River
  • Scenic drives – Duluth offers several beautiful drives in the area
  • Brewery tours (21+) – if you’re a fan of craft beer, check out one or more of their local brewery tours
  • Bentleyville Tour of Lights – America’s largest free walk-through lighting display during the winter holiday season

 

Take a family day at the Science Museum of Minnesota

Science Museum Girls

 

The Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul is one of our favorite places to visit especially when my two young nieces visit (elementary school), but we adults also love it.

 

Minnesota Zoo – from tigers to exotic fish to butterflies

Butterfly Garden

 

Open 365 days a year, the Minnesota Zoo is a fun family destination. And while the zoo features many animals, birds and sealife from around the world, my favorite is the Butterfly Garden. Another endearing exhibit is Farm Babies, open March 22 through April 30 – so much cuteness! The Minnesota Zoo is also a great way to eliminate cabin fever during the winter months.
These are just a few of my favorite things to experience in Minnesota, and is not an exhaustive list. For more amazing destinations, refer to Explore Minnesota – a great resource to discover Minnesota.

 

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Bio: Karen Mellott-Foshier (aka kmf)

Karen_Mellott-Foshier_bio_image

A former hockey mom midway through my third year as an emptynester, I recently resigned from corporate life after 25+ years as a journalist, corporate communications manager, writer, and editor. I’m excited to focus my energy on two of my passions – writing and traveling – and sharing travel tips and destination inspirations for emptynester, family, solo, and girlfriend getaways.

Would love to connect with you on social. Here’s where you can find me

Facebook.com/kmfiswriting

Instagram.com/kmf_116

Twitter.com/kmf116

Pinterest.com/kmfiswriting

kmfiswriting.com

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Karen Minnesota looks BEAUTIFUL! I would love to visit when the leaves are changing! Thank you for sharing with us!

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99

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The Very Best of Mississippi

The Very Best of Mississippi

Mississippi Gulf Coast

First of all, you can fly into Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. I’d suggest renting a car, so you can drive down the coast and see all that it has to offer. It’s actually very easy to get up and down the coast by taking Highway 90 (also known as Beach Blvd.). It runs right along the coast, and you can see the beach and the beautiful houses, so it’s a very scenic route.

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Area Attractions and Points of Interest

There are several hurricane memorials, two of which are in Biloxi. One is devoted to Hurricane Camille victims and the other is devoted to Hurricane Katrina victims. In Pascagoula, MS, there is a Katrina Memorial and Walking Trail that actually shows some of the wave action that occurred during the hurricane.

I’ve also heard a lot about Ship Island, and it’s something I would strongly recommend that you see. From Gulfport, there is a ferry that takes passengers to Ship Island and Fort Massachusetts (1858). The ferry ride to the island takes about an hour one way, but once you get there, you can enjoy swimming, shelling, birding, and sunbathing. Once on the island, you are able to rent chairs and umbrellas, and there is food service. For more information, visit this website: https://www.gulfcoast.org/listings/ship-island-excursions-gulfport/2715/

In Biloxi, you can also find Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis’s old home. We toured it, and it was very interesting! Here’s the website for more information: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductDetail-g43686-d15098095-Beauvoir_General_Admission_Ticket-Biloxi_Mississippi.html

There is a waterpark in Gulfport, MS, and you can find more information at this website: https://www.gulfislandswaterpark.com/. There are also several places with splash pads for the kids. For example, there is one in Long Beach (https://www.gulfcoast.org/listings/long-beach-splash-pad/4710/) and Bay St. Louis (https://www.gulfcoast.org/listings/mcdonald-park-%26-splash-pad/4759/).

If you want to see casinos, there are lots! I would strongly recommend visiting the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi (https://www.hrhcbiloxi.com/). We have been there and have enjoyed it. Also, if you walk along one side of the casino, we were able to see the boats docked alongside it and some were selling fresh shrimp straight from the boat!

In terms of music and nightlife, there is plenty of it! Here’s a list of bars and breweries along the coast: https://www.gulfcoast.org/things-to-do/music-nightlife/. Also, there’s plenty of restaurants, and you can find a list of those here: https://www.gulfcoast.org/things-to-do/restaurants/.

Honestly, we spent more time at the beach rather than doing much of anything else. We most definitely enjoyed the beaches, and you can find more information about the beaches along the coast at this website: https://www.gulfcoast.org/things-to-do/beach-water-activities/beach-information/

Hattiesburg, MS

Hattiesburg is about 90 miles from the gulf coast. It’s definitely a college town, as the University of Southern Mississippi is here (Jimmy Buffett was a student here!). There are some interesting things to do and places to eat.

If you love Southern BBQ, then the place to go is Leatha’s BBQ Inn. It is the best! This restaurant has been featured on an episode of Man Food Fire on the Cooking Channel. The other place to visit is Coney Island Café. We always get their hotdogs and french fries, and it’s the best! They don’t have a website, but they do have a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ConeyIslandCafe1923/).

One major attraction in Hattiesburg, MS is the Rails to Trails or Longleaf Trace. It is a running, biking, and equestrian trail that is 41 miles long. It extends from Hattiesburg, MS all the way to Prentiss, MS. Here’s the website for more information: http://www.longleaftrace.org/

In addition, the Hattiesburg zoo is an attraction here. Here’s the website: https://hattiesburgzoo.com/. They do have fun events throughout the year such as trick or treating at the zoo and the Sloth Experience. The Sloth Experience includes helping the zookeeper prepare the sloth diets for the day, as well as the opportunity to feed the sloth and be up close.

Tupelo, MS

Here, you can find Elvis Presley’s place of birth. You are able to tour his home, museum, and church. Here’s the website information: https://elvispresleybirthplace.com/

Baldwyn, MS

Here, you can find some of the last battlegrounds during the Civil War- The Battle of Brice’s Crossroads and the Battle of Tupelo/Harrisburg. The website for more information is here: https://www.finalstands.com/

Vicksburg, MS

If you are interested in the history of the Civil War, one must see is Vicksburg National Military Park. Vicksburg played a significant role in the war, and at the Military Park, you can find memorials, historic bridges, cannons, carriages, a visitor center, as well as 20 miles of trenches and earthwork.

The USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum is also in the Park. Here’s the website for the Park: https://www.nps.gov/vick/index.htm.

About the Author:

me

I am a mother of a 3 year old girl, and I am married to a football coach. I am a professor that teaches a lot of child development classes. Thus, I blog about parenting and how to enhance development. I hope to share my knowledge of child development in order to help parents along their journey!
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Thank you for sharing Mississippi with us! The Gulf is a beautiful place! I totally want to go to the sloth experience at the zoo!
Follow me at any of these places:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loveinjune16/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99
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The Very Best of Kentucky

The Very Best of Kentucky

Before moving to Kentucky, I always assumed this was a very country state. I actually never even thought twice about ever traveling here.

 

However, life turns out to be a funny one, because I got married to the love of my life, which just so happened to live in Kentucky!

 

So Ha Ha! Well played life!

 

Anyways, when I moved here I decided to find the most amazing places to check out, or at least brag about to all my family in the big cities.

 

Below are the places I definitely recommend you stopping by and checking out, if you’re in the area!

 

Churchill Downs

 

I’m sure you’ve heard of the famous Kentucky Derby, where they race horses, guess where it’s at? Yup, at the Churchill Downs.

 

When the derby isn’t going on they have many festivities and activities going on.

 

Children 12 and under are complimentary (except on Derby days).

 

They have a venue for weddings and special occasions as well, and it’s simply beautiful!

 

If you would like more info about this you may visit their website directly

at http://www.churchilldowns.com

 

Kentucky Bourbon Trail

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As the name suggests this trail was made to promote the Bourbon whiskey industry here in Kentucky.

 

It is a self guided tour/journey to Kentucky’s many different bourbon distilleries. This is a must if you enjoy strong alcohol.

 

Children’s are allowed, however it is more of an adults activity.

 

There are many different tours that guide you around this trail, and make it an unforgettable experience.

 

Check time out at http://kybourbontrail.com

 

Louisville Slugger Museum

 

This is a museum crafted specially for baseball players. As they showcase the story of Louisville Slugger baseball bats in baseball and in American History .

 

From the moment you stand in front of it you will be greeted by their replica of Babe Ruth’s Own Louisville Slugger Bat.

 

This is an all day activity for the whole family! And for those that have little ones, children 5 and under go in for free!

 

You will actually get to see these bats in the making process, and can always buy your own customized bat, with your name and everything!

 

Https://www.sluggermuseum.com

 

Big Four Bridge

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The Big Four Bridge connects Louisville Waterfront Park to Jeffersonville Indiana, over the Ohio River.

 

You get to walk from one state to the other! It has certain parts of the bridge that has been customized with rainbow colors, enhancing the beauty of this bridge.

 

No pets are allowed unfortunately for all fur parents. However you can go biking with the family. It is definitely a must stop if you’re in the mood for a romantic date!

 

Definitely a must for pictures!

 

Http://louisvillewaterfront.com

 

Bernheim Arboretum And Research Forest

 

This is a personal favorite! It has trails, a fishing lake, public art, and even giants!

 

Yup, you read that right, Giants!

 

They constructed three giant sculptures throughout the arboretum using recycled wood. Mama Loumarie with her children, Little Nis and Little Elina, once you reach the first one, it’s up to you to find the other two, making this my all time favorite place in Louisville.

 

They have a canopy tree walk which is 75 feet above the forest floor! Do you dare take on this adventure walk?

 

They also have an Edible Garden, and a children’s play garden, making this the number one stop for families with children of all ages, as you will all definitely be entertained and amazed!

 

If you have to choose one place to stop by, let this be the place!

 

Http://bernheim.org

 

I know when yóu think of Kentucky, chances are you are like me, and automatically connect it being all country, however Kentucky has many things to offer, if given the opportunity!

 

Let me know if you check out any of these places and what you think of them!

 

Author Bio:

Dayma Garcia
My name is Dayma Garcia, born in Cuba, raised everywhere! I lived in Miami, then Georgia, and now I’m in Kentucky. When I am not writing,reading, working out, or researching, I’m a mom to a beautiful little girl, and a fur baby, along of course with being a wife to my handsome husband. Growing up I didn’t have the best childhood, went through a few experiences, which then led to anxiety and depression as an adult. This negative experience inspired me to create my blog in which I help you regain confidence in yourself, gain motivation to fulfill all your dreams and achieve your aspirations, and become best version of yourself possible! 
These are my links-
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Kentucky sounds like so much fun! I am sure my son and nephews would love to visit with Slugger Museum! Oh My Gosh, that bridge looks amazing! I would love to check that out! So many colors! Thank you for sharing Kentucky with it and I can’t wait to visit some day!
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