I have made an effort this summer to get out and explore more since, as I’ve mentioned, I was busy with buying a house last summer. I think I’m taking advantage of the short Minnesota summer. I’ve enjoyed incorporating daytrips into the rotating.
I shared my time in Waconia, but two weeks ago I went hiking near Red Wing at Frontenac State Park and purchased a state park pass good for one year. I didn’t take many pictures during that time, but hit up the park and a fairly challenging hike, but the reward is views from the bluffs of the Mississippi River. After that I hit up Red Wing Brewing for some beers, which had pizza that looked amazing (looked being the key word).
Wanting to take advantage of the weather, the hiking shoes I bought this summer and the park pass, I planned a trip to Mankato and the nearby state park Minneopa. This park was a lot different than Frontenac, so the variety was neat. The trails were much easier, as they are all made for cross country skiing, so they are wide and flat. There are two parts to the park, a paved trail going to the waterfalls and a part that is in some trees but mostly prairie grasslands. In the second part, they are currently working to restore the prairie further and reintroduce bison into the park. I think there will be a part where the bison roam that you can drive through with your car, so I would like to go back and visit once this is done.
I enjoyed all the sites and flowers, but the prairie was warm, so I wanted a beer to cool down. Heading to Mankato Brewery, I opted for a sampler, as it was all types of beer I like and I had only had one of the four beers before. The sampler included Kato Lager, Organ Grinder Amber Ale, Duly Noted American Pale Ale and Haymaker IPA.
From there going north the next stop was Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery. The variety of wines was impressive. I got five samples for $7. The real draw was the brick-oven pizza, as I wasn’t going to make the same mistake and miss out as I did at Red Wing Brewery.
The brick oven pizza was crispy and had a variety of vegetables. After eating some pizza and sipping wine I walked the grounds. A creek runs through the winery, and I was impressed with the different parts of the winery that can host events and are nice spots to relax.
I think I have a pretty good thing going with hiking and exploring breweries and wineries that are easy drives from the cities. Do you have any easy daytrips around here that are worth a drive?