Having recently purchased hiking shoes, I have been waiting for the weather and my schedule to align so I could break them in. No day seemed better than last Saturday, so I packed a lunch, some water, bug spray and a change of clothes and headed to Carver Park Reserve.
I picked this spot because it is less than 45 minutes from my house, free and has wineries and breweries nearby. I discovered this last fact earlier in the week reading the new issue of Minneapolis/St. Paul magazine featuring places to drink in Waconia. And once I got to the area, I was happy I decided to spend the day in Carver County. The park itself is large and nice. It has a nature center with between trails that go through trees, prairie and wetlands. It is hilly and a good beginner challenge for me and my shoes. The trails can easily be as long or short as you like, as they intertwine. I stuck to the outer trails, and they were made of dirt, rock, woodchips and grass and weeds. There were nice views, and right away in my hike I was very close to a deer eating a late breakfast or early lunch.
The park also has a large picnic area where I had lunch an old farmhouse, horse paths, archery and more. It is a nice, free public park and was a nice drive to get there. I enjoyed my first hike but have a tip for all newbies: Check well for ticks after your hike!
The next stop was a wonderful winery and brewery that I plan to spend more time at in the future. This trip was to check out a few places, and of the day, this was my favorite and the only place I would want to make a return trip for sure. Schram Vineyards Winery and Brewery is an old farm near a lake with a beautiful layout and grounds. They have wine flights and beer flights, making small batch beer and wine. Minnesota’s first winery/brewery combo has bocce courts and when I was there had live music and a food truck. It was a fun place to relax, with a great view. Like I said, it’s worth the drive and I will be back. And did I mention they make root beer, too?! From Schram I went into Waconia proper, hitting up Waconia Brewing Company in a new building downtown. The smell of popcorn and the look of modern furniture paired with rustic wood greeted me as I walked in. On tap were a wide variety of beers served by a very friendly server “born and raised” in Waconia. All the beers I had were solid.
Even with the construction around the building and in the city, it was worth the trip to explore what’s happening out west. And that’s what #WaconiaMinute is, to tell what you are doing this summer and what is great about it, despite the construction taking place. My first trip to Waconia was a positive one, I wanted to share my #WaconiaMinute. Next stop: Victoria and Enki Brewing. The thing is, all these stops are far enough outside the Twin Cities and small enough it’s hard to find the brews in the Cities. Enki’s ambiance has something to be desired, but the beers are good, and has a TV. Perfect for watching Triple Crowns happen (like I did). I will definitely be back to Waconia to the park and Schram Vineyards. Next time I also would like to visit J. Carver Distillery. I’m glad I took advantage of the weather and decided on a nearby escape that felt far away.