I’m now just trying to be greedy and sneak in daytrips of hiking and sampling drinks when and where I can. I know the warm weeks are limited; it’s a race against time and I don’t know when the nice weather will run its course and I will spend my time raking and then shoveling. I shudder at the thought.
When I saw the chance for a trip after a week if rain and very cold weather, I took it. Rochester is the farthest and most ambitious day trip to date, but the views from the hike were worth it. There was a bit of driving to get there and back and between each destination, but it was a nice way to get out of town and enjoy a new location.
State Park: Whitewater
Whitewater State Park is about 20 miles east of Rochester. It has a variety of hiking trails and levels of difficulty, so it made for a fun time. It had beautiful limestone bluff views and nice prairie lands with open areas and a creek, so it was a great place to explore. Every turn and path was fun to see and explore. It was nice viewing it as the leaves are juuuust starting to change color, and I can only imagine what it will look like in a few more weeks when all the trees are a variety of fall colors!
There really are trails for all levels that are clearly marked, and there are lots of resting and picnic spots throughout. In addition there is a variety of camping and a beach. Inspiration Point (above) was worth the short but steep climb, and can’t be missed. This hike is easier than Frontanac (although I enjoyed the challenge) and overall the views are more rewarding.
Winery: Four Daughters
About 20 minutes south of Rochester is Four Daughters Vineyard & Winery. This winery also makes the popular-in-Minnesota cider Loon Juice. The menu looked great and eclectic, so I planned to go here after hiking to get some food.
Upon looking at the menu I realized it wasn’t as vegetarian friendly as it seemed online (as the menu changes daily so the online menu was a sample), so I asked if one of the brunch items could be made vegetarian by omitting the meat, but I was told it had chicken stock in it so, no it couldn’t. I explained I’m vegetarian and what could they do? I was directed to some appetizers and, while they sounded good, the vegetarian ones were more run of the mill and I needed a real meal. Since they offer a few flatbreads and pizzas (although none on the menu were meat-free the day I went) they could make a margarita pizza.
While I’m glad the server knew the menu enough to warn me removing meat wouldn’t make my meal vegetarian and offered an alternative, I didn’t really want or drive here for pizza and since the rest of the menu is innovative, I was disappointed there wasn’t a vegetarian offering on the menu in the first place. To make up for that I also got some edemame hummus that was good. The hummus came with pita wedges and veggies. Once those were gone but the hummus wasn’t, the server did offer to bring out wedges.
To accompany my food I got the red wine sampler. I really fell in love with the Big Boy Blend but at $45 a bottle, I passed on purchasing it (although my birthday is soon, hint hint).
Breweries: Kinney Creek and LTS
I drove past Forager, which said it would open late summer 2015. It wasn’t yet open when I went past and I was bummed because it looked and sounded cool. The next day I learned on Twitter that it opened. Hashtag story of my life.
I went around the corner to Kinney Creek. Its claim to fame is that it was the first brewery in the state the had Sunday growler sales after the law went into effect July 1 this year. Pretty cool. I tried a sampler and the first beer tasted like soap. The beers got marginally better from there. I drank all the beer but honestly I saw a few people leave with very full glasses of beer still at the table. Not a good sign at all. I would say pass on this place, and I can’t say I’ve every said that. And I tried the most hoppy beers they had, which are my favorite kinds.
Next stop before leaving town was LTS Brewing, which opened a tap room in August. They have popcorn made with coconut oil, a well-rounded variety of beer flavors and a cool atmosphere. I would recommend this place and really enjoyed all the beers I sampled.
Have you been any of these places? What are your thoughts on them?