Six years ago this fall a big moving truck dropped my family’s belongings off here in Minnesota when we settled into a home in a sweet neighborhood. The landscape, culture and weather were 180-degrees from the dry, desert scenery we left behind in Tucson, Arizona. When we first pulled into town our five-year-old son said, “Wow! Look at all of the golf courses.” The greens he was talking about was grass. Plain old grass. But it was new to him. While there were no tee boxes to be seen there was plenty of water. Lakes, ponds, and rivers seemed to be only a stone’s throw away looking in every direction. The leaves on the lush trees were starting to turn vibrant oranges, reds, and yellows and I remember thinking, we’re going to love it here! I was right.
It didn’t take us long to start exploring our new region and what fun we have had (and still are). Weekend road trips became a favorite pastime. At one point we saw the Wagon Queen Family Truckster (aka Griswold station wagon) in Minneapolis and another time we drove to Darwin, MN to checked out the World’s Largest Ball of Twine. Today, thanks to my partnership with Discount Tire I am sharing my favorite road trip destinations in my state.
Blue Earth. If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you likely know I’m a sucker for Americana. Roadside attractions specifically reveal regional history, local significance, or introduce visitors to the people behind towns and businesses. A visit to Blue Earth was one of the road trips we took during our first summer in Minnesota. We had a specific monument in mind but the drive also introduced us to The Big Yellow Barn, Minnesota’s Largest Candy Shop. Rows and rows of nostalgic treats in all their glory sit alongside bags and boxes of modern candies. Pies, salsas, jellies and syrup also line the shelves. After picking up an assortment of treats we made our way south to seek out the 55-foot Jolly Green Giant. Surely you are familiar with Giant Food’s mascot. He came to life in the 1920’s while this statue came about in 1978 when Interstate 90 was opening. A platform below allows visitors to pose with the giant while a Dairy Queen across the way makes for a nice place to grab a cone when your visit with the famous man is over.
Austin. Sixty miles east of Blue Earth is the town of Austin, MN, also known as SPAM Town USA. Yes, this is where the historic can of SPAM, by Hormel Foods, comes from. The SPAM Museum was surprisingly one of the most interesting museums I have experienced with interesting info on WWII, the positive impact SPAM had on the war, why Hawaii adores SPAM, and fun jingles and advertising dating back several generations. Currently, the museum is closed due to renovation but the new museum will be unveiled next year.
Duluth. In 2013 my husband crossed a biggie off his bucket list, to run a half-marathon. I am still so proud of him. That race also happen to be on our 11th wedding anniversary. The accomplishment took a bit of effort. We had to road trip to Duluth and stay in a hotel for the weekend. Located off Lake Superior, I can see the draw of this Minnesota town with gorgeous lake views, home cooked food, and the really fun annual Grandma’s Marathon. Landmarks include the iconic Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge and SS William A. Irvin, a lake freighter. While that weekend didn’t lend itself to a lot of sightseeing we are hoping to return to see the seven lighthouses in Minnesota along Lake Superior, three of which are in Duluth.
These are only some of the places we’ve seen during our stint here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. There is still so much to experience. We are hoping to visit a Brainerd resort one of these days, camp in the Superior National Forest and Boundary Waters, and drive the North Shore Drive that runs from Duluth to Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Indeed, I am thankful for my state, Minnesota.
Again, thank you to Discount Tire for sponsoring this post. Please share where your favorite road trips are in your own state! Join in the conversation on social media with #MyDiscountTire and #ThankfulForMyState