clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Answer the call of the wild.
Answer the call of the wild.

17 Excellent Reasons to Get Out of Town This Weekend

Whether looking for foliage or whiskey, it's a good time to hit the road.

Fall colors and brisk weather are in full form and now is the perfect time for a great Minnesota road trip. Twin Cities, we love you but distance makes the heart grow fonder and there’s drinking to be done. So whip together a fresh playlist on your streaming service and let’s roll. - by Jon S. Olson

Savor the North: Duluth, MN

Bring a few extra layers and spend some time in Canal Park visiting Vikre Distillery for some of the best Aquavits out there. The cocktail list is rock solid and damn near everything is handcrafted in-house, even part of the draft-cocktail system.  If you can’t make it up in October be sure to plan a trip for Friday, November 4th to attend the release of their newest Northern Courage Smokey Rye Whiskey.

Locally made, limited run Sugarbush whiskey from Vikre Distillery Vikre [Official]

Also when in Canal Park be sure to visit Lake Avenue Café or Northern Waters Smokehaus in the Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace for phenomenally fresh and flavorful fish and local ingredients. Further up the hill checkout Carmody Irish Pub for a pint and some Irish whiskey. The warmth and hospitality of a good Irish pub is seldom rivaled.

If you're looking for great coffee, head downtown for Duluth Coffee Company.

If you’re the adventurous type head further north along Old Highway 61 for amazing views, campsites and cabins available right on Lake Superior before some close for the season. It's there you'll find the stunning cuisine at New Scenic Cafe. Plus, I hear there are some pretty good pies up there.

Vikre Distillery 525 S Lake Avenue

Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace 394 S Lake Avenue

Carmody 308 E Superior Street

New Scenic Cafe 5461 North Shore Drive

Rochester is worth exploring. Shutterstock

Cut Loose Southbound in Rochester, MN

Savor the drive down as you venture through one of Minnesota’s most beautiful stretches of fall colors to visit The Doggery. For a speakeasy that knows how to have a good time and hospitality that will beckon you to stay for another drink - The Doggery is the spot. Stop by for their variation of one of my favorite cocktails, the Jack Rose. Also, don’t miss owner/bar-man Aynsley’s newest collaboration, Bleu Duck Kitchen which is a new restaurant that futures creative and hospitable food to match the beverages.

Inside the Doggery Facebook

While you’re there be sure to checkout ZZest Market in downtown for great selections of artisanal cheeses and other tasty things or visit their ZZest Café & Bar near the river to see how they prepare dishes with said tasty things. On your way back swing into Redwing for some new boots. Because drinking memories come and go but Redwing’s last forever. *this article was not endorsed by Redwing boots (although I wish it was).

The Doggery 18 3rd Street SW

Bleu Duck Kitchen 14 4th St SW

ZZest Market 100 1st Ave SW #203, Rochester

ZZest Café 1190 16th St SW

Go West, young person. Shutterstock

Westbound Daytrip in Waconia

If you can only get away for a day the 45-60 minute drive from Minneapolis or St. Paul flies by fast. Be sure to checkout the lovely facility of J.Carver Distillery. They host informative and exciting tours Fridays and Saturdays at set-times for $10 per-person with a tasting room available for cocktails afterwards. It’s quite fun enjoying the nuances of a cocktail and a spirit within the space it was made.

Inside the cocktail room at J. Carver Facebook

Afterwards walk around the often brisk and breezy but always beautiful, Lake Waconia. Later warm up and enjoy the sights of the lake from within the cozy indoor dining room of Lolo’s Lakehouse. Or spend some time at the Waconia Trading Co. Try to score some antique or vintage barware or glassware for your home-bar. If you see any tiki mugs – let me know!

J. Carver 1320 Mill Lane

Lola’s Lakehouse 318 E Lake Street

Waconia Trading Co. 24 W 1st Street

The dells of Eau Claire in Wisconsin. Shutterstock

Eastbound, Cross the Border to Eau Claire, WI

Let’s show Wisconsin some love. Eau Claire has some pretty intriguing happenings…well, happening. The Dive is a recently opened bar and lounge on the second-level of the recently renovated Lismore hotel located in downtown Eau Claire. Enjoy classics like an Aviation or Boulevardier or stay into Sunday and/or Monday night and enjoy a Bourbon Old Fashioned with a Leinie’s for $5.  This is nothing short of impressive.

If you need to call it a night and The Lismore is full or you want to crash at Bon Iver’s place, checkout The Oxbow Hotel. Yes, Justin Vernon’s boutique hotel on the river has opened it’s rooms. In addition to The Lakely, an intimate restaurant, bar and music venue this hotel is fitted with an outfitter to help you explore bike trails, lakes and rivers. This seems to be the place to experience all things Eau Claire.

The Dive 333 Gibson Street

Oxbow Hotel 516 Galloway Street


Mad Town Style in Madison, Wisconsin

Lastly, if your nomadic spirit continues calling be sure to venture further to Madison WI to checkout Gib’s Bar. This craft cocktail bar is nestled in an unassuming house next door to their other business, Grandpa’s Pizzeria.

A plate worth roadripping for at Forequarter.

Forequarter is the height of locally sourced cuisine with serious craft cocktails from the Underground Meat Collective. And, if you're feeling flush, L'Etoile, is height of local fine dining in a gorgeous room. Save room for a popover and proper Wisconsin Old Fashioned at the untouched-by-time Tornado Room. The Mad Men-era style isn't just a schtick, it's really this classically cool.

Gib’s 1380 Williamson Street

Forequarter 708 1/4 E. Johnson Street

L'Etoile 1 South Pickney Street

Tornado Room 116 South Hamilton

Two Brand-New Coffee Shops Debut in Minneapolis, and More Restaurant Openings

Hell’s Cafeteria Shuts Down, and More Twin Cities Restaurant Closures

Major Distilling Company Tattersall Will Close Its Northeast Minneapolis Location