Whether you want to chase fall color, escape winter drudgery, or make the most of summer in Minnesota, a day trip from the Twin Cities is practically always a good idea. Fortunately, Minnesota and southwestern Wisconsin are full of gorgeous scenery and excellent grub. Parks and hikes may be great adventures, but the best kind of day trip is the kind that spotlights food. (For extra travel inspiration, check out nearby rustic pizza farms and great food in Duluth.) Here are 11 excellent, food-filled day trips from the Twin Cities.Read More
11 Food-Filled Day Trips From the Twin Cities
Minnesota wineries, smokehouses, and food destinations around the state
Stockholm Pie and General Store
Stockholm Pie is a little touristy, but for good reason: People love pie. One of this spot’s best flavors is the raisin sour cream pie, an old-fashioned dessert made with raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, rum, sour cream, and custard and topped with homemade whipped cream. The adjacent general store sells fruit preserves, an eclectic selection of classic candies and soda pops, glassware, art, and other home goods and pantry items. If Stockholm is too far of a schlep, simply get to Stoneware Coffee in Red Wing for a slice of Stockholm Pie.
Hanisch Bakery and Coffee Shop
They’ve got more than leather shoes down in Red Wing. Hanisch Bakery & Coffee Shop serves handmade donuts on the edge of Bluff Country, which was carved by glacial meltwater long ago. Your appreciation of the area’s stunning limestone bluffs will double if you have an apple fritter or maple long john in hand.
King's Place Bar and Grill
“Don’t worry, you won’t find a $20 burger on this menu,” the King’s Place website guarantees. This casual Miesville bar, which is just 10 miles from Cannon Falls and its beloved antique stores, instead offers more than 50 burger options at approximately $10 each. These include the Fair Ball (with a sausage patty, fried egg, and American cheese), the Double Play (with Swiss cheese, sautéed green peppers, and onions), and the Batter Box (with peanut butter, maple syrup, and bacon). Why all the baseball lingo? King’s Place is a five-minute walk from Jack Ruhr Field, the home of the amateur Miesville Mudhens. On game nights, you can get into the bleachers for just $3 (and kids’ admission is free).
Ember and Bean Roasting Co
There are several excellent coffee roasters in Wisconsin, including Ruby Coffee Roasters and Wonderstate Coffee. But Ember and Bean is just over the Minnesota-Wisconsin border in Hudson, making for a snappy 35-minute drive, and their coffees are not yet widely distributed in the Twin Cities. Visit this coffee shop to sample one of Jessica and Jonathan Pressley’s latest single-origin brews or specialty coffee drinks.
Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter
Venture 25 miles east to scenic Stillwater — one of the many small cities that dot the Upper Mississippi River valley — to Gasthaus (or “guest house”), which serves all sorts of German standards, from spätzle (an egg noodle side dish) to schweineschnitzel (pork schnitzel) to schwarzwälder kirschtorte (Black Forest gateau). On weekends, an accordionist ambles about the dining room. And if you show up in full Tracht — traditional German garb, that is — you’ll receive a 10 percent discount on food and drink. To glimpse an alternate universe in which the local craft beer boom never happened, peek at the Gasthaus’s beer list, which is 100 percent imported and includes selections from major Munich breweries Hofbräu, Paulaner, and Hacker-Pschorr.
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Mousse Sparkling Wine Co.
“But Minnesota wine isn’t that great,” you say. Well, cold climate grapes are relatively acidic, which makes them ideal ingredients for a beautiful glass of bubbly. Plus, winemaker Josie Boyle is one of our regional experts on sparkling wine. Look for the Mousse bottles produced using the traditional method (most commonly used for Champagne) or the charmat method (most commonly used for prosecco), and enjoy the 45-minute trip southwest to Jordan, where you’ll find a historic tasting room with exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, and a cute patio.
University of Minnesota Arboretum AppleHouse
As the University of Minnesota develops new apple varieties, it has to do something with the test fruits. Enter the AppleHouse, an offshoot of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, in Victoria. Every fall, the AppleHouse sells tried-and-true U-of-M-developed varieties, such as the Honeycrisp, the Haralson, and the Zestar, alongside yet-unnamed test batches. Apple season also brings North Star Donuts, a food truck with apple cider mini donuts and apple cider slushies. In November and December, the AppleHouse becomes the Holiday Boutique, vending apples, winter squash, and holiday knickknacks.
There aren’t a ton of great New Orleans-style eateries in the Twin Cities, so it’s well worth heading an hour northwest to Krewe Restaurant, where shrimp jambalaya, sumptuous gumbo, and smothered collard greens await. Mateo Mackbee and Erin Lucas co-own this New York Times–recognized restaurant and its companion business, a bakery called Flour & Flower, both of which are less than 10 miles from St. Cloud in central Minnesota. Krewe even has beignets, the fried dough delights most famously served at New Orleans’s Cafe du Monde.
Charlie’s Cafe in Freeport, Minn., is a beacon of comfort on the long, flat stretch of I-94 between Fargo and Minneapolis. This classic Midwest diner was purchased and rebranded in the early 1960s by Charlie Heidgerken, a fourth-generation German American, and it still commemorates German Night on Wednesdays by serving sauerbraten, wienerschnitzel, and potato pancakes. Any day of the week, you can snag a vinyl-covered counter stool or a laminated plastic booth and tuck into steak and eggs, a homemade caramel roll, and/or a $3.14 slice of lemon meringue pie.
Ida Graves Distillery
Spouses Anna Wilson and Brock Berglund distill organic, single-batch spirits in Alexandria, Berglund’s hometown, which is about two hours northwest of the Twin Cities. Since founding their business in 2016, Wilson and Berglund have expanded their line-up to include amaro, aquavit, gin, and vodka. Sure, Ida Graves spirits are available in bars and restaurants all over the Twin Cities metro — but you’ll have to hike to their 77-acre property if you want to see nearby Lake Ida Cemetery (get it?) or take a short distillery tour. Wilson and Berglund hope to open a cocktail room for the public in 2024. (To double down on good eats, swing through cheese palace Redhead Creamery in Brooten, Minn., on the way to or from Ida Graves.)
Russ Kendall's Smoke House
At about two and a half hours from Minneapolis, Russ Kendall’s might be a little far for a day trip. But if you roll out of bed early and pack fresh bagels and cream cheese, you can complete your brunch with some of the best smoked fish on the North Shore. This rustic family-owned business sells flaky smoked lake trout and brown sugar-cured salmon less than a half-mile from Lake Superior. Pro tip: Get caffeinated at Duluth Coffee Company or Dream Cloud on the way through Duluth.