We Went to Minnesooo-tah and found 11 Fun Things to do in the Twin Cities Don’t Ya Know?

When I think family vacation, I think road trip. There’s just something about loading up the car with way too much luggage, and hitting the open road in search of a an adventure. There is something so nostalgic, so American, so family friendly about it all. Even John Hughes wrote a whole movie based on his the tale he wrote for the National Lampoon about a fun old fashioned family road trip.

Brian and I have decided that picking a North American city and seeing everything along the way is the way to go. This year we chose the Twin Cities, and we found 11 fun things to see and do. In fact, we wish we would have had more time as everything was so serene as you can see by the many photos I took!

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1. Shop The Mall of America: I know it seems weird to want to spend a day indoors at a mall in the middle of a beautiful midwestern summer, but we picked a rainy muggy day for this adventure and it was awesome. It was pretty amazing to see a mall this big, all the stores, and for even those that aren’t into shopping the variety of things to do.

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2. Experience Nickolodeon Universe: This is the giant indoor amusement park right in the center of the Mall of America. None of us are too keen on roller coasters, but there is plenty more to do there, in fact the photos we captured with the kids and some of their favorite Nickelodeon characters like, Blue was worth it. They also film a kid’s game show there!

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3. Check out the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium: This is also located in The Mall of America. I know it seems weird, but this is an amazing display of aquatic life. The kids loved touching anemones, sea stars, and sting rays. They also have huge display of various other sea creatures that will keep anyone captivated.

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4. Make plenty of time for Mill City Museum: This was my absolute favorite part of the Twin Cities. This original Washburn & Crosby flour mill has been converted into a museum that both encapsulates and pays tribute to the milling industry of Minneapolis, but will also tell you everything you need to know about flour, wheat, milling, and the history of Minneapolis.

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From the grain elevator to the water room…

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the tasting room to the movies, this place was awesome.

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Not to mention the view of the river and St. Anthony falls cannot be beat. I wish every city had a museum like this!

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5. Eat at Grumpy’s: Grumpy’s Bar and Grill was recommended to us by an employee at the Mill City Museum for lunch. After talking to our server (that’s what we do). We found out that Grumpy’s has been around for quite awhile in the area. The food was great, and it is where I got my first taste of a Juicy Lucy (a burger with cheese in the middle).

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6. Visit University of Minnesota: Brian and I have a tradition of visiting collegesand universities when we vacation in a new place. University of Minnesota is a gorgeous campus complete with a few places to stop for ice cream. Also, let’s not forget seeing the stadiums, including Ridder Arena where the 5 Time National Champion Golden Gopher Women’s Hockey Team plays.

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7. Stroll through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: Coming from a city that has a Giant Bean in the middle of a park, I guess I am enthralled with outdoor sculpture. This spacious and gorgeous garden is part of the Walker Art Center and is home to 40 permanent art installations including the famous Cherry on the Spoon. The kids liked running through the spray of water.

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This was a perfect place to walk around, snap photos, and just kind of relax.

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8. Explore Como Park Zoo and Conservatory: This gorgeous and unique place in St. Paul is exactly what is says in its name. It is a giant park, beautiful zoo, and the perfect location to see some of the most beautiful gardens you have ever seen. My favorite part of this visit was the water gardens as we walked in. It was like being in a Monet painting.

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9. Tour St. Paul: Visiting Minnesota’s state capital, we were able to get a great guided tour of St. Paul from my friend Melissa. St. Paul is the perfect definition of a bigger city with a small town feel.

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10. Try Snuffy’s Malt Shop: This is another Twin Cities favorite, and where my we all got to try some fabulous ice cream treats like a Ice Cream Cherry Soda, a Creamsicle Malt, a Mrs. Snuffy’s Malt, and a Chocolate Covered Cherry Malt.

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11. Walk around Minnehaha Falls: This 53 foot waterfall and surrounding park is perfect spot to take in a hike, bikeride, or picnic. There are also some historical landmarks housed here like the Longfellow House (Not the real Longfellow House) and The John H. Steven’s House Museum. We wish we would have had more time here.

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There was so much to do that there were a few things we didn’t get to see or do.

BONUS. Take in a Game: No matter what the season you can see the Minnesota Twins play at Target Field, The Vikings play at US Bank Stadium when its completed (formerly the Metronome), The Timberwolves play at the Target Center, The Minnesota Wild play at the XCel Energy Center, or even take in a St. Paul Saints Minor League Baseball Game (Bill Murray owns the team).

BONUS. Play some mini golf: The Minneapolis Sculpture garden also has a mini golf coarse inspired by art.

BONUS. Take in a free concert: We wish we would have had time to visit The Chain of Lakes and take in one of the free concerts which happen almost every night in the summer.


What Not to Do at a Home and Garden Show

Spring is almost here, which means Home and Garden Show time! Over the weekend, I attended my first Home and Garden Show and I learned a lot.

I saw some innovative home products, took a look at some cool home services, took home some cool tote bags, and best of all ran into an old friend.


However, I am the absolute worst at trade shows. I have a guilt complex. I feel horrible for these people standing there at their little constructed booths waiting or asking kindly for someone to talk to them. I hate that they are constantly getting rejected. Their products are getting rejected. They came all this way after all. Who could stand all that drive by rejection?

As a writer who has suffered more rejection than I care to admit, I feel for these booth people. I know that rejection. So, I will talk to them for a little while. (We have no intention of getting a hot tub, bathroom renovation, pergola, etc.)

I know, I’m the worst.

However, I always say, you can never be overdressed or overeducated. I did learn a great deal about some of the products and services I don’t need such as bathroom remodels so there’s that. Let’s pretend I did this in the name of education.

I also say, there is no such thing as a free lunch. In other words there is a cost to all of this education: I will be deleting emails from people providing products and services I don’t need for the foreseeable future.

When going to a Home and Garden Show or any trade show for that matter, here is a list of DON’TS (you don’t want to be getting emails for the next month because you couldn’t say no at a trade show.)

1. Don’t go in without a plan: if you are going to just look around, want to see bathrooms, kitchens, gutters, pools. Make a mental note of what you are there to see.

2. Don’t forget what household projects are coming up: many vendors offer coupons, discounts, and even raffles for prizes for patrons attending the trade show. Make sure you visit the booths of any current or impending home projects. For example, new countertops, and a basement remodel are in our future. I made sure to hit up any booth I could that might have discounts or promotions to help us with these projects.

3. Don’t talk to anyone you don’t want to: people at trade shows are there to try and gain your business, but they also want to talk to people who are seriously considering their products or services. If you live in a condo, don’t get sucked into talking to a landscaper for an hour. A polite “no thanks” will do the trick and move on.

4. Don’t go in clueless: get a map of the convention center area or talk to someone running the trade show and get a lay of the land. This will help you find where specific booths are so that you can plan your time accordingly.

5. Don’t give out your information unless your’e ok with people contacting you: this is a no brainer, but unless you want to set up an appointment for an estimate for new gutters go ahead and take their card or pamphlet and tell them you’ll give them a call when you’re ready to do business.

6. Don’t go to a trade show without having a little fun and getting a little swag: When going to a trade show, I always leave some time at the end for visiting a few booths that look interesting or have cool demonstrations or let’s face it neat swag. I usually will hit up those booths last if I have time.

7. Don’t wear heels: Just don’t, unless they are the most comfortable shoes you own. Trade shows are for walking and gathering information and collecting tote bags, save the good shoes for date night.

Now, that you know what not to do at your next Home and Garden or trade show you should go online and see when the next one in your area is. Spring is almost here after all!

If you like this post and would like to read more about all things domestic with a touch of humor, become a Home Everyday follower! For blog updates or to see other places I write such as ChicagoNow or Chicago Parent follow Home Everyday on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

Hi Honey, We’re Home!

The saying, “I need a vacation from my vacation,” most definitely was created by a parent. I would be willing to bet it was more specifically coined by a parent who had just taken a road trip. While I could use a good nap and a foot massage from all the walking we did, I have to say I am already looking forward to another family vacation, but not for the reasons you may think.

We drove to Washington D.C. with a stopover in Columbus, Ohio as it is about halfway. Breaking up the drive into two days was perfect for the little ones and for us parents too. Also, there were some tips and tricks I learned along the way that really helped keep everyone happy on such a long car ride. I will share all our tips and tricks (like headphones) in an upcoming post.
Once we were in the D.C. area we stayed in Bethesda, MD and were easily able to navigate our way around the area using DC’s public transit, The Metro. Also, with a little help from some locals and our GPS systems on our phones we managed to see some amazing sites.
On our first day in DC we headed out to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum near the Dulles Airport. Washington D.C. has two air and space museums, one is in the downtown area, and then there is the one near the Dulles Airport. Brian and I had seen the one downtown when we were younger, and had done a little research about them both ahead of time, and after reading about all the planes, the control tower, and that the space shuttle, Discovery, was there, we decided the kids might have more to see here.
On our second day, we took the Metro to The National Zoo. We love visiting the zoo in our own hometown and are frequent visitors, so we were excited to see a new one in a new city. The kids were thrilled to see the Pandas. Our favorite animals to see the new lion cubs, and the otters.
On our third day, we packed in a lot of sightseeing, but we were able to do it easily via a bus tour of Washington D.C. The kids were able to take in all of the sights and learn so much.
Day four we headed to Baltimore for a tour of Oriole Park and Camden Yards, a stop at Charm City Cakes (for me), and to take a picture of Pimlico Racecourse where the Preakness is run (my kids have a thing for horses).
While we are glad to be home, the memories made on this trip are going to last us all a lifetime. Watching the kids so filled with wonder and awe the entire trip was, as a parent, amazing to see. Yes, I am exhausted and I would love another vacation, but not because I’m tired, because we had so much fun!If you like this post and would like to read more about all things domestic with a touch of humor, become a Home Everyday follower! For blog updates or to see other places I write such as ChicagoNow or Chicago Parent follow Home Everyday on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

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