The parks are closed and it is that time of year to take a road trip. Sure, you could go to Wisconsin or the Dakotas, but consider this: a weekend full of farm tours, small towns, rivers and lakes. Let me be your tour guide (something I am in no way qualified to do, by the way) as I point out the myriad possibilities presented by the "Eat Local Farm Tour".
First off, let me give you a bit of information about the "tour". The Twin Cities area coops have teamed up with local farmers to offer a day of free, informational tours about what goes on at some of our most treasured local farms. There are 11 farms participating and they have been divided into four regions. The tour has been set up to be self-guided so everyone can choose their route and how many of the farms they want to try and visit throughout the course of the day. The farms will be open at varying times during the day, so please grab a tour guide at your local coop or check out the online version here. For more information and background about the event, the Linden Hills Coop has quite a bit of information here.
What I am proposing is that this could be your opportunity to explore even more. From what I have gleaned online, county and regional parks are still open and although they may be a bit crowded, you might get lucky. Plus, we cannot forget the pleasure of road trips, exploring small towns, bed and breakfasts, and the beauty of our lakes. With that in mind I came up with some ideas thanks to the bounty of information online and also with the help of this interactive map that highlights the farm tour.
The Northeast corridor features the beautiful area near the scenic St. Croix from the city up past the Chisago County Lakes area, where there are plentiful fishing opportunities. One of my favorite spots in the area is Square Lake. It has received extremely high marks for being a clean lake. Be warned, it can be quite busy at times and I have no idea how busy it is now that state parks are closed. Either way, it is probably worth it if you like beaches and all that comes with them. For those of you who simply like scenic drives, plan to spend some time driving up scenic highway 95.
The Southeast corridor is host to four of the eleven farms and is home to Lake Byllesby and the Cannon River. Besides the hiking trails in Lake Byllesby Regional Park, consider canoeing or kayaking the Cannon River. This might be just the place to check out a local bed and breakfast, especially if you spend too long at the Cannon River Winery.
The Southwest corridor is another with scenic drives as the Minnesota River winds it way through the area featuring three local farms. At the end point of this tour you may find yourself in St. Peter, Minnesota, a charming small town that is host to Gustavus Adolphus University. It has charming coffee shops to cool off in and is home to the Saint Peter Food Coop, a great coop in its own right.
The Northwest corridor is one that the tour is touting as bike friendly. Anyone who is really ambitious should reserve a spot at Riverbend farm to partake in a "crop mob". Follow the link to find out more and please inquire about registering for this great event here.
Now comes the hard part. Following all of these darn links and deciding which one to do. Whatever it is, take your camera, share photos, let us know how it goes and have fun. Since I am obviously not a travel guide, I also invite all of you to share your favorite things to do in each of the above regions of Minnesota. Check out that interactive map and let us know.