Archive for the ‘Sightseeing’ Category

The Great Minnesota Get Together

Since we’re not city-dwellers, my family doesn’t get to make it to the Minnesota State Fair every year.  But every year that we do is as memorable as the last.  Here are some pictures from the past couple:

Come One, Come All

Wild Horses

One of the cheapest and most entertaining things to do: The SkyRide.  Rest your weary legs and check out the fair from the top.

Sky Ride

The View From Up Here

Real-Life Farmville

A trip to the fair would never be complete without a bucket of cookies from Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar.  Always worth the wait.

Oh, Sweet Martha...



Isanti County Fair 2012

Every year we try to get to the Isanti County Fair at least once.  I’m not a ride person anymore, but they make good pictures. We like to go for the horse shows, the 4H barns and the music.


(This mama pig had JUST given birth to her piglets!! I have a soft spot for farm babies, but I think the piggies are undeniably cute!)

Franconia Sculpture Garden

With as much time as I’ve spent in the St. Croix River Valley, I thought it was downright ridiculous that I had never stopped at the Franconia Sculpture Garden.  It’s right on St. Croix Trail and I had driven past it a hundred times, but never had the time to stop.  So on one of my rare days off, my husband and I decided we’d better check it out.  It’s open to the public every day, dawn to dusk.  And it’s free (although they do ask for a donation which we were happy to give).  I definitely recommend taking an hour to walk through the park and check out the sculptures.

We’re not art-gallery regulars, but we both appreciate art.  I’m not an art critic and I could be WAY off base with my interpretations of the sculptures and the artists’ intentions.  However, I think that’s the great thing about any kind of art: it means different things to different people.  These were some of my favorites:

The “radio tower” is my name for this sculpture.  I love it because I’m a music buff and have been my whole life.  I remember using boom boxes and stereos even older than some of these.  I think it really speaks to the advancement of technology (I’m listing to Pandora on my iPhone as I type this) and how, as we advance in technology, things that we once coveted and cherished become trash when replaced with smaller, more capable technology. 


I don’t have a name or a great assessment for this piece… I just liked it.  The panels in the back are individual pieces of graffiti art that flip like the posters I used to look through every time I went to Target or Walmart as a teenager.

This sculpture is apparently very open to interpretation.  My husband thought it was maybe a portrayal of a tornado.  I, being in the real estate industry and watching how crazy our market has been, took it as an interpretation of that.  First, with the great builder’s movement in which older homes were demolished to make way for new suburban developments.  Then when those homes were vacated due to foreclosure.  Inside this house is a crazy web of ropes.  Homeowners tied to their homes because of the inability to sell, perhaps?  As I see home prices start to rise and the number of foreclosures in our market start to level out, I think it’s important to remember these things that we’ve been through and this image does that for me. 

Duluth in September

Duluth is a favorite spot of both Minnesota residents and visitors.  My husband and I love visiting there because it’s just far enough away to seem like a vacation, but close enough that we can get back quickly, if needed.  It’s perfect for a night or a weekend.  We haven’t run out of things to do there, yet.  If we ever do, the plan is to keep driving North. 🙂

If it’s your first time in the area, you’re going to want to visit Canal Park and do the normal tourist stuff.  Grab some treats from the vendor cars, take a bike tour and visit the lighthouse.  There’s also the Lake Superior Marine Museum, which is right on the lakewalk, doesn’t charge admission and has really interesting exibits on the history of the harbor and Lake Superior. They also have a ship schedule so you’ll know when big ships will come in and can watch them go under the lift bridge.

Here are some more great places to visit:


Enger Tower, Enger Park, Duluth, MN (Copyright)

Enger Tower is located at the top of Enger Hill and overlooks the city, the harbor and St. Louis Bay.  As you climb each level, it gets windier but the sights get better.  There’s more to see in Enger Park, too.  Fun trails, gorgeous views and gardens. 


Historic Fitgers in Duluth, Minnesota (Copyright)

If shopping is your thing, definitely head over to Fitger’s.  Fitger’s is an historic landmark with great building details and lots of shops that sell Minnesota wear.  They’re located along the shoreline and there is access from both the boardwalk and Superior Street.  If you’re looking for a place to stay, there is also a hotel here (it’s much bigger than it looks!)


Lake Superior Shoreline, Duluth, MN (Copyright)

Speaking of the shoreline, there IS a wonderful lakewalk that is very easy to walk (strollers, wheelchairs, wagons included) or run.  But getting up close and personal with the majestic waters of Lake Superior is a great experience.  It sounds cheesy, but I could watch the waves crash into the rocky shore all day.


Fannie Rose Candy Shop, Duluth, MN (Copyright)

While the shores of Lake Superior are what most people plan to see in Duluth, don’t pass up dowtown!  Duluth’s downtown has it all, including a skyway system.  There are big office buildings, hotels, a casino and lots of specialty shops, like the ever-adorable Fannie Rose Candy Shop.


Old Church Door, Duluth, MN (Copyright)

While I don’t necessarily recommend going the route my husband I did (we called it the Eternal Bolt Quest and it took place in a very vacant part of town, on foot, where we came across this beautifully weathered old church), I do recommend going off the beaten path when you get a chance.  Sure, there’s enough tourist attractions in this city to keep you busy for a few visits.  But when the opportunity arises, branch out and see what else you can find.  There is history and beauty for miles and lots to discover.