By: Amanda Magnus
As you may have seen on our Facebook page, it was my birthday at the end of October. Some people don’t like to make a big deal about birthdays but I think they should definitely be celebrated! I try to make sure my kids feel extra special for their birthdays and I think you’d agree it’s always nice to feel extra special once in awhile!
Because my husband knows this about me, he worked with our parents to plan this past weekend as a birthday getaway weekend for me. A special thanks to our parents for watching the kids! It was exactly what I needed and was so much fun! I’m sure you’re wondering what we did all weekend with no kids and no specific plans. Well I will tell you!
Friday we left in the morning and hit the road! Since we didn’t have specific plans, we were able to take our time and stop along the way if we felt like it. Well as we were driving, I remembered we always drive past a TJ Maxx/Home Goods store in Rochester, MN. We’ve never been able to stop so this was the perfect chance! My mother-in-law and sister-in-law are the ones that got me hooked on shopping at TJ Maxx and Home Good stores. We wandered the store for a bit and found a few things for our dog and the kids and then were on the road again.
Next, we had to take a bit of a detour to go claim a Scheel’s gift card in Mankato, MN that Brian had won from a raffle. Brian was able to get some hunting gear he had been wanting and then we were on our way again. As we were driving to Bloomington, MN where our hotel was, we drove by this big yellow building. Another sign quickly identified the building as Minnesota’s largest candy store. Obviously we turned around to go check it out!
Not only was it Minnesota’s largest candy store, but it also housed Minnesota’s largest Porta Potties! The store had much more than just candy. There were over 1,000 kinds of soda, puzzles, toys, salsa, pasta and, of course, candy as far as the eye could see! We managed to make it out of there with some salt water taffy, dark chocolate covered pumpkin seeds and a caramel apple. It was definitely worth the stop.
We eventually made it to our hotel to get checked in and settled. From there, we left to find a craft beer place and then get some food. Brian and I both really like craft beers. I prefer darker beers and usually look for a stout. Brian will do brown ales and porters.
Wild Mind Ales was the first craft beer place out of four that we ended up visiting. So I guess you could say this past weekend the “crafty” in our blog name could have stood for “craft beers”! 🙂 Wild Mind Ales had a great laid back atmosphere and a variety of different beers to fit anyone’s preference. Seating was bar seating and picnic-like tables. This allowed for people to gather and meet new people. It was also family and dog friendly! I got “Winter’s Edge – Dark Ale” which was described as having flavors of dark chocolate, pine and orange peel. It was good but I didn’t love the pine flavor. Brian tried the “Buy in Bulk – Porter” with a flavor profile described as bitter chocolate and dry oak. We both really like his beer! The other nice thing about this place was they had a food truck outside to get food if you wanted.
Once we finished our beers, we went to a hibachi restaurant called Osaka. I got the filet mignon and Brian got chicken and shrimp. Both were delicious and if you like hibachi we would both give this place a thumbs up! Finally, it was time to end our long day and head back to the hotel to get some sleep!
From there we went to the Mall of America to do some shopping. If you’ve never been to the Mall of America, it’s definitely a must. It is huge and has so many stores! Plus they have Nickelodeon Universe and an Aquarium.
We had promised Ella to try and find her Vampirina’s dog, Wolfie (Vampirina is a new Disney TV show). And I’m happy to say we were successful! The other thing we were shopping for was shoes for me and jeans. I found some great deals on shoes at DSW, however jeans were a different story. We looked at the mall and stopped at a few other stores outside of the mall. I was so frustrated by the time we were done shopping because it seems near impossible to find jeans that fit me. I have long legs and have a small frame so the combo makes things difficult.
I had found some jeans at American Eagle but I wasn’t sure on the cost and I figured I could surely find other options at other stores. Well that was a mistake. No other store had anything that was even an option. I learned my lesson and from now on I’ll be getting my jeans at American Eagle. They cater to so many sizes, styles and lengths – they have jeans for everyone! Since I knew what size I needed, I went online and saw they had an extra 20% online that they didn’t offer in store. So I got my jeans!
We ended up grabbing pizza quick at Domino’s for lunch and stopping at the hotel to drop off our bags from shopping. Then we decided to make a quick stop at US Bank Stadium. As you may have noticed from our post on Tuesday, which you can read here, I am a Vikings fan! Neither of us had been to the new stadium or seen the new Viking ship out front. It was pretty cool to get to check it out! We had bought my dad a personalized brick for Christmas that was put on the ship so we tried finding it but didn’t have much luck since there are hundreds of them! Maybe next time!
The rest of the late afternoon evening was spent checking out a few other craft beer places and getting food. Our first stop was Surly Brewing Company. This place was packed when we got there. And it was a pretty big place and impressive looking! They had fires going outside for people to sit around, a bar area inside, regular seating for people ordering food and a pizza place upstairs. The other thing that was nice about this place was that if you just wanted to get a beer, they made it easy. Instead of standing up at the bar waiting to catch someones attention they had a beer line and two people just taking beer orders so that helped streamline things. I tried “Mortal Sun” which is a Porter and Brian tried “Bender” which is an oatmeal brown ale. Both were delicious! If we make it back that way again we will definitely make Surly Brewing Company one of our stops!
The next place we went was Northbound Smokehouse. It was getting close to dinner time so we each ordered a beer and an order of cheese curds. Being from Wisconsin, Brian was skeptical if Minnesota cheese curds could live up to the Wisconsin cheese curds. We were both very happy with them! They were delicious and I thought the cheese had a bit of a smoky flavor which made them even more delicious! I ordered a the “Dark Heart” beer and Brian got the “Smokehouse Porter”. Again both of these were delicious!
As we were drinking our beer, we noticed across the street was a cute looking cupcake shop called A Cupcake Social. They had gourmet cupcakes which we of course couldn’t pass up! I ended up ordering the “Death by Chocolate” cupcake and got one for my mom as well since she loves chocolate. Brian ordered the “Simply Vanilla” cupcake. I personally don’t understand how a person wouldn’t love chocolate but to each their own! 🙂 Either way the cupcakes were really good.
We stopped at Applebee’s on the way to the next craft beer place so we could get some food. Then we were on to Wooden Hill Brewing Company. Immediately driving up to this place I got excited. I don’t know if it was the lights or what, but it just seemed so inviting and welcoming! Brian and I both ended up ordering the “Caramel Crow” which is a combination of their “Chocolate Crow” which is a wheat stout and their “Caramel Frap” which is a cream ale. It is poured like a black and tan and was so good. I really thought I’d prefer the “Chocolate Crow” best since it is a dark beer but when I hit the “Caramel Frap” my tastebuds did a happy dance. It smelled amazing and tasted even better! If I could buy this stuff by the case I would! Wooden Hill was definitely the perfect end to our Twin Cities getaway.
Sunday morning we had another delicious breakfast and then hit the road to get back to our kids who we were missing quite a bit by this point! The drive started out with sleet and snow which was not fun, but eventually turned to rain and made the rest of the drive not so bad.
The kids loved their gifts we brought back and we both had a great time getting to just enjoy each other.
All in all I’d say our trip was great and we definitely hope we can do it again and re-visit the craft beer places and maybe even find some new ones to try!
Minnesota definitely has the craft beer thing figured out and there is not shortage of options!
What is your favorite place for a getaway? Do you have a favorite craft beer place in Minnesota or elsewhere? What type of beer is your go to? Tell us all about your favorite getaways and what you enjoy doing when you getaway in the comments! We love to learn about our readers and what they like!