Over the years, Mike and I have made more trips to Stillwater, Minnesota than any other destination. It's the sort of place where you can spend a satisfying few hours or an entire weekend. The hilly terrain, views of the St. Croix River, historic downtown, and Victorian-era homes make it feel a world away from our life in the suburbs—but it's less than a 45 minute drive away.
For years, we've headed to one of the Minneapolis lakes if we want to spend the evening by the water. However, that involves a 30 minute drive from our home in the suburbs, so we recently investigated a closer option: Elk River, a small city that's northwest of Minneapolis and is situated at the confluence of the Elk and Mississippi Rivers.
In late June, I started dining outdoors at restaurants again (on my personal time—I'm still mostly unemployed as a food and travel journalist). This was a decision I made based on my own health risk factors and the health risk factors for those I come into close contact with, as well as my personal values.
Once a month or so, I make a trip to Trader Joe's to stock up on my "special" groceries. My list has changed over the years along with our tastes and Trader Joe's offerings, but the Harvest Grains Blend—a mixture of Israeli-style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and quinoa—remains a standby.
For years, Mike and I have had to drive to a neighboring suburb or northeast Minneapolis to get our craft beer fix. That changed a couple of weeks ago when Elm Creek Brewing Co. opened in our Champlin neighborhood. We decided to check them out on June 26, 2020, a week after they opened. Here's what we learned about the beer and the atmosphere, as well as what a taproom experience is like in the COVID era.