'Tis the season for holiday gift guides—from bloggers, magazines, and online publications. My second annual made in Minnesota gift guide reflects my personal tastes: think earrings and chocolate. If that's your (or your loved ones') jam too, I hope you find something here to add to your Christmas list.
Do you like buying presents for frequent travelers that will actually get used? Are you a travel lover whose friends and family are asking you for gift ideas? Here's a practical-minded travel gift guide ranging from stocking stuffers to splurges, based on my experiences as an avid traveler.
Josh and I have developed a winning formula for our trips best summed up as "walking around and eating stuff." This past summer, we applied that approach to our five-day getaway to Portland, Oregon. Portland is an wonderful food destination: thanks to the temperate weather, there are food carts throughout the city, sometimes grouped into pods with a central seating area.
When you visit Florence, Italy, you're in the birthplace of the Renaissance: in the 14th century, local scholars revived an interest in ancient Greek and Roman culture, and throughout the 15th century...
I've had a soft spot for microstates ever since learning about the world's tiniest countries in eighth grade geography class. One of the highlights of my time in Rome was walking to Vatican City, the smallest country in the world. When I learned that it was possible to visit the Principality of Monaco during a cruise port stop in Cannes, I knew I had to make a trip to the world's second smallest country.
Neapolitan pizza and Pompeii: as soon as I saw Naples on our Mediterranean cruise itinerary, I knew how I wanted to spend my day in port. But Naples still managed to surprise me, from its gritty, vibrant street scenes to the unexpected ways that ancient Pompeii resembles a modern city.
Like our port stop in Ibiza, I didn't know much about Palma before preparing for our Mediterranean cruise—I associated Mallorca with beach resorts and wasn't sure how we'd spend our 12-hour port stop there. However, I discovered that Palma is home to interesting cultural sites dating back to the 11th century, plus some tasty tapas.
Welcome to my 11th(!) annual summer blog post. Compiling these roundups has become as much of a summer tradition as eating ice cream and going the Minnesota State Fair—as the season draws to a close, it's a way to reflect and celebrate my favorite season.
The Minnesota State Fair is one of the highlights of my year. I love the crowds, the nostalgia, the food, the overload of sights and sounds. I love it so much that my ideal Minnesota State Fair day starts before 8:00 a.m., just when things are ramping up, and goes until at least 10:00 p.m., when the colorful lights and overflowing buckets of chocolate chip cookies make the fairgrounds feel like a magical place set apart from the concerns of daily life.
Getting a CSA box filled with fresh, locally grown produce each week is one of the highlights of my summer—but it can also be a little overwhelming, especially when I have a long to-do list. Meal planning is key for making the most of my CSA share, but sometimes life happens. Maybe we've just gotten back from vacation and haven't gone to the grocery store yet, or maybe it's been a busy work day and I don't have time to prepare the more ambitious dinner I originally planned.
Marseille is the second-largest city in France, and thanks to its extensive port facilities (among the largest in Europe), most Americans associate the city with industry rather than tourism. But Marseille is a popular port stop on Mediterranean cruise itineraries, and its historic churches, picturesque Panier District, and vibrant Old Port (Vieux Port) make it a pleasant place to spend the day.
When I saw Ibiza on our Norwegian Cruise Line Mediterranean itinerary, it seemed like an odd choice for a cruise port stop—isn't Ibiza mostly known as a party destination? Even worse, we were only there for an afternoon, landing at noon and departing at 7:00pm. What were we going to do, walk around and look at a bunch of closed clubs for a few hours?
Dinner theater combines dinner and a show in one fell swoop, by eating a full-service meal and then watching a theatrical production from the same seat. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is conveniently located to Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the venue offers musicals on the main stage, plus a comedy club and concert series. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres' current main stage show is Jersey Boys: The story of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons.
When it comes to international travel destinations, Rome looms large: the iconic arches of the Colosseum, the ornate statues of the Trevi Fountain, and the massive dome of St. Peter's Basilica. Rome is the second-most visited city in Europe (after Paris) hosting 7-10 million tourists each year—and in May 2023, that included me and Mike.
One of the unexpected delights of our recent Mediterranean cruise was how much I loved the food in Spain. The Twin Cities have a diverse culinary scene but only a couple of Spanish restaurants, so all...
When Mike and I go on cruises, we're not really shore excursion people. We like to explore on our own so that we can set our own pace, eat at small local restaurants, and control our own itinerary. On our recent Mediterranean cruise, we made our own plans for seven of our eight port days (plus our pre-cruise time in Rome). The only exception? The Cinque Terre.
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 from our home in the Twin Cities metro.
When I moved to the Twin Cities, a scoop of raspberry chocolate chip ice cream was what convinced me to stick around. Since then, I've become an ice cream connoisseur, scouting out the best frozen treats in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the suburbs. Here are my picks for the best ice cream in the Twin Cities—plus my all-time favorite.