The hike to see Hanging Lake is challenging, but very rewarding. The views from the top are worth every stair that must be climbed. It isn’t a long hike- only about a mile and a quarter- but it is very steep, gaining about 1200 feet in elevation.
Hanging lake can be found in Glenwood Canyon off of interstate 70. This is also a very cool drive as you snake through the canyon next to the White River. Even if you don’t do the hike, the drive is worth it!
There is a fee required and the most up to date information can be found on the Glenwood Springs website. Fees must be paid in advance and you must choose a time slot to visit. When you arrive, you have to show the ranger your reservation so they are able to verify you are visiting on the correct day and time. This helps reduce crowds and helps alleviate parking issues.
As we mentioned earlier, it isn’t the length that makes the hike strenuous, but the change in elevation. The lake is nestled way up in the surrounding canyon but once you make it up there, you can sit at a bench, relax and take in the rewarding views.
The trail is a dirt path that has some stone steps and bridges to cross the river. There are markers and occasional benches to stop and catch your breath. The views while hiking to the lake are also gorgeous so make sure you take them all in!
Once you near the top, the trail narrows and there are some steep drops off to the side. This part does not last long- just a few more stairs and you will be rewarded with the views of Hanging Lake!
The lake is a breathtaking clear blue-green color surrounded by the dark green of the pines, orange of the rocks and white of the bridal veil falls pouring into it. You can even see some fish swimming around in the lake! There are a few benches way up here where you can rest and just be in the moment.
Things to know before you go
There are no bathrooms or water fountains here. Be prepared before you arrive.
Good shoes are a must! There are lots of rocks, roots and branches that you can trip on and hurt yourself if you aren’t prepared.
Pets and bikes are not allowed on the trails.
You must have a reservation in order to visit. The rangers will not allow you to hike without one.
Page, Arizona- a quaint town found just south of the border between Arizona and Utah. It’s easy to just glance over this city on a map, but if you actually go and visit, you will quickly see why it is one of our favorite places in the United States.
On the south side of town lies Horseshoe Bend. The park and overlook consists of a parking lot (accessible for small visiting fee depending on the vehicle) and a short trail from the parking lot to the overlook. At the end of that trail is some of the most beautiful landscape we have ever seen. We highly recommend visiting at sunset so you can see what we saw- the red rocky canyon glowing with the light of the setting sun, beautiful clouds lit up by the sunset and hundreds of shades of blue and green swirling in the mighty Colorado river.
Horseshoe bend has become quite popular over the last few years and if you decide to visit at sunset, we highly recommend showing up early for a few reasons:
Parking. If you get here early enough, you will have plenty of space to park. You do have to pay a small fee when you arrive and the lines can get backed up as people have to fish for their wallets and loose change in the car. NOTE– this is NOT a US National park, so national park passes will not be accepted here
Walk. Once you get your vehicle parked, it is a little over a half mile walk to the edge of the canyon where you will get the best views of Horseshoe Bend. Plan to take some time walking there and enjoying the sights on the way. The trail is fairly flat and it is paved, making it a relatively easy walk there- just plan ahead and be prepared for a light hike.
Amazing views. The views here are incredible- especially as the sun begins to set. If you arrive early, you can explore Horseshoe Bend from many different angles and observe how the landscape changes with the changing light. The middle of the bend contains a paved viewing area with a safety fence, but the rest of the bend is unpaved and contains no barriers for the edge of the canyon (about 1,000 feet above the river!). There is much to explore but do so at your own risk.
Busy. As we mentioned earlier, this place is very popular and can get very busy. The earlier you arrive, the easier it will be for you to get some great pictures of the bend without having to edit out other visitors. Remember, Instagram doesn’t always show the truth!
If you do visit Horseshoe Bend, remember to be kind and patient with other visitors and help keep this amazing place beautiful by taking any trash with you when you leave.
Have you ever visited Horseshoe Bend? Let us know what you thought about it! Send us an email or just add a comment below- we love to talk about travel and are always looking for new ideas.
Have you ever wanted to feel like you are on another planet without needing a spaceship, gear and a lot less planning? Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho might be just the place for you!
This place is in South Central (a.k.a. out in the middle of nowhere) Idaho. As you drive along Highway 26, you will see a lot of flat land covered in sage bushes, some mountains and buttes off in the distance, but not much else. As you get closer to the park, you will start to see these strange black rocks laying all over until that is all you see covering the ground.
Once you get to the park, you will be able to see all kinds of strange volcanic rocks and formations. The park lies on the Great Rift volcanic rift zone which is how all the strange rock formations and rugged terrain came to be. This is one of the few places in the world where you are able to see these kinds of rocks and formations. It is a great place to visit if you like geology!
Things to do
Stop at the Visitor Center
Here you will be able to pick up a map and get some ideas from the rangers for what kinds of activities to do depending on the time of year you are visiting. There are also nice bathrooms here and will be the last with sinks you will see in the park. There is also a museum where you can learn about the geology of the area, including what different kinds of rocks are present in the park, types of lava flows that occurred here and how they were formed. In addition to rocks, the museum includes exhibits about the plants and animals that call Craters home. Lastly, there are exhibits on the peoples who have traveled through Craters many years ago and about the astronauts that came to Craters in preparation for their missions to the moon!
Hike up a Spatter or Inferno Cone
These strange formations are formed from the last little bits of magma that came bubbling to the surface. As the rocks erupted and hardened, you can see these cones that look like hills made of black gravel and strange hollow rocks. If you decide to hike up to the top of the inferno cone, you will get a great vantage point of the park and can see just how big the eruptions actually were.
There are a few different options for camping at the park. First is the Lava Flow campground. Here you will find sites with a charcoal grill and picnic table; however, there are no hookups available here. There is also an area available for group camping if you are visiting with more than 8 people. Lastly, if you are feeling brave, there is backcountry/ wilderness camping available. For more information about camping at the park, check out the NPS website for Craters of the Moon.
Explore the park via snowshoes or skiis
This park and visitor center remains open during the winter months. Craters is a completely different kind of wild in the wintertime with the white snow set against the black volcanic rocks. Snowshoes are available to rent from the visitor center and you can find trail maps to help guide you through the park in the snow.
Gaze at the Stars
Since there is really nothing anywhere close to this park, it gets very dark at night which makes it perfect for stargazing. Whether you are camping or decided to just come for a few hours after dark, on a clear night you will have an awesome view of the night sky and will see a mind boggling amount of stars. This is a great experience at any of the National Parks if you get the chance!
Explore the Caves and Lava Tubes
When the lava was flowing through this area many years ago, a system of caves and tubes were created underground. Some of them are small and you need to crouch down to see anything, while others are huge and you need to be careful not to get lost in them! There are quite a few marked caves that you can go spelunking in that are right off the main trails. The Indian Tunnel cave even has stairs that make getting into the cave to explore a lot easier. NOTE- you will need a permit to go in any of the caves. These are free and can be picked up at the visitor center.
Things to keep in mind
This place gets HOT in the summer. There is not very much shade and the black lava rocks just absorb heat all day. Bring a lot of water with you and make sure your water bottles are full before you do any hikes- even short ones. Water bottle filling stations can be found at the visitor center.
Keep the bats safe! If you go into any of the caves, do not wear any clothing or shoes that you have worn in any other caves!!! It is possible for you to transmit diseases to the bats that call these caves home without even knowing it. More information can be found at the visitor center.
Don’t get lost off-roading. This park is huge and there is a lot of backcountry space to explore, but there is also not a lot of cell phone reception in case of emergency, so be careful if you decide to explore off the trails.
Are you looking for a place to getaway this fall? Perhaps somewhere you can see the beautiful fall foliage, walk along the coastline of the largest Great Lake, and try some fabulous fares and brews? If the answer is YES, Duluth is just the place for you this fall!
There is so much to see and do here that visiting Duluth could easily be something more than just a day trip. Stay the weekend and see all the great things this Northern City and the surrounding area has to offer. This guide encompasses some of our favorite things to see and do and places to eat in the Duluth area. We hope you find it helpful and take the time to visit this fall.
First of all, lets talk foodand brews. There are so many great options including Fitger’s, Clyde Iron Works, Canal Park Brewing and many more. Conveniently, our top three places offer scrumptious selections of both!
Fitger’s Inn is a historic establishment that has been around since the mid- 1800s! It is even registered as a national historic place. The brewery survived prohibition by crafting soda and candy instead of ales. Today, it is a restaurant, brewery and hotel all in one! It is located right on the coastline of Lake Superior and has trail access to the Duluth Lakewalk. There is also a mall underneath the inn with an assortment of small boutiques where you can shop for unique gifts. Inside the brewhouse restaurant is a classic take on American fare. We really enjoyed the burgers- especially the Minnesota wild rice burger and the apricot ale.
Clyde Iron Works is located in a bright, beautiful and modern remodeled historic machine factory hidden on the south side of town. As soon as we walked through the door, our mouths were watering from the pleasant aromas of their spectacular homemade sauces and doughs. We really liked the homemade stromboli and wood-fired pizzas. They have plenty of seating, and they also host events here if you are looking for a wedding venue or hosting a large party. In addition to being a great stop for food, they are also opening up their own craft brewery soon. Unfortunately, the beers weren’t ready when we stopped here last time, but we look forward to trying them next time!
Last but not least, Canal Park Brewing is another brewery and restaurant that is splendidly located right on the coast of Lake Superior. They have a lot of space indoors, but if you are visiting on one of Duluth’s rare warmer days (summer doesn’t last long up here!), Canal Park has a spacious patio right on the edge of Duluth’s harbor. Inside or outside, Canal Park features close up views of Lake Superior and Duluth’s port. We always enjoy their unique takes on American fare. We especially enjoy their fish tacos and mango habanero burger. They have an extensive craft beer selection, but our favorite is the Nut Hatchet brown ale.
In addition to excellent food and drink at Canal Park Brewery, they are also in a prime location for shopping. Along Canal Park, you will find blocks of small touristy shops where you can get stickers, postcards, t-shirts, etc. There are also some small art studios that feature prints, pottery, glass and more that are made by local artists.
Not really that into shopping? Thats OK! If you do find yourself in the Canal Park area, we highly recommend visiting the park itself. There are 2 really cool lighthouses- the Duluth North Pier and South Breakwater lighthouses- that you can walk up to and watch the huge ships sailing by on their way to and from the Atlantic Ocean. If you are interested in the big ships and want to know more about where they are coming from, going to, and what they are carrying, you can stop at the Lake Superior Marine Museum to find out all of that and more.
From the park, you will also get a great view of the famous aerial lift bridge. This bridge was built in the very early 1900s and rises over 200 feet into the air to allow boats to pass under it!
From the lighthouses, we recommend taking a walk along the Duluth Lakewalk to get some more views of the city, lake, and lighthouses. The lakewalk is about 8 miles total and the entire trail is paved making it a great option for bikes, scooters and strollers in addition to walking or jogging. If you start at Canal Park and head north, you will walk right by the Fitger’s mall and restaurant. There is also a great ice cream place called Crank and Dasher that is right off the trail if you need something sweet to continue on the lakewalk.
Another great stop is the Enger Tower. This tower was built in 1939 and can be found on one of the highest spots in Duluth. You can climb the stairs in the tower and get some beautiful views of the entire city and the surrounding area.
Heights aren’t really your thing? No worries! There are lots of other things to do here instead including picnicking, taking some hiking trails, walking through the gardens or just sitting and enjoying the nature.
If it is a bit chilly or rainy when you visit, there is a lot of indoor things to see as well. The Great Lakes Aquarium is a unique spot to spend the afternoon. You can see the local fish and learn about the ecosystem of Lake Superior. More into history than fish? Check out the Lake Superior Railroad Museum! Here you can take a step back in time and read up on the role of the railroads and how important they were in this big shipping town. You can also experience some refurbished old trains to see and feel what they were like back in the early 1900s.
The railroad museum also offers Train Excursions on the North Shore Scenic Railroad. There are quite a few different rides to choose from including a fall leaf train, short rides or all day excursions up the coast of Lake Superior, and many more. Check out their website for info on tickets and what excursions are available.
If you don’t take the train up the coast for scenic views, you can drive instead and take in the North Shore at your own pace. Along the coast is a few stops that we recommend- Betty’s Pies, Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse. Of course there are so many other beautiful places to see and countless things to do on this route, but we will focus on these three.
First up, Betty’s Pies. Pies are constantly being baked fresh here and whether you like fruity or creamy, chocolate or cinnamon, crust or crumble there is a pie here for you! They also serve food here, but we have only ever stopped for dessert. If you find a slice of pie you really like, they do sell whole pies to take home as well!
If you continue up the coast from Betty’s, the next stop will be Gooseberry Falls. This is a beautiful state park that has a huge, tiered waterfall tucked away among the trees. There is a small building here with some maps and bathrooms right at the trailhead. If you follow the trails, you will see the many falls this park has to offer. There are a few routes that are more strenuous, but there are plenty of less strenuous ones that also give great views of the falls.
Last but not least, if you continue North up the coast, you can see Split Rock Lighthouse. This historic lighthouse is perched on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior and offers beautiful views anytime of year, but is absolutely glowing in fall.
Like we mentioned earlier, there are a lot of other places to stop for arts and crafts, food and drink or scenic views with rocky beaches to dip your feet in the lake and get some great photos of the fall foliage decorating the coast.
Once September starts, I am all ready for fall. I love everything about this time of the year- the beautiful fall colors, the weather, the sounds, smells, soups and sweaters. Fall in the Midwest is a beautiful but very short time of year. We always try to make the most of it for the short time we are able to enjoy these few fabulous fall weeks.
We created this list of some of our favorite fall activities/ places to visit in Minnesota throughout September, October and November. If you are feeling inspired to get out and see what this time of year has to offer in the Upper Midwest, this guide is exactly what you need!
1. Drive up the North Shore for scenic views of Lake Superior
The North Shore is the part of Minnesota that is north of Duluth and continues up the coast of Lake Superior all the way to Canada. There are so many scenic views and great biking/ hiking trails to explore along the coastline. Some of the more famous stops along this drive include Duluth itself, Betty’s Pies, Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse. If you continue North, there is a lot more to see and do, so take some time and explore!
We like visiting Duluth because there are so many great choices for food and drink here- Canal Park, Fitgers, and Crank & Dasher Icecream just to name a few! You can also see the famous lift bridge and watch huge shipping boats passing through on their way to the Atlantic.
Once you leave Duluth and continue northwards on Highway 61, make a stop at Betty’s Pies. They are constantly baking new fresh pies and they are available for purchase by the slice or you can get a whole pie! We recommend grabbing a slice to go and taking it with you to the next stop- Gooseberry Falls State Park. This is a beautiful place to stop and have a picnic (or a slice of pie) and walk to the falls, taking in all the beauty surrounding you.
If you continue north from there, you will come across the famous Split Rock Lighthouse. You can get scenic views of the fall foliage and the lighthouse with Lake Superior in the background. There are more hiking trails and picnic areas here as well.
There is a lot more to see and do on Minnesota’s North Shore that we do not have time to write about now, but if you make the trip up here, you will not be disappointed with a plethora of outdoor activities, jaw dropping views and quaint coastal towns.
Let us know what you like to do on Minnesota’s North Shore!
2. Visit an apple orchard/ pumpkin patch
This is one of my most favorite things to do on a sunny, cool, crisp fall day. There are so many great apple orchards and pumpkin patches around the Twin Cities area to visit! One of our favorites is the Luce Line Orchard. They have beautiful gardens, corn mazes, animals, great food and even better caramel apples. You can stop in their shop to get fall decorations or pre picked apples and homemade pies to take with you.
If you want to pick your own apples, there are rows and rows of apple trees here with an amazing variety of fresh, crisp, sweet apples for you to pick and take home with you.
This is a great place for small kids because there are short trails to walk on, lots of cute little animals to visit, playgrounds and lots of space to explore. Dogs are also welcome here and there is a lot of parking available, so you don’t have to worry about driving all the way to Waconia and not finding a place to park (even though the drive is gorgeous and makes the time in the car worth it).
The Minnesota Zoo puts on an amazing display of glowing jack-o-lanterns each year during the month of October. There are over 5,000 carved and lit pumpkins of all sizes and with just about any face (or animal) you can imagine! Tickets are needed for this event and should be purchased in advance. You walk along a paved trail (about a half mile) and can marvel at the sights and sounds of all the glowing pumpkins and the Halloween music playing in the background. Don’t forget to look for Waldo and Carmen SanDiego!
4. Hike the trails along the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers
These rivers are beautiful places to explore any time of year, but our favorite time to visit is during the fall when most of the leaves are in their peak color for the year. There are so many great trailheads to start from, so pick one that sounds interesting and enjoy the beautiful scenery surrounding you. There are also many orchards, pumpkin patches and small towns to tour along these rivers.
5. See the scarecrows and fall plants at the MN Landscape Arboretum
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is a great place to visit. With thousands of plants and trees to look at and miles of trails to walk, bike, or drive through, you can easily spend a whole afternoon here. In the fall, they decorate the gardens with scarecrows made of all sorts of things you can find in a garden or your own backyard.
Down the road from the Arboretum, you will find the AppleHouse. Here you can find bags of delicious apples, baked goods, caramel apples and all kinds of fall decorations available for purchase. There is also usually a truck outside selling apple cider donuts if you want something warm to satisfy your sweet tooth!
We hope you enjoyed this list of our favorite fall activities and you are inspired to go out and try some of these things too! What are your favorite things to do in the fall? Send us an email or leave a comment and let us know what your favorite fall activities are. We are always looking for something new to try!
There are so many great local craft breweries in the Twin Cities area that it can be a real challenge choosing which ones to visit! Some create more traditional, European style beers, while others concoct some creative brews for the brave! Whatever type of beer you enjoy, there is a brewery for you to enjoy in the Twin Cities metro area.
NOTE– This list is in no particular order. We had a hard enough time narrowing it down to our top 10, and we didn’t dare rank it any further!
2821 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55413
Insight has a large indoor taproom with a lot of tables and booths to choose from. There is also a small seating area outside for the few months in Minnesota that it is nice enough for sitting outside.
This is one of those breweries that offers a wide variety of ales for you to try. Our favorites from here are the Dankbot IPA and their seasonal Doe Eyes Saison.
25 N 4th St, Minneapolis, MN 55401
A few short blocks from Target field, you will find Clockwerks Brewing. They have a small taproom that has a steampunk vibe. There are tables, couches and a bar area with plentiful seating. They also have their own custom cribbage boards available to use while you are trying their beers!
Our favorite brews from here are the Clockwerk Orange Witbier, the Amber Alt, and the Equanaut IPA.
Finnegan’s Brew Co.
817 S 5th Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Finnegan’s is a great brewery that donates 100% of its profits to charities that work to alleviate hunger!
They have a large taproom with an Irish sports bar theme. There are many large tables and many TVs, which a lot of breweries don’t have.
Try their flagship Amber Ale while you are visiting! The Dead Irish Poet stout is also very good.
Bad Weather Brewing
414 7th St W, St Paul, MN 55102
Not only is this brewery in a great location- by Cosettas in St. Paul and not far from the river- but they have great brews too! They have a very large, open taproom and lots of outdoor seating when the weather is nice (if you will pardon the pun).
There are a lot of good brews from here including the Sun Pillar Belgian blonde ale. If you like IPAs, try the Green Sky double IPA while you are here.
910 Montreal Cir, St Paul, MN 55102
Opened in 1986, this is one of the older craft breweries in the Twin Cities. They have had a lot of time to perfect their beers and have done a fantastic job!
This is another brewery with a large Ratskeller (taproom and patio) so it is a great place to visit if you are with a large group.
There are so many great beers here!!! The Keller Pills and the Extra Pale Ale are always good choices from here, but you can’t really go wrong.
712 Ontario Ave W, Minneapolis, MN 55403
This is a small brewery that is sort of hidden by the highway, but be sure to stop! It is only a short walk from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, so you can enjoy crafts and craft beers! The taproom is pretty small, but they also do have some outdoor seating available.
Did I mention… they have pinball machines??
The Neverlasting Gobstopper is not only a great name, but is a fruity, flavorful sour beer that I have never had anywhere else. The Peanut Butter stout is also worth a try!
2934 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Located in Uptown right off of Lyndale and Lake street, you will find LynLake Brewery.
If you stop here, you will find a cozy little taproom that is decorated with bikes, Edison light bulbs and lots of board games to play while you are visiting.
This brewery has so many good fruity, seasonal beers it is really hard to say what our favorites are. The Rubbish Red Ale is one of their flagship brews and is a great choice, otherwise the Take 6 IPA is good if you are looking for something a little different.
945 Broadway St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
We like 612 because they have a nice large parking lot (free!). They also have a big open taproom and a cute outdoor beer garden with a fountain and lots of seating.
One of my favorites from here is the Honey Blonde. It is crisp, light and refreshing- perfect for the short Minnesota summertime!
225 Thomas Ave N #700, Minneapolis, MN 55405
Utepils is one of our favorite breweries of all time. They have a large parking lot, great food truck rotation and an extensive (but very good) tap list.
The style of the taproom is German/Czech old world and is decorated with flags, posters, and huge windows that let in a lot of light. There is also a firepit outside that is usually lit- even when it is freezing outside.
The Czech style pilsner here is fantastic. Paul really likes the Skölsch which is hard for him to admit because he is a huge Green Bay Packers fan.
414 N 6th Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Last, but not least, we have Fulton Brewing! This brewery is one of my favorites to visit on warm summer evening. The outdoor patio is so cute and the food truck cooking right next to the patio always smells so tempting.
The Lonely Blonde is a very popular choice and you can find it at a lot of restaurants all over the Twin Cities. In addition to beers, they also make a variety of hard seltzers.
If you do find yourself in the Twin Cities and are looking for some budget friendly things to keep yourself entertained, check out our guides for free things to see and do in Minneapolis or Saint Paul!
Saint Paul, Minnesota- the other half of the Twin Cities aka “one of the coolest suburbs of Minneapolis to visit while you are here for the Super Bowl” according to a 2018 news report. All joking aside, the Minnesotan capital is an eclectic city mixing both contemporary amenities with historical charm. St. Paul displays its history on the banks of the Mississippi River through its many museums and architecture, while simultaneously offering modern cuisine and attractions. St. Paul is always bustling with its multitude of sporting events, concerts and exhibitions, but you don’t have to break the bank to see all this city has to offer. Below are our a few of our favorite free things to see in St. Paul.
1. See the animals at Como Zoo
This a great zoo with lots of free parking available (if you don’t mind a little bit of walking to the entrance). There is a box for donations if you feel moved to do so, but it is optional. You can see many different animals from all over the world! Arctic, Jungle, Plains and Desert animals are all available to view year round just to name a few. Every exhibit is very kid friendly, and there are even special exhibits that arrive throughout the year (although a few have had a small fee). A great stop for anyone that wants to embrace their “wild side”.
2. Stroll through the gardens at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory
These gardens are located at the same property as the Como Zoo. There are so many cool exhibits here- a sunken garden with plants that change seasonally, a room full of ferns, edible plants and spices, a bonsai tree exhibit and even an outdoor Japanese garden to walk through!
3. Visit the State Capitol
The building was recently restored by the state and looks gorgeous! While admiring the building’s architecture, there is a large park surrounding the building filled with paths and memorials to explore, learn and reflect. Inside, you can take a free self guided tour including the Rotunda, the Senate and House of Representatives Chambers and so much more!
4. Free Brewery Tour
With a plethora of craft breweries to explore around St. Paul, you won’t have a hard time finding a new favorite brew! Summit brewing is one that offers free tours where you can see the facilities and learn all about the brewing process.
5. Visit the Markets
To get your fresh fruits and veggies, check out the St. Paul Farmer’s Market! During the summer months (May- October) you can find the market in downtown St. Paul on most Saturdays or Sundays. Check out the Farmer’s Market website for the schedule. If you aren’t visiting on a weekend, check out the indoor Keg and Case market! This market is in a historic brewery and features local restaurants, shops and breweries!
6. Union Depot
A transportation hub for thousands of travelers, Union Depot is a must see. They offer public tours on Tuesdays at 11am. There are also exhibits that change regularly that you can visit and learn about the history of the Twin Cities, Minnesota, and transportation. There is even a scavenger hunt you can do to make sure you don’t miss anything!
7. Stop by the Cathedral of St. Paul
This huge cathedral is rich with history. It showcases beautiful architecture and art while overlooking downtown from a hilltop. There are public tours available Tuesdays- Fridays at 1pm.
8. Walk along historic Summit Ave
This is a gorgeous street with hundreds of preserved Victorian Era homes! You can learn about the history of many of the buildings on the Visit St. Paul website.
9. Visit the Minnesota History Center
If you have a Bank of America card, you can visit this museum for free during the first weekend of each month. There are many exhibits to explore and even a fantastic spot to view the State Capitol!
10. Walk along the Mississippi River by Kellogg Park and Raspberry Island
There are so many great sculptures and trails here that allow you to walk, bike or scooter alongside the Mississippi River. You can also just sit, relax and watch the steamboats go by. A wonderful spot for a picnic!
Have you visited or plan to visit St. Paul soon? We would love to know what you thought about the city!
Great Sand Dunes National Park is a wild place. A visit to this park provides not only these unique dunes, but beaches, plains, mountains, and wildflower filled valleys. The park and its signature dunes doesn’t inspire greatness as you approach because they are dwarfed by the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains, but keep driving! Once you arrive at the park, you will realize how exceptional the dunes and the surrounding landscape is to explore.
Start your trip with a visit to the visitor’s center. Here you can chat with the rangers and find out about their favorite things to do in the park. There is also a museum where you can learn all about the geology of the area including the formation of the dunes- and why they are still here! In addition to all that, there is also a gift shop, water filling stations, and bathrooms with flush toilets and sinks- a must stop before you hit the dunes!
There aren’t very many marked hiking trails here, but you are able to walk on the dunes as much as you want. Even though there are no established trails or markers, it is not easy to get lost. You can always orient yourself with the mountains and if you climb high enough you can find the Medano Creek and the visitor center to guide you.
Things to do
Its like snowboarding- but in the sand! There are no sand boards available in the park itself, but there are a plethora of places you can rent them from for your dunes adventures. Most of these places also have sleds available if you prefer sitting to standing. We didn’t have enough time here to make renting boards worthwhile, but the people who were using them made it look really fun!
Hike the Dunes
Like we mentioned earlier, there are not any marked trails on the dunes, so you are free to hike wherever you want! The tallest dune is unnamed, and it is quite a challenge to hike. The rangers said plan to spend about 4-5 hours round trip to make it to the top of the tallest dune. Even the smaller dunes require much effort to traverse. We learned that the easiest way to scale these giant masses of sand are by walking up the ridges- not head on.
Splash around in the Creek
The Medano Creek flows seasonally through the park. The best time to visit the creek is in late spring and early summer. The waterflow primarily depends on snowmelt from the mountains, but is also influenced by the local weather. You can find the flow rate at the National Park’s website. This area is perfect for beach toys and a picnic, right at the base of the mountains! We visited in late May, and the creek was fairly shallow. It was a hot and sunny day, so the cool refreshing water was a respite to our dusty toes!
Hike the Mosca Pass
This is one of the more popular trails in the park, and it is marked! The entire trail is a little over 6 miles and gives you great views of the dunes and mountains. The trail winds through a valley forest filled with wildflowers. An excellent alternative to trudging through the sand.
Things to keep in mind
The dunes can get scorching hot, so wearing closed toed shoes is recommended. Sandals tend to trap the hot sand on your feet and can cause burns if you are not careful.
The Parking lots fill up fast, so get there early and be prepared to wait.
Bring extra water!
Dogs are allowed in the park, but you must pick up after you pet- leave no trace!
Arches National Park is a great place for people of any age to visit because there is something here for everyone. Whether you like camping, exploring, serious hiking, photography, picnics or just learning about the geology, you will be able to find something interesting and exciting!
This is a very popular park and the busiest months to visit are between March and October. The best times to get into the park are either early in the morning (before 8:30AM) or later in the afternoon (after 4:00PM). There is an admission fee required for entry, for more information visit the Arches National Park website.
Devils Garden Campground is available if you choose to camp in the park, however it fills up extremely fast. If you do not make a reservation far in advance, chances are slim that campsites will be available. There are a lot of other campsites available not far from the park (most off scenic highway 128) and plenty of lodging options in Moab.
Once you get in the park (yay!) there is so much to see and do, so we created a guide to help you decide where you want to spend your time at Arches.
First- We always recommend stopping at the visitor center. Talk to the rangers and find out what hikes they like, where the best spots to picnic are, and where the best scenic views are. This is also your last chance to use flush toilets and real sinks – the only other restrooms throughout the park are vault toilets with hand sanitizer (sometimes). There is a water bottle filling station available at the visitor center as well. We visited in May, but if you are here in the heat of summer, temperatures can get to 100ºF (or more!). Apply some sunscreen (and maybe a little bit more) because there is not a lot of shade in this park. Make sure you have your map, water and sunscreen and you are all set to go!
This park offers a few hikes that are more strenuous, but the views at the end are so rewarding. Make sure you plan enough time to hike these trails and bring a lot of water with you. Good, grippy hiking shoes are a must for these hikes!
Delicate Arch (The Utah License Plate!)
About 3 miles round trip with an elevation gain of approximately 500 feet.
This hike starts out as a relatively flat gravel path at Wolfe Ranch. The path then begins to wind up and down rock formations until it disappears and you are climbing the side of a gently sloping rock face with only occasional trail markers to guide your way. This is the longest section of the trail so be sure to keep an eye out for those trail markers! Once you are at the top of the rock face, the trail levels out again and stays somewhat flat as you walk through a sandy, canyon-type formation guided by more trail markers. At the other side of the canyon, the trail narrows quite a bit with a steep ledge to one side. Continue on until you get to the final viewpoint- the Delicate Arch. There is a large bowl in front of the arch where you can explore and see the arch from many different angles. The arch is very well hidden so you don’t get any sneak peaks from the trail until you finally arrive at the arch itself. If you have a severe fear of heights but still want to see the iconic Delicate Arch, check out the Delicate Arch Viewpoints trail instead!
Devils Garden Loop
This is the longest hike available in the park. If you do the entire loop you will walk almost 8 miles, but you will have an opportunity to see all of the arches in Devils Garden including the Double O Arch, the Private Arch and Dark Angel Arch. The loop also includes hiking the primitive trail (very few trail markers).
Try these out for some beautiful views without as much effort as the ones listed above!
Sand Dune Arch
This very short trail (less than a half mile) takes you into a tucked away canyon. After a tight squeeze to get into the trail, it widens out and you can see all of the neat geologic features hidden within. This trail is mostly shaded and very sandy (hence the Arch’s name). It’s a great afternoon/ after lunch hike.
This Arch can be accessed from either Devils Garden Campground, or the Sand Dune Arch parking lot. We accessed the trail from the Sand Dune Arch parking lot. The trail is a half mile walk through a flat, open and grassy field. At the end, you are rewarded with the Broken Arch! This hike is fairly easy, but there is not much shade and the trail is quite sandy. If you wanted, you could continue the trail under the arch to the Devils Garden Campground (about a mile) and see an additional arch, or head back to the parking lot again. We saw so many lizards and even a few deer while we were walking to Broken Arch!
Turret Arch and the Windows
The full loop trail is about a mile long and gives you great views of the North and South Windows and Turret Arch. The trail begins from a large parking lot and is comprised of packed gravel with large stone steps in some areas.
A very easy half mile trail on packed down gravel. At the end you will get picturesque views of the Double Arch! This is another very popular stop, so if it is too crowded and you can’t find parking, check out a different arch and come back to this one later. It is very close to the Turret Arch and the Windows so be sure to make a stop there if you haven’t already!
This is a 1 mile hike (one way) that goes through a deep canyon. We didn’t get a chance to finish this hike because it started to rain and hail on us, and we ran back to the car to try this one later. There are some pretty steep sections of this trail, but you are rewarded with some very unique rock formations to see. This is probably the most strenuous of the “mild hikes” section.
Delicate Arch Viewpoints
There are 2 different options here- the Upper and Lower viewpoints. The Lower option is a very short, easy trail that is only about 100 yards on a flat surface. The Upper trail is about a half mile long and is rockier, including some steep steps to climb. If you want see Delicate Arch but do not want to hike the strenuous 3 mile trail there, these viewpoints are a great alternative.
Landscape Arch/ Pine Tree Arch
The hike to Landscape Arch begins at the Devils Garden trailhead. The journey is a little less than 2 miles and paved most of the way, but there are some sections that are steeper. About a quarter mile from the trailhead, there will be a fork in the trail for Landscape Arch or Pine Tree Arch. Pine Tree Arch is a short distance off the main trail that leads to Landscape Arch. As you approach both Landscape Arch and Pine Tree Arch, the trail becomes very sandy. If you wanted to do a longer hike, continue on past Landscape Arch to tackle the rest of Devils Garden Loop, where you can see some more arches.
Other things to see and do
Pull over and marvel at the scenic the viewpoints including Balanced rock, La Sal Mountains, Petrified Dunes, Wolfe Ranch, or Panorama Point. Have a picnic, bike around, look for wildlife or learn about the geology and history of the area at the visitor center. There are some 4 wheel drive roads available if you want to do some off the beaten path adventuring (and have the appropriate vehicle).
Things to keep in mind
This park gets very crowded, so be patient, be kind, and take your time. Have alternate plans in mind just in case the park gets too full to see anything. If you arrive and the lines to enter the park are lengthy, there are a lot of other beautiful things to see in the area instead. Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, scenic Highway 128 and hikes off that scenic highway are a short drive away, just to name a few.
There are no restaurants available within the park itself, so if you do not want to leave the park and wait in line again to re-enter the park, pack some food to bring in with you. There are a lot of great picnic spots available, just make sure you take everything with you and leave no trace!
Have fun, drink a lot of water, and let us know what you think about Arches NP, or this guide in the comments below. Happy Hiking!
If you find yourself in Minneapolis and are looking for some budget friendly (free!) things to do, it is your lucky day! We compiled a list of some of our favorite free things to see and do in Minneapolis, MN. This list is in no particular order, we just added the items as we thought of them.
1. Visit the Sculpture Garden
The sculpture garden is part of the Walker Art Center, but its free! You can stroll along the paths and marvel at the art. The sculpture garden is home to the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry. There is some free parking available, otherwise there is a lot nearby that you can pay to use.
2. Stone Arch Bridge
The Stone Arch Bridge is an old railroad bridge that crosses over the Mississippi River. Now it is only available for pedestrians or bikers to use. From the bridge, you can get a great view of the St. Anthony Falls or the skyline of Minneapolis.
3. Shop at the Mill City Farmers Market
If you are visiting on a Saturday and are free in the morning, stop by the Mill City Farmers Market! There is a large variety of vendors- meats and cheeses, pastries and flowers, arts and crafts and much more. There are usually food trucks or stalls that are selling fresh hot foods for breakfast or lunch too. If you haven’t visited the Stone Arch Bridge yet, now would be a great time to go because you will be right there after visiting the market!
4. Visit Minnehaha Regional Park
This area is a huge park with a lot going on. First, there is Minnehaha falls that is beautiful to see any time of the year. There are bikes that you can rent, miles of trails to walk on, disc golf, picnic areas, gardens, restaurants, and more! If you take the stairs down from the waterfall, you can follow a walking trail along Minnehaha falls all the way to where it meets up with the Mississippi River!
5. Bike the Midtown Greenway
Minneapolis is a very bike friendly city. There are miles of trails dedicated to biking or walking throughout the city and the surrounding metro area. If you didn’t bring a bike, thats OK- there are stations all over they city were you can rent a Nice Ride bike for a few hours and explore they city by petal. The Greenway itself is a little over 5 miles long, but it connects to many other trail systems so you can take a nice long bike ride if you wanted to.
6. Visit Lake Bde Maka Ska
This is a very popular spot where people like to spend the day. It is not far from uptown and there are biking and walking trails that go around the entire lake. In addition to trails, there is fishing, kayak rentals, a beach area and a lot of space to put up a hammock or have a picnic. If you don’t mind walking a few blocks to get to the lake, there is free street parking available, otherwise there are pay lots available much closer to the beaches.
7. Smell the Roses at Lake Harriet
Right by another one of the lakes in Minneapolis is the Lyndale Park Rose Garden. The best time to visit is when the roses are in bloom and the fountains are on, but there are usually different kinds of flowers blooming throughout the late spring to early fall.
8. See the Midtown Global Market
The global market is collection of small local shops where you can find anything from food and coffee to art and souvenirs. There are some very nice murals and art inside the global market and the building is right off of the Greenway, so if you decide to bike the trail, it will bring you right here!
9. Stop by the Minneapolis Institute of Art
If you stop here, you will get a chance to see art from all eras from all over the world. There are 3 levels to this museum, so be sure to spend some time here! General admission is free and they have special exhibitions that cost a small fee to see.
10. Stroll along Nicollet Ave and check out the Skyways
Nicollet Avenue has all sorts of shops to visit and restaurants to try. If you are visiting in the winter and it is too cold to be outside, you can go explore downtown Minneapolis via the skyway system! If you can figure out how to read the map, please let me know because I am still puzzled by it. There are even free busses that go along Nicollet Ave so you don’t have to walk the whole way.
If you decide to visit Minneapolis and try out some of the things on this list, be sure to let us know what you think!