Cream and Amber

Cream and Amber is a small book store in Hopkins, Minnesota. They offer a large selection of new and new-used books for sale along with local trinkets, small stickers, local art and other book related items.

In addition to books, they also sell coffee, tea and espresso beverages. They even have a few local beers on tap- hence the name Cream and Amber. There is a meeting room in the back that is a perfect space for a small book club to meet and can be reserved for this very purpose. There are also some tables in the back where you can sit and read a new book and enjoy a beverage while doing so. There is also a small outdoor patio where you can enjoy your beverage and book while enjoying the flowers and sunshine.

If you are in the area and want to support your local bookstore be sure to stop in and say hello, grab a coffee and browse the shelves. In addition to in store shopping, you can always visit their website to shop and ship books wherever you want.

Looking for a gift idea for a book lover in your life? Check out their monthly subscriptions where you get a new book every month along with a bag of coffee beans roasted in the Twin Cities. These subscriptions can also be shipped wherever you need it to go.

Whenever I am in Hopkins I try to stop in just to say hello and to see what is new. The employees are so friendly and are eager to give recommendations and help you find your new favorite book.

Happy Reading!

Minneapolis- St. Paul Airport (MSP)

Of all of the traveling we have done over the years and airports we have been to, MSP is one of our favorites, especially Terminal 1. It is clean, modern, convenient and the employees here are all MN nice! Whether you are starting your trip from here or you just have a layover, there is something to keep the boredom at bay while you wait for your plane.

Arcade

In the rarely used A concourse, you will find a small arcade. There is hardly ever anyone here because it is so tucked away, making it a great reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the airport. There are some old school games here like Pac-Man and a few multi player games too. There are even some comfy chairs and bigger tables, making it a fun place to hang out if you have a few hours to wait.

The Art Gallery

In the C concourse, you will find a collection of art with local scenes. There are lots of couches and chairs here also that are quite a bit comfier than the ones at the gates. If you like watching planes, that’s OK too! There are huge windows here you can look out of while enjoying some R&R before your travels.

The Food

MSP airport is one of the best airports in my opinion, because of all the choices of food! There are lots of fast food/ grab and go options if you are in a rush, but there are a lot of nicer, sit down places that offer full menus of food with a lot of options- including vegetarian! One of our favorite places to stop if we have time is Black Sheep for their woodfired pizzas.

The Mall

Need to do some last minute shopping? MSP airport has you covered! Whether you need some Minnesotan souvenirs, a new book or magazine, toys and snacks for the plane or anything with Prince on it, you can find it in the Mall! Located right in the middle of the terminal, you can’t miss it. It does get fairly crowded here, so if you are looking to do some laid back shopping, you might want to look elsewhere.

We hope you find this guide helpful for your journey! If your final destination is Minnesota, check out some of our other guides for some ideas of things to do in the area!

Happy Travels!

Featured Fall Getaway- Duluth, MN

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 food and 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.

Looking for more things to do in the fall? Check out our guide for 5 Fabulous Fall Activities in Minnesota for some other seasonal ideas.

Happy Wandering!

5 Fabulous Fall Activities in Minnesota

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).

Some other orchards that we like to visit include Sunnybrook Apple Orchard and Applecrest Orchards, but there are so many great ones out there to visit. Let us know what your favorites are!

3. See the pumpkin display at the Minnesota Zoo

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!

Our Top 10 Twin Cities Breweries

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!


Insight Brewing

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.

Clockwerks Brewing

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.

Summit

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.

Sisyphus Brewing

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!

LynLake Brewery

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.

612 Brewing

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!

Utepils

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 Sk├Âlsch which is hard for him to admit because he is a huge Green Bay Packers fan.

Fulton Brewing

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!

Cheers!

10 Free things to do in St. 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!

Cupcakes from Sweet Retreat

Sweet retreat is a little bakery in Edina, MN that we stumbled upon recently. The first time we went, we came about an hour before closing and there wasn’t much left to pick from because they make everything fresh each day with the goal of selling out by the end of business. We picked out a few cupcakes to take home and try.

Oh.

My.

Goodness!!!!

If there is such a thing as “the perfect cupcake” I think this is it! The ratio of frosting to cake is spot on, the frosting isn’t overpoweringly sweet, the cake part tastes like some of the best cake I’ve ever had- springy and so so flavorful.

The next time we went back (in the morning) we may or may not have ordered one of each flavor available that day…. Each one was amazing. I think my favorite was the bananas foster, so be sure to try that one if it’s available when you visit. They rotate through flavors depending on the season so each time you go there will be something different to try.

There are a lot of other things they make and sell, but we haven’t made our way passed the cupcake display yet. Let us know if you give this place a try and what you think!