Someone recommended the river cruises at Padelford Landing to us, so we decided to go on one of their Monday Madness cruises when tickets are half-off (only $8 per adult, our toddler was free). This has been one of the highlights of our summer. Not because eating hot dogs and Goldfish crackers on a river boat was so amazing to us as adults, but because our son still talks about every detail of the cruise. We couldn’t hear the tour recording very well on the deck and we were afraid we’d lose our son overboard, so we decided to spend most of the cruise downstairs in the main cabin. There was a big ballroom floor where our son learned to play Duck, Duck, Goose (yes, I know it’s Duck, Duck, Grey Duck here, we’ll adjust in time I suppose). We shared hot dogs and the other cheap snacks because we forgot to eat dinner before boarding the boat. And we learned a little bit about the Mississippi River and Fort Snelling. It was a fun adventure, and such a good deal on a Monday!
You board at Harriet Island, one of our favorite (of many favorites) water spots in the area. There’s a park and several trails around the dock. This is such a gorgeous part of the country!
I did my research and learned online that The Buttered Tin was both the top-rated brunch spot in the Twin Cities and that it is located in Lowertown, so I decided we needed to try it. Well, it’s cute. It’s very cute, but the food is just okay. Maybe it’s what I ordered, but I’m not going to be rushing back any time soon. My son got the pancakes and they were good, but not worth the money. I got the tomato basil soup and felt it was way too coarse and spicy to be considered good.
If this is the best brunch the Twin Cities has, I’m skeptical. Sometimes you want fancy concoctions and combinations, but a lot of times when we go to brunch, we just want the simple stuff done well. I can do without bacon in my butter if you have an amazing buttermilk pancake. We might go back to try some of their baked goods, but I don’t think we’ll go back for a full meal.
From day one in St. Paul, we’ve been able to see the beautiful Cathedral of St. Paul in the distance. It seemed like it would be close enough to run or walk to, so one day we set out with the stroller to check it out. We hiked up the hill and were able to go into the cathedral and explore. My family is not Catholic, but I love the peaceful feeling that comes from entering a house of worship. I also love how the ornate architecture and design inspires an attitude of reverence. Even my two-year-old was fairly well behaved (though he did love pulling down the pads people kneel on to pray). I’m so glad we had the chance to visit the cathedral.
I thought we would make it to the cathedral and then turn around an come home, but right outside the cathedral was a marker with information about the historical sites in the area. The Summit neighborhood is gorgeous. There are amazing views of Lowertown (downtown St. Paul), like the one above, and there are blocks and blocks of beautiful historic mansions along Summit Avenue and other streets.
We passed the James J. Hill House and learned a little bit more about the railroad magnate who owned it.
Much to my son’s disappointment, I was determined to continue walking until we reached F. Scott Fitzgerald’s home further down Summit Avenue. It added about two miles to our round trip stroll, but now I can pull out these pictures for my son to show his high school class when he reads The Great Gatsby.
I loved the Summit University neighborhood, and now I sometimes daydream about one day having a lot of money and living in a historic mansion there. Maybe one day.
The College Mall Kroger remodel was finished a few (several?) months ago and now the store is pretty much grocery heaven. They have a counter for Murray’s Cheese counter that almost always has samples that almost always make me want to buy fancy cheese I don’t need. The Murray’s chocolate bars are pretty good too! I was pretty excited when I got back from a visit to New York and discovered that the same Murray’s I passed in Greenwich Village now has a presence in Bloomington, Indiana of all places.
There’s also a bistro and really great deli selection. I love that you can buy fresh challah bread and other international and ethnic food throughout the store. The produce selection rivals that of the South Walnut Kroger. (Being in Minnesota, I really miss the produce from Indiana, especially the cheap prices.)
The downside is that the College Mall Kroger is so big that I usually get lost. And I live sort of on the west side of town so it’s a bit of a trek, but it is quite the experience and we are going to keep going back.
The Winslow Fitness Trail in Bloomington, IN became one of my favorites this past winter and spring. We joined the YMCA for a few months, and because this trail is right next to the Southeast Y, you can leave your kids in childcare at the Y and run on the trail. The trail is 0.9 mile around, which makes it possible to get some good miles under your belt without going absolutely crazy (or losing count of how far you’ve run!).
A good portion of the trail is paved, but there are some packed-dirt parts as well. There are also some hills, which really helped me train for the Hoosier Half. If I had only been running on the flatter trails like Clear Creek and the Rail Trail, I never would have been ready for the hilly Hoosier Half.
The Winslow Trail winds around a sports park and backs up against several nice homes. It feels very safe compared to some of the other trails in Bloomington (but I guess you always have to be cautious). There are also usually other people on the trail because it is so close to the Y and the sports park. Enjoy!