The 10 best hidden places around Minnesota for road-trippin'
There's plenty to keep folks occupied on any given weekend in and around the Twin Cities, but sometimes you just need to get outta town. For those days when wanderlust starts taking over and daydreams of fresh air, adventure, and great hiking trails need to become a reality, we've got you covered. Here are some of our favorite hidden gems for road-trippin' in the Land of 10,000 Lakes (and nearby).
50 fun things to do in Minnesota
AtoZ Produce and Bakery
The Twin Cities has some really amazing pie shops, but AtoZ Produce and Bakery, known as the Pizza Farm, is well worth the drive. Located about 80 miles from the heart of Minneapolis in Stockholm, Wisconsin, the Pizza Farm is home to some of the best darn pizza you'll taste in the Midwest. From beetza (beet pizza!) to Italian sausage, they've got incredible topping combinations made with veggies plucked right from the grounds and baked in a huge wood-fire oven. While you wait for that cheesy, gooey, farm-fresh pizza, you can set up camp on the grass and hang out or you can explore the area -- from the greenhouse to the cows, there's plenty to check out. Just make sure you heed the can't-miss-it sign on your way in: No Dogs. Wear Shoes. Fences Zap. Word to the wise: This place is BYO everything, except your own booze. That means you'll need to pack up your picnic supplies, including blankets to plates, in order to feast on that glorious 'za. Buying your booze at the farm (they sell wine and beer for reasonable prices) means that you have an excuse to guzzle some of New Glarus's goods, which are only available in the Badger State. The Pizza Farm is only open on Tuesdays from 4:30 until 8 p.m., so plan your drive accordingly, but make sure you stick around for the sunset. There's nothing quite like beetza and beer while the sky is painted brilliant pinks and oranges.
Distance from Twin Cities: 90 minutes
Soudan Underground Mine State Park
Who's afraid of the dark? If you are, you might not want to venture into Soudan Mine (same goes for the claustrophobic). But if you've got an adventurous streak in you, or if you're into My Bloody Valentine (the movie, not the band), then this is one place you should put on your greater Minnesota to-do list. Soudan Mine is actually a Minnesota State Park, home to the state's oldest iron-ore mine (opened in 1882). Now it's open to the public for tours. Put on your hard hat and get ready to go below the surface to the Cadillac of Mines. You'll descend a mile and a half beneath the ground with your tour group, first in a metal wire-cage elevator and then in a rail car to the deepest areas that were mined. Yes, iron ore might sound boring -- there ain't no gold or sparkly stuff down there -- but there is some dark matter at work. Literally. The mine is home to one of the coolest research stations exploring something you'll never see: dark matter. The U of M has an underground research facility dedicated to learning about particle physics that you can tour if you want to tap into your inner Neil deGrasse Tyson in the depths of a mine. Whether you play miner, scientist, or both, just remember to bring a sweater or a jacket, as you might be closer to the Earth's core, but it's chilly down there. Feel free to take wannabe-mole-people selfies, but don't bring your hiking gear along with you -- there are no bags allowed.
Distance from the Twin Cities: 3 hours, 35 minutes