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|Amber Brooks • 9/01/17|
The Short Version: Serving up a slice of Midwest magic, ExploreMinnesota.com, the state’s official tourism promotion site, connects visitors and natives with detailed guides on everything the Land of 10,000 Lakes has to offer. Minnesota’s pristine natural beauty can be found across its five diverse regions — from the prairie and deep woods, to small towns and cityscapes. Explore Minnesota houses a full spectrum of information covering the area’s attractions, cultural events, and the local food and drink scene. Whether you’re looking for a romantic evening stroll around the grounds of a winery, or you’re ready for an exhilarating mountain bike ride through the wilderness, Explore Minnesota has an adventure for you to discover.
Ty lived in South Dakota, and Briana called Wisconsin home — but, in 2015, their fates collided. Briana’s cousin was getting married, and she was looking forward to a fun-filled week of celebrations with friends and family. Briana’s friend and plus-one at the event, Tricia, asked if it would be OK if her fiancé and his cousin Ty could crash the wedding since they had nothing to do that weekend.
Ty and Briana immediately hit it off at the reception — so much so that they exchanged phone numbers and ultimately agreed to meet for a first date on neutral ground in Minneapolis — the city that would become the heart and soul of their budding romance.
They started off at Lake Calhoun and biked to one of Minnesota’s many majestic waterfalls — the 53-foot fall at Minnehaha Park. Later they ate sandwiches for dinner as the sun set on Lake Harriet, followed by rock climbing at one of Briana’s favorite spots. The next day, they found themselves at another breathtaking spot.
“I took Ty to one of my favorite overlooks off a rock in River Falls, where we had one of our first quiet times together,” Briana wrote in her online wedding journal. “I played him a song on guitar, and he played me a song on his harmonica.”
With Minnesota as the backdrop to the start of their story, it’s no wonder the duo’s love affair culminated in marriage. The state’s natural wonders and boundless activities offer everything a couple needs to plan fun and exciting outings. If you’re looking to visit the North Star State or are a current resident, ExploreMinnesota.com — the state’s official tourism site — can help you discover romantic adventures, just like Ty and Briana’s first date, throughout 80,000 square miles.
From water sports and snow skiing, to museums and the famous Mall of America, Minnesota has an array of attractions right for any style of date. The state prides itself on its world-class cuisine and boasts some of the region’s best restaurants and bars. And Explore Minnesota is the ideal resource for finding out where to experience the best of Midwestern culture.
When you’re in Minnesota, boredom is never an option — and Explore Minnesota makes sure of that. If you’re looking for date ideas or something new to do or for date ideas, choose a broad category on the site (Things to Do, Where to Go or Festivals & Events). Then simply filter your search by specific interests, keywords, or city. There’s even a place to find deals and discounts.
Whatever you do, a true experience in the Land of 10,000 Lakes is not complete without some fun in the water. To be exact, Minnesota is home to 11,842 magnificent lakes and 69,000 miles of unspoiled rivers and streams. (Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has more than 1,000 lakes and streams alone.)
Thanks to Explore Minnesota’s treasure trove of information, you can find a variety romantic ways to soak up time with your date: a day at the beach, a relaxing canoe or kayak ride, a cruise in a Venetian gondola, or a scenic paddleboat tour down the St. Croix River. Fishing and boating are also popular pastimes in the area. For in-the-water fun, couples can try paddle boarding, whitewater rafting, river tubing, scuba diving, and water skiing, which was actually invented in Minnesota in 1922.
In addition to the lakes and rivers, another big part of Minnesota’s fame is apple-growing. Take that special someone Honeycrisp and Fireside picking at one of the picturesque orchards throughout the state. Many of the farms also offer tours, wagon rides, corn mazes, petting zoos, and even hot air balloon rides.
Minnesota’s diverse state parks systems boasts more than 227,000 acres in 76 parks and recreation areas with 1,030 miles of hiking trails. Here you’ll find the nation’s most unique, world-class mountain biking destinations, including the newest addition of the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area — a 25-mile, 800-acre mountain biking system. Or you can ditch the wheels and soar with a ziplining trip to Towering Pines Canopy Tour.
If you prefer to skip the water play and woods, you can revel in the state’s many awe-inspiring landscapes with a romantic car ride through Minnesota’s great scenic byways. Or consider strolling hand in hand through the floral wonderlands of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park, the Munsinger Clemens Gardens, or the Japanese Gardens at Normandale Community College. Or plant a chair or blanket outside for a movie under the stars.
During the snowy months, couples can take on snowboarding, sledding, tubing, skiing, snowshoeing, and dog sledding, and then they can settle in near a lake for sunsets and s’mores. But you don’t need to embrace the cold if you don’t want to. Feel free to slip on a swimsuit and make a splash at Minnesota’s variety of indoor waterparks.
Not all the date activities involve the great outdoors. If you have lots of time to spare, take a trip to Mall of America. At the largest mall in the United States, you can dive into a day at the SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium. Or tap into your inner child with a fun trip to Nickelodeon Universe, a seven-acre theme park with 28 rides.
If you’re feeling lucky, another indoor option is Mystic Lake, Minnesota’s largest casino. For more indoor fun, there’s Minnesota Wild, Timberwolves, or RollerGirls games; comedy and improv clubs; theater and performing arts; and the many museums that make up the diverse, vibrant cultural scene.
Venture to Minneapolis and visit places connected to the late iconic artist Prince. A special tour roadmap crafted by Explore Minnesota includes a list of live music hubs, directions to the house from the film “Purple Rain,” and the native’s own home, studio, and performance venue Paisley Park, which is now open for daily public tours.
Minnesota is brimming with events and festivals throughout the year. Daters and couples can navigate Explore Minnesota for up-to-the-minute listings by date, alphabetical order, or the type of event. Ranging from music to food and history, there’s something for everyone in this happening Midwest hotspot.
Foodies can celebrate the state’s famous wild rice as well as potatoes and even garlic (don’t forget the mints) at food-themed festivals. For night owl daters, the street party Northern Spark will light up the night until past 5 a.m.
The granddaddy of all events is the 12-day Minnesota State Fair — the second-largest state fair in the country. Music lovers aren’t left out in the cold as the state offers an eclectic mix of festivals featuring the genres of bluegrass, headbanging hair metal, folk, country, blues and classic rock.
For those looking out of the box for a good time, there’s the International Eelpout Festival, named after the state’s ugliest bottom-dwelling fish, and the Wizard of Oz Festival, an homage to Grand Rapids native Judy Garland, whose childhood home is a museum. In the winter, cozy up with your date for the oldest winter festival in the United States, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival and the magical Winter Walk.
With the help of Explore Minnesota’s drinking and eating guide, daters have an extensive list of the state’s more than 1,500 restaurants as well as wineries, breweries, and distilleries. There are upward of 50 wineries in the state, so grab a Minnesota Wine Passport and sip and sample with your date. Relax with tastings and tours or have some messy fun grape stomping.
Taste the great flavors of Minnesota with a trip to one of its 187 farmers markets, including Mill City Night Market at The Commons — the new, 4.2-acre green space in downtown Minneapolis. For a unique twist, head out to Minnesota’s farmland to discover pizza nights where pies are served up with farm-fresh ingredients, and you supply the plates, napkins, utensils, side dishes, drinks, and, of course, a blanket.
Eating out is a standard date, but go the extra mile with a great meal and even better ambiance. Experience romantic waterfront dining, surrounded by beautiful vistas near lakes, rivers and waterfalls. Or take in a city skyline with the many choices of rooftop restaurants.
UNION Restaurant is the only year-round option with its glass-enclosed, heated space. The view at Grandma’s Saloon & Grill in Canal Park includes both the Aerial Lift Bridge and gorgeous Lake Superior. Enjoy al fresco dining at 19th-century mansion-turned-restaurant Forepaugh’s, or dine inside the Mill City Museum, which was built from the ruins of what once was the world’s largest flour mill. Whether on the ground or in the air, Explore Minnesota helps you find a place to fit your taste among Minnesota’s booming dining scene.
Check out Explore Minnesota’s ideas and resources to create your special experience or vacation. You can find all the popular things to do on the site, but it can also open your eyes to the unexpected: hidden gems, quaint towns, and quirky attractions (yes, SPAM Museum, I mean you).
When you’re looking for date ideas, look no further than ExploreMinnesota.com — an easy-to-navigate site to help you set the scene for romance, adventure, and lasting memories. Ty and Briana found love in Minnesota, and so can you.