Roseville, Minnesota: Gateway to the Twin Cities

Continuing my “Midwest Summer Tour”, the Twin Cities of Minnesota was on my list of places to check out this summer. The nearby town of Roseville promotes itself as “perfectly positioned” near the Twin Cities, but I was skeptical. 10 minutes from downtown? My Chicago brain refused to believe any suburb could be conveniently located to the downtown area, but I decided to give it a shot. Hey! What do you know, not every metro area has gridlocked, soul-sucking traffic like Chicago! Much to my surprise, I was able to reach many spots within St Paul and Minneapolis within 10 minutes of my Roseville hotel, and I also found some fun things to do right in Roseville! There are tons of options for lodging, dining and shopping right in Roseville, many of which are also dog-friendly!

Bent Brewstillery

Roseville’s Bent Brewstillery started with a Mr Beer hobby kit and has grown into an award-winning operation. They offer a rotating selection of craft brews and spirits, including Poitin, which is a potato-based spirit. The owner, Bartley, has taken an innovative approach to business with unique ideas like partnering up with a local restaurant to use their potato peels to make the Poitin. Bent Brewstillery is dog-friendly (no kitchen) but they also have a rotating schedule of food trucks outside so you’re not drinking on an empty stomach. The brewstillery also has a calendar of special events, such as a visiting astronomer the weekend I visited. Bailey enjoyed the backroom tour while I enjoyed sampling each of the spirits!

Bartley, owner of Bent Brewstillery giving us a back-room tasting

Rosedale Center

If shopping is your jam, you will probably make a beeline for the Mall of America in nearby Bloomington. I consider shopping to be more of a chore, so visiting Mall of America is about as appealing to me as Disney World. That said, I had errands while I was in town (I like to take advantage of free parking and light traffic when I’m not in Chicago!) and found nearby Rosedale Center. I was pretty stoked when I found out there is no sales tax on apparel in Minnesota, so it was a great place to stock up on some basics.

Reservoir Woods

Reservoir Woods is one of many parks within Roseville city limits, with several multi-use trails throughout. Finding the main entrance was tricky, and we ended up coming in through the back. In hindsight, I wish I had printed out a trail map so I would have been more comfortable exploring. We stuck to the main paved trail, but saw several single-track trails veering off into the woods. There is also an off-leash dog-park here. This is a great, quick escape for a dose of nature as you hardly even realize how close you are to homes and streets.

Reservoir Woods, Roseville

Minnehaha Falls Park

Located in Minneapolis, Minnehaha Falls is a great urban oasis. The main attraction of the park is the 53-foot waterfall. There is a trail along the river and spots where you can soak your paws along the way, which was much-needed on the 90-degree day we visited. The park also features a wading pool, disc golf course, volleyball courts, public art, historic sites and the Sea Salt Eatery. Pay lots are readily available and inexpensive.

Mill City Museum

With temps soaring into the 90’s, it was time to let Bailey chill in the A/C while I explored downtown Minneapolis a bit. I headed to the Mill District and the Mill City Museum. The whole neighborhood is a restored industrial area which now includes the museum, a waterfront park and some cool loft apartments. The museum entrance ($12) included a ticket to the Flour Tower, where we ascended the old grain elevator and were treated to animated scenes from the history of General Mills when the elevator doors opened on each floor. The museum also had interactive exhibits for kids and a great gift shop full of local specialties. (I’m a sucker for museum gift shops!)

The observation deck also provided excellent views of the Mississippi River, and the Stone Arches Bridge.

Night Photography

I love night photography and the Twin Cities were a great place to give it a go. The skyline and numerous bridges are so photogenic, and I felt pretty safe walking around at dusk with all of my camera equipment. Many people stopped to chat, mostly about my dog, of course. (Story of my life – everyone knew an Airedale in their youth, apparently!)

Residence Inn Roseville

I stayed at the Residence Inn, Roseville for the weekend. I love extended stay hotels because I feel like I could totally just move right into one! (I actually did live in one for 5 weeks when relocating to Chicago and I was in no hurry to move out!) The Residence Inn is pet-friendly and didn’t prohibit leaving B alone in the room, as many hotels do. The pet fee is $75, which is high, but as an extended stay, it’s a reasonable fee if you are staying several nights. In addition to the indoor pool, the hotel also has a nice outdoor area with grills and patio furniture. Rooms here are slightly less expensive than staying downtown, but once you factor in free parking, it’s definitely a great deal!

Have you been to the Twin Cities? What’s your favorite spot?

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Roseville Minnesota

I was a guest of The Roseville Visitors Association. These are solely my personal opinions and I was not financially compensated for this post.

This post is also part of the Weekly Postcard blog roundup. Click the photo below to check out other posts this week!

 

Two Traveling Texans
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Kayak Camping in Baja Mexico

A kayak trip in Baja has been on my bucket list for quite a few years now.  So, when I decided to make it happen, I first turned to my favorite adventure outfitter, OARS.  Having used them on 4 previous trips, I always check their catalog first!  OARS is a whitewater company, but they also contract in other countries for various adventures like the Galapagos trip I took a few years back.

The trip is billed as the Quick Getaway by Mar Y Aventuras, and by OARS as Sea Kayaking Espiritu Santo Island.  The OARS package was more comprehensive and included a night before and after at Posada Luna Sol, the guesthouse associated with Mar Y Aventuras, as well as some additional meals.

Trip Orientation

The trip kicked off with an orientation and equipment fitting at the inn.  Due to high winds, we shuttled to a farther beach (Pichilingue) for a shorter boat ride to Espiritu Santo Island.  It was about an hour ride before we entered Candellero Bay, our home for the next 4 nights.

When I first heard there would be 17 guests on the trip, that sounded like a crowd, but it was a great group.  There were 3 of us solo ladies, 2 travel buddies, 2 families with 2 kids each, a father/son and one married couple.  Many people are wary of group travel, but I find that adventurous, rugged trips like this tend to weed out the high maintenance types, and you meet people who have some incredible travel tales.  I’m always adding to my bucket list after meeting these explorers!

Candellero Bay Camp

My tent

We all settled in to our cabins, enjoyed the first of many meals, and had a practice kayak run.

More cool rocks!

Each day had a nice rhythm, with what I thought was the perfect balance of activity and down-time.  If you are looking for a full-on adrenaline packed week, I’d suggest one of the circumnavigation trips rather than the base camp option I chose.  (Options vary by time of year)

Coffee was ready each morning at 6am, breakfast by 8:00.  The first morning activity (a kayak or snorkel outing) started around 9am.  We’d then return for lunch and a few leisurely hours before the afternoon activity around 3:00.  Upon our return, Happy Hour snacks and cocktails were served around 6pm, followed by a delicious dinner.

Happy Hour ceviche

Activities included a snorkel, hike or kayak outing, sometimes a combination of those.  We visited the sea lion colony twice, and were amazed at how friendly and playful the sea lions were!  A little too friendly for my taste – I kept my distance!

This trip was a great little getaway from work, winter and internet.  I found it to be the perfect combination of down-time and activity, although 1 more day would have been great!  I highly recommend this trip!

Trip Cost:

  • OARS cost: $1282 (includes single supplement for hotel and camping)
  • Airport Shuttle from Cabo: $47
  • Guide Tips: $100
  • Snorkel Rental:  $15 (wetsuit and sleeping bag rental also offered)

For all of my pictures from this trip, click here!

To read about my time in La Paz, check out my post on Travelettes!

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Kayak Camp Baja

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