Adventure Friday… Out West

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May 18, 2012 by Gina

Adventure Friday takes a bit farther afield this week than the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.  This week, our adventures took us west, to Alexandria, Minnesota.  If you haven’t visited this west central Minnesota town, you should plan a visit with your family!  I grew up here and we visited my parents while Brian was gone this week.  But there are a lot of adventures in this town of lakes, particularly in the summer.  If you need a place to stay the Holiday Inn or Arrowwood Resort and Waterpark are great places for families or try one of the many resorts or vacation homes on the lakes.

We were busy this week!  Our first adventure took us to Noonan Park…a well-known park in downtown that has a crooked, painted house, a pond, playground and ducks and geese galore.  This is always a fun park with small children.  Grab an old loaf of bread and the ducks and geese will entertain you for hours as you feed them.  Finn was so excited and kept yelling, “here ducky, ducky”!  He would run off with his piece of bread, try to break off small pieces and then run back to us for more.  Getty ate almost as much bread as the ducks but he had fun watching them waddle around!

On our way home from Noonan we stopped to see Big Ole.  You can’t come to Alexandria without seeing this iconic statue of this Viking warrior.  There is much debate about whether the Vikings came to Alexandria and left the Kensington Runestone, but there is no debate that the oversized statue of Big Ole is always a hit with kids.  Finn was tentative at first but then didn’t want to get back into the car when the time came.  Across from Big Ole are the Douglas County Museum and the Maritime Museum if you want to learn more about the local history.  There’s also a great restaurant called the Depot, where you can enjoy lunch or dinner outside overlooking Lake Agnes.  You can rent canoes right near Big Ole and there are several green bikes on the biking trail that Big Ole sits on that you can use for free!  Just return them to Big Ole when you are finished.

Big Ole stands at the end of Broadway, the main street.  Broadway is full of fun, unique boutiques and antique shops.  I’ve taken the kids many times to do some shopping.  Try Magpie, the Golden Giraffe, From the Heart, Lillian’s, Narlie’s, the Scandinavian shop, Bee Active and there are several coffee shops too.  For a really fun shopping experience drive to the Crooked Willow between Alexandria and Osakis.  It’s a completely restored farmhouse, barn and other outbuildings that are full of unique finds.  You can also tour the Carlos Creek Winery which often has live music.

Speaking of Carlos, our last adventure took us to Beilke’s Pleasant View Farm.  Finn, Grandpa Tom and I got a tour of this farm from the owner, Jan Beilke.  This is a fruit and vegetable farm and during this time of year, asparagus is in season.  You can pick your own asparagus or call ahead and order however many pounds you want.  We picked up 15 pounds so we’ll be making asparagus every way we can this week.  Jan drove us around on her golf cart, showing us the raspberry bushes, blackberry bushes and eight acres of asparagus fields.  Jan told us that on a hot day, asparagus can grow six inches in one day!  They pick each row of asparagus every other day.  Jan showed us how to pick the asparagus and Finn picked a few shoots.  Let’s hope he actually eats some!

We’ll explore more of Alexandria the next time we’re in town.  There are a lot of free things to do here, especially on the chain of lakes, swimming and boating. Your family will find alot to do here and it’s just a short two hour drive west of the Twin Cities.  Have fun on your adventures this weekend!

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