Family · Parenting · Traveling

State of Mind: Why Exploring Your State Is so Great

We often think we need to travel far or by air to experience a new place. Once you have little kids, you might wonder if it is worth it to book tickets, load everyone up, and travel to some far-away destination on an airplane—I personally think trips like this are worth it. But if you think that is too much, or you’re looking for a more impromptu option, try exploring your very own state!

I was born and raised in Minnesota, and while I appreciate all that the metropolitan area has to offer, I am a small town girl at heart. I love getting out of the city and up to the Brainerd Lakes area, which is where I am from. I also love visiting new areas in the state with my family. Recently, my husband and I took our kids (3 and 5) to Balley Creek Cabins in Grand Marias and rented a rustic cabin—and by rustic, I mean no electricity or running water. We had a wood-burning stove to keep us warm, propane lanterns for light, and a five-gallon bucket of water. It was like camping, except we stayed warm and dry. Here is a little summary of our trip:

The way to Grand Marias is so beautiful. It is a great place to visit with little kids because there are so many places to stop and see. We wanted to do it all, but our time was limited so we picked just a couple of places. We decided to stop in Duluth and look at the boats from the pier, which the kids absolutely loved.

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After our visit in Duluth, we drove up to Lutsen. We took the kids on the gondola to the top of Lutsen Mountain and looked at the beautiful scenery. After we hiked around and took it all in, we had a late lunch at the restaurant on top of the ski hill.

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We arrived at camp at about 3:30PM. It took us a little bit to find it because it was so hidden and secluded. Once we found it, we immediately lit a fire in the wood-burning fireplace and got all settled for the night. The kids had so much fun playing at our campsite and going on little hunts on the trails that were close by.

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Once everything was settled inside, we built a campfire to keep us warm outside. We cooked our dinner over the fire around 6PM—brats, macaroni and cheese, and beans. We finished off dinner with s’mores for dessert. Then we sat by the campfire and talked as a family with no distractions. It was so refreshing to disconnect from everything else and have just each other for entertainment. Once it got dark and cold, the kids wanted to go inside and snuggle in the cabin. The cabin was so toasty we had to crack a window. Full disclosure: I did bring their Kindles so they could watch a movie once we were inside for the night.

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Our trip was spur of the moment and we covered a lot in just two days. Fall is a great time to get away and look at the beautiful changing colors. I encourage you and your family to explore Minnesota (or your own state) for the weekend. Here are a few popular places in Minnesota: Stillwater, Red Wing, Winona, the North Shore, Itasca State Park, Detroit Lakes, and the Brainerd Lakes area. These are all within 45 minutes to a few hours out of the Twin Cities.

What is your favorite place to visit within Minnesota—or your home state? I am always looking for new places to visit.

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