Enjoy Spring with a Day Trip!

If your family is anything like mine, constantly pulled in a million directions and totally crunched for free time, you may enjoy taking day trips or even staycations. We came up with a couple of day trips geared toward particular interests.

A Day Trip for Bikers

Strap the bike to the car and head east from the Twin Cities. In about an hour and 15 minutes you’ll be in biking heaven, Menomonie, Wisc. Once there, head straight to the Red Cedar State Trail and get ready for one of the best day trips you’ll ever take.

This 14.5 mile, crushed-limestone trail follows the walls of the Red Cedar Valley until it connects with Chippewa River State Trail. Along the way you’ll see wildlife, such as hawk and wild turkey and perhaps even an eagle or two.

Before you go, snag a Wisconsin State trail pass, only $4 for the day. You can find out more here.


A Day Trip for the History Buff

Drive south of Minneapolis for about 45 minutes and you’ll end up in Northfield, Minn., a somewhat sleepy-appearing town with quite the wild past. The best time to go is the weekend after Labor Day and we’ll tell you why in a minute.

Situated along the shores of the Canon River, Northfield is a picturesque town and is home to both Carleton and St. Olaf colleges.

It is also home to the Northfield Historical Society Museum where history buffs can immerse themselves in local lore. You can also learn about a day of infamy for this little town.

On a sunny September afternoon in 1876, eight outlaws, members of the notorious James-Younger gang (Jesse James was a member) rode into Northfield to rob the First National Bank. Three gang members entered the bank and announced their intention to rob it.

While arguing with the employees about a locked safe, the bad guys on the outside of the bank got into a fracas with the local town folk which led to gunfire.

After only seven minutes, two of the outlaws lie dead in the street and two others were wounded. The other six got away, triggering a massive manhunt. Frank and Jesse James were never captured for this crime but the Younger brothers were.

If you plan your trip to Northfield for the weekend after Labor Day you can witness the annual reenactment of the events of the day at the Defeat of Jesse James Day festival. Learn more here.

A Day Trip for the Family

Mankato may not have been created for family fun, but it sure does feel like it. Whether the kids are tiny or tweens, there’s something they’ll love doing here in this city that calls three different counties home.

Here, families can swim and ski year-round. You’ll find other outdoor activities as well, from cycling trails to rivers and parks. Minneopa State Park is worth a stop if the family likes bird-watching. Sibley Park offers the wee ones a chance to enjoy the playground and feed and pet the animals.

It’s The Wow Zone, however, that will give this day trip its lasting memories. This family entertainment center offers arcade games, laser tag, bowling and miniature golf, among other fun activities.

Mankato is less than an hour and a half southeast of the Twin Cities.


Image courtesy of Northfield Historical Society

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