Pat Evans: Favorite Fall Excursions

11:14 AM, Sep 13, 2010   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS -- After a long and sometimes hot summer, it is finally fall. The time of year when the crunch of leaves underfoot replaces the hum of air conditioners. The season when we can catch our breath before Old Man Winter blows in for the next six months.

For many, including me, fall is our favorite of the four seasons. There is still enough time to enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities without being bundled up like a mummy. But I like it mostly for the splendor of fall colors. Wow.

Here are a few things we find most enjoyable during this golden time of year.

Taking in fall colors: The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. New Yorkers have Central Park, San Franciscans have Golden Gate Park, and here in the Twin Cities, our urban oasis can be found over several hundred acres in Chaska. 

There is always something beautiful to experience at the arboretum. Right now, you can still catch the last of fading summer blooms. But autumns real show will soon be on the way. The changing leaves is always breathtaking here, from aspens to maples, the depth of fall colors are some of the most beautiful in the area.  And this spectacle provides one of the most extraordinary backdrops for photographs you'll find anywhere.

Train rides: The Osceola St. Croix Valley Railway. This family friendly choo-choo takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in the St. Croix River Valley. The slow train ride harkens back to a time when getting there was half the fun. This books up fast so it's a good idea to make plans in advance or you'll be left at the station.

Apple Picking: While a spring frost has resulted in fewer apples for picking off the trees, there is still plenty of fun to be had at the Minnetonka Orchards and others around the area. Old fashioned hay rides, pumpkin picking and live music go a long way to make this a fun excursion on a fall weekend. No sense in letting the kids have all the fun, this is for everyone.

Bicycling and more: One of the most beautiful places to experience the richness of autumnal beauty is in southeastern Minnesota. Lanesboro, the self proclaimed Bed and Breakfast capital of Minnesota is one of my favorite destinations. Mrs. B's is a particularly comfortable spot and ideal jumping off point for the scenic Root River bike trail. The 60-mile trail takes you along some breath taking scenery and past rich fall colors.

This charming town offers several good restaurants, fun entertainment options and a perfect location to do absolutely nothing.

Savoring the seasonHeartland restaurant and farm direct market.  Lenny Russo, a 2010 James Beard Best Chef Midwest nominee has moved to a new location near St. Paul's Farmer's Market in Lowertown.

Good news for diners is that Russo and his team are serving up even more of the local and seasonal ingredients that put them on the gastronomic map in the first place.

On a recent Saturday evening, Russo proudly gave us a tour of his wonderful new space. In addition to the appealing and spacious dining room. There is also a fresh food market where you can pick up things to make at home.



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