about us
earl's court
pam's world
kare-11 segment
contact us

"Natural Getaways"

It's that time of year when our thoughts turn to spring and spending time outdoors again. Here are some travel ideas that showcase our official state symbols.

1.) Our state tree is the red pine, also known as the Norway pine. Minnesota's tallest grows in Itasca State Park, is 126 feet tall and is estimated to be more than 200 years old. Smell the pine while hiking on some of the great trails here. Also in the area, is the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River with Bemidji being the closest `big" city. Birchmont Lodge is a wonderful place to take the family.

2.) Our state fish is the walleye. The 2004 Governor's Walleye Opener is on Lake of the Woods May 15. Lake of the Woods is located in Voyageurs National Park, our only National Park. Fewer restrictions than the BWCA, you don't need as many permits, you can use a motor, etc. It was also named as one of the top 25 fishing spots in the nation (May 2003 issue of Field & Stream ). A perfect way to explore Voyageurs is on a houseboat. Ebels Houseboats offers boats for every budget. Some even have hot tubs and satellite TV. Catch some walleye, clean it and eat it ..... all without leaving your boat.

3.) Our state mushroom is the morel. Minnesota was the first state to have an official fungus in 1984. Late spring is a great time to go morel mushroom hunting. Try southeastern Minnesota. Lanesboro is a great town to make as your base. They have charming bed and breakfasts, antique shops and great restaurants. The Root River has open water perfect for canoeing and the state trail has outstanding scenery for biking. Look for brownish, sponge-like and cone-shaped `shrooms. But just remember with mushroom hunting .... when in doubt, leave it out! Some mushrooms are poisonous.

4.). Our state gemstone is the agate. Rock hounds, like me, know that the North Shore is full of them. One of my favorite towns to stay is in Grand Marais. I really like the location of the Best Western Superior Inn and Suites .... right in town and right on the lake. Open your sliding door and listen to the waves at night. I thought I was on the ocean and boy did I sleep well! One night last summer, I witnessed the most amazing lightening show from my room ..... 180 strikes! Walk around town, stop at Sven and Ole's for a pizza and have dinner at Birch Terrace (probably the best bbq ribs I have ever eaten). Or stay out of town at the historic Naniboujou Lodge (also right on Lake Superior). Great chef , cute rooms and some of the best rocks I saw were right on their beach. Agate Beach is also just up the road .... on the way to Grand Portage National Monument.

5.) Our state flower is the pink and white lady's slipper, part of the orchid family. They can take up to 16 years to produce their first flower and sometimes live up to 50 years. About 4 feet tall, they bloom in late June or early July. A perfect place to see them is the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen. Forty minutes from downtown Minneapolis, it's a great way to spend a spring day. You can hike, drive or take a guided tram tour. Just remember that it's illegal to pick them ... even in the wild.

6.) Our state bird is the loon. During the month of May, loons begin to arrive on many lakes with males usually arriving first to choose a territory. The call of the loon is unmistakable and hauntingly beautiful. A wonderful place to hear them is in the Chippewa National Forest area. Within the forest are 700 lakes, including such giants as Cass and Leech. In addition to the loon, look out for our national bird, the bald eagle. Chippewa has one of the highest concentrations in the country .... nearly 200 pairs.

So get out there and explore your "backyard"! Weekends fill up fast so make your reservations now!

Please call 1-888-293-3330 or email [email protected]