So I am so sorry for the delay on the post of this amazing state! We spent a long weekend in the St. Paul/Minneapolis region of Minnesota, famous for its harsh winters, beautiful nature and of course MALL OF AMERICA in nearby Bloomington.
The road trip there and back was a bumpy one. It’s about 6 1/2 hours. We tried the bust butt overnight driving so Grace could sleep. Grace would not sleep! She cried A LOT during the ride there, and my husband and I both had worked the day before and were not 100% rested. So there are your how NOT to travel with a toddler for a long trip. HA!
When we got to Minnesota, I will admit we spent a few days exploring Mall of America alone. It was totally worth it. Yes, it’s “just a mall” but it was amazing with a theme park and GIANT versions of our favorite stores (helllloooooo Disney Store.) It was also super kid friendly and let Grace burn off tons of energy, sleeping like the baby she is every night we were there.
One of the days, mama was feeling adventurous and went chasing sunrises (a new favorite thing to do!) over at Taylor Falls, about an hour north of St. Paul. I got to do some hiking. I saw some beautiful rivers and trails in this area, which is really easy to access. The trail is moderate, and honestly I ran out of time before I headed back. There was rock climbing, icy waters and even nearby snowboard (I saw 5 million plus signs for it). I recommend trying to catch the sunrise. There’s a small fee (like $7 if I remember so bring some singles) but going at that time was perfect because there was virtually no one there. First hikers I saw came about an hour after I arrived.
On the last day, we took Grace to the Japanese Gardens, which was small like the zoo it was next to, but still a beautiful sight to see. Grace was able to run around and look at the ponds. She loves looking at flowers, so it was a nice way to wind down before heading to our next stop. That evening, we went looking for waterfalls at sunset. We went off recommendation from a friend to Minnehaha Falls and saw a BEAUTIFUL waterfall. The park itself was also beautiful, and all lit up with lights around their restaurant. There were a lot of stairs, so I do not recommend bringing a stroller. Grace LOVES climbing stairs, so we just stayed in pace with her. There were many trails we could have gone, but let’s be real, we came for the sunset. It was worth it.
The drive back home was better than getting there. We slept early and woke up early, had a good breakfast and broke up our trip home into two parts. The first one we stopped once on the way to Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin (which will be a regular Wisconsin spot for us and part of a future post!) We had lunch, explored the Dells and the river walk. By the time evening came, we had a nice dinner and headed the rest of the way home (about 4 hours.) Grace passed out from the excitement for a few hours. She woke up about an hour from home (already in Illinois at this point) and was inconsolable (iPads don’t solve everything unfortunately) so we stopped at one of the Oasis near the highway. It had food (we were a little hungry) and a kid play area. Since it was late evening, the place was super quiet and Grace had the whole area to herself! By the time we left, we were able to enjoy a couple of episodes of Dora and finally be home. Safe to say, this trip taught us a lot about our child.
So next up on our state agenda is MAUI, HAWAII!! This is a trip my husband is most looking forward too. He’s been wanting to go since we got married, but life kept getting in the way. Any tips for trips of this length with a toddler (in particular whether to bring a car seat on the plane) would be much appreciated! So far it’s been a learn as we go with our tiny person.
Until next time, jetsetters!
Love, Grace and Veronica