With a passion for boating the waters of Lake Minnetoka to take in views of the region's natural beauty and lush green landscapes, Wayzata Bay Charters' owners charter their 60-foot lake cruiser to make the experience accessible to all. The owners decked out their two-level cruiser—which can host up to 60 people—with a full bar, two satellite TVs, satellite radio, a 2,000-watt sound system, and enough helium balloons to keep both the boat and the party afloat. Believing a jaunt on the lake makes for an ideal event whatever the occasion, they've designed packages specifically for weddings and bachelorette parties, and they still offer public cruises to assure everyone has a chance to take to the water.
Every time Tiny Footprint Coffee uses a little bit of earth's resources, it also puts a little bit back. Since roasting coffee produces CO2, the staff have taken it upon themselves to donate a portion of the proceeds from every pound of coffee they sell to reforestation efforts in Ecuador. In this sense, they've established their business as a "carbon negative" one?the carbon they produce is eliminated by the trees that are eventually planted. And that's not even getting to the coffee itself. Workers dote on the artisanal beans every step of the way, from the family-owned farms where the coffee cherries are picked to the carefully trained baristas who eventually transform the roasted beans into the perfect cup.
A nonprofit Christian fundraising group for youth ministries in the Twin Cities, Fishing for Life hosts the Fish Fair each year to net assets for its cause while attendees snack on fried fish. Budding freshwater huntsmen can learn the fine points of lure making or fly tying and others can try their hands at archery or laser shooting. As young whippersnappers ricochet around the bounce houses and dance to live music, their mellower companions can listen to a tall tale at story time or create a brush-by-brush replica of Mona Lisa Eats a Burrito at the arts-and-crafts table. Boy Scouts in attendance can earn a fishing merit badge with their participation, as each amateur ichthyologist can attempt to catch his or her own dinner at the trout pond.
Every year for a quarter of a century, the Anoka Knights of Columbus have performed a grim duty for the community. Come October, the cabal constructs a home that summons the local undead, giving them free rein to terrorize all those who trespass so the rest of Anoka may be spared.
Successful restaurateur Supenn Harrison made her first foray into the restaurant business more than 30 years ago, when she bought a burger joint in the Twin Cities. For Supenn, slinging patties wasn't enough to satisfy her love of the culinary arts; the Thailand native and former teacher quickly traded deep fryers for woks and opened her first Thai restaurant.
She eventually launched the first Sawatdee in 1983 in an abandoned warehouse, transforming the unlikely setting into something you might see in the heart of Bangkok, with gold-leaf ceilings and traditional artwork. Now, Supenn owns seven Sawatdee restaurants throughout Minnesota and has expanded the menu to include sushi dishes. Besides sharing her culinary skills through hands-on cooking classes, Supenn has disseminated her authentic Thai fare by catering birthday celebrations, family reunions, and the Rolling Stones' anti-retirement party.
Though they've only been leading paddling tours for a few years, the certified guides of Stand Up MN have already helped thousands of people explore the Twin Cities' local waterways up close. After equipping their guests with standup paddleboards, personal flotation devices, and ample training, they embark on trips along the quiet stretch of the Mississippi River that cuts through their urban landscape.
From St. Paul, groups glide under bridges and pass idyllic natural areas—and from Minneapolis, they can take a break from paddling to high-five low-flying birds from a rope swing over the water. Stand Up MN also leads extended paddling tours to Taylors Falls, where state parks and tumbling waterfalls abound. These excursions are complemented by the company's special events, which include speed-dating events at which participants spend most of the time hanging out while paddleboarding.