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.
Capital City Trolleys charters a fleet of vintage-style vehicles and trolleys, ushering up to 20 passengers through New Orleans's historical and picturesque streets. Certified drivers cart revelers to their desired destinations during chartered rentals, cultivating a memorable corporate outing or ride to the airport. For weddings, Capital can transport brides, grooms, and ring-bearing bulldogs around town in a classic 1952 Bentley Mark VI luxury car.
The United States Coast Guard–certified captain of Magnolia Blossom, an old-fashioned black-and-white-painted steamship, pilots his vessel alongside city skylines and wild parks with up to 125 passengers on board. On its three cruise routes, the boat drifts by Pike Island and the skyline of St. Paul, passes through a lock and dam under the Minneapolis skyline, and floats past wildlife preserves and state parks on lengths of the Minnesota River, all without running any red lights. Inside the vessel, a climate-controlled lower deck lined with tall windows houses rows of banquet tables, each surrounded by chairs draped in white and tied with large red bows. On the top deck, café tables offer panoramic views from beneath a three-quarters canopy cover.
Since purchasing a used limo in 1993, Leland “Lee” Casto has had the same job: transporting clientele on trips and tours throughout the Twin Cities. His fleet, however, is now significantly larger, with numerous vehicles including stretch limos that fit 6–22 passengers. Guests can sip refreshments from tumblers and champagne flutes as Lee whisks them off on all types of journeys, from bar-hopping excursions to airport-bound jaunts. He also accommodates patrons on several tours, which include winery visits, two gangster-themed expeditions, and guided treks past ghost-filled mansions and twinkling holiday lights.
When the Gaffer family describes The Nova as "an eclectic little wine bar," they're not speaking figuratively. This cozy spot was refurbished from half of the historic liquor store it's attached to, a liquor store with a cave that burrows 150 feet into the nearby hillside. The Nova is the Gaffers' love letter to wines, where chef Nate crafts seasonal menus inspired by the more than 200 bottles of wine onsite. And while pan-fried walleye with a cornmeal crust would pair nicely with a bottle of white, dishes such as the Nova dirty burger with mushroom-cream sauce would probably fare better with a craft beer from the restaurant's 12 rotating taps. As a proponent of wine, beer, craft cocktails, growlers, and all things spirits, the Nova and its sister liquor store often host events and tasting parties in the aforementioned cave.