Shawn Richardson and his hunting buddies were on a fishing trip, exchanging stories and admiring the natural beauty of Lake Superior when one of the fellas struck on a crazy idea. Fun as it was to traipse around the coniferous wilderness—he explained as his friends’ rapt expressions held steady through intermittent bites of newly caught walleye—it seemed a shame that lake-fresh fish and wild game had to be wrested from the cruelly indifferent hands of nature. What if a person need only reach out a fork to enjoy nature’s spoils?
Long after the trip had ended, that notion reverberated down the mental corridors of Shawn, himself a seasoned chef. Every time he joylessly cut a piece from a flavorless slab of frozen fish, or played an idle game of Oregon Trail it would return anew, like an unscratched itch. Finally, one morning—with resolve etched into his steely face—he said goodbye to his mounted yeti head, threw sand over the bonfire flickering on top of his living room coffee table, and strutted out the door to open up a neighborhood joint of his own, where he could serve fresh and local wild game.
Today, Woodsmans Gril’s kitchens sizzle with 13 types of unique game, including elk, bison, walleye, and quail. Shawn smokes his the meats himself onsite, while conducting a kitchen staff as they prepare an innovative menu that has enticed the palates of ABC Newspapers. Servers carry the weighty plates out into the dining room, where Shawn's taxidermy mounts gaze down from brick walls, and color photographs of wild deer, flapping fish, and rugged escaped bank tellers adorn the tables.
When Shannon and her daughter Kate sought out a mother-daughter activity, they dodged the typical scrapbooking and quilting and instead opened Coffee Caboose. Their creation is a charming café specializing in espresso drinks, hot dogs loaded with toppings, and housemade baked goods. Often seen manning the counter or flapping limbs to create angels in coffee-grounds piles, they ensure the quality of their product by involving themselves in all aspects of their business. Each morning, Shannon and Kate showcase this dedication by serving up fresh-baked cinnamon rolls and steaming cups of coffee to commuters en route to the Northstar Train.
Opened by a pair of leaf-loving friends in 1999, The Mad Hatter Tea Room fills the 1916-built Anoka Post Office building with traditional English teas and trays bearing freshly baked scones and dainty sandwiches. At reserved seatings, guests sip and nibble from a cornucopia of tea services named after outlandish characters from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland books and mathematical theorems. Tea sets the scene for leisurely afternoons, surrounded by spiraling chandeliers and pastel walls. On the way out, a boutique stocked with books and tea accessories lets guests tote the elegance to their own homes and backyard dirt bike rallies.
Early in the spring, when the threat of snow still hovers over the state of Minnesota, the golf course at Sundance Golf Banquet Bowl is open. Later in the fall, when the threat of snow once again looms and golf carts begin to go into hibernation, the course remains open. Over the years, the 18-hole, par 72 course has become reliable place for determined golfers to battle for being the first or last of the year to sneak in a round. Recently, Sundance augmented its links with a bowling alley, inviting visitors to escape the elements and pick up some strikes in the process. Away from all the competition, the facility's bar and grill refuels tanks with popular house-made pizzas, half-pound burgers, and plenty of beer and cocktails.