From its humble origins as a soda fountain in 1930s Saint Paul, Green Mill Restaurant and Bar has grown into a franchise with more than 28 locations all over Minnesota and the Midwest. As TV screens blast sports news in the background, patrons at each eatery dine on a menu of classic American and pizzeria fare. Thick, hand-pressed burgers form bunned towers with hefty toppings such as smoked bacon, haystack onions, and chipotle mayo. Families looking to bond can practice fractions on regular, deep-dish, or thin and crispy pizzas or group juggling acts with samplers of 27 juicy wings. In addition to pastas and salads, each location's bar carries a varied drink menu that includes draft beers such as Blue Moon and Samuel Adams alongside wine, martinis, and margaritas.
When her son was born, Melanie Painter read everything she could about communicating with children. The crash course in early childhood development not only primed Melanie for motherhood, but also working with youngsters as a photographer. To make photo shoots fun for kids, she hosts portrait parties where children snack, play with props, and, afterward, each receive a 5"x7" print. The rest of her on-location and in-studio shoots accommodate newborns, expectant moms, and families, all of whom she photographs with a combination of candid and posed shots.
Eclectic Goat is a creative space for aspiring artists, with a studio and gallery adorned with impressive displays of locally fashioned works. Anyone who finds themselves absentmindedly sketching on the edges of notebook papers or recent photos of their exes is welcome to come hone their scribbling skills in a relaxed environment. The 90-minute class allows doodlers to experiment with three different sketch styles. Pen, pencils, and paper are provided to nurture creative instincts, as well as instruction on the realistic number of teeth to give the dinosaur monster truck you're drawing.
It's easy to get lost in the moment on Nelson's Apple Farm. Guests can wander through the golden-tinged foliage and breath in the autumnal air while exploring the various fall festivities. Children traipse through the five acres of wildlife preserve, or peer at many different animals in the farm yard, feeding goats from their palms or watching ducks play inspired hockey on the pond. They can pick their own pumpkins and choose from more than 20 different apple varieties from a 20-acre plot of apple trees, and, come winter, guests can track down their perfect Christmas tree from the 12 acres of growing evergreens. On the weekends, customers can also opt for wagon rides around the acreage.
Owned by Iowa residents Lisa Barillas and Twyla Tindall, Lyla's Boutique supplies well-known brands to Iowa's multifaceted fashionistas. The boutique stocks a bevy of pants, tops, skirts, and dresses from prominent labels such as Miss Me, Free People, BCBG, BB Dakota, Sweet Pea, Judith March, Level 99, and Vintage Havana. Covering colorful styles from hand to toe, Lyla's also houses a range of purses and functional, form-fitting shoes. Popular wearables currently include a braided-chain-and-jewel necklace and earring set ($32), Kinsie Girl Oliander wedges ($49), !iT Jeans ($69.95), and the wildly inspiring Free People zebra dress ($128) (see pictures of select clothing items here.