For more than 30 years, the pros at Northland Scuba have plunged the depths of waters both domestic and abroad seeking aquatic adventure. At their shop and water-filled practice studio, they cover all the essentials to get students SSI scuba certified with classroom, pool, and open-water training. Beyond basic certification, the subsea experts demystify adventure diving and master certification or arrange diving trips to the Cayman Islands, Thailand, and Australia. Since safe diving requires more than a bathing suit and 20 crazy straws hot glued together, Northland Scuba stocks top-shelf equipment from Aqua Lung, SeaQuest, and Apeks.
Taste of Stillwater's annual festival, established in 2011, directs the spotlight toward the palate-popular offerings of local wineries, breweries, restaurants, and food trucks. Throughout the daylong celebration, empty tummies shuffle from station to station filling up on samples of refreshing beverages and foods, fueling bodies to explore the festival grounds' shopping opportunities and to tour Saint Croix Vineyards. Families stake their claim on the lawn area with blankets, foldable chairs, and giant bronze statues of their great-grandfathers before they feast their ears on live music. Taste of Stillwater dedicates a portion of its proceeds to charities including Valley Outreach, a community-based nonprofit organization that supports low-income people with donations of food, clothing, and other necessities.
Glacier-carved canyon walls framing the falls of the Willow River. Great blue herons stalking the wildflowers along the Kinnickinnic River. Owner and lifelong outdoorsman Mike Kealy and his guides lead kayaking trips past these and more dramatic sites, which typify the undeveloped riverbanks throughout eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Each outing begins at a select meet-up point, from which guides provide shuttle service to and from the launch sites. Along with unveiling the rivers’ untouched scenery, River Guide’s team can also add a fishing guide to each trip, taking guests into streams teeming with brown, rainbow, and zebra-striped trout.:m]]
Sometimes, you?d rather just enjoy a view of the fairways than be on them. That?s why the staff at Danny?s Bar & Grill, located at Stoneridge Golf Club, welcomes guests to sit on their expansive patio, which gives them clear views of the green. The patio features an outdoor fire pit where guests can keep warm on cool nights as they wait for plates of chef Bohnert?s Guinness-braised short ribs or mahi mahi encrusted with macadamia nuts. When patio weather is over, guests can still hang out by the indoor fireplace in the dining room where a slew of high-definition TVs showcase golf matches and, if the golf match turns out right, golf fights. On weekend evenings, live bands entertain in the dining room.
Northern Vineyards is a shared winery owned by the Minnesota Winegrowers Cooperative, a group of winemakers who own 1- to 15-acre vineyards across Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Members grow Frontenac, Prairie Star, and other grape varieties that perform well in the region; since the region has a cold climate and short growing season, grapes grown here must tolerate lower temperatures, ripen early, and be able to knit their own woolen mittens. In the fall, growers lug their mature grapes to the main winery in Stillwater, where award-winning winemaker Robin Partch transforms them into 30 kinds of wine.
The winery’s barrel room hosts wine tastings seven days a week at a glossy, wooden tasting bar. There’s also an outdoor deck that overlooks a historic lift bridge along the St. Croix River. In nice weather, visitors can bring a picnic lunch to enjoy with a glass of wine on the deck.
In the open autumn air at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, Twin Cities Oktoberfest celebrates all that is German during its two days of festivities. Throughout the weekend, live bands such as the Bavarian Musikmeisters, a 30-piece wind-instrument outfit, and The Squires Band, a four-piece band with 30 years of experience, entertain guests with traditional German harmonies and live renditions of the ER theme song. Between shows, audience members peruse vendors' booths, noshing on brats and German snacks. Beer from Summit and wine from Pedroncelli flow into glasses, keeping guests lingering into the evening hours as they discuss the latest in lederhosen fashion.
At more than 35 current or soon to be open Sky Zone locations across the country, bouncers of all ages revel in gravity-defying flips and twists. Mammoth floor-to-wall trampolines cover the gyms, creating endless possibilities for bounding antics. Pits piled high with foam blocks allow for soft landings after springing from trampolines into sky-high aerobatic tumbles and tricks, whereas bouncy courts equipped with basketball hoops elicit soaring slam-dunk contests. Visitors also burn up to 1,000 calories per hour during trampoline-based SkyRobics classes that focus on the calisthenics and muscle-toning aerobics created by kangaroos. Other inventive activities on the courts include games of dodge ball as well as Sky Zone the sport, during which participants fly through giant, suspended rings with game balls to score points. Each clean and safe facility provides excitement for the entire family and can also host birthdays and group celebrations.
A comprehensive guide to attractions and things to do.