My Next Adventure: A Midwestern Summer Road Trip

“All my life I’ve always come back to one thing,
my need to feel free and the need to feel the breeze…”
– Jess “Chief” Brynjulson, “Highway Writings”

The weather is warm and I’m already dreaming of the open road. It’s going to be a summer of seeing familiar landscapes with new eyes and venturing off the beaten path in Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana and Wisconsin.

For the next five weeks, I’ll be canoeing the Mississippi, hiking in the North Dakota badlands, having a beer in eastern Montana, shopping in historic Minnesota downtowns and visiting as many art studios, mom and pop shops and small town eateries as I possibly can. I can’t wait!

This June I’m partnering with the fabulous folks at AmericInn to promote cool destinations in the Midwest as part of their summer promotion.

As part of the promotion, I’ll spend a family weekend shopping, drinking craft beer and canoeing (although probably not in that order) in St. Cloud, Minnesota and exploring as much of the pretty Central Lakes area as I possibly can. I’ve always used the St. Cloud turn off as a mile marker on trips to and from the Twin Cities, so it’s about time I see what the city has to offer.

Then I’ll be on the trails and on the water in White Bear Lake, just a few minutes outside of Minneapolis/St. Paul. I’m also planning a day trip to Stillwater, a pretty little town on the banks of the St. Croix river, just across the lift bridge from Wisconsin. There’s great shopping, food, scenery and a walkable downtown district in both of these cities and I’m glad I’ll finally get to visit.

June will end with hiking, music and art in the North Dakota badlands with my kiddo and my friend Naomi. She’s never been out west, so I’ll be showing her Medora, a cool pottery studio in Beach, North Dakota and taking her over the border into eastern Montana.

We don’t know what we’ll find, but I can tell Naomi’s going to be a great road trip companion, because she’s up for anything, E is pretty much in love with her and she’s already texting me roadside food stops — including a place with killer pie just off I-94 in Tower City that’s loved by long haul truckers, traveling salespeople and prairie grandmas everywhere.

So what about you?
Where are you going this summer?
Have you ever visited any of the places I’ll be going this summer?
What should I see when I’m in town? Where should I eat?
Who should I meet?
What’s worth the drive when I’m in the area?

My best tips come from readers like you, so I’m always into hearing more about the places you love. If they’re part of your road trip tradition, then they’re definitely going on my itinerary.

Happy travels, everyone!

Alicia Underlee Nelson

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