These days, it’s hard to plan a get-away for a long weekend or even just a couple of days! Especially if you have children.

If your heart isn’t DEAD SET on packing your bags, finding reliable babysitters/pet sitters, reserving hotel rooms (all that gross time-consuming stuff)… perhaps you’d be interested in learning about these 5 AMAZING Minnesota day trips that you could take TOMORROW.

I know, you’re probably thinking “Tomorrow?! That’s less than 24 hours away!”

But what if you went on a day trip where everything was planned out for you, and there was no work on your end?

And now you’re probably thinking

  • Where am I going?
  • How far away is it?
  • When would I leave?
  • What would I need to bring?
  • Food. What about food?
  • I don’t want to sit in a car all day for just a day trip, would there be places to stretch my legs?

Done. It’s all done for you.

Below (in no specific order), you will find the skillfully planned out 5 amazing Minnesota day trips that, YES, you can wake up and take tomorrow! These day trips include itinerary, addresses, contact information, restaurant menus, and a list of things you need to be sure to pack tonight (or the night before the day trip).

One thing to note, for simplicity reasons, these day trips have been worked using Minneapolis MN as a start and finish point. Therefore exact distance and other things may slightly differ from what we’ve created for you.

Amazing Minnesota Day Trip #1: Paul Bunyan Land

Paul Bunyan and Babe The Blue Ox. Bamidji, MN
Paul Bunyan and Babe The Blue Ox. Bamidji, MN

Tall (really tall) Tale famous Paul and his blue ox, Babe, are very welcoming to visitors to his park of all ages! Originally opened in 1950 as ‘Paul Bunyan Center’ in Baxter MN, it saw hard times in the early 2000s and announced it was closing down to due to high operation costs. Luckily a family purchased this park in an auction and re-opened it’s doors in Brainerd MN.

This amazing Minnesota day trip to sure to please your family, as well as their bellies! Did I mention that this Land allows you to leave and come back as you please?

Paul Bunyan Day Trip Minnesota
4 Hour round trip to Paul Bunyan Land from Mpls.

What places you will visit on your day trip:

  • Daddio’s Drive In
  • Paul Bunyan Land
  • Happy’s Drive In

What to bring on your day trip:

  • camera
  • cell phone
  • cash
  • pack lunch
  • bug spray
  • sun screen
  • weather appropriate clothing
  • shoulder bag (or fanny pack, if you rock retro)
  • hand sanitizer

Day trip itinerary:

  • Depart Minneapolis – 7:45am
  • Arrive at Daddio’s – 8:20am
  • Depart Daddio’s – 9:05am
  • Arrive at Paul Bunyan Land – 10am
  • Break for lunch – 1:30pm
  • Depart Paul Bunyan Land – 5pm
  • Arrive at Happy’s – 5:35pm
  • Depart Happy’s – 6:35pm
  • Return back to Minneapolis – 8pm

Total miles driven: 237 miles

Total drive time: 4 hours 1 minute

Estimate gas cost using this handy dandy gas cost calculator

Where to stop on the way

Throw your stuff the stuff in the car (don’t forget the kids) and head out early and stop for breakfast at the delicious Daddio’s Drive In Milaca MN.

Daddio’s Drive In

Address: 860 Central Ave N, Milaca MN 56353

Distance from Minneapolis: 64.47 miles via 169N

Phone number: 320-983-2023

Hours of operation: 

  • Monday – CLOSED
  • Tuesday – 11am to 8pm
  • Wednesday thru Saturday – 8am to 8pm
  • Sunday – 8am to 2pm

Daddio’s is a local family owned restaurant, that prides themselves in serving quality food to your family, friends, or coworkers. They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, offer take-out, and have sweet desserts to satisfy that Minnesotan sweet tooth of yours.

Our breakfast meal combination suggestions:

  • Chicken fried steak smothered with savory sausage gravy, your choice of grain (toast or english muffin)  and potato (your choice of breakfast potatoes or hashbrowns), served with a hot coffee to get you going for the day
  • Loaded veggie lovers omelet packed with red onion, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, green peppers, and shredded cheddar cheese, served with a tall glass of milk
  • Hot & Fresh belgian waffle topped with whipped cream and your choice of fruit and maple syrup with a side of sausage links, served with an ice cold juice to wash it down

You can view Daddio’s full menu here

What to do while you’re there

Paul Bunyan Land

Address: 17553 State Highway 18, Brainerd MN  56401

Distance from Minneapolis: 118.5 miles via 169N

Phone number: 218-764-2524

Hours of operation:

  • 10am – 6pm Daily     Memorial Weekend – Labor Day

Cost:

  • Toddler  Ages 2 and Under   Free
  • Standard  Ages 3 – 64  $21.95
  • Senior  65 and Over $18.95

When you walk in to Paul Bunyan Land, past the gate, Paul will greet your kids with a big ‘Hello’ by name! Be sure to get out your camera to snap a pic with the kids next to the big guy himself. That moment there will make this day trip a trip to remember, and even repeat!

Paul Bunyan Land is chock full of rides, attractions, and sites to see. The amusement park portion of the Land holds the rides, candy store, and old tyme photos!

Some of the rides are:

  • Tilt-o-whirl
  • Zumur swings
  • Roller coaster
  • Haunted house
  • Frog hopper
  • Climbing wall

The Pioneer Village with Paul Bunyan Land is where all of the old tyme sites and recreations are.

Some of the recreations include:

  • grainery
  • sawmill
  • blacksmith shop
  • doctor & dentist office
  • log house

You can view a full list of rides and attractions, as well as a park map here.

Come lunch time, Paul Bunyan Land does not allow food from the outside to be brought in. They do, however, have picnic tables placed out near the entrance so that you and your family can enjoy a nice lunch that you packed from home.

What to do on the way back from your day trip

Phew! That a was a fun and memorable time at Paul Bunyan Land! Now it’s time to head home, but before you reach the destination that has your cozy bed waiting for you, you have to feed those hungry minions! Final stop on your AMAZING Minnesota day trip: Happy’s Drive In in Onamia MN (see a theme here?)

Happy’s Drive In

Address: 11373 Stevens Rd, Onamia MN 56359

Distance from Minneapolis: 87.2 miles via 169N

Phone number: 320-532-3336

Hours of operation: 10:30am – 9pm

Happy’s Drive In has been a must-stop for families headed north for many years! With their churned ice cream case, fresh grilled burgers (insert drool here), chicken drummies, and sandwiches, and salads, OH MY!…This restaurant will top off your day trip in a satisfying way.

They feature an awesome indoor play place for your munchkins (if they have any energy left) if the weather is unfit to play outside on their FREAKING AWESOME RAINBOW PLAY PLACE!

Our dinner meal combination suggestions:

  • Double bacon cheeseburger with a side of gooey mac n’ cheese bites served with a fresh Wild Cherry Pepsi
  • Chicken fillet basket finished off with a frozen chocolate dipped banana
  • Grilled chicken breast sandwich with a side of stringy mozzarella sticks with a tall pink lemonade

On your drive home now. Do you hear that? Silence. Happy kids. Full bellies. Exhausted kids (and parents). Many memories made during this kid’s dream of an AMAZING day trip.

Amazing Minnesota Day Trip #2: Crystal Cave

Crystal Cave, Spring Valley, WI
Crystal Cave, Spring Valley, WI

So, we have a confession: This amazing day trip is not ENTIRELY in Minnesota, but it’s MOSTLY in Minnesota, and the main destination is just SO COOL that we had HAD to include it! Crystal Cave in Spring Valley, WI was discovered by two young boys venturing in to the woods in 1881.

The Crystal Cave is now known for beautiful rock formations, has expert tour guides, and the owner is even offering a super cool new flashlight tour of the newly discovered cave The South Portal Cave. This area of Crystal Cave has yet to improved with electricity (reason for the flashlights), involves tight squeezes, hiking boots, and is rated as a ‘moderate – strenuous’ trek. Your itinerary is based off the cave-only tour. Be sure to grab a sweatshirt, and leave room for dessert!

Crystal Cave Day Trip Minnesota

Places you will visit on your day trip:

  • : D Spot
  • Crystal Cave
  • Smilin’ Moose
  • Knokes Chocolates & Nuts
  • St. Croix River
  • Vali-Hi Drive In Movie Theater

What to bring on your day trip:

  • cell phone
  • camera
  • closed-toe shoes
  • socks
  • cash
  • blanket
  • weather appropriate clothing
  • bug spray
  • sunglasses
  • sunscreen
  • stretchy pants
  • comfortable walking shoes

Day trip itinerary

  • Leave Minneapolis – 11:30am
  • Arrive at D-Spot – 12pm
  • Depart D-Spot – 1pm
  • Arrive at Crystal Cave – 1:50pm
  • Depart Cave – 4pm
  • Arrive at Smilin’ Moose Bar & Grill – 4:30pm
  • Depart Smilin’ Moose Bar & Grill – 5:30pm
  • Arrive at Knokes Chocolates and Nuts – 5:35pm
  • Begin stroll along St. Croix River – 6pm
  • End walk along St. Croix River – 7pm
  • Arrive at Vali-Hi Drive In Movie Theater – 7:30pm
  • Depart Vali-Hi Drive In Movie Theater – 10pm
  • Return back to Minneapolis 10:30pm

Total miles driven: 123 miles

Total drive time: 2 hours 23 minutes

Estimate gas cost using this handy dandy gas cost calculator

Where to stop on the way

You’ll have to make a pit stop for an early lunch, so have a light breakfast and bring your appetite to the delicious :D-Spot Restaurant of Oakdale MN, which are known by the locals for their wings (so be sure to ask the waiter for plenty of extra napkins).

:D-Spot Restaurant

Address: 7129 10th St N, Oakdale MN 55128

Distance from Minneapolis: 17.1 miles via 94E

Phone number: 651-730-7765

Hours of operation: 

  • Sunday thru Thursday – 11am – 9pm
  • Friday and Saturday – 11am – 10pm

The cooks and waiters of :D-Spot prides themselves in quick and friendly service,  and to provide quality ‘from-scratch’ food at a reasonable price. They are happy to offer dine-in, take-out, as well as call-ahead options!

You’ll quickly fall in love with atmosphere and great variety of burgers, wings, and fries.

Suggested lunch meal combinations:

  • An order of Sri Lanka Treat wings – these wings are dipped in a sweet pineapple glaze and finished off with a dust of cayenne pepper – paired with some season fries next to a tall brewsky
  • The 50/50 burger – infused with smokey bacon and tomato aioli – partnered with seasoned fries and served with a ice cold diet soda (to try to pretend like you’re being even  A LITTLE healthy)
  • A seasoned and grilled to perfection chicken sandwich – add california set – with seasoned fries and your favorite cocktail

You can view :D-Spot’s full menu here

What to do while you’re there

Crystal Cave

Address: W965 State Hwy 29, Spring Valley WI

Distance from Minneapolis: 58.7 miles via 94E

Phone number: 715-778-4414

Hours of operation:

  • April and May: 10am daily – Last tour departs at 4pm
  • Memorial weekend thru Labor day: 9:30am daily – Last tour departs at 5pm
  • September and October: 10am daily – Last tour departs at 4am
  • November thru March: CLOSED for the winter

Cost:

Cave Tour Only (about 60 minutes):

  • Adult – $15.98
  • Youth (3y-12y) – $9.98
  • Children (2 & under) – FREE

Prospector Package (starting prices) – Cave Tour + Gem Panning

  • Adult – 22.96
  • Youth (3y – 12y) – $16.96
  • Children (2 & under) – $6.98

After your one-hour Crystal Cave tour, you have roughly one hour to pan for gems (additional cost), check out the gift shop and get some rockin’ (yes, pun intended) souvenir to show all of your friends what an awesome day trip you had, or stretch your legs on the glorious hiking trails that they have to offer.

— But don’t lose track of time! You wouldn’t want to be late for dinner, which would make you late for the other great things that we have planned for you!

What to do on the way back from your day trip

It is now 4pm, and even though it has been just 3 hours since you’ve eaten lunch, but we are assuming you’ve worked up some sort of appetite during your hour-long cave tour and all of the excitement from the other activities. SO gather your gift store purchases and type in the address to the Smilin’ Moose Lodge Bar & Grill!

Smilin’ Moose Lodge Bar & Grill

Address: 601 2nd St, Hudson WI

Distance from Minneapolis: 27.6 miles via 94E

Phone number: 715-808-8397

Hours of operation: 

  • Monday thru Friday: 11am – 2am
  • Saturday & Sunday: 9am – 2am

Smilin’ Moose has something that everyone will love! Be it brunch on weekends, weekend dance parties, or a home-style cooked meal ANY day! The rustic feel and cozy environment will get you comfy cozy for the final pit stop of your day trip.

Suggested dinner meal combinations:

  • A full plate of mesquite chicken & ribs – featuring half roasted chicken and half rib rack – served with a 16oz Dr. Feel Good (Cherry McGillicuddy, Redbull and Liquid Ice), topped with a S’mores skillet for something sweet
  • Crispy battered walley sandwich – dressed with lettuce and tomato,served on a Focaccia bun with a tarter spread – with a side of seasoned fries, and washed down with a cold glass of lemonade
  • Chicken bacon ranch flatbread – topped with roasted chicken, house-made ranch, smoked bacon, diced tomatoes, red onion, and of course fresh mozzerella – paired with a cup of the soup-of-the-day

Too full to finish your meal? Have it sacked in to a doggy bag to save for later, becuase it’s time for the next stop of your day trip!

Yes…you were too full to finish your meal BUT you can never be too full for dessert! Just a hop, skip, and a jump from Smilin’ Moose is the delectable Knokes Chocolates and Nuts!

Knokes Chocolates and Nuts

Address: 220 Locust St, Hudson, WI 54016

Distance from Minneapolis: 27.6 miles via 94E

Phone number: 715-381-9866

Hours of operation: 

  • Monday thru Wednesday – 11am – 9pm
  • Thursday thru Saturday – 9am – 10pm
  • Sunday – 11am – 8pm

Knokes Chocolate and Nuts is sure to have your sweet tooth tingling with its gooey caramels, creamy truffles, and oh-so-sweet turtles. Shopping for a birthday or Holiday? Knokes is an awesome stop on your shopping trip to purchase their gift tins!

Phew, after that dinner and dessert you might need some time to digest – might we suggest take a stroll down the St. Croix River and through town?

The views are breathtaking, and the shoppes are interesting – but don’t get too carried away because you don’t want to be late for your FINAL stop of your daytrip!

But wait! There’s more!

It’s a been a long day full of food, shopping, and exploring; so of course the perfect way to round out the day is with a good ol’fashion drive-in movie at Vali-Hi Drive In Movie Theater nestled in Lake Elmo, MN!

Vali-Hi Drive In Movie Theater

Address: 11260 Hudson Blvd, Lake Elmo, MN 55042

Distance from Minneapolis: 20.7 miles via 94E

Phone number: 651-436-7464

Hours of operation: 

  • Friday & Saturday – 6pm – movie end
  • Sunday – 7pm – movie end

Cost: 

  • Adult: $9.50
  • Kids age 6-12: $1
  • Kids age 5<: FREE

Take a step back in to the days of drive in movie theaters, where one would usually go with their loved one for a cheap and easy date, and where you can STILL go for a cheap date! Hi-Vali offers $1 hotdogs, and 3 movies for the price of 1! First showing starts at 8pm, so find a place to park, pull out that blanket, recline that seat, and enjoy the show!

You’re probably going to be beat by the time you get home (which will probably be fairly late if you stay for all 3 showings) so be sure to take this amazing Minnesota day trip on a Friday or Saturday. You know, so you can be lazy the next day.

Amazing Minnesota Day Trip #3: Minnesota Harvest Apple Orchard

Minnesota Harvest Apple Orchard
Minnesota Apple Orchard

You smell that? It’s the smell of crisp red and orange leaves rustling in the wind. You know what that means – AUTUMN HAS ARRIVED IN MINNESOTA!

Check out our picks for the best places to see fall colors in Minnesota.

Now, if you’re a native Minnesotan, you know that autumn can last until spring, or it might not appear at all and summer turns in to winter. That being said, you need to spend your autumn days wisely! Don’t miss out on the best apple-picking experience you will ever have by taking an amazing day trip to Minnesota Harvest in Jordan, MN.

Minnesota Harvest Apple Orchard Day Trip

Places you will visit on your day trip:

  • Emma Krumbee’s
  • Minnesota Harvest Apple Orchard
  • Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store
  • Edinborough Park
  • Fuddruckers

What to bring on your day trip:

  • Camera
  • Weather appropriate clothing
  • Sunscreen
  • Gardening gloves
  • Cash
  • Tennis shoes
  • Jeans

Day trip itinerary:

  • Depart Minneapolis – 11am
  • Arrive at Emma Krumbee’s – 11:50am
  • Depart Emma Krumbee’s – 1pm
  • Arrive at Minnesota Harvest – 1:10pm
  • Depart Minnesota Harvest 3pm
  • Arrive at Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store – 3:05pm
  • Depart Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store – 3:30pm
  • Arrive at Edinborough Park – 4:10pm
  • Depart Edinborough Park – 5:30pm
  • Arrive at Fuddrucker’s – 5:35pm
  • Depart Fuddruckers – 6:40pm
  • Return back to Minneapolis – 7pm

Total miles driven: 99.7 miles

Total drive time: 2 hours 6 minutes

Estimate gas cost using this handy dandy gas cost calculator

Where to stop on the way

Kiddos are the first to get hangry and the WORST when they are hangry, and no one wants a hangry day trip buddy, so let’s keep those kids well fed! First stop on your amazing Minnesota day trip is the fabulous Emma Krumbee’s in Belle Plaine, MN.

Emma Krumbees

Address: 351 E Enteprise Dr, Belle Plaine, MN 56011

Distance from Minneapolis: 46 miles via 169S

Phone number: 952-873-4334

Hours of operation: Daily – 6am – 9pm

This made-from-scratch restaurant will bring you back to grandma’s house when you taste their savory soups, juicy dinners, and sweet desserts! Aside from being a delicious family friendly Belle Plain staple, Emma’s also has a selection of items for sale such as tons of cute trinkets and flowers! Also…. rumor is they have an AMAZING apple cider mimosa!

Our lunch meal combination suggestions:

  • Deep fried and battered cod Fisherman’s sandwhich – with lettuce and tomato and a grilled bun – served with their famous crunchy coleslaw
  • For you spicey lovers: Buffalo glazed chicken wrap – stuffed with red onions, ripe tomatoes, lettuce, and bleu cheese dressing (most Minnesotan’s substitute with ranch) – served with a cup of Emma’s savory soup of the day
  • Juicy Mushroom and Swiss burger – with gooey swiss cheese, sauteed mushrooms, and drizzled with beef gravy (we suggest added tomato and lettuce for a real party-in-your-mouth) experience)

Once you’ve stuffed your belly and checked out their cool trinkets, time to hit the road again for the main stop of your amazing Minnesota day trip, Minnesota Harvest Apple Orchard!

What to do while you’re there

Minnesota Harvest

Address: 8251 Old Hwy 169 Blvd, Jordan, MN 55352

Distance from Minneapolis: 39.9 miles via 169S

Phone number: 952-492-2785

Hours of operation:

Opens mid-August for the season harvest

  • Daily – 10am – 6pm

Driving in to the apple orchard, you’ll be encompassed by the beautiful forest surrounding the orchard. Pulling in to the parking lot, you’ll see an assortment of ‘lawn ornaments’ such as old tractors and cute lawn signs. The main building – bigger and prominent – holds the orchard’s bakery, wine selection, home decor, and where you purchase your apple pickin’ bags.

Don’t forget to grab your gardening gloves!

Before or after your apple pickin’ experience, make sure to stop and take a look at their Orchard Barn Yard, Kiddie Corn Maze, Apple Sling, and sometimes they have pony rides!

Your apple pickin’ experience will start with a tractor ride through the forest and will make many stops (depending on which apples you want). The grass can be long and hard to trudge through and you may need to do some tree climbing to find that perfect apple. A

After you’ve filled your bags with delicious apples, time to wait for the tractor to make another round through the forest to pick you up and bring you back to the main building so you can begin the trek home and make two more stops!

What to do on the way back from your day trip

Just a short drive from the orchard stands Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store in Jordan MN. Yes, we are advising to buy your kids candy – BUT – the next stop after this will diminish their sugar buzz, we promise!

Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store

Address: 20430 Johnson Memorial Dr, Jordan, MN 55352

Distance from Minneapolis: 40 miles via 169S

Phone: 952-492-6380

Hours of operation:

  • Monday thru Thursday – 8am – 7pm
  • Friday thru Sunday – 8am – 8pm

Aside from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and Candy Land, this is a child’s dream… DREAM COME TRUE! This building is FULLY LOADED with candy upon candy upon candy and you will be mesmerized the second you step foot in to that door!

This amazing Minnesota trip was planned with the main goal of: Wear those kids! They probably used a lot of energy while apple pickin’, but you know they have more to spare! That’s why Adventure Peak at Edinborough Park in Edina Minnesota is a must-stop.

Adventure Peak

Address: 770 York Ave S, Edina, MN 55435

Distance from Minneapolis: 12 miles via 35W S

Phone number: 952-833-9540

Hours of operation: 

  • Monday thru Saturday – 9am – 9pm
  • Sunday – 9am – 6pm

Cost: 

  • Daily admission child – $7.50
  • 10 admissions – $70.00
  • Annual membership non-Edina resident – $115.50 first child + $94.50 each additional family member
  • Annual membership Edina resident – $89.25 first child + $68.25 each additional family member

Socks are required at this epic play place! This tree house-style play place is packed with tubes, twists, slides, and things to climb on!

By now, your kids have sure worked up an appetite, which is wonderful news because now it’s off to dinner AND your final stop of your amazing Minnesota day trip!!!

Luckily, Fuddruckers in Edina MN is only a few minutes away (because #hangry)!

Fuddruckers

Address: 3801 Minnesota Dr, Bloomington, MN 55435

Distance from Minneapolis: 11.4 miles via 35W S

Phone number: 952-835-3833

Hours of operation: 

  • Sunday thru Thursday – 11am – 9pm
  • Saturday – 11am – 10pm

If you’ve never been to Fuddruckers – IT’S AWESOME! This rock’n’roll themed burger joint will surely entertain your kids and guests with it’s band designated booths – Elvis, Rolling Stones, Beetles – and theirs an arcade for the kids! One of the best things about this joint (from a foodie perspective) is it’s topping bar WHICH IS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE OF YOUR MEAL! We’re talking onions, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, jalepenos, sauces galore and much much much more!

Suggested dinner meal combinations:

  • Elk Burger – cheese is extra charge, topped with lettuce, tomato, pickle, mayo, and a dash of Tabasco for a little kick – served with Fudd Fries and be sure to top them with lots of melty cheese!!!
  • Napa Valley Salad – made with moist grilled chicken, bleu cheese, crunch apples, dried cranberries, and almonds – paired with a strawberry shake
  • Hand breaded chicken tenders with Fudd Fries – be sure to stop and get an assortment of dipping sauces and toppings for Fudd Fries!

If your family isn’t downright exhausted after this amazing Minnesota day trip – never mind – of course they are exhausted (and you are too!) What are you going to do with all of your apples? Remember, an apple a day keeps the doctor away!

Amazing Minnesota Day Trip #4:Quarry Park and Nature Preserve 

Quarry swimming hole St. Cloud MN
Quarry swimming hole St. Cloud MN

While the other two amazing Minnesota day trips are more family-based, this trip is geared towards adults – although, it can easily turn in to a family trip! While most of these pit stops are open year round – this trip is planned with warm weather in mind. Grab your swimming suits (under your clothes) and hiking boots because you’re about to get the St. Cloud Quarry Park and Nature Preserve experience!

Minnesota Day Trip Quarry

Places you will visit on your daytrip:

  • Clearwater Travel Plaza
  • Quarry Park and Nature Preserve
  • Crafts Direct
  • Burger Time

What to bring on your day trip:

  • Swim suit
  • Beach towel
  • Hiking boots
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Cooler with water/lunch
  • Cash
  • Sunglasses

Day trip itinerary

  • Depart Minneapolis – 9am
  • Arrive at Clearwater Travel Plaza – 9:50am
  • Depart Clearwater Travel Plaza – 10:50am
  • Arrive at Quarry – 11:20am
  • Break for lunch – 2pm
  • Depart Quarry – 4:30pm
  • Arrive at Crafts Direct – 4:40pm
  • Depart Crafts Direct – 5:30pm
  • Arrive at Burger Time – 5:40pm
  • Depart Burger Time – 6:30pm
  • Return to Minneapolis – 7:40pm

Total miles driven: 145 miles

Total drive time: 2 hours 34 minutes

Estimate gas cost using this handy dandy gas cost calculator

Where to stop on the way there

This amazing Minnesota day trip is awesome because – you get to sleep in! This day trip calls for a 9am depart time, meaning sleep in and skip breakfast because your first stop is brunch at the well-known Nelson Bros. Restaurant at Clearwater Travel Plaza in Clearwater MN. If you haven’t yet heard their jingle… they have a lot in store for you!

Clearwater Travel Plaza

Address: 950 State Highway 24, Clearwater, MN 55324

Distance from Minneapolis: 53.7 miles via 94W

Phone number: 320-558-2261

Hours of operation: 

  • Daily – 5:30am – 11pm

Clearwater Travel is known in central Minnesota for it’s Nelson name! The Plaza offers catering services, a bakery, pub, fuel services, take & bake pizza, and a general store! For travelers, the Plaza really is a one-stop shop! As they say at the Plaza “Nobody brunches like we do!”

Suggested brunch meal combinations

  • Minnesota Style Omelet – made with wild rice (you betcha), onions, seasoned chicken, and melty swiss cheese stuffed in a three egg wrap topped with their special sauce – paired with buttermilk pancakes and a refreshing mimosa
  • Famous Apple Fritter French Toast – battered dip and served with hearty wild rice sausage paired with a piping hot coffee
  • Nelson Bros. Steak and Eggs – a juicy 8oz center cut steak served with two eggs and hashbrowns paired with a bloody mary

The Clearwater Travel Plaza is definitely one you will have to save in your GPS to make sure you can come to! It DID have a lot in store for you – didn’t it?

Hope you got your protein and carbs in for the day, because now it’s time for some sun-bathing and hiking!

What to do while you’re there

Quarry Park and Nature Preserve

Address: 1802 County Road 137, Wait Park, MN 56387

Distance from Minneapolis: 79.9 miles via 94W

Hours of operation:

  • Year-round – 8am – 1/2 hour past sunset

Be sure to have your cash handy, because the small parking fee stand doesn’t accept cards!

Before you leave the vehicle, this is your time to decide if you are going to swim first – or hike first, because it is a little trek from the parking area to the swimming hole. We suggest hiking first – decide on a trail that circles back closest to parking area – that way, you can leave the cooler and beach towels in the car and break for lunch when you are finished with your hike.

After your lunch break, strip down to those swim suits, spray down with sunscreen, and hit the trail to the swimming hole! You’ll enter an area that is is serene as it is surrounded by beautiful rock formations – you might even see some dare devils jumping off of them in to the water!

It’s nearly 4:30pm, and your stomach will be growling soon, so time to pack up and hit the road to the next Area staple!

What to do on the way back from your day trip

Pinterest is usually where people go to find ideas for DIY projects for around the house, recipes, LOADS of infographics on just about any topic, but an extremely common search: CRAFTS. Crafting everything yourself can take loads of time and runs risk of an #epic #pinterestfail. If you are lucky enough (and brave enough) to have a creative eye and enough time, you’ll need the right supplies. This is where Crafts Direct of Waite Park MN comes to play in your amazing Minnesota day trip!

Crafts Direct

Address: 620 Sundial Dr, Waite Park, MN 56387

Distance from Minneapolis: 69 miles via 94W

Phone number: 320-654-0907

Hours of operation: 

  • Monday thru Saturday – 9am – 9pm
  • Sunday – 10am – 6pm

Crafts Direct is a crafter’s dream come true – with any type of paint, brushes, kits, canvases, silk flowers, beads, wood boards – the list goes on! So stock up on your mason jars and chalkboard paint while you’re here – because this place has it all

Your stomach is DEFINITELY growling by now – which is okay – because your dinner is just a few minutes away!

Burger Time in Wait Park MN is one of a couple drive up/walk up eaterys in the area!

Burger Time

Address: 410 West Division, Waite Park, MN 56387

Distance from Minneapolis: 69.9 miles via 94W

Phone number: 320-654-0912

Hours of operation: 

  • Daily – 10am – 9pm

Burger Time lives up to it’s name by serving hot and ready juicy burgers sure to please any taste buds – yes, even picky ones! The size of the building may surprise you, because it’s very small, but packs a ton a of flavor in to their food!

Suggested dinner meal combinations:

  • For the SUPER hungry a Triple Burger – add bacon with a side of onion rings… Mmmm onion rings
  • BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwhich – tender pulled pork coated with smokey BBQ sauce paired with chicken fries
  • Chipotle Chicken Bacon Cheddar Wrap with cheese curds

If these suggestions don’t perk your fancy, you can view the full menu here. 

Remember, this is a WALK up/ DRIVE up, so there is no indoor eating area available. There are,however, benches with umbrellas that you can sit outside in the warm air and enjoy the amazing food and the amazing weather while at the last stop of your amazing Minnesota day trip!

After you waddle your way back to your car, check the travel time back home. Highway 10 is known for it’s endless road construction, so taking I-94 may be a better option.

And now it’s time for the last – but definitely not least! – final amazing Minnesota day trip!

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Amazing Minnesota Day Trip #5: Amish Country

Amish horse and buggy at sunset

There are a few Amish communities in the great state of Minnesota, but this amazing Minnesota day trip brings you to the Amish community of Lanesboro MN.

Lanesboro is home of Minnesota’s largest Amish community of the Old Order. You will be taken on a tour to see the self-sufficient ways of life of the Amish and have a chance to purchase some hand-made items – among other fun pit stops!

This amazing Minnesota day trip involves an early morning, but don’t worry, coffee is the first stop of the day! So get to bed early and set that alarm!

Minnesota Day Trip: Amish Country

Places you will visit during your day trip:

  • Fresh Grounds Cafe
  • Tom Eilen and Sons Trucking
  • The Coffee Mill
  • Niagra Cave
  • Estelle’s Eatery and Bar
  • Amish Tours of Harmony
  • Trailhead Grill and Bar

Things to bring on your day trip:

  • Cash
  • Weather appropriate clothing
  • Camera
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Closed-toe shoes
  • Sweater

Your day trip itinerary:

  • Depart Minneapolis – 6:40am
  • Arrive at Fresh Grounds Cafe – 7:00am
  • Depart Fresh Grounds Cafe – 7:15am
  • Arrive at Tom Eilen and Sons Trucking – 7:45am
  • Depart Tom Eilen and Sons Trucking – 8:00am
  • Arrive at The Coffee Mill – 8:30am
  • Depart The Coffee Mill – 9:30am
  • Arrive at Niagara Cave – 10:45am
  • Depart Niagara Cave – 12:20pm
  • Arrive at Estelle’s Eatery and Bar – 12:30pm
  • Depart Estelle’s Eatery and Bar – 1:20pm
  • Arrive at Amish Tours of Harmony – 1:30pm
  • Depart Amish Tours of Harmony – 4pm
  • Arrive at Trailhead Grill and Bar – 5:15pm
  • Depart Trailhead Grill and Bar – 6:15pm
  • Return to Minneapolis – 8pm

Total miles driven: 280 miles

Total drive time: 5 hours 7 minutes

Estimate gas cost using this handy dandy gas cost calculator

What to do on the way there

Like all good mornings, this morning is going to start off right with ab extra nice hot cup of joe. What makes it nicer, you ask? Fresh Grounds Coffee Cafe of St. Paul MN was opened with a dream to hire young people who have experienced unfortunate events in their life including disability and homelessness and where 100% of it’s profits go back in to community programming. Now doesn’t that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Fresh Grounds Coffee Cafe

Address: 1362 7th Street W, St. Paul, MN 55102

Distance from Minneapolis: 9.4 miles via 94E

Phone number: 651-224-2348

Hours of operation: 

  • Monday thru Friday – 6:30am – 5pm
  • Saturday – 7am – 5pm
  • Sunday – 8am – 5pm

Fresh Grounds has dozens of their own coffee drink options, as well as the ability to whip up just about anything your caffeine-addicted heart desires! Be sure to try some of their handmade oatmeal or panini sandwhiches – but do remember you’ll be taking it to go because you got places to be!

You’re going to have to pull off at Tom Eilen and Sons Trucking, just in town of Hampton MN to stretch your legs, and to get a comical look at some interesting statues, and of course a selfie.

Eilen and Sons Trucking

Address: 22500 Hampton Blvd, Hampton MN 55031

Distance from Minneapolis: 35.2 miles via 52S

The parking lot of Eilen and Sons Trucking features a very large and seemingly in-charge Viking statue, a beach dude statue, and a gorilla statue.

Now that you’ve had a good laugh over your silly pictures, your stomach is probably realizing that it’s basically only consumed coffee this morning and it needs some brunch! The Coffee Mill in Zumbrota MN (famously known as President Barack Obama’s ‘Pie Stop’ during his Summer Bus Tour of 2011) is always a sure thing to settle that rumble.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdymX1bYY9Q

The Coffee Mill

Address:  256 S Main St, Zumbrota, MN 55992

Distance from Minneapolis: 63.2 miles via 52S

Phone: 507-732-5480

Hours of operation:

  • Monday thru Thursday – 6am – 4pm
  • Friday & Saturday – 6am – 9pm
  • Sunday – CLOSED

Known for ‘Carol’s Famous Homemade Pies’, The Coffee Mill is a small town restaurant that can feed big appetites. Depending on the day you choose to take this amazing Minnesota day trip, you MIGHT get to enjoy the All You Can Eat breakfast buffet which is on Saturdays from 7am – 11am for just $9.50

Our breakfast meal combination suggestions:

  • Biscuits and Gravy (can’t get any more small town than that!) – three moist buttermilk biscuits topped with savory sausage gravy – served with a tall ice cold OJ
  • Breakfast Burrito – stuffed with scrambled eggs, sausage, cheese, hash browns, – with some sour cream and salsa on the side, wash it down with some chocolate milk!
  • 3 pieces of crunchy French Toast – drown it in syrup – with a side of bacon and a hot coffee

IF you have room – or time – for dessert, be sure to ask about what pies they are serving that day! Make a quick bathroom stop before you head out, because this next stop is NOT bathroom friendly if you wait too long!

Tucked away down in Harmony MN, is Niagara Cave. Big fact about this cave in a little known town, it was rated one of the top ten caves in the United States!

Niagara Cave

Address: 29842 County 30, Harmony, MN 55939

Distance from Minneapolis: 137 miles via 52S

Phone: 507-886-6606

Hours of operation: These hours change season to season, please call to verify

Cost:

  • General cave admission – $16
  • Children (4y – 12y) – $10
  • Children <3 – FREE with paid adult + $10 per additional child <3

This cave offers a 1 hour, 1 mile tour through areas with fossils that are estimated to be about 450 million years old. It’s a chilly 48 degrees F down there, so be sure to be prepared with a sweater. The highlight of this tour: View of an underground waterfall!

Generally, tours are scheduled to depart on operating days at 11am, 12:30pm, 2pm, and 3:30pm and they do ask that you check in 15 minutes before your tour departure time.

We know you just had brunch, but now you need to sneak in some lunch (or at least get a doggy bag) because you may get hungry later. Just a few minutes from Niagara Cave stands Estelle’s Eatery and Bar right on Main Ave in Harmony MN.

Estelle’s Eatery and Bar

Address: 121 Main Avenue N, Harmony, MN 55939

Distance from Minneapolis: 132 miles via 52S

Phone number: 507-886-1234

Hours of operation: 

  • Tuesday thru Saturday – 11am – 9pm
  • Sunday – 11am – 8pm
  • Monday – CLOSED

With a made-from-scratch menu that rotates based on the season, you can’t go wrong at Estelle’s. They also hold pride in their drink options as well!

Our lunch meal combination suggestions:

  • Lighter fare: Cranberry, Feta, and Walnut Salad – mixed with red onion, cucumber, and drizzled with maple vinaigrette – washed down with a Ruby Red Grapefuit White Claw
  • Southwest Chicken Rice Bowl – made with roasted shrimp, red peppers, a teriyaki glaze, candied peanuts, crispy wonton strips, and jasmine rice
  • Turkey Bacon Avocado Sandwich – Roasted turkey, smoked bacon, with paprika aoli, on toasted brioche

Grab your doggy bags, hit the bathroom, and load in the car because it’s time for the main event of your amazing Minnesota day trip…. Amish country!

What to do while you’re there

Amish Tours of Harmony takes you back in to time with their quality tours and experienced tour guides.  You’ll learn about customs, history, and culture of the Amish community. You can choose whether or not to use your own vehicle for the tour (with the tour guide sitting shot gun), or you can use a provided mini bus. If you choose to use your vehicle, be sure there is enough room!

Amish Tours of Harmony

Address: 102 Beacon St. E, Lanesboro, MN 55949

Distance from Minneapolis: 132 miles via 52S

Phone number: 507-886-2303

Hours of operation: Please contact to set up specific tour time

Cost: 

  • Your vehicle
    • $50 per vehicle
      • Up to 3 people
      • Each additional adult – $20
      • Each additional teen – $15
      • Each additional child (4y – 12y) – $6
  • Mini Bus
    • Adults – $25 each
    • Teens – $20 each
    • Kids (4y – 12y) – $8 each

These tours guide you through the Amish country side, with opportunities to stop at their shops to purchase their handmade items and baked goods and even visit with them!

What to do on the way back from your day trip

It’s been a few hours since you’ve had the chance at a real meal, but hopefully you were able to grab some fresh baked goods on your Amish tour! Your final stop of your amazing Minnesota Day Trip is none other than the Trailhead Grill and Bar of Pine Island MN.

Trailhead Grill and Bar

Address: 416 3rd Ave NE, Pine Island, MN 55963

Distance from Minneapolis: 69.7 via 52S

Phone: 507-356-4200

Hours of operation: 

  • Monday – 11am – 10pm
  • Tuesday thru Saturday – 11am – 11am
  • Sunday – 11am – 9pm

Trailhead Grill and Bar takes honor in making other people feel happy with their awesome food, awesome customer service, and awesome atmosphere! They offer daily drink specials, a weekly Friday Fish Fry, and even has a bowling alley!

Our dinner meal combination suggestions:

  • Shrimp Basket with tator tots, coleslaw and a bread stick
  • BBQ Rib Platter with french fries, salad, and a bread stick
  • French Dip Sandwich with thinly sliced roast beef, swiss cheese, and grilled onions YUM

We’ll admit it, this was an EXHAUSTING day trip with a lot of stops and on a tight schedule. We hope you you end the day at home feeling satisfied with your action-packed day!

There you have it, folks! 5 AMAZING Minnesota day trips that you can take TOMORROW! We hope that we’ve provided you with enough information to make your day trip tomorrow possible, memorable, and the most it can be!

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