7 Minute Miles

Itasca State Park Weekend

Posted Monday, August 4th, 2008 09:30 am GMT -5 in Family, Food, Travel

Got to cross item #8 off my Things to Do Before I Die list this past weekend:

Wade across the Mississippi headwaters with my kids.

We spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Itasca State Park in northern Minnesota, staying in the wonderful Itasca Suites near Douglas Lodge. Worth every penny…

We spent some time hiking around the south end of the lake on Friday, visiting the Old Timer’s Cabin and the Clubhouse. We then went to the headwaters for the classic wade across the Mississippi before taking a trip around Wilderness Drive to visit the large white and red pines. For dinner Friday, we ate at the Douglas Lodge dining room, which serves a mean Lake Itasca walleye.

After sleeping in Saturday morning, we rented bikes and rode from the bike shop back to the headwaters area for lunch. Colleen and kid one headed back to the rental area to switch to kayaks, while kid two and I rode our tandem/trailer bike on the 16 mile loop around the lake. Way too many hills, but spectacularly beautiful scenery (on par with 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach).

The kids went swimming for an hour before we went back to the room, cleaned up and hit the road for Lake George, Minnesota. I love the diners in small towns in rural Minnesota–friendly staff, huge portions and low prices. Our total for dinner for four at the Lake George Cafe was under $23.

On Sunday morning, I woke up early to run, but was still too sore from the bike ride to get out the door. Everyone woke up and packed the car to beat the 11AM check-out time. After another quick visit to the Old Timer’s Cabin (and the gift shop), we hit highway 71 and headed south. We stopped in Wadena for another great, cheap lunch at Larry’s Family Pizza ($15) before dodging rain storms and hitting heavy Sunday traffic on I-94 back to the metro area.

Loved everything about this trip and hope to go back again soon. Highly recommended.

Pictures posted in both the private and travel galleries.

Originally published by DK on August 4, 2008 at 9:30 am

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