If you’ve ever driven through Garrison, you have a most certainly passed by the giant Walleye sculpture sitting in Garrison Concourse Wayside Park. It is located on the southeast edge of town, off the shore of Lake Mille Lacs, waving passersby with a warm “Welcome to Garrison!”
The Minnesota state legislature designated the Walleye as the Official State Fish in 1965. Since Mille Lacs is the largest lake in central Minnesota and the most popular spot to catch a Walleye, Garrison erected the 15-ft. long fiberglass Walleye Pike in 1980 and declared itself “Walleye Capital of the World.” Legend has it this walleye was caught by Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox after three-day struggle. Paul finally wrapped his line around Babe’s horns and Babe pulled the fish out of Lake Mille Lacs and up onto Garrison Beach.
The fiberglass statue, covered in reflective automotive paint, is a product of the F.A.S.T. Corporation and makes for a great photo op.
Fun fact: Garrison shares a name with a town in North Dakota that also has the same fish statue.
Up next is one of the most mom-and-pop places that I’ve ever been to, the Lake Cafe in Big Lake. Owned by Tim and Tammy Cox, Tim’s family purchased the restaurant in 1968. Unfortunately, six months after, his father, Ronald passed away. For the next 34 years, it was run by his mom, Ethel. Tim and Tammy purchased the restaurant when Ethel died in 2002.
I have been coming to the Lake Cafe for as long as I can remember. It was a family favorite, a tradition, and a go-to for “fancy” diner food. It was eggs Benedict, and pancakes for Sunday breakfast and where kids could indulge in burgers for good grades while the adults chatted over coffee cups and homemade chili. Lake Cafe is one of those spots that you can’t help but remember, and reminisce simply by closing your eyes. A place that smelled like your Grandmas’s kitchen – for all the right reasons.
Recently, I got the chance to take the All-New 2017 Mazda CX-5 for a spin. With it’s deeply vivid, Soul Red Crystal Metallic color complementing every curve and angle creating a sense of motion, even at a standstill, I chose to go to “The Gateway to Lake Minnetonka,” Wayzata, Minnesota to see a place that equaled the CX with state-of-the-art technology and all the comfort, style and luxuries a single experience could have, the Hotel Landing. Just 15 minutes from downtown Minneapolis, Wayzata’s first hotel in 53 years opened June 2017. Hotel Landing has 92 rooms, 31 condos, has Ninetwentyfive – a two-story restaurant, and a serene Nordic-inspired spa, Läka Spa, inspired by Minnesota’s Nordic Heritage. It combines elements of modern and classical European architecture for an airy, coastal infusion. Located on Lake Street, this luxurious boutique hotel will be a favorite for wedding ceremonies and receptions. It was the perfect backdrop and accompaniment to Mazda’s CX-5. A big thanks to Mazda for their incredible hospitality!
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Looking for an outdoor adventure? Not afraid of heights? I have just the thing.
Zipling with the Brainerd Zip Line Tour! And what better place to do it than Mount Ski-Gull, which already offers skiing, snowboarding, and tubing.
As part of the Minnesota Zip Lines and Adventures that also includes the Kerfoot Canopy Tour, you’ll be able to see the area in a whole new way, from above, as you soar over the treetops. Experience the breathtaking views of Gull Lake and the wildlife that inhabit the area as you push off a ledge and rush through the air. I know, right? I panicked a little. And don’t worry, there’s always two professionally trained guides who will add lots of humor and patience to the day.
All in all, it takes about 2 hours. Drive up to Mount Ski Gull, get on the ground training where you learn how to brake and respond to different signals, do each one of the 7 Zip Lines, cross the 65-foot Indiana Jones-esque suspension bridge that will make your knees quake, and finally, freefall from the 50ft “jump” at end. It was a blast!
Still too nervous? Let me just say, when I was there, a 12-year-old boy and his grandmother did it. All seven. If they can do it, you can, too!