Isle Bakery 

Cake donuts are my thing. Sprinkles, even better. These delightful little saccharins are from the Isle Bakery.

Made fresh every single day, Isle has a good assortment of pastries including cupcakes, cookies, donuts, Bismarks, eclairs, and caramel apple fritters. They also offer cake decorating for any occasion. They don’t stop at the sweets either. You can grab homemade breads like flax seed loaf and sourdough when you pass through town. Like any old-fashioned, family owned, affordable, accommodating sweet shop, you can find them by following the unmistakable smell of a sugar and flour in the air.

Owned by Paul and Cori Swenson, both of whom spent their formative years in the area. Cori grew up in Brainerd and actually worked at the bakery for the previous owners.  Paul grew up in the Isle area until his family moved to the Brainerd.  Paul began his love of baking with his stint working at Mr. Donut when he was in high school. Over the course of his career he worked for many bakeries around the country, including the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN. His former clients have included stars and even presidents. He and Cori chose to move back to Minnesota and in March of 2015, they took over Isle Bakery.

While it seems to be a hidden gem, it has become, for many, a family favorite and a must stop on the way to the cabin – and thankfully open seven days a week.

Garrison Creek Coffee Cabin 

Just off Hwy 169, few dozen feet from Lake Mille Lacs, sits the Garrison Creek Coffee Cabin. A highway coffee shop with a small town feel. Warm and welcoming and open every day, the food and drink options are great, and offer a ton of variety.  With the recommendation from the very friendly, knowledgable owner, I went for the peach smoothie. It was nothing short of amazing. If smoothies aren’t your thing, try the Garrison Blend or Garrison Salty Shores, specialty concoctions you’ll only find here. Beyond the drinks, the pastries are fresh and delicious and the perfect place to take a road trip break or get out of the summer heat. They also have mini-golf! The place is a bit hidden but all you need to do is look behind the two huge, yellow Adirondack chairs.

Bass Fishing on Mille Lacs

This past Saturday, I headed up to Isle to go fishing on Lake Mille Lacs with Governor Mark Dayton, Minnesota Vikings Defensive Tackle Linval Joseph and  Minnesota Fishing Page’s Brett and Amanda McComas. We set off in pursuit of bass as Mille Lacs was recently named the best bass fishing lake in the country by Bassmaster Magazine.  USA TODAY gave the same accolade. Hosted by Greg, Suzy, and Dean Fisher of Fisher’s Resort, a three generation, family-owned resort since 1959 who have a few of their own titles including best launch in Minnesota.

Fishing is a favorite among Minnesota traditions and pastimes. So it’s no surprise that Bloomington native, Seth Feider won last year’s Bassmaster Tournament. The win put the spotlight on the lake’s smallmouth bass fishing. Last month, Governor Dayton celebrated the state bass fishing opener on Mille Lacs with Ron Schara and Feider, the Bassmaster Champion himself. This year, the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship will take place on Mille Lacs in September, with Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Mille Lacs Tourism as hosts. Adding clout to Lake Mille Lacs’ growing reputation as no less than a renowned bass fishing destination.

Despite the buzz of boaters on the lake, Governor Dayton made the expedition a blast with his humor and all-around good guy nature. While we only snagged a Northern, it was a great morning on the lake!

Interested in heading to Mille Lacs? Check out MilleLacs.com for all kinds of ideas. Or snag the new visitor guide. #dothelake #onlyinmn

 

Summerhill Farm 

Up next on the #mnbucketlist is Summerhill Farm, about 7 miles outside Park Rapids on Highway 71. It’s a collection of little shops, village of country cottages, if you will, each with a different theme. Charming and quaint, the different specialty shops with railed walkways that connect each is part of a converted farm. Previously a working dairy farm, and later a turkey farm, Summerhill Farm was established in its present form in 1982 when Jeff and Nancy Stone purchased a farm from Ralph and Margaret Teske. They began to use the Barn, the very first building to become a shop of Summerhill Farm, which now sells greeting cards, wall art, books, furniture, candles, and home accessories. Two years later, in 1984, the Carriage House was opened to the public and is where you will now find toys and games for the adults. The Stable followed shortly after and now houses a shop that features unique country, lake life and ‘up north’ decor, also like candles, home accessories, throws, table linens, fairy gardens and rugs. In 1986, a small cabin was moved from the North Shore of Potato Lake, named the Cottage, it is now filled with chocolate, candies, local jellies and wild rice soups. They also have kitchen gadgets and accessories. Ever evolving and changing over the years, Summerhill continues to charm everyone who visits.  I came when it was raining and they had bright yellow umbrellas at every door.

My favorite, the Sun Porch Restaurant, was added in 1987 from the original farmhouse and expanded in 1991. I especially love the Sun Porch; fresh summer fruit, a fresh roll, and gouda cheese. I’m a fan of Cool Cuke; marble rye topped with a special cream cheese and cucumber slices, and the Potting Shed Sundae with Oreo brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge and Oreo cookie crumbs. My mom fell for the all-American garden salad that comes complete with strawberries, blueberries, and yogurt dressing and the blueberry pie a la mode.

Fun fact: They also have a boutique, Summerhill on Main, located on the first block of Main in downtown Park Rapids. It is open year-round and has all kinds of fashion, jewelry, and accessories. It’s a great place to go if you are in the area.

Redstone Cafe 

All-day breakfast, giant portions and friendly service are the name of the game over at Redstone Cafe in Ramsey. Right of Hwy 10 and Sunfish, serving up comfort food favorites like burgers, skillets, tacos, and of course, all the breakfast go-to’s. I am forever a fan of the sampler platter, mostly because I can guiltlessly eat all the mozzarella sticks while leaving others with options.

If you are in search of hot and crispy fries or pancakes with the perfect fluffy to hearty ratio, or even a heavy dose of apple pie a la mode – look no further than Redstone. With roomy vinyl booth seats and a semi-open kitchen, it’s hard to beat its quintessential cafe goodness.

GIVEAWAY! Event 123 

GIVEAWAY!

A bit off the beaten path from Hwy 7/Co Road 226 in Dorset, a town with a reigning population of 22, rests a rustic little shop called, Event 123. Filled with Minnesota-themed love notes, Paul Bunyan wrapping paper, recipe cards, coupon books for kids, Dorset post cards, ‘Uff Da’ wine glass tags, sweet lunch box notes adorned with Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s Spoonbridge and Cherry, loons, bicycles and mittens, custom decks of cards, desktop calendars, personalized flip flops, Babe the Blue Ox note cards, buffalo checked photo booth props and rows of cards for holidays and any occasion (or just a Tuesday). They even have a lemonade stand kit! As a personal note; I fell in love with lemonade stands growing up. So much so that not only did I have them, but I still stop any time I see one.

Ann, the owner of the place, grew up loving creating things with paper, especially cards. With a degree in art education and a concentration in graphic design, she took to designing, drawing and creating original art work focusing on custom wedding and event invitations, as a seller on Etsy. From Minneapolis skyline wedding invitations, to personalized Christmas cards, her stationery and invites have been delivered to every state in the US and many countries around the world.

In the process of looking for an office, she found her current cabin-esque spot to set up shop and production. The grand opening took place at the end of May.

If you pass through Dorset on your way to Nevis or Park Rapids, stop in to see Ann. She will greet you with a warm welcome and tell you all about her love of the area. A feeling that resonates through her talent, customizing and brainstorming whatever your heart desires – from Flannel and Frost parties, to Paul and Babe temporary tattoos.

With a love for everything Minnesota and artisan, I am giving away one of Event 123’s Lemonade Stand Kits that comes complete with; a super cute banner, straw tags, snack holders, business card flyers and even a For Sale sign! I’ll also throw in some of her lemon straw toppers and a popsicle card!

All you have to do to enter to win;

  1. Like this post.
  2. Follow Event123 on Facebook and/or Instagram.
  3. Tag a friend and comment one of YOUR favorite Minnesota summer memories.

Cassidy’s

Begin in 1964, add in your Grandma’s take on wild rice bread, Reuben soup and Swedish meatballs, a heaping fork-full of pickled herring, throw in a few Jello salads and that, ladies and gentlemen, is Cassidy’s in Hinckley. The kind of place you spend your whole life going to. Whether it be on the way back from Duluth, a weekend at the cabin, or because your grandparents are regulars and they rave about the bread pudding. They also have an all-you-can-eat salad, soup and bread buffet that is near impossible to forget. Located just off the highway and a stone’s throw from the Fire Museum and Grand Casino, in a building that has remained remarkably the same since its opening. Steeped in tradition and filled with old-fashioned favorites, Cassidy’s is an homage to everything that makes northern Minnesota what it is.