Wood Lake Nature Center

Photo Jan 14, 12 16 24 PM

The Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield is the next place to be crossed off the #mnbucketlist. As a crowd favorite ‘gem-in-the-city’, the Nature Center offers a 150 acre natural area that includes indoor wildlife educational exhibits, an amphitheater, walking trails, floating boardwalk and groomed cross-country ski trails-when there is enough snow on the ground. As one of the first nature centers in the Twin Cities, a Richfield centerpiece since 1971, it’s a place that can be enjoyed all year round. They have seasonal programs, wildlife observation, and outdoor recreation that includes renting out snowshoes and cross country skis. In Minnesota, just because you’ve found yourself in a city, doesn’t mean you have to look far for cattails, forests, prairies, bird watching and nature trail exploring. If you are curious, it’s very easy to get to, its sandwiched between 35W and Lyndale Ave, south of 62 – a mere six minutes from Southdale Center.

Pizza Lucé

Photo Dec 06, 8 33 22 AM

Friday night, serendipitously, a few of us crossed off Pizza Lucé from the #mnbucketlist. With eight locations including Uptown and Downtown Minneapolis, Duluth, Hopkins, Richfield, Seward/ University, St Paul and the new location in Roseville (mentioned by Visit Roseville MN during the amazing #minnstameets_oval), most were surprised that I had never been. I mean, they’ve had a Block Party that just celebrated 12 years, I ought to have. Everyone raves about this place and truth be told, I didn’t realize that they had originated in Minnesota. And I’m certainly glad they did! Although the name suggests, they are known for more than their pizza and to make sure it was up to par, we tried most of it. Bruschetta, pasta, pizza, you name it. They even have vegan and vegetarian options, and they deliver. This location has lots of room and makes for a great hangout. Any favorite locations I should try? [photos by @rebeccazenefski]

Davanni’s

Davannis MNBucketlist

I love pizza so much that I drag (usually willingly) my closest friends and even my Mom, pictured above, to any place that gives me my fix. I can’t help it, I have a thing for a good Italian food. So when I found out that it was Davanni’s 40th anniversary this month, I was pretty excited. I mean, to be honest, I didn’t know it had been around that long and also I didn’t know that it started in Minnesota. And I really ought to know these things! Anyway, did you know that they were actually the first to offer hot hoagies in the Twin Cities? Originally called Pontillo’s Pizzeria, Davanni’s first location, off Cleveland and Grand in St. Paul opened October 1st, 1975, they later changed names in 1983. I decided to check out the newly remodeled Edina location, which will be having a Grand Re-Opening / 20th Anniversary celebration on this Saturday. If you want to go, you can meet the owners, get special deals, play trivia, lots of samples AND Indeed Brewing will be tapping a special cask ale from 5-8pm.

I went early so I could see their new bar (lots of craft beer and wine), the new renovations and the overall revitalization of their brand. Let me jump ahead, I was really impressed! It’s definitely not the dark walls, dim lighting and cramped quarters that I often encounter with restaurants that have been around forever (40 is forever for me). The design is bright, modern, and incredibly inviting. The staff was what really made the atmosphere for me, though. Attentive, friendly, great with suggestions and they actually like their jobs, which isn’t always the case in the industry. I’m going to attribute that to being a privately held company and constantly trying new ideas, from nutriment to innovation.

Now let me get into the food.

Davannis MNBucketlist

We devoured all different kinds of salads, sandwiches, beer and dessert. Hey! We are eaters, and also sharers, so we had to have a little of everything! And the pizza? Deep dish, flat bread, thin crust, white sauce, red sauce, you name it – we tried it. The crowd favorite was the Southwestern Chicken Salad, the Turkey Bacon Chipotle Hoagie and the Artichoke Chicken Pesto Flatbread (see, they are trying new things!). I was partial to the Veggie Hoagie and Garlic Cheese Bread. Needless to say, their Chanhassen location (their 22nd store) will get a little too much of my attention in the future. With the Twin Cities bursting with really great pizzerias, the new changes from layout to menu, to keeping the forever favorites like the New York style pizza and pasta and using their own bakery for bread and desserts, I know that Davannis will have a home here for at least another 40 years.

WANT A GREAT DEAL: When you order online, you can get a 10% discount when you use the code “ANNIVERSARY” at checkout through Saturday, October 31. Otherwise in-shop through the end of the month, a regular pop (it’s Minnesota, we say Pop) is only $1.

 A few recent articles: Star Tribune + Minneapolis/St Paul Business Journal + KARE11

Sandy’s Tavern

Sandy's TavernSandy’s Tavern, off Penn in Richfield is a prototypical example of a neighborhood ‘dive bar’. And in living up to the stereotype, they don’t disappoint. Started in 1933 by the man who would be its namesake, Sandy’s has been nothing short of a staple. Famous for their Olive Burger, they have been voted best burgers again and again. Don’t worry, they also offer quintessential bar food and some new favorites like chicken sriracha wontons. With a long history of slow change and sticking with traditions, Sandy’s still sits today, in all its 1980’s motif glory. True to the era, they also don’t take credit cards, so bring cash BUT they are cheap, and fast. Fun fact: come on a Monday night so you can do the Trivia Extravaganza.