The Copper Lantern 

Can we just talk about breakfast for a second? Early summer mornings need hot coffee, heavy portions and quick service. This is where Copper Lantern in St Cloud comes in. Originally opened as the 14th Country Kitchen in the Minnesota-Wisconsin franchise in 1966, the restaurant featured the $.80 Country Boy Burger with fries and cole slaw for $1.40 more.  You could get a club steak dinner for $3.25, fried chicken for $1.95 and strawberry pie was just $0.60!

The owners nixed the franchise in 1984 and changed to the name to Copper Lantern, filling the place with actual copper lanterns. It is still owned by the same family. The casual, very busy place has been a fixture right off Highway 10 in St. Cloud for some 30 years.

Think; homemade breakfast (served fresh all day long), lunch and dinner – family-style. Local favorites include; eggs Benedict, the Bronco burger, hot meatloaf sandwich, chicken fritter melt,  hash browns, omelets, cinnamon rolls, hot turkey sandwiches, and hamburger steak. But I need to tell you about one thing; sour cream and chive fries (pictured). These babies alone will make me come back.

Fun fact: During summer months, the local Hot Rod Hoodlums, a local car club, makes appearances at least once a month in the parking lot.

Central Perk

Do you love caffeine, ice cream and the 1990s / 2000’s television show, Friends? If that’s a resounding, YES! then Central Perk in St. Cloud was a must. Orange couch included, the coffee shop is off St. Germain Street in the Regency Building, across from the Paramount Theatre in the former home of the old Mi Famiglia Ristorante and Italian Market deli. They have it all, including pastries, donuts, cookies, bars, muffins, scones, cupcakes, pie, yeesh – they even have lava cakes! I can’t forget to mention the ice cream cones to which I can personally vouch for the butter brittle. Outside of the sugar, they also have sandwiches, wraps,  salads and soups. And since they really are a coffee house at heart, you’ll find the best cold press, frappes, espresso, teas and smoothies. They also offer 10% off with student ID, which is perfect for me! You can also buy t-shirts, mugs, honey, cards and a whole assortment of other things there! Worth the stop when you pass through. Do you have any favorite coffee houses, tell me all about them!



Olde Brick House 

One of my last stops during the #MNGFO2017 (Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener) was the Olde Brick House in St. Cloud. While I came for whiskey and chips, it was central Minnesota’s only traditional Irish Pub’s history that stole the show. At the corner of Sixth Avenue and First Street South, the building dates back to about 1890 when it was originally called the Hoyt Block, the upstairs a boarding house full of young men gambling and women of ill repute.  The building was later sold to the Cold Spring Brewing Company in 1903. Over the years, the building was home to Schneider and Bloomer Cafe, Corner Bar, Aspen Corner Bar and Dick Titus Watering Hole, Charlie’s Wild, Wild West  and just before gaining its current moniker, First Street Station and Rum Runners. Rum Runners closed in June of 2013. The building sat vacant since.

It has been renovated and reopened complete with Irish-inspired decor and multiple bars sprawled throughout the two-story space. On the first floor, the Old Head Bar dates back to the early 1900s. The upstairs includes a private dining area, a library, a poets corner, and a bar reclaimed from the old Persian Supper Club.

When the Olde Brick House was initially recommended to me, it came with the stipulation that I tried their famous reuben wonton rolls (pictured) – I’d also recommend the bread pudding or the Jameson chocolate chip pecan pie that is served a la mode with a side of warm whiskey caramel sauce. The whole menu is full of traditional Irish fare and adds a twist to the downtown St. Cloud dining options. And, as a quintessential Irish pub would have it, Olde Brick has an extensive Irish Whiskey selection, approximately 150, along with other cocktails, wine and beer. Helpful note; they don’t take reservations so plan on getting in early.

#MNGFO2017 #VisitSaintCloud  #OnlyinMN

Munsinger Gardens and the Clemens Gardens

Munsinger Gardens and Clemens Gardens are two distinct, adjacent gardens on the banks of the Mississippi River northwest of the intersection of University Drive and Kilian Blvd near SCSU. Both showcasing the most beautiful parts of a Minnesota summer,

Munsinger Gardens on the lower east bank of the Mississippi River was originally the H.J. Anderson sawmill during the 1880s.  The low river banks made this site ideal for the sawmill. In 1915, the City of St. Cloud acquired Riverside Park and what was to become Munsinger Gardens.  Joesph Munsinger, the first Park Superintendent for the City of St. Cloud, was the catalyst for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration involvement. His passion led to the Park Department’s first greenhouse. The city named the “flower part of Riverside Park” for Munsinger in 1938.

As for the garden on the top of the hill, it was created by a wealthy businessman by the name of Bill Clemens who lived across the street. Bill’s wife Virginia suffered from multiple sclerosis and drew comfort from the view of the gardens. Bill purchased what would become the Clemens Garden and donated it to the City of St. Cloud. He also donated the funding to create what is now the Virginia Clemens Rose Garden.  They donated millions to create a seven-acre European style park adjacent to the existing one, so Virginia would have an even better view from her window. Created in the tradition of the great gardens of Europe, the Formal Garden was the first of six. The others include the Rest Area Garden,  the White Garden, the Perennial Garden, the Treillage Garden and finally, the Virginia Clemens Rose Garden that was inspired by Mrs. Clemens great love of roses; her middle name was “Rose”.  A life-size statue of Virginia Clemens depicts her in her wheelchair with her husband behind her, his hand on her shoulder. The statue faces the nearby rose garden. Serving as an incredibly elaborate memorial, there are 1,100 roses including floribundas, tree roses, hybrid teas, shrub roses, and grandifloras. Notable mentions; the Renaissance Fountain (pictured) with Cranes, features a replica of a sculpture of Hebe, cupbearer to the gods.

The most colorful time to visit the gardens is usually the end of July, but they’re open from late May to late September.