Speaking of brunch, I have another to add to my growing list of favorite stops. I give you, Lola’s Lakehouse located on Lake Waconia. Lola’s, the former home of Nancy’s Landing is reminiscent of Cape Cod, with strong nautical decor (think mermaids and life preserver rings) and a New England influenced menu. I fell head-over-heels for the smoked gouda potato bake and maple walnut pie. Others rave about their shrimp risotto, calamari and lobster bisque. The dark, heavy wood tables pair well with the glass garage doors exposed on the Marina-side. The view is gorgeous from the open-air deck patio. While it is the perfect place to dock your boat in the summertime, you can still enjoy the view of the lake in the winter as you stay warm and cozy inside.
This past weekend I braved the rain, grabbed a hot cocoa and headed out to hug some Llamas at Carlson’s Llovable Llamas in Waconia. It has become an annual tradition to tour the farm during their open house. A fun, unique experience for kids and adults alike where you can learn, interact, feel and even walk Llamas. Because they are social, friendly and gentle animals, kids totally love them. So much so that they have an “adopt-a-llama” program and you can even have a Llama birthday party! Carlson’s is great because they offer opportunities for education and hands-on involvement. More than fifty 4-H members lease, train and help tend Carlson llamas through the spring and summer to show at the county and state fairs. They also sell compost, Llama yarn, raw wool, stuffed Llama toys, even hand-painted ornaments! You can even pick up an “I hugged a Llama at Carlson’s Llovable Llamas” t-shirt!
When it comes to breakfast, I am willing to go just about anywhere. Pangea Cafe, just off 1st street in downtown Waconia southwest of the metro, more than fits the bill. Waconia is home to the likes of Lola’s on the Lake, Waconia Brewing and Frost & Steam Coffee so when I heard several people raving about it being the best place in town, I knew I had to make the trip. I always gravitate towards the eggs Benedict and since breakfast is Pangea’s go-to; omelettes, skillets, waffles, and pancakes – you name it, they have it. C’mon, you can’t go wrong with an all-day breakfast. They also have delicious salads, sandwiches and homemade soups. Everything is scratch made using locally-sourced ingredients, serving up huge portions and a warm and friendly atmosphere. The staff is pretty great, too. If you are in the area, stop in for a Fair Trade coffee (or a mimosa or a bloody Mary) and some french toast.
Since I’m all about traditions, I have to tell you about my annual trek to visit the Llamas at Carlson’s Llovable Llamas! With +60 llamas in residence, CLL works with 4-H clubs to educate as well as do events like the State Fair and local festivals. They even have an adopt-a-llama program! They offer a summer camp and birthday parties where you can take the super mellow, very sweet, pretty-much-like-big-dogs-but-they-are-llamas for walks and give them big neck hugs. The Waconia hills were alive with the sound of children laughing and llama’s humming (they do that!). CLL also sells the llama wool as yarn, roving or bats and can be found on the farm or for sale in town at Frost and Steam, one of my favorite coffee shops in the southwest metro. P.S. I’m pretty sure I’ve never touched a llama before and my limited exposure to them came from a Disney movie.