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.
One of my favorite coffee shops in the southwest metro, Frost and Steam, is up next on the #mnbucketlist. As we are coming up on warm weather, it only makes sense to tell you about my not-so-secret hidden-gem for sweet treats. Dani and I stopped in for coffee on our way through town and instantly fell in love. From the sweet baristas who were ridiculously helpful, to the smell of Belgian waffles and popovers, to the case filled to the brim with in-house made baked goods – it’s not a surprise that it would be a hit with me. They also have a variety of ice cream flavors and bistro-like sustenance. Heavily community focused, Frost also takes part in all the local festivities like Waconia’s Nickle Dickle Day. Fun fact; you can get Llama wool from Carlson’s Llovable Llamas (who I wrote about this past summer) there!