Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Science Museum of Minnesota

The Science Museum is a wonderful place to spend pretty much an entire day. We were talking about going alot over the winter and decided the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit sounded pretty interesting so it was worth making a trip over there. After some further research we discovered that the cost of becoming a member was actually a good investment - it would save us money on the Dead Sea Scrolls, admission and Omnitheater tickets combined.

Members pretty much get free Omnitheater tickets and museum admission and then discounts on special exhibits, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and also parking and gift shop discounts as well. We joined under the dual person membership. $69 dollars gets us into the museum as many times as we want for an entire year.

So on Palm Sunday, we called my in-laws who also decided it would be fun to go and we decided to head over there for the afternoon. We left around noon and made it to the museum a little after 12:30. We had 1:00 Omnitheater tickets and 3:00 Dead Sea Scroll tickets. This ended up working out just about right.

The Omnitheater show was Arabia and it was really interesting. We saw a great deal of history of Saudi Arabia and how it got to where it is today in the oil industry. The music was awesome and made me want to eat indian food!

After the Omnitheater we only had about a half hour before we could go get in line for the Dead Sea Scrolls. My mother in law and sister in law were hungry, so we stopped for a snack and then had little time to play before getting in line. We got into the queue for the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Ok, I won't go into much detail about the Dead Sea Scrolls since it won't always be there - but I can say this, while I'm glad we went to see it, I'm not sure it was worth it. They took people in every 15 minutes, but there were so many artifacts and things to see that folks lingered a long time in each room, making it difficult to get through the entire exhibit. The scrolls themselves were incredible to see. At the end was also an exhibit on the St. John's Bible - now I have been very interested in seeing this illuminated bible - but I wasn't expecting it so it was hard to get in the right frame of mind for it. They either should have advertised it with this or not had it at all. Being that it was Palm Sunday I am wondering if this exhibit was even busier than it would be if we went back now. It is there through October. I don't think we'll go see it again though. Interesting, but time consuming.

By the time we finished the Dead Sea Scrolls it was pretty late in the day, we were hungry and tired, so we just wrapped it up and went home. I have seen many of the regular exhibits there before, but it has been quite some time, so I'd like to go back on a day that we could enjoy walking through some of those as well.

But, we're members now, so that wouldn't be hard to do! I'd like to go to the Big Backyard there this summer and play mini golf and also see as many of the different Omnitheater shows that come as possible. It's fun to have a museum like this in our town and fun for all ages!

Science Museum of MN
120 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102
(651) 221-9444

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Northstar Roller Girls

Greetings fun lovers of the Twin Cities Metro area! After a very long sabbatical the Fun Couple has returned! As the weather here continues to get nicer moving into spring we hope to have some more fun things to write about again!

A friend of some friends of ours is a member of the Northstar Rollergirls. Our friends have been asking us to go to a derby with them since last fall, but we weren't able to go to one until just a couple of weeks ago. We attended on February 20th and it was a blast!

The Northstar Rollergirls started out as the Twin Cities Roller Girls and had their matches out at Cheap Skate in Coon Rapids. As their league grew, they outgrew that space and moved downtown to the Minneapolis Convention Center. The league now consists of four teams: The Banger Sisters, Delta Delta Die, The Killmore Girls and the Violent Femmes.

On February 20th, the theme for the evening was Carnaval - we're guessing since it was somewhat close to Marti Gras. We opted for the general admission seating - it's cheaper and you have less of a chance of having a rollergirl end up in your lap. Plus, the trackside seating puts you pretty much sitting right on the floor. We were able to see just fine from our general seats up in the bleachers.

The night is structured as follows - 6:30 doors open and pregame entertainment takes place, 7:30 the match starts - two teams play a 20 minute bout, then the next two teams play a 20 minute bout. There's a 20 minute halftime then each set of teams return for another bout. The announcers explain how everything works before the bouts actually begin.

We were rooting for the Banger Sisters since our friend's friend is a member of that team. All four teams were very good and entertaining to watch. There's alot of action, it took me a few minutes to truly understand what was going on, but once I did, I really got into it! They do sell drinks (you have to get a wristband if you plan to drink alcohol, but the wristband is free) and snacks, but we decided they were kind of spendy and opted to go drink beer back at our house after the bout. Admission prices are not bad overall though and if you buy ahead of time online or at several ticket venues listed on their website it's a little bit cheaper.

We are planning to catch them again before their season is over, they have two more derbies coming up this spring. It's a great, high energy way to spend a Saturday evening!

Northstar Roller Girls
Derby held at Minneapolis Convention Center
General Admission (Bleachers) $10 in advance/$12 at the door
Trackside (but be warned you'll be on the floor) $12 in advance/$14 at the door

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pedal Pub

I am so behind in the adventures of the Fun Couple it is not even funny. But for what it is worth, here is another installment!

In late October, some friends of some friends invited us to come along on a Pedal Pub. We had heard of this before and seen it on the Food Network, but hadn't ever really thought of doing it. I wasn't even fully aware that we had it here in Minneapolis. But sure enough, we do.

Pedal Pubs are pretty much a pub on wheels. A cross between a bicycle and a bar! You can have a maximum of 16 people, not all of whom even need to pedal. Most of the seats are pedal seats, but a few are areas for folks to take a break, also known as the "dead weight" spots.

The Pedal Pub originated in Amsterdam and somehow migrated it's way over here.

The day we went was a gorgeous afternoon considering it was later in October. We had it for two hours. I believe they rented the pub and then brought beer to serve to all of us. Everything had to be in cans or plastic - no glass. This worked out though because most everyone was fans of Surly beer, which comes in cans. Then we meandered through Northeast Minneapolis, stopping once at a bar and otherwise just enjoying a lovely fall afternoon.

They say the Pedal Pub is "Slow fun" and they're not kidding. It maxes out at about five miles per hour. That's not much! And you do feel the burn as you are pedaling! But beer makes it all worth it I suppose!

We hope to have a chance to try it out again sometime this spring. It appears rates vary depending on the day and how long you ride. Two hours I felt was plenty though!

Check out the website for yourself, there are quite a few details listed there. Definitely an adult friendly activity, not so much for children!

Pedal Pub

Friday, October 23, 2009

Aamodt's Apple Farm/St. Croix Vineyard

We had a beautiful fall day this past Saturday so we decided to venture out to an apple orchard for the first time this year. Minnesota has many wonderful choices when it comes to apple orchards. Growing up my family usually went to Pine Tree Apple Orchard in White Bear Lake. It's a great place, definitely family friendly. Their baked goods are to die for. But, that is not where we chose to go this past weekend.

We chose to go to Aamodt's Apple Farm in Stillwater because they also house the St. Croix Vineyard and we thought it would be fun to also do some wine sampling. I had been to St. Croix a couple of years ago with a girlfriend, but had never had the opportunity to bring Nate there.

We approached the turn to get to the parking lot and let me tell you, it was quite a zoo that day. I am sure being that it was the first nice Saturday of the entire fall, many folks had the same idea as us. We managed to squeeze into a parking spot out amongst the apple trees and walked the reasonably short distance to get to the vineyard and orchard.

We started at the winery, as it didn't appear to be quite as crowded. I was disappointed to learn that you now had to pay for your wine sampling. In the past, this was a free event. However, they do refund your $5.00 if you buy two bottles of wine.

We stepped up to the counter and were taken through three whites, two reds and a dessert wine. I loved most all of the white wine, Nate only liked the Chardonnay. I have to say - if you don't like Chardonnay - give this one a chance, it is not nearly as dry and bitter as Chardonnay tends to be. The reds were pretty good, we enjoyed the Marschal Foch the best out of these. We both enjoyed the Raspberry Fusion dessert wine that St. Croix is known for as well.

Since the sampling didn't include every type of wine available at St. Croix, we stepped outside where they were selling wine by the glass under a tent. Here they had all of their wines available, although at a pretty steep price ($5.00 a glass). Still, we decided it was worth it to get to sample just a couple of more so we could decide if we wanted to buy any to take home. And it was fun to sit outside in the semi warm air.

After we finished our glasses we decided to pick up a bottle of Chardonnay and a bottle of marschal foch and head over to the apples. Unfortunately, the inside building of the apple orchard was super packed. I was also a little disappointed that they did not have many apple samples. It's nice that they let you pick your own to put in a bag, but I wanted to taste some so I knew if I liked what I was getting! We settled on some Haralsons - good for baking - and also grabbed a gallon of apple cider. I would've liked to maybe get something from the bakery, but the line was rather long. Fortunately we were able to check out rather quickly.

Overall, it's a decent place to go, they were serving popcorn and apple brats and I'm not sure what else outside. I believe they have hayrides for families as well. Even with all the people we managed to have a pretty good time.

Aamodt's Apple Farm/St. Croix Vineyard
6428 Manning Ave N
Stillwater, MN 55082-9462
(651) 439-3127
Price: Free to wander, apples, baked goods, cider, jams are available for purchase.
Wine tasting $5.00 with a discount for bottles of wine purchased.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Walker Art Center

Thanks to a tip from a friend we found out that Thursday nights you can visit the Walker Art Center for free! Thanks to sponsor Target, the Walker stays open until 9:00 on Thursdays and admission is free.

We visited this past Thursday as it was one of the last days for the exhibit "The Quick and the Dead" which was a show that featured various artists thoughts and interpretations on death and mortality. Interestingly enough, the exhibit was not extremely depressing. In fact, there were points that we were laughing a little.

We did make our way through the permanent exhibits as well and had the opportunity to walk through a new room featuring various types of pottery and clay sculpture.

It is busier in the Walker on Thursday nights due to it being free, but we still got around to everything we wanted to see in a little over an hour. We also make a stroll through the Sculpture Gardens, which are fun to see at night when they are all lit up.

We didn't see everything that is possible for you to see on a visit to the Walker. There are tours you can take and movies you can view but we skipped those for this visit. We are sure to return another time, especially on a free night like that!

On a side note - after the Walker we grabbed dinner at an awesome Thai restaurant back towards the U of M campus - True Thai on Franklin Street and I just had to mention them because the food was good and so was the service. Our original plan had been to hit up a date night special at another Thai restaurant that would've been closer - but they were closed due to road construction. Their loss, True Thai's gain!

Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403

True Thai
2627 E Franklin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55406

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mill City Farmers Market/Mill City Oktoberfest

This past weekend we visited the Mill City Farmers Market. It is a smaller scale Farmers Market than the big one we have in Minneapolis and it is run from May through October, every Saturday from 8am to 1pm. You do not need admission to the Mill City Museum to attend, it is held in the space between the Mill City Museum and the Guthrie Theatre.

Our reason for going this past Saturday was due to a special event they were sponsoring, their 2nd Annual Oktoberfest. Because Nate and I are both beer lovers, this was a can't miss event. We attended last year as well and really enjoyed ourselves. Four local MN breweries were offering free beer samples: The Herkimer Pub, Finnegans, Brau Brothers and Flat Earth Brewing Company. After we enjoyed some small samples from each place we wandered around the Farmers Market.

Honestly, this Farmers Market is my favorite. Some of the items are more expensive than at the bigger markets in town, but there are more organic offerings and unique items to be found. Our must have is this smoked trout that is unbelievable. We bought that along with a wheel of goat cheese and some pepper jelly to take home and make a little meal out of later this week!

In the Mill City Courtyard, more Oktoberfest activities were going on and again, you did not need museum admission to participate. They had a polka band, brats and beer for sale and many places to sit and relax. We shared a brat and each had a bottle of beer while listening to the music.

There are usually some sort of fun activities going on at the Mill City Farmers Market each week, Oktoberfest just interested us the most. The one downside to going - parking in nearby ramps is not cheap, they jack up the price in advance of the afternoon Twins game. However, with the Twins moving across town next year, perhaps this will become less of an issue. Other than the parking issue, I highly recommend the Mill City Farmers Market. We will be going on another day to actually explore the museum sometime and you can bet we'll review it here!

Mill City Farmers Market
Saturdays May through October
8:00 am to 1:00 pm
Cost - Free!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Magical History Tour

We had a chance to experience being a "Human on a Stick" at the Minneapolis Segway tour over Labor Day weekend.

The "Magical History Tour" is sponsored by Mobile Entertainment, LLC. They started out offering Segway tours through the historic St. Anthony Falls area in Minneapolis in 2004. Now in addition to Minneapolis, this year they added St. Paul, where you can tour the famous Summit neighborhood and other popular Capital City sites. The idea is to give people a unique way to tour areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul and experience the world on a Segway in a way that is cheaper than buying your own!

My parents have had the opportunity to do both Minneapolis and St. Paul, and enjoyed it so much they invited my husband and I to join them sometime. We were eager to try it out! We arranged to go on the Minneapolis tour.

The first thing you do when you arrive is sign a waiver, while the Segway is a very safe form of transportation, you can never be too sure I suppose! You then get to choose a helmet and do a two minute demo on a Segway with one of the tour guides spotting you and giving you one on one instruction on how to ride. I took to it quite naturally actually, the concept is pretty simple, if you want to move forward, shift your weight forward. If you want to back up, you shift your weight back. You twist one side of the handlebars to turn.

After your demo, they gather the entire group for a 15-20 minute safety video. The first few minutes are cute, it involves the entire Segway staff introducing themselves and explaining where you're going to go. Then it moves into a safety video that was clearly more aimed at someone who had actually purchased a Segway for their own use. Granted, there were good tips in the video, but I felt it didn't need to be as long as it was.

After that they took us under the 3rd avenue bridge to practice for a bit on our assigned Segway. Nate and I were pros in no time and ready to go. My dad of course was a show off seeing as it was now his third time riding one and even caused one of the tour guides to go "oh by the way, please don't do this." We got a good laugh out of that though.

Finally they lead you out into the tour. We went down to the Stone Arch Bridge and across the river. The tour guide will stop at various historical points of interest and give a little spiel, and then you keep going. When you reach the Mill City Museum you are given a short break and they provide you with a snack and beverage. The tour continues along the river, back across the Plymouth Avenue bridge, down onto Boom Island, around by De La Salle high school and then back up to where the tour begins. It really is a unique way to see some of these sights.

You cover alot of ground and are much less tired than if you had walked that entire way! At the end of the tour they give you a free ticket to the Mill City Museum to be used anytime. You also receive discount coupons for three restaurants on the riverfront: Tuggs, Pracna on Main and Vic's. You do have to use them the same day as your tour. Finally, if you save your tour wristband you can take money off a future Segway tour, whether it is St. Paul or Minneapolis and there is no expiration.

The downside is that is about $85 a person. However, the tour lasts a good three hours and when you consider the cost of buying your own Segway, it's nothing! Plus, with all the freebees you end up with at the end, it also helps make it worthwhile. It is good fun for almost all ages, children must be 13 years old to ride. We had a mixed age group in our tour and everyone was able to ride and enjoy themselves. And we were quite a spectacle as we drove around, many others out enjoying a beautiful day were stopping and watching us!

We do highly recommend the Segway tour if you can swing the cash. If you have a group of 10 or more they will even do your own private tour.

Nate and I hope to do the St. Paul tour this spring, so we'll report back at that time!

Magical History Tour
May through November, 7 days a week at 10:00 am or 3:00 pm
$80 plus tax per person