It's nearly impossible to write about Minnesota without referencing water. It is, after all, the land of 10,000 lakes, and there is a certain lake culture here I have yet to find elsewhere. (During the long winter, that lake culture transforms into a culture of ice and snow, of skiing and sledding and skating. And hot chocolate.)
Earlier this month, we spent a week in my hometown of Minneapolis. (See my previous Minneapolis posts here and here.) Whenever I venture home, I'm drawn back to the water, typically to the string of lakes in the middle of the city--Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake—connected by walking and biking trails. My mom grew up on Lake Harriet, so it has extra significance for me. I'm forever imagining her as a little girl, fishing, sailing or just wandering around the lake on a summer day.
My best friend, Rachel, recently wrote a piece about Minneapolis on her fantastic baking blog, Sweet Tarte. (Check it out. Seriously, your taste buds will thank you.) I couldn't agree with her more on how difficult it is to write a travel post about your hometown. I'll admit I have no idea where the hot spots are these days. But I'll share with you a few of my favorite places, all of which involve water, baked goods or biking, often in some combination.
Above: SUP with pup. Stand-up paddle boarding has made its way to Lake Harriet.
Below: Canoes at Lake Harriet.
Below left: Each morning of our trip, my parents watched the girls for an hour or two so Jeff and I could head out to a quiet breakfast. One of my favorite summer foodie activities is sitting at the Sebastian Joe's patio in Linden Hills with either ice cream or coffee in hand. Some days we brought over cinnamon rolls from the neighboring Great Harvest Bread Co. (my first place of employment as a 16-year-old!) or bread, cheese and pastries from nearby Turtle Bread Company to enjoy with our coffee.
On a cooler morning, we strayed from Sebastian Joe's to try out Rustica Bakery on Sweet Tarte's recommendation. What Rustica lacked in ambiance, they made up for in pastries and coffee. Oh my, I think they might make the best mocha in the city.
The greenway system in Minneapolis is quite extensive, connecting suburbs, lakes and urban areas for bikers, runners and walkers. One morning we hopped on the Cedar Lake Trail from my parents' place and biked down to and around Lake Calhoun. For avid bikers like us, this trail offers a pleasant way to see the city.
Below right: Have you heard of the Lake Harriet elf door? Leave a letter for the elf inside the tree and he'll write back. It's magical.
Below: Across the street from Lake Harriet, Lyndale Park Rose Gardens boasts a huge variety of roses, two fountains—which were quite popular with Cricket—and lots of room to run or throw down a picnic blanket.
Below left: Cricket blows dandelions with Dad at the rose gardens.
Below right: Running fast!
Below: Beautiful weeds along a bike path off Blake Road in Hopkins.
Below left: Each year on the Saturday after Labor Day, the neighborhood where I grew up, Interlachen Park, hosts a festival of garage sales. It's no ordinary garage sale. It's paradise for DIY-ers and thrifters alike. As kids, we'd set up a lemonade stand, then run around the neighborhood buying junk with our proceeds. I hadn't witnessed garage sale day in about 12 years and couldn't resist introducing my family to the phenomenon. Even I was amazed at how extensive the event is!
Below right: Cricket dashes around the playground at my alma mater.
P.S. I'd like to share a photo lighting tip with you. If you're new to photography and begin researching the best times to be out and about taking photos, you'll undoubtedly come across advice to shoot during the "golden hours," which are an hour or two after sunrise and before sunset. The light during these times will create beautiful effects. But if you're like me, you're almost always stuck inside at those hours feeding kids, getting them ready for the day or starting the bedtime routine. Many of our most memorable moments take place outside the golden hours in the blaring sun. Don't let these moments pass by without documentation simply because the lighting isn't quite perfect! Breaking the rules can make photos more interesting anyway.
I'm Julia Soplop, writer and photographer. I believe there is something profound in bearing witness to moments of joy and pain in others’ lives. My husband, three girls and I live outside of Chapel Hill, NC. You can read more about me here.