There is almost nothing that doesn’t pair well with a good outdoor adventure
Since I almost never spend a weekend without doing something active outside (or seemingly also finding a new winery), I am always seeking a way to put them together. Bear with me — the relation between these two may be a stretch for some, but coming from Saint Paul this itinerary made perfect sense to me.
I set out on a crisp morning destined for Cannon River Winery
Since I’m an early riser (and avoid drinking wine for breakfast) I headed for Whitetail Woods Park in Dakota County. It is nestled just South of Rosemont and a quick stop off Highway 52, an easy 25 minute drive from Saint Paul. I had heard good things about camper cabins that were recently built in the park and was interested in seeing them for myself.
Dakota County, you did not disappoint. These camper cabins aren’t your typical park accommodations. They’re probably nicer than my house — and for $70 per night they should be. There are four cabins, and while situated quite close together, each features an expansive deck cantilevered into the woods, providing each a quite private experience despite their proximity.
I hiked for several hours through deep woods and grassy meadows, took a boardwalk across wetlands, and walked around the lake. I even did a little off-trail exploration and discovered some rusty gold. Perhaps best of all, this park is FREE – and does not require a pass to enter (although there are some trail fees for winter activities.)
Cannon Falls: a quintessential riverside town
After a picnic at the park, I packed up the car and a quick 20 minutes later was parked in downtown Cannon Falls, a historic river town. I had not done any research on Cannon River Winery, and upon first pulling up and parking — was disappointed to find it was located in the downtown area. Part of my love for Minnesota wine country comes from experiencing the connection to the vineyard and farm, an escape from my typical urban landscape in Saint Paul.
My initial concerns were immediately swept aside when I opened the front door — the warm tones of live string music coupled with lively chatter made it feel more like a town hall than a wine tasting room where so often the experience is limited to tasting the wine and heading on your way. We sat for several hours listening to music and chatting with friends, tasting the wine, and taking home some for later.
After leaving the winery, I headed back to the car to let the dog for a walk along the Cannon River before heading home. Passing by directly behind the winery is the Cannon Falls regional trail winding along the Cannon River. The trail is a 20 mile paved path between Cannon Falls and Red Wing (hmm, this sounds like a good winery bike-expedition for another adventure!)
Following the trail for just a few steps outside the winery takes you to a fantastic view of a waterfall. I’d share a picture, but really, you just need to go see this one for yourself (and, I did not take one.)
While this will be Presta dog’s last trip to Cannon River Winery, it won’t be ours (I guess we enjoyed our stay for too long, and she destroyed the travel kennel!)
You can visit Whitetail Woods Regional Park just 25 minutes South of Saint Paul in Farmington, MN at 17100 Station Trail or online at www.co.dakota.mn.us.
You can visit Cannon River Winery just 45 minutes South of Saint Paul in Cannon Falls, MN at 421 Mill St W or online at www.cannonriverwinery.com.
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