New on the Minnesota Travel Scene
Science Museum Focuses on Maya
From June 21, 2013, to Jan. 5, 2014, the Science Museum of Minnesota in downtown St. Paul is featuring a new exhibit on one of the most complex and advanced civilizations of the ancient world. "Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed" explores the fascinating social, natural and spiritual realms of the Maya through the eyes of powerful kings and queens and the lesser-known people who were the backbone of Maya society. Displays uses authentic artifacts, multimedia components and hands-on activities to tell the story of the ancient Maya and their modern descendants. This is the largest exhibition ever assembled about the ancient Maya.
Nine-Hole Fishing Course Opens
Trout anglers can try their skill at nine designated fishing spots along the Root River at Preston, in the scenic bluff country of southeast Minnesota. The Trout Learning Center in town has laid out a nine-hole course on the trout stream, featuring different trout habitats, such as a riffle, undercut bank and log jam. It’s a new way to help anglers explore the possibilities along this peaceful trout stream.
New Downhill Mountain Bike Trails Open at Spirit Mountain
Two exciting new mountain bike trails open May 23 at the Adventure Park of the Spirit Mountain Recreation Area in Duluth. Both are designed as downhill-only trails, with riders taking a chairlift with their bikes back to the top of the hill for another exhilarating ride down the slope. The 1.5-mile Candyland trail, with large berms and jumps, was designed as a trail to learn and develop skills for “gravity-based” mountain biking. The more challenging 1-mile Smorgasbord features large berms, jumps, rocks and a 5-foot drop. This type of trail is called a flow trail, because it “flows” downhill with few if any uphill or flat sections. The new trails are a joint effort between the International Mountain Bicycling Association, Spirit Mountain and local biking club Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores.
Biking Brochure Features Trails
The newest edition of the Minnesota Biking brochure, part of the Pedal MN promotion encouraging bicycling in Minnesota, features about 30 paved trails throughout the state, several prime mountain biking areas, and on-road touring, including the Mississippi River Trail route. The brochure can be viewed or ordered online here.
Minnesota History Exhibit Focuses on the Civil War
More than 150 years ago, the fledgling state of Minnesota was among the first to offer troops as the Civil War erupted. “Minnesota and the Civil War,” an exhibit at the Minnesota History Center in downtown St. Paul, draws on the personal stories of Minnesotans involved in the war, through letters, diaries and memoirs, with numerous artifacts. The Gettysburg Anniversary, July 1-4, will include a reenactment and military encampment, period music, games and an ice cream social. The exhibit runs through Sept. 8.
Race Series Promotes Travel around State
The Explore Minnesota Challenge is a series of more than two dozen races in cities around the state, including running, walking, biking and triathlon events. Participants will be awarded a special lapel pin for each of the regions in which they have completed a race, and a special medial will be awarded to those who complete a total of five events, including one in each of the four designated regions. The series is a joint promotion by Anderson Race Management and Explore Minnesota Tourism. Registration for the series is open to the first 500 participants. A list of Challenge events and registration information is available at andersonraces.com.
Dinosaurs on the Move at Valleyfair
Thirty animated dinosaurs liven up the scene at the already lively Valleyfair amusement park in Shakopee, at the southwest edge of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Opened in May 2013, "Dinosaurs Alive!" includes seven scenes with these prehistoric giants. The new display feeds kids’ fascination with dinos. And, oh yes, there are rides! Lots of rides, for the preschool set to the very adventurous among us.
It’s All Happening at the Zoo
The hits just keep on coming at the Minnesota Zoo. Last fall, the Minnesota Trail added black bears, providing up-close views of these north woods creatures. In recent years, the zoo also has added an exhibit with African penguins and another focusing on Russia’s Grizzly Coast, with grizzly bears and Amur leopards. And for the summer of 2013, the zoo is featuring a seasonal exhibit of African animals, including giraffe, ostrich and wildebeest. Other perennial hits, especially with kids, are the family farm, the bird show, and the colorful tropical reef fish tank. The Minnesota Zoo is in Apple Valley, on the south side of the Twin Cities area.
Como Conservatory Adds New Wing
This spring, the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park in St. Paul opened The Ordway Gardens, an addition that features the conservatory’s nationally acclaimed bonsai collection. The addition also includes a large outdoor terrace with views of the Japanese garden. Both the Japanese garden and the bonsai collection have been hidden gems at the conservatory, and the new wing and terrace highlights these features.
Paul Bunyan Byway Features Birding
The Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway loops around the lakes north of Brainerd, and through excellent natural habitat for a variety of birds. Signs have been added along the byway to denote good birding spots, including a couple of wildlife management areas. A wide range of species can be observed in areas along the byway, include waterfowl, warblers, and woodland species such as the scarlet tanager, as well as bald eagles and osprey. Bring binoculars and a bird book along for this scenic drive. A map is available online, as well as a birding checklist and detailed listing of places along the byway to look for different types of birds. Visit birdsofthebyway.com for more info.
Sculpture Garden Features Art of Mini-Golf
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, adjacent to the Walker Art Center just west of downtown Minneapolis, celebrates its 25th anniversary this summer with a special series of performances, family programs, film screenings and other events from May through September. A highlight will be the highly popular artist-designed mini-golf, last presented in 2008. Two seven-hole courses, with a shared eight hole, feature Garden-themed holes designed by Minnesota architects, artists and designers. Best known among the Sculpture Garden’s 40 outdoor art works is the iconic “Spoonbridge and Cherry.”