The Ultimate Southern Minnesota Day Trip

Featuring nature walks, SPAM memorabilia, and Beyoncé

How far can you get in Minnesota on a single tank of gas? That’s a question Minnevangelist co-founder and Explore Minnesota multimedia editor Andrew Parks set out to answer in the new series Trip on a Tankful. First up: a whirlwind tour of Southern Minnesota. Among the highlights…

🥐 Ordering whatever is fresh out of the oven at Crack of Dawn Bakehouse & Market in Faribault, where the pecan rolls are so light they practically levitate and the vegetarian quiche is jiggly, custardy perfection.

🥾 Walking off those carbs on the Owl and Trout Lily Trails at River Bend Nature Center in Faribault. In half an hour, you can see wildflowers and metallic dragonflies glinting in the sun.

👸🏽 Stepping back in time at the Steele County Historical Society in Owatonna, whose exhibitions include a spangly outfit worn by Beyoncé. (Local Scott Nylund spent a decade designing clothes for Bey’s mom, Tina Knowles.)

⛪️ Swinging over to Steele County’s Village of Yesteryear, featuring an Italianate-style mansion, an 1800s church, a general store, a schoolhouse, and a pump station.

🥟 Breaking for Salvadorian food at Pupuseria La Paz in Owatonna. The revueltas (beans, cheese, and ground pork) is a no brainer, but it’s the crispy, crunchy, meaty pastelitos that really make that $4.50/gallon worth it.

🐷 Meat sweating it up at the SPAM Museum, where the world’s most divisive canned protein has been Austin’s claim to fame for nearly 85 years. The 14,000-square-foot exhibition space covers everything from war-time rations to Monty Python skits, but nothing beats the gift shop. Grab a can of the Filipino-style Tocino flavor — which has become almost impossible to find elsewhere.

🍔🥄 Meat-a-palooza continues at The Tendermaid in Austin, home of the loose meat burger (spoon optional).

🇺🇸 Stocking up on vintage threads at Bearded Mermaid, a shopping bazaar run by Nick and Christina Soderstrom. Formerly located in St. Paul, it specializes in meticulously curated Americana such as motorcycle jackets, buttery-soft tees, and denim out the wazoo.

To scope Andrew’s full itinerary, which includes a stop at one of our favorite pizza farms, head over to Explore Minnesota. And stay tuned for his next “Trip on a Tankful” adventure — Stillwater!