Agriculture is a major industry in Minnesota—it helps shape our community. If you want to get a taste of how, spend three days touring and making stops at these places all located in and around Bloomington.
Day One: Your first stop will be the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources. Tour the college’s Twin Cities campus and visit the extensive animal facilities on a personal tour. Recently ranked among the top 25 of the nation’s top research universities by the Center for Measuring University Performance, take this opportunity to hear from faculty about their cutting-edge work.
Next, make your way to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, located not far from Bloomington. Enjoy a narrated tram tour of the more than 100 acres of trees, shrubs and gardens here. Make sure to visit the Harrison Sculpture Garden, situated on the Arboretum’s High Point, which features more than 20 pieces across three acres, offering views of both art and nature that will change depending on the time of day and time of year. With so much to see, you’ll want to spend the rest of your day here. And if you get hungry, the Arboretum has a great café onsite.
Day Two: Wake up thirsty, because today you’ll be trying local sips. Take the less than 40-minute drive to the picturesque town of Stillwater, stopping at Northern Vineyards Winery. This is one of Minnesota’s oldest wineries, offering nearly 30 blends made from cold hardy grapes grown in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Enjoy a tasting and select your favorite bottle to take home. While you’re in Stillwater, you’ll also want to make a stop at St. Croix Vineyards to visit the rustic tasting room and, if you’re there on a weekend, go on a tour to learn about the wines the vineyard offers. Be sure to try the award-winning Frontenac Port. Downtown Stillwater is so charming, you’ll want to leave a little time to stroll the historic streets, popping in antique shops and boutiques and enjoying the river views. And make sure to grab a bite to eat before leaving town. Stick to the day’s theme and try Domacin Restaurant & Wine Bar.
Day Three: If you’re visiting during the months of May through October, try some of what we grow outdoors at the Bloomington Farmers’ Market. Here you’ll find fresh produce direct from the farmers themselves, as well as flowers, meat, cheese, fresh baked goods, coffee, jams and jellies, artwork and more. If you’re here during the winter, don’t fret—the market moves inside the Bloomington Civic Plaza during those months.
After you’ve filled yourself with farm fresh goodness, travel to Saint Paul to visit Como Park Zoo & Conservatory. Make your first stop the gardens, where you’ll find exotic plants beautifully displayed. The Sunken Garden features a seasonally rotating flower show, while Tropical Encounters lets you visit an authentic neo-tropical rainforest, the Palm Dome displays more than 150 tropical palm and cycad species, the Fern Room allows you a look at one of the oldest surviving plants, and the North Garden, which is the conservatory’s grocery, pharmacy and building supply store, offers foods and plants that have a direct influence on humans' lives. While you’ll go here to see the gardens, there’s no way you can leave without visiting the animals. The zoo is home to giraffes, gorillas, lemurs, zebras, lions, penguins, polar bears, tigers and much more. Admission is free, unless you prefer to make a free-will donation in any of the drop boxes.