Fourth of July Activities in Minnesota | Fireworks, Grilling, and Lakes

Fourth of July is an exciting time in Minnesota – hitting the lake, having a cookout, and watching fireworks! Here is a list of a few fun Fourth of July activities to try out this year in Minnesota.

#1. Grilling, Flag Food, & Patriotic Drinks

Flag Cake Fourth of July

Fire up the grill and have yourself an old fashion barbeque! Throw some burgers on the grill or hotdogs, or if you’re going more vegetarian, try a grilled vegetable recipe. Here’s a recipe for portobello burgers or a top 10 list of amazing traditional burgers. And after all that, you’ll need something sweet to finish it all off, why not finish off with one of these American flag inspired desserts, like the flag cake pictured here.

I also found this delicious recipe to a red, white, and blue sparkling sangria that I highly recommend! In one large picture combined:

4th of July Sangria

  • Sliced Strawberries, blueberries and pineapple (cut into stars to make it more festive!)
  • Two bottle of white wine
  • 1 cup Triple Sec
  • 1/2 berry flavored vodka (I used Raspberry Smirnoff)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup

#2. Fireworks

Minnesota fireworks mississippi river

Or how about watching some fireworks! A great spot is downtown St. Paul on Harriet Island. Fireworks start at 10pm and are an incredible inspiring sights as they boom and bang over the river. Going to be closer to Minneapolis? What a great light show at the Xcel Energy Water Power Park. This firework spectacle also takes full advantage of the Mississippi river. Find more information and great parking spots about both these Minnesota firework shows here!

#3. Minnesota Lakes

Minnesota definiely is not short on lakes to cruise around on! Try out Lake Minnetonka, a very popular lake. Located right outside Minneapolis, the large lake is a great spot to launch the boat or jet ski. Not to mention it is also a great lake to fish. But try to get out there as early as you can, because the lake will fill up, even though it spans over 14,000 acres.

Lake Vermilion Minnesota

Or if you’re headed to northern Minnesota around Duluth, you will really want to hit up Lake Vermilion. This lake is filled with countless bays and hundreds of miles of shoreline. The lake also houses several islands where you can dock the boat and take a little break. I love this lake! It seems to go on forever and always has new bays and inlets to discover.

And if you find yourself even farther north in Baudette, Minnesota, you must check out Lake of the Woods, which is one of the states more scenic lakes. For more infomation on both these lakes, visit CBS Local for all the details

Maybe you’re looking for a smaller lake to hangout at, if so consider Long Lake in New Brighton. The lake is still big enough for many boats and jet ski’s and also has a large sandy beach for the children. I visited this lake a lot as a kid and if you’re in the area, it really worth checking out. It’s located only about 10 minutes north of St. Paul. The DNR has more information about Long Lake on their website.

If you have any other favorite 4th of July activities in Minnesota, or any other state, please let me know I’d love to hear about them!

By Danielle Norgren

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Amphibious Boat-Cars Make Their Way to Minnesota

James Bond-like amphibious boat-cars are real and they have found a new following in Minnesota, the great state of 10,000 lakes.

Amphicar in Minnesota lake

No seriously, amphibious cars have made their way back into popularity and can now be seen on a few Minnesota lakes. Only a few days ago at Bryant Lake in Minneapolis the new sci-fi cars made an appearance. As spectators watched, the cars drove right from the boat launch into the water. James Bond style!

Say goodbye to pulling your speed boat on a trailor behind your car. Now you can have an all in one boat-car! The official names of the vehicles are Amphicars. They may not be the most functional boats or cars, but they work as both! The cars were actually originally made in the 1960’s by Germany for purely recreational use. Just as they started to gain real popularity, the company that created them shut their doors forever.

Boat cars in Minneapolis

Actually, in Minnesota the Amphicars have resurfaced with quite a large following, considering their obscurity. However, a sense of humor helps when driving them. The weirdly rounded rear ends make them a unique site.

But watch out, these babies can get up to a roaring 7 miles an hour on water and 70 on land.  But how exactly do the boat-cars make the switch from land to water? The driver basically flips a simple switch that makes the doors air tight. Once the transmission is in neutral and the propellors under the back bumper kick on, its smooth sailing from there! The amphicar is steered using the wheel as the front wheels act as rudders.

Amphicar emerges from MN lake

And then when coming back into dry ground, the trick is to take the car out of neutral and hope the engine did not get, ahem, flooded. *Pun intented! With the rate of advancement of technology these days, the Amphicars are sure to keep evolving.

Let me know if you have ever rode in one, I’d love to hear what it’s like! They sure make a great conversation starter.

By Danielle Norgren

Credit: Star Tribune 

Soundset 2013, a Cold Minnesota Success | Concert Review

Over 28,000 music lovers turned out to make the 6th annual Minnneapolis hip hop festival, Soundset, another raging success. Rhymesayers knows how to put on a show, that’s for sure!

Soundset 2013 Atmosphere

Although ticket prices went up this year, that didn’t deter many from attending Soundset. In fact, this was the biggest turn out in the 6 year history of the Minnesota hip hop music concert.  Most people don’t think of Minneapolis being a huge hip hop scene, but this proves the state has both a large following and no shortage of amazing talent. Even though the weather cold/windy/awful, Minnesotans still showed we can put on a hellofa hip hop concert!

The Ryhmesayers hosted event featured 40 artists, including big name Snoop Dogg (or Lion, I’m not sure), Tech N9ne, Mac Miller, Atmosphere, and more. Sway from MTV even helped out, announcing the next acts on the main stage. P.O.S even showed up and killed it, giving his first concert in 5 months since having major kidney problems. P.O.S always has an amazing stage presence, and this was no exception. The Doomtree artist played plenty of hits off his latest album We Don’t Even Live Here and the crowd knew basically all of them. One song, Get Down, got everyone especially amped up to dance!

Soundset P.O.S

Soundset 2013 Tech N9ne

Another highlight was Tech N9ne, white face paint and all. I’ve seen him in concert once before at the Myth, and he is one hell of a performer. His Soundset appearance brought a slightly different hip hop genre to the mix, which was cool. He got the crowd extra pumped up and excited with his booming lyrics (although at times a little creepy…) and mosh pit encouragement. Mac Miller was also a crowd favorite, busting out many of his popular hits.

Personally though, I didn’t prefer Snoop Dogg at all. The Cali-based artists is old and was boring on stage. His back-up dances were more of a show than he was. He hardly rapped most of his lyrics and played too many songs he was only featured on for one verse, including California girls. Sorry Snoop, this is a MINNESOTA concert filled with home state pride. Thanks for reminding up we’re not in sunny and 90-degree Cali at the moment. He needed to rap more of his old school classic music many people know him for. But, I’ve never been a huge Snoop fan, so his less than stellar appearance didn’t disappoint me too much.

Soundset 2013 Snoop Dogg

Social media also played a fun part in Soundset. There was a giant screen capturing tweets and Instagram pictures that included #soundset. It was cool seeing how much fun everyone was having, plus figuring out with artists have a bigger following. The concert also featured a break dancing tent with great DJs and talented dancers.

But with all the success of Soundset 2013, there are still minor fixes they can work on for next year. For one, the cell phone service was Terrible! I know, when you get 28,000+ cellphones into once area, you’re bound to have slower service, but I basically had ZERO service the entire concert. This made it impossible to find lost friends, and share my amazing tweets with the rest of Sounset. (*ahem, if you want to see those amazing tweets, follow me at @dani_norgren).

Soundset 2013 Minneapolis Minnesota

The main stage also had sound issues during, Aesop Rock, P.O.S., and Mac Miller. This is not acceptable!! The sound basically cut out so you couldn’t even hear the artist rapping. This was extremely frustrated, especially because I am a huge P.O.S fan. The issues eventually got resolved, but not after sound major crowd disappointment.

And the next item, please have better weather next year! Please…

But all in all, Soundset 2013 was a raging success! I already can’t wait for next year. Keep up the Minnesota hip hop (local artist) pride!

But what did you think of the concert? Favorite artist… something missing? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear!

By Danielle Norgren

Credits: Star Tribune | My own experience

Minneapolis is America’s Healthiest City

The results are in, a study found Minneapolis as the #1 healthiest city in America!

Taking into account several criteria, the residents of Minneapolis, Minnesota are the healthiest people in America. They breathe clean air, keep their weight down, and rank exercise as a top priority. Way to go Minnesotans!

Minneapolis healthiest city

A helpful contribution to this is the fact that Minneapolis was a early adopter of wide-spread bike trails and bike lanes throughout town. The city was also among the first to ban smoking in public places such as bars and public parks. Basically, if you live in Minneapolis you are less likely to smoke, which we all know is incredibly damaging to the human body, and not to mention smell just awful. That all adds up to Minneapolis residents being in better health than all other Americans.

People that live in the Minneapolis – St. Paul area are at less risk than their neighbors for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and asthma. (Especially compared to those cheese eaters next door.) Minneapolis has a lot of open public space dedicated to parks, dog walking areas, ball fields, tennis courts, playground, golf courses and more that make it easy for people to remain active outside. But what about during those frigid winter months that seem to take up a majority of the year? Winter sports and lots of them! Personally, I enjoy hitting the slopes with my snowboard. Talk about an all-body work out.

Biking in minneapolis

Right at the heels of Minneapolis, Washington D.C. came in second place. The nation’s capital is very good at keeping their smoking rate down as well. In third place is Boston and fourth is Portland.

By Danielle Norgren

For the rest of the top Twenty, visit Forbes.com.

Bald Eagles Migrating Back to Minnesota

The bald eagles are returning to Minnesota! Who doesn’t search for soaring bald eagles while hanging at the lake. 

It’s that time of year, spring is finally here! … Well, kinda. I guess nobody told the piles of snow that are still hanging out. But with spring come new life, especially in the animal kingdom. Our national bird the bald eagle is finally making its way back to Minnesota. The next couple weeks will be prime bird watching, as they will be very easy to spot over several areas of the state.

bald eagle minnesota

The DNR says mid to late March is the usual time bald eagles begin their journey home, but it’s still very dependent on the weather. Since this is about the time the snow starts to really melt, they tend to fly home to Minnesota for a little sun and lake time. They rely on lakes for their food source so they need them to be open and free of ice.

Minnesota has the third largest nesting population of bald eagles, only behind Florida and Alaska. Also, not all bald eagles fly south for the winter. It’s quite common for some pairs to remain here for the winter months, especially if they are more mild in temperature.

For more information, visit the Minnesota DNR website.