Celia and I discovered that the Arb was near where we were staying and decided to visit one day while we were in the Minneapolis area. The Arb is the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. It was founded in 1958 by several groups in partnership with the University of Minnesota.
This place is huge. It is over 1200 acres to be exact. It began when researchers at the University of Minnesota were developing cold-hardy apple varieties. You have probably heard one of their successes, the Honeycrisp apple.
Over the years the arboretum has developed, or dare I say blossomed, into one of the premiere gardens in the country. In fact, in 2017 and 2019, it was recognized by USA Today as the “Best Botanical Garden.” I noticed that in 2019 Bok Tower Gardens was number three followed by Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden coming in at number four.
The park has several options for visiting its extensive garden collections. One is called the Three Mile Drive and another the Three Mile Walk. Both visit many of the same areas of the arboretum so we chose the walking path. One of the most impressive areas was the Azalea Gardens. Blooming later than we are accustomed, they were in full bloom while we were there.
We did not expect to encounter a sculpture garden but, high on a hillside, there is quite a collection of artwork.
These gardens did not have a few examples of whatever flower or tree was being exhibited but entire sections dedicated to it, be they Lilacs, Roses, Peonies, or Daylilies. Trees were also extensively represented with sections for Oak, Maple, Elm, Birch, or Crabapple.
We enjoy visiting various gardens across the country and this one is truly amazing.
The next day the forecast was for heavy rainfall for the entire day. We decided that some indoor activities would fit the bill. Our first stop was the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.
Hanging from the ceiling is a Curtiss JN-4 Jenny. See more here.
This large building has the museum on the third floor. There are three rotating exhibits and some permanent ones as well.
The first one that we visited was celebrating the 100 anniversary of the publication of Sinclair Lewis’ book, Main Street. The exhibit featured information about his extensive writings of books and short stories. Lewis, born in Sauk Centre, MN, was the first American author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Many of his books were made into films, including Elmer Gantry starring Burt Lancaster.
There currently is an exhibition on “Extraordinary Women” focusing on Minnesota women who impacted local communities in the state.
On the way home even though it was still raining hard, we had to check out the largest mall in America. The Mall of America did live up to the hype. While a mall would not be our first choice to visit, we were surprised by the enormity of the entire facility. It is a destination within itself and, even on a weekday afternoon, it was packed.
With temperatures rising in Minneapolis, it was time to move on. At the last minute, we decided to visit the port city of Duluth, Minnesota and hope to enjoy some cooler temperatures.