Some of the best memories I have of when my kids were younger, are the spontaneous day trips we would take together. Maybe it was a snow day, a school holiday or just a day with beautiful weather that would tempt us to blow off all responsibilities and run away to anywhere we could get to in a day. Usually it was Stillwater, Lake Pepin, or Duluth. All great day trip destinations that offer unique food options, antiques and artsy shopping, along with interesting and adventurous outdoor fun. I must have been waxing nostalgic since my kids are grown and I found myself thinking that I needed a day trip. So I called a friend and we decided to head west to Buffalo, Minnesota.
Any good day trip must start with sustenance, so we headed to The Mill Creek Inn Bar and Grill which is known for great Bloody Mary’s.
Since I consider it my high calling to confirm or deny these claims of greatness, I took it upon myself to ascertain the truth. Colossal, gargantuan, magnificent, HUGE — all adjectives to describe this BEHEMOTH of a drink. Not only was it “large and in charge” but it was really good. Not too spicy, not too sweet, it was a meal in itself. Chicken wings, onion rings, pickled egg, shrimp, meat stick, etc. AND it comes with a full sized beer as a chaser! Well worth the $20!
Next we went to Division Street, which is centrally located down near Buffalo Lake in the heart of downtown. A great place to park and walk and shop on a nice day. I recommend to stop in at SHE for luxury cosmetics and skincare. Enjoy a coffee and a book on the deck at Buffalo Books and Coffee.
Or linger at A Wreath of Franklin (let that name roll off your tongue!).
This store has home decor, unique jewelry, LOADS of artwork, apparel, candles and home accessories — you name it. I wanted to spend hours here! It is beautifully merchandised with each and every corner filled with thoughtfully placed items that call out – Buy Me!
Out her back door is Lillian’s, a unique fashion and accessory boutique with a fun vibe (and Sinatra tunes) that I found really affordable!
Shopping can bring on an appetite so stop in at BJ’s Deli on First Avenue for a homemade chicken salad sandwich and some conversation. We got to talking with Anna who works the counter at BJ’s. She was telling us about the new menu and the remodeled store, when out of the blue she mentioned they have a ghost. A WHAT!? — Her name is “Darlene,” she said. “She was a previous owner here at BJ’s and she is a troublemaker!” NO WAY!! — Yes way. During the day they have had pots and pans come flying out of the dish room, lights turned on and off, and occasionally someone will catch a glimpse, out of the corner of their eye, of a women in a floral print apron, and when they turn to look she isn’t there. Whoa. Who knew Buffalo had a ghost story? BJ’s is family-owned, has excellent food with made-from-scratch pies, and one cranky ghost.
I was impressed by the variety of options here too. There is Buffalo Rock Winery where you can enjoy a tasting of local wines a few miles out of town as you come in from Medina. An Irish pub called Haye’s Public House Tap Room and Brewery is located right downtown. They do not serve food at Haye’s so feel free to bring in your sandwich from BJ’s or even a bag lunch from home or the food truck that is often stationed there, order a few beers, talk with the locals and relax for a few hours. Enjoy the view of Buffalo Lake from their patio during the summer.
If wine bars are more your style, stop in at Evelyn’s Wine Bar & Bistro on Central Ave.
It’s a quaint European style bistro with an excellent wine list, good prices and a menu with charcuterie, flatbreads, and authentic Croque Monsieur. Newly opened is “What’s the Scoop” ice cream shoppe if a sweet treat is what you’re craving.
Buffalo is the birthplace of the occasional sale concept – shoppes that are only open the first full weekend each month. Second Hand Rose started the trend and several have joined in on the fun and make Buffalo a destination year round. Don’t feel confined, however, by that first weekend. There are a significant number of unique and specialty shoppes open every weekend and some daily! Waldon Woods and the Buffalo Nickel are visible coming in from the metro – the yellow building with the boats in the yard or the big white barn -hold a plethora of antiques, collectibles and home and garden décor. Go to buffalochamber.org to easily see a list and map of all the retail and restaurant options available to you.
If you prefer a day trip that is more about active experiences, Buffalo also has an escape room “Puzzles”, a movie theater, an apple orchard, a paintball field “Special Forces,” a make and take art store “Artistic Me” and more lakefront biking and hiking than you can shake a stick at! You can even rent paddle boats, paddle boards, or pontoons for a day on Buffalo Lake or Pulaski Lake just north of town. If you are a golfer, there are two great courses in town as well. A historical buff – they have a Historical Center all about Wright County. It’s a day trippers dream!