This is my fifth post about our family's visit to Minnesota and Wisconsin. I recommend reading the first, second, third, and fourth posts. Because I blog about educational travel, I was given media rates, discounts, complimentary admission tickets, and other benefits for some of the places we visited. Many attractions we toured are free to everyone and I paid full price for the rest. How much I paid has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I share is something that I absolutely recommend.
Family Fun in Minnesota and Wisconsin, Part 5: Red Wing
So, Red Wing. I knew nothing about this town (including the fact that it existed) before I started planning this trip. When I discovered that it had a museum and was home to the World's Largest Boot, I figured it would be worth a quick stop as we drove to our next destination. But the more I learned, the more I realized we needed a full day to see Red Wing. What a neat place!
First, a word about the city of Red Wing itself before I get to its attractions. I have never, and I mean never, seen a city that does a better job of branding. No matter where you stand, you know you are in Red Wing. There are red wings on everything.
Finding wings was like looking for Hidden Mickeys at Disneyland. I loved it. Here are two obvious ones. See how many more you spot in the rest of my post.
Our first destination was the Pottery Museum of Red Wing.
The first stoneware company in Red Wing was founded in 1877, "at the sharpest navigable bend in the mighty Mississippi River. Our young country needed crocks, jugs, and sewerpipe, and Goodhue County had the clay deposits and an immigrant workforce to start producing millions of pieces of functional stoneware." (Source).
Fun Fact: At the time, a 30-gallon crock was the largest made. Its depth was the length of a man's arm. The potter needed to be able to reach the bottom of the crock while it was spinning.
(Are you noticing the red wings on all of the crockery?)
I didn't expect the museum to be nearly as large as it was. There was a lot to see and the self-guided tour was excellent.
I loved this colorful display.
Steve loved the bobwhites.
We all loved the bunnies.
I definitely recommend a visit to the Pottery Museum of Red Wing!
Lunch was at Kelly's Tap House. There was quite a bit of road construction going on in Red Wing (and the rest of Minnesota) when we were there. This leads me to believe the old joke must be true: There are only two seasons in Minnesota, winter and construction.
Anyway, the food at Kelly's was great. We had more cheese curds (when in Rome) and something I've never had before...
... cheeseburger pizza. There's no marinara on that - it's ketchup and mustard under the cheese. It's topped with bacon, ground beef, and onions. It came with pickles, lettuce, and tomatoes to put on top. It was unusual and it was delicious.
Kelly's overlooks the Mississippi River. This was the view from our table. (Note more construction in the foreground.)
From our table, we also noticed this pedestrian bridge:
It's lined with a dozen or so 4-foot tall fiberglass boots. "Boots on the Bridge" were made and decorated in 2005 to celebrate Red Wing Shoe Company's 100th year.
But as enjoyable as the decorated boots were, we were not there to see 4-foot boots. No, we wanted to see the world's largest boot. It did not disappoint. Lest you think this is a boot statue and not really a boot, let me assure you that it is an actual boot made with actual boot materials and actual boot techniques. It's literally a size 638.5 D.
But there's not just a giant('s) boot; there's a whole museum. The Red Wing Shoe Company Museum is well-worth a visit. Here, you'll learn all about the history of the company and their shoe-making process.
Red Wing was the first to offer work shoes in widths from A to EEE.
I learned a lot about boots, all very interesting.
We checked into our hotel, the historic St. James. It's beautiful and ended up being a great place for us.
The room keys are made of wood. Such a fun detail!
We had a large room overlooking the Mississippi River, which is where we went next. The hotel is only a block from the water, so we strolled down to check things out.
There was a cruise ship in port. We'd love to do a Mississippi River cruise someday.
There's an Amtrak station right there, too. Lots of ways to visit Red Wing.
Definitely visit. It's a beautiful place. In addition to the natural beauty, the city has public art and flowers everywhere.
We had dinner at Home Plate Grill. Everything was good.
We returned to the St. James Hotel for our final Red Wing attraction, the American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame and Museum. It's housed on the mezzannine level of the St. James. It has all sorts of memorabilia and information about the history of ski jumping in the United States.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Red Wing! I would have happily spent at least another day, strolling through downtown and enjoying the shops, restaurants, and art. But we had other places we had to be, which I'll tell you about on Monday.
Cindy deRosier has a masters in Education and taught 4th and 5th grade for 11 years. She uses that experience to blog about crafts and family-friendly educational travel. She spent many years as the Editor of Fun Family Crafts, a website with over 12,000 kid-friendly craft tutorials. Cindy is the co-author of "What Would Jesus Patent?", does freelance writing and designing, loves jigsaw puzzles, and is an avid scrapbooker.