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4 Pint-Sized Vacations

a list of nearby weekend and day trips, perfect for any family looking for fun

Mike Paulus

Since all that gas money you saved up for a week-long family road trip to Mount Rushmore will probably only get you enough fuel to reach Fall Creek, we thought it’d be nice to offer you some cheaper alternatives. A handful of local parents tipped us off about some of their favorite “short drive” style trips, and we’ve assembled the information here. It’s a short list of Volume One-approved mini-vacations, perfect for any family looking for something fun to do with a free day or two.

THE PLAYFUL TRIP
LARK Toys
Locale: Kellogg Minn. (56 mi from EC)
Tipster: Bill Hamilton

    Kellogg Minnesota’s famed LARK Toys toy store ain’t your average Toys “R” Us. One of the largest independent specialty stores in the country, LARK houses over 20,000(!) square feet of mind-blowing kid spectacular-ness. They’ve got a hand-carved carousel; wooden toys (made on-site); a children’s bookstore; nostalgic replicas, collectibles, and novelties; costumes; cafe snacks and sandwiches; mini-golf; ice cream; and behind-the-scenes glimpses at their ongoing projects. Seriously, you’ll have just as much fun as your kids. Local dad Bill Hamilton says, “It’s right next to Wabasha on the Mississippi River, so all that river stuff and maybe even lunch on the river makes for a great day.” Check out www.larktoys.com.

THE HISTORICAL TRIP
Laura Ingalls Wilder/Caddie Woodlawn
Locale: Menomonie and Pepin (26+ and 51 mi from EC)
Tipster: Nikki Jackson

    Hey, if your kids enjoy stories about young, spunky gals living in America’s pioneer days, then you’re in luck! First, head over to The Caddie Woodlawn Historical Park (and, um, wayside) located nine miles south of Menomonie on Highway 25. That’s where the writer and the book’s inspiration used to live (back in 1857), and the house is now a museum. Then, it’s about 38 miles from Caddie’s place to the next stop – Laura Ingalls Wilder’s place. Yep, everyone’s favorite frontierskid was apparently born right in Pepin, Wis. before going on to write her books, including Little House on the Prairie. So Pepin has a museum and a whole festival in September in her honor.