“Dreams do come true!” Minneapolis, MN and Austin, MN

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Mall of America

The Mall of America

Our first stop in Minneapolis, Minnesota was the Mall of America. It was a literal dream come true for Luke and me. “Oh Kelsey, it’s just a mall, calm down.” you think to yourself. But here’s the thing, Luke and I remembered reading about the Mall of America in the Guinness Book of World Records when we were kids. It described in details all the rides, mini golf, and eateries. As a kid this was pretty exciting stuff so when I say we were pumped, we were indeed pumped to see this place.

Mall of America

Mall of America expands over 96.4 acres. Enough space to fit seven stadiums. There is a huge food court and full size restaurants like Rainforest Cafe (where you can also delight your inner child.) They even had an Alpaca themed store for goodness sake! If you didn’t know alpaca hair is quite soft.

Mall of America
Mall of America

The Lego store was also massive, with a colorful wall of pick-your-own blocks and giant Lego men hovering above our heads.

Mall of America
Mall of America

We stopped by the Crayola experience because it was too colorful a place to pass up. Most activities were closed but they had some neat products I’d not seen anywhere else.

Mall of America

Lastly, a delicious iced Caribou coffee before we said goodbye to Mall of America. Caribou coffee was the first iced coffee I tried as a kid (yes I’ve drank coffee religiously since sixth grade) and it was just as delicious this go around.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Next stop, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Irene Hixon Whitney bridge. This is where you will find the iconic Minneapolis spoon and cherry along with some other great works of art.

Minneapolis Minnesota Sculpture Garden
Wind chime tree
Minneapolis Minnesota Sculpture Garden
Giant blue chicken (this one’s for you dad.)
Minneapolis Minnesota Sculpture Garden
View from the bridge
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

Como Park

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory was a blast! Located in Minneapolis we didn’t think we’d get to visit this FREE zoo and conservatory because you have to make reservations several days in advance (only allowing limited numbers and it is a one-way walkthrough of the grounds). However, I called and they said that sometimes last-minute spots will open up so just keep an eye on the website. Lucky for us, they did! We headed to Minneapolis from our campground at 9:30 am and made it to the park traveling through only a small bit of rain. It was a rainy day once we arrived at the park but that didn’t seem to stop the animals from coming out. Again, we lucked out because we just happened to pack two raincoats (whew!).

Como Park
By far the largest conservatory we’ve ever visited.
Como Park
How pretty is that? We decided we want to get married again here ;).
Como Park
Flamingos and ducks splish-splashing
Como Park
Puffin!
Como Park
Como Park
Sleepy monkeys

We first walked through the zoo portion of the park and then finished up with the conservatory, Luke was quite enthralled with the variety of tiny trees. The staff was so kind and informative! A worker in the conservatory took the time to tell us about several varieties of plants and what they could be used for.

Como Park
Como Park Minneapolis Minnesota
Como Park Minneapolis Minnesota
Como Park Minneapolis Minnesota
Como Park Minneapolis Minnesota
Special pollinator exhibit
Como Park Minneapolis Minnesota
So many colorful flowers!

Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum

Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum

The Minnesota State Public School Orphanage museum was a melancholy day trip but packed with so much history. As we arrived at the museum we were taken aback by how large the front building was, and how well maintained the grounds were! Though no longer an orphanage the front building holds city hall and the Orphanage Museum. Unfortunately, the indoor portion of the museum was closed but we were able to take the self guided walking tour outside.

Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum
Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum

All of the old buildings have been so wonderfully preserved and put to new uses, from daycare to tennis courts!

Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum

I wanted to make sure we stopped at the state school children’s cemetery to pay respects and educate ourselves about these lost babies. 198 children are buried here, unclaimed by family. Few ever had a flower left on their grave.

Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum
Typed below

1886-1945- During the 59 year history of the State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children, over 300 children died while under the state guardianship; 198 are buried in this cemetery, unclaimed by family. Some were buried under the cover of darkness because of contagious disease. Few, if any, ever had a flower on their grave. The average age at death was approximately 4 years old.

Causes of death

Causes of death included diptheria, measles, drowning, TB, cancrum oris, anemia, diarrhea, exhaustion, and marasmus. Marasmus is defined as “wasting and emaciation of an infant for no discoverable cause.” Today we would say “failure to thrive for lack of love.” Children also died from accidents (one killed by an elk, another a football injury), and a ruptured appendix.

In the early years, tombstones were erected. For unknown reasons, the state discontinued this practice. Children were then simply buried with their identification number etched on a cement slab.

In 1993 with the help of many community volunteers and contributors, the memorial (pictured below) and 151 named crosses were erected for those children buried only by a number. The memorial and crosses were dedicated in a community observance July 3, 1993.

Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum
“1888-1942 To the children who rest, here may the love you lacked in life now be your reward in heaven, you are remembered.”
Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum
Flossie was only 10 months old. I also want to highlight that I don’t think the orphanage made efforts to be abusive to the residents (as depicted in many asylums and state wards from long ago). I believe that is how little was understood in regards to child development at that time. Though staff provided food and shelter the importance of affection and caregiver bonds towards children was not known at that time.
Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum
One resident’s story
Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum

We learned so much at the Orphanage Museum. I am thankful for the preservation of such an important part of history.

The Spam Museum

Spam Museum Austin Minnesota

Now for something a little more light-hearted! The Spam Museum! Located in Austin, MN is the spam museum. It will teach you all about the history of the wonderful canned luncheon meat. There are also two special flavors not available anywhere else in the USA! Can you guess what they are? The Spam museum offers free admission so come on down! * Special flavors; SPAM Tocino, inspired by a sweet barbecue-flavored sauce common in Filipino dishes and SPAM Mezclita, a pork and cheese spread that pays tribute to the Puerto Rican staple mezcla.

 Austin Minnesota
Spam Museum Austin Minnesota
All the beautiful Spam cans over the years.
Spam Museum Austin Minnesota
Spam has fed our troops and allies for many years and continues to do so!
Spam Museum Austin Minnesota
Spam Museum Austin Minnesota
Spam is extremely popular in Hawaii, so much so that the Hawaiian American Girl doll comes with tiny cans of spam!
Spam Museum Austin Minnesota
The World’s First Bacon Fueled Motorcycle.
Spam Museum Austin Minnesota
Luke is 22 and a half cans of spam tall. Wow, what a guy.
Spam Museum Austin Minnesota
Spam Museum Austin Minnesota
Spam Museum Austin Minnesota
The Hormel girls were quite popular in the 40’s and 50’s performing at venues all over the country!
Spam Museum Austin Minnesota
Luke with our good friend spammy
Spam Museum Austin Minnesota
A spa gift set from Japan you are welcome to gift us for Christmas.
Spam Museum Austin Minnesota
Spam gift shop for all your spam needs.
Paramount Theater Austin Minnesota
The Paramount theater is just across the street from the Spam Museum. I love to see beautifully restored theaters.

On to the next stop! Our time in Minnesota was memorable but we’re moving faster these days as cold weather is approaching in the coming months and we’ve got more states to see. Have a great week friends and we’ll have more adventures to share soon! Last week’s post here.

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4 Comments

  1. Jodie says:

    YESS!! Best blog around🙌🏼

  2. Mary Welch says:

    What a fun trip! Thanks for the ride Embrys! I think the spam gift shop was the most fun for me! LOL The Perot Theatre in Texarkana was The Paramount Theatre at one time! Ya’ll stay safe and pick me up again soon.

  3. […] We loved our time in Milwaukee, if you’ve ever considered a vacation to this state I’d tell you to absolutely go for it! The people are lovely, the food is delish, and there’s plenty to see and do! Last week’s post here […]

  4. Yvonne Bond says:

    Love this trip for you! I want to see that mall. Looks like a fun fun time and much to see! I’m behind on reading your posts because I’m having slow internet issues. Keep on traveling! I’m enjoying going along with you!

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