Travel: Green Gate Guest Houses

Travel Guide: Green Gate Guest Houses | Biwabik, MN

If you’re looking for a great Minnesota getaway you need to check out Green Gate Guest Houses, located near Biwabik, Minnesota. The property is bordered by Giants Ridge Recreational Area, The Mesabi Bike Trail and the Embarrass River, and is a short drive from the Bavarian-themed town of Biwabik.  We discovered Green Gate during our recent trip to Duluth and the Iron Range and absolutely loved it there. Not only is the location ideal and next to so many great activities, but Green Gate is so beautiful that you might have a hard time leaving to do anything else! We spent a lot of time around the fire pit and enjoying everything the beautiful vacation home and property had to offer. There’s a river that runs alongside the property, so in warmer months you have access to the river to lounge (plop some lawn chairs down in the shallow water) or paddle.

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The owner, Shawn, is a former engineer who now spends the majority of his time constructing beautiful guest homes on his property and managing them as amazing little vacation spots. During our recent trip we stayed in the farmhouse, but there’s also a barn home, a log cabin and more in the works (we got a sneak peak of the Miner’s House, which Shawn is currently working on, and also peaked at the riverside ‘tiny house’ that is still a work in progress).

Travel Guide: Green Gate Guest Houses | Biwabik, MN

During our time in Biwabik we biked 30 miles along The Mesabi Trail (read more about it in this post), which is easy to access from Green Gate Guest Houses. The folks at Mesabi Shuttle can even arrange to pick you up right from Green Gate and transport you and your bikes to a trail head. Green Gate is right next door to one of Minnesota’s greatest recreational areas, Giants Ridge, where you can find world class skiing, golfing, fat biking, snow tubing, disc golf, hiking, an outdoor pool, beaches, a rock climbing wall and a system of mountain bike trails that is slated to open in 2018. You’re also near Sabin Lake (along with several other local lakes) where you can partake in a host of water activities. I promise, if you decide you can tear yourself away from your beautiful surroundings at Green Gate, you will not be bored for a single second. You can find additional information about local activities through Iron Range Tourism.

Another fun fact about Green Gate that we wanted to share is that they have a Tesla Charging Station as well as a Clipper Creek Universal Charger right on site. Being about 206 miles north of Minneapolis makes Green Gate Guest Houses ideal for Tesla and other electronic car drivers who are looking for a place to not only relax and recharge themselves….but are looking to vacation in Northern Minnesota with their Tesla and need to plan on being able to recharge the car during their stay (most electronic cars have a range of 200-300 miles on one charge)!

Travel Guide: Green Gate Guest Houses | Biwabik, MN

We’d love to get back up to Biwabik this summer if our schedule allows, but are definitely anticipating a return trip to Green Gate Guest Houses in the winter for skiing and fat biking!

In case you’re wondering, Green Gate is not a dog friendly property, but they do consider 4-legged guests for return customers, with a preference for dogs who are non-shedding. You can contact them directly to ask about bringing your furry friend along on your vacation. Walter had a blast and gives Green Gate four paws up! 

Travel: Minnesota’s Iron Range

Travel Guide: Minnesota's Iron Range and biking the Mesabi Trail | Thyme is Honey

After our recent trip to Duluth, MN, we continued north to Minnesota’s Iron Range. We are excited to spend time exploring some of the most bike-able areas in the state, and with more than 155 miles of paved pathway, the Iron Range was a great place for us to start this two-wheeled adventure!

We started our trip out by driving from Duluth, MN to Virginia, MN where we met up with Chris from Mesabi Shuttle. We loaded our bikes and Walter’s bike cart up, and they drove us 25 miles west to Hibbing, MN and dropped us off at the trailhead for the Mesabi Trail, one of Minnesota’s longest bike trails. With Walter in tow we set out for a 30 mile ride toward Chisholm, then continued east toward Virginia, MN.

Travel Guide: Minnesota's Iron Range and biking the Mesabi Trail | Thyme is Honey

If you enjoy biking you will love spending a day (or two!) on the Mesabi Trail. The trail is in great condition, is well cared for, and is surrounded by beautiful scenery.  The Mesabi Trail reaches over 155 miles and connects 28 communities. We bike for excercise and function, but also for fun! So, we appreciate when a bike trail frequent stops in towns where we can find food, drinks and little side trips or activities.

The Mesabi Trail is dense with all of those! Right as you take off from Hibbing you’ll get the opportunity to take a short detour and bike to an overlook for a working mine. Not only was the mine kind of picturesque (and so vast!) but it was also fun to see the gigantic trucks driving around.

Travel Guide: Minnesota's Iron Range and biking the Mesabi Trail | Thyme is Honey

After that short stop we got back on our bikes and headed toward Chisholm, where we planned to stop for a quick lunch. A few people had recommended the Black Bear Bakery, so we stopped in there to get a sandwich and then enjoyed it at a picnic table in a nearby park. Chisholm has a very picturesque and quaint main street. Its definitely worth the extra mile of biking to pop off the main trail and visit the town.

The Mesabi Trail is built along a string of mining towns, so you don’t really have any shortage of stops. Between Chisholm and Virginia we stopped at a swimming beach (would be the perfect spot for a quick dip in the warmer months) and then in Buhl for a cold beer. Along the way you bike past lots of lakes and old mines and can easily get entranced by the beauty of the northwoods! The ride goes really quickly and is pretty relaxed. You’ll quickly find yourself arriving back in Virginia (it took us about 2.5 hours of pedaling, with a trailer).

Travel Guide: Minnesota's Iron Range and biking the Mesabi Trail | Thyme is Honey

Virginia has a lot to offer for drinks and food, so be sure to plan on ending your trip with dinner. Since Walter was with us we set out in search of a dog friendly patio and spent a couple hours out on the deck at Flaimer’s Bar and Grill. Before leaving town we made a quick stop at Natural Harvest Food Coop to get food and supplies for our weekend at Green Gate Guest Houses. This was probably one of the nicest food coops I’ve ever visited!

If you are headed to this neck of the woods and are looking for lodging, be sure to check out Green Gate Guest Houses! We stayed in The Farm House and cannot recommend it enough. The location is perfect for biking The Mesabi Trail, but is also located right next to Giants Ridge (like honestly walking distance), which has an abundance of activities! We spent our Friday night grilling out and enjoying the fire pit, but on Saturday we made the short drive to Lookout Mountain to do some hiking.

We really enjoyed our time in The Iron Range! The Mesabi Trail was very condusive to the type of trip we wanted to plan, and we didn’t have any trouble keeping ourselves busy and entertained throughout the two days we spent there.  We’re definitely looking forward to biking this trail system again in the future, and are hoping to get back up that way this winter for skiing and fat biking at Giants Ridge!

Dog Friendly Travel: Duluth, MN

Dog Friendly Travel: Duluth, Minnesota | trip planning tips + itineraries for planning your dog friendly vacation in Duluth, Minnesota.

Last week we escaped north to Lake Superior for a couple nights of dog friendly travel in Duluth, Minnesota. We ended up with better weather than we had expected (always a nice surprise!) but did have to dodge rain a time or two. Even with cooler temperatures and a bit of rain, we managed to keep ourselves and Walter very happy and entertained during our time in Duluth, and are excited to share our tips with you! We’ve included suggestions to help you start building your Duluth itinerary and would also suggest checking out the Visit Duluth website for additional ideas!

Dog Friendly Travel: Duluth, Minnesota | trip planning tips + itineraries for planning your dog friendly vacation in Duluth, Minnesota: Sunrise over Lake Superior from Fitger's Inn Duluth MN

LODGING

Fitger’s Inn has a selection of dog friendly rooms, but you’ll want to make reservations in advance to make sure you secure one before they book up. This is a great place to stay with your dog because the entire complex is dog friendly! Fitger’s Inn has taken what was once their old brewery building and turned it into a mall. It’s kind of a labyrinth of cool shops, restaurants, a brewery and little pubs. It has a european feel and it was easy to imagine we were back in Germany or Austria! Plus, your dog can go into any of the shops, a couple of the bars and is welcome on the patios!
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Fitger’s has a great location, with the lakefront and canal park within easy walking distance. We found the area around Fitger’s to be very dog friendly and enjoyed the river walk as a good spot for Walter’s potty breaks. If you plan on biking you’ll appreciate easy access to the city’s bike paths and the fact that Fitger’s is down along the lake front, where it’s flat, and you can get to a lot of great places while avoiding the steep hills. We’d like to thank Visit Duluth for help with arranging our dog-friendly lodging!

ACTIVITIES

Dog Friendly Travel: Duluth, Minnesota | trip planning tips + itineraries for planning your dog friendly vacation in Duluth, Minnesota: dog friendly bars and shops

A Place for Fido – This is an amazing little pet shop located inside Fitger’s (as mentioned, this entire mall is dog friendly). Take your pooch in there to sample a free treat and to pick up a bag of something yummy to enjoy on his vacation! We got Walter a new harness and a bag of Bark Pops. We really appreciated the employees knowledge of the brands they carried and each product’s features and were really happy with the new harness!

Matilda’s Dog Bakery – This is another fun store to take your dog to. Not only is it dog friendly, but it is full of fresh, healthy, home made dog biscuits and treats! Walter was beside himself with all the delicious smells! We ended up grabbing him a bag of their Peanut Butter, Bacon and Maple biscuits and he’s totally wild about them! While you’re in the area grab a human treat and cup of coffee at Johnson Bakery. Their maple longjohn was the best I’ve ever had in my life, hands down (I gushed all about it on Yelp)

Dog Friendly Travel: Duluth, Minnesota | trip planning tips + itineraries for planning your dog friendly vacation in Duluth, Minnesota: dog friendly shops and restaurants

Enjoy the LakewalkDuluth has a great lakefront park with trails and bike paths. It’s a great place to bike, walk your dog, jog or just enjoy the views. It starts at Canal Park, where you’ll find a variety or restaurants, bars, breweries and shops (more about those, below), and extends 7 miles to 60th Avenue East!

Dog Friendly Travel: Duluth, Minnesota | trip planning tips + itineraries for planning your dog friendly vacation in Duluth, Minnesota: canal park and light house.

Canal Park – Dubbed as “Duluth’s Playground” this central spot has great views of the lake, a lighthouse, and access to rocky shorelines and pebble beaches as well as a host of bars, restaurants and shops! The system of bike and walking paths makes it easy to access and get around.

Get Ice Cream – the adorable PortLand Malt Shoppe is super Instagrammy and serves up delicious scoops. Grab one and enjoy it lakeside while your furry friend chases the Lake Superior waves.

Dog Friendly Travel: Duluth, Minnesota | trip planning tips + itineraries for planning your dog friendly vacation in Duluth, Minnesota: Gooseberry Falls and Castle Danger Brewing

Drive the North Shore – Take highway 61 north out of Duluth 40 miles towards  Beaver Bay. Along the way you can tour Glensheen Mansion (if your dog can be safe in the car, depending on weather), enjoy lake views (highway 61 hugs the shoreline the entire way!), stop at Castle Danger Brewing in Two Harbors (dog friendly on the patio), hike with your dog at Gooseberry Falls,  and if you want to drive even further north you can get some amazing photos at Palisade Head. This website has a beautiful North Shore Drive itinerary that starts in Duluth and ends in Portage (142 miles).

DINING
These Duluth dining options are all dog friendly on the patio! 

Canal Park Brewing – This one has a fire pit, so it’s a great option for a cold beer or meal if the temperatures are a little on the cool side. We didn’t eat here but the beer and patio get four paws up!
Northern Waters Smokehaus  – Their menu is incredible, highly rated, and they allow dogs on the patio (dog bowls and treats, too)! (their Instagram account, @northernwaters_restaurant, had me drooling before we even left for the trip).
Vitta Pizza – Great pizza (came highly recommended from a friend) and a dog friendly patio.
Little Angie’s Cantina – If you’re feeling Mexican food this little cantina will do the trick! Your dog is welcome to join you on the patio.

Do you have a dog friendly recommendation or something you think we missed during our trip to Duluth, Minnesota! Leave a comment and let us know, we’re hoping to get back up there soon! 

Things to do in Madison, Wisconsin

Things to do in Madison Wi - must-do local activities and our favorite road trips | Thyme is Honey

After we announced our move from Madison, Wisconsin to Minneapolis I’ve gotten a lot of “It’s so great you’re moving closer to home!”…which made me realize that a lot of people are confused about where Madison is. Our new home in Minneapolis will actually only be 10 miles closer to my hometown (147 miles versus 157), so indeed it is just *slightly* closer, but it will also come with fighting city traffic heading south out of the metro, where as we currently amble across the Wisconsin countryside and eastern Iowa.

Our move will, however, put us closer to a lot of our friends and our siblings (and closer to my husband’s parents), so it does feel like a homecoming of sorts, but it made me realize that Madison doesn’t pop into a lot of midwesterner’s minds when they are considering local vacation hot spots. I had never really visited Madison until we lived here, so I can’t blame them. Before we leave this beautiful city I wanted to share some of the things we love most about it, as well as some local road trips that quickly became some of our favorite getaways. If you live in or are planning to visit Madison, Wisconsin, here are my MUST DOs for you! Enjoy!

  1. Canoe + Camp on the Wisconsin River! This was by far our favorite activity while living in Madison, we did it dozens of times and we already have a date on the calendar to come back and do a trip this summer with friends. The Wisconsin River is all sand-bottomed from Sauk City all the way to the Iowa border. The entire thing is dotted with gorgeous beaches and sandbars. There’s no better way to spend a summer weekend in Wisconsin. Pack your tent, your cooler of beer and don’t forget your dog! You can arrange transportation and equipment rental through Wisconsin River Outings. We typically do their 5-6 hours trips, camping overnight in the middle, but last year we also did a 60 mile trip and loved it!
    Wisconsin River Canoe Camping
  2. Have a beer (and a shot) at the Missouri Tavern – This is a must-see if you love a good Wisconsin Dive Bar. This was the birthplace of Apple Pie shots. Other favorite Madison bars include Mickey’s Tavern and Mason Lounge.
  3. Attend the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning and don’t leave without spicy cheese bread. Madison is home to the largest producer-only farmer’s market in the US. If you plan to be here on a summer weekend you can’t miss the opportunity to check it out. It is conveniently arranged around the state capitol. Make sure you track down Stella’s Spicy Cheese bread and grab a loaf to enjoy while you browse the other booths.
  4. Visit the Memorial Union Terrace at the University of Wisconsin – I hesitate to call this a “cliche” Madison experience, although it can seem that way. I resisted embracing this tradition at first because it seemed like it would mostly be students and alumni (of which I was neither), but The Terrace is truly a community gathering place, open to all, and they host a lot of great events and concerts there throughout the summer. Sitting down with a pitcher of beer and a view of the sailboats is a great way to start a Saturday evening. (I once wrote a piece for Lakeshore Magazine highlighting a fun Saturday activity that takes you from Monona Terrace, through the Farmer’s Market, down state street and ends at Memorial Union Terrace, read it here)
  5. Hike to picnic point – This is another thing that we really procrastinated on. We didn’t go here until this year, and wished we’d gone sooner. It’s a great little hike right in the middle of the city, and the view at the end is definitely worth it. There are also several fire pits along the shoreline that you can rent to have a bonfire or cookout. Something we should have done!
  6. Road trip to Appleton, WI for Mile of Music – We love live music, so discovering the Mile of Music Fest in Appleton, Wisconsin, was like hitting the jackpot. For the first weekend of August the small town converts to the Nashville of Wisconsin (sort of) every venue, street corner, or vacant park in the city turns into a music venue. They host hundreds of artists for the weekend and the entire event is free. The festival is organized by musician Cory Chisel (we’re longtime fans, he was our very first concert together), who does a great job of finding up and coming talent as well as bringing in big names.
  7. Spend a summer weekend in Milwaukee and kayak through the city! Madison might be an underrated Midwestern city but I also think Milwaukee doesn’t get enough credit! It is absolutely one of my favorite cities in the country. Last summer we did an entire profile of traveling Milwaukee with your dog, during which we kayaked the city’s system of canals, visiting bars and breweries along the way, all with Walter in tow. We had a blast! Check out this post for a full itinerary and more details or visit Milwaukee Kayak Company for more information on kayaking!
    Milwaukee-Kayaking-Company-Dog-Friendly-Milwaukee-Wisconsin
  8. Visit Lion’s Den Gorge – This is a quick road trip from Madison, but is also great to tack onto any trip to or from Milwaukee, since it’s just a quick drive up the Lake Michigan shoreline. The park is full of hiking trails. The views from the high cliffs are amazing, but the beaches and turquoise water steal the show! We also wrote more about this in our post about Milwaukee.
    Dog-Friendly-Milwaukee-Wisconsin-Lions-Den-Gorge
  9. Hike (or rock climb) at Devil’s Lake and stop to peruse the beer list at The Barn. This was an annual Memorial Day tradition for us the entire time we lived in Madison. Each year we rock climbed with friends in Devils Lake State Park (some of the best rock climbing in the Midwest) and then would enjoy dinner and drinks at The Barn after a long day of hiking and climbing. Their beer list is literally a binder. Thank me later.
  10. Tour the Epic Campus in Verona, Wi. Oh, this one might sound lame, and trust me when I say that we’ve gotten raised eyebrows from more than one guest when we suggested spending a beautiful Saturday afternoon touring my husband’s work! But, we’ve never had anyone leave disappointed, in fact we’ve had guests who have claimed it was the best part of their trip (even some international guests who road tripped across the entire country later told us that visiting Epic was their trip highlight)! Epic is an electronic medical records company based out of Verona, Wisconsin (just a few mile south of Madison). The campus is around 800 acres and is filled with beautiful gardens and local artwork (so many beautiful installations outdoors). Each building has a special theme, some of my favorites include the Harry Potter building (called the Library), the Alice in Wonderland Building (called Alice), and the Lord of the Rings decor in Deep Space. If you can get hooked up with an employee (there’s over 10,000 of them) for a personal tour you can see inside and outside—otherwise it’s worth the quick drive just to visit the gardens and see the buildings from the outside. It will blow your mind and I feel very lucky that the campus was like our second home, where we enjoyed picnics and long walks with our dog for the past 5 years.

Things to do in Pai, Thailand

Things to do in Pai Thailand - why you shouldn't miss this mountain town located in Northern Thailand | Thyme is Honey

I think my post about our One Month Trip to Northern and Southern Thailand will go down as my longest blog post ever. Thailand was such a beautiful country, and we crammed so many things into 4 weeks that it was hard to talk about it all in one blog post without getting totally overwhelmed. I could have (and maybe should have) done a separate post for each city! I’m not going to do that, but I do want to dedicate a separate post to our favorite part of the trip: the two weeks we spent in Pai, Thailand.

Pai is a small city (population 2,200) located in the mountains of Northern Thailand near the border with Myanmar. We kind of stumbled across it while trying to find places to visit north of Chiang Mai. The internet lauded it as a “backpacker’s paradise” and although we didn’t find a ton of information about it, what we did find was enough for us to work it into our itinerary and book 6 nights there. We figured if Pai itself wasn’t what we expected, we could spend our time doing day trips or maybe book a long overnight hiking trip in the mountains or even duck over to Myanmar for a day or two.

But Pai didn’t disappoint! Pai was the absolute best. Within an hour of arriving I was already begging my husband to let us extend our stay in Pai, staying for 11 nights instead of 6. Fortunately our Airbnb was available and they let us extend our stay. We had an absolutely magical two weeks in Pai, had some pretty serious conversations about relocating there (I wouldn’t say we’ve entirely given up on the idea), and can’t wait to get back!

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