Hidden MN

We regularly get letters and emails from readers suggesting Minnesota Monthly cover more goings-on in greater Minnesota. Sometimes these notes are helpful, highlighting events in Redwood Falls or Silver Bay. Sometimes the messages have a bit of an edge: “Why don’t you just be honest with yourselves and rename the magazine Metro Monthly?” One writer dismissed our staff as “citiots.” Ouch!

I grew up in a small town, so I know where these readers are coming from. Small towns are often home to some astonishing talents—and their citizens are rightly proud of their heritage and accomplishments. Each year, the residents of outstate Minnesota open new art galleries, pie shops, B&Bs, and supper clubs. They stage concerts and shows. They preserve opera houses and prairies. They pour their efforts into celebrations centered on raspberries, eelpout, beer, and kolackys. And they often feel that their efforts are overlooked and underappreciated by Cities folk.

This month’s cover story, “Hidden Minnesota,” aims to spotlight some of the cool shops, delicious treats, curious sights, and amazing adventures that lurk outside the Cities. Earlier this summer, we dispatched the members of our editorial staff to the state’s far-flung corners, instructing them to uncover gems and treasures that would dazzle and delight even the most jaded city slickers. Assistant editor Ellen Burkhardt returned with raves about the bacon in Litchfield and the arts scene in Litchfield. Staff writer Gregory J. Scott schooled himself in the tradition of Native American pipemaking in Pipestone and ate a breakfast big enough for a lumberjack in Bemidji. Senior editor Tim Gihring visited Harmony to sample the fare at Quarter/Quarter, opened by a former Twin Cities chef, and style editor Katie Dohman mukluked north to Hibbing and Ely, where she shopped, supped, and downed a shot of Pelinkovac, a wormwood-based digestif that old-timers swear by.

The 10 towns highlighted in this issue represent just a fraction of what greater Minnesota has to offer, of course, so I welcome your suggestions on what other towns deserve a look. You’ll feel better for sharing or venting. And I’ll feel less like a “citiot.”



Writer Greg Breining lives in St. Paul, but he spends much of the summer at his cabin in northern Minnesota. An avid outdoorsman, Breining enjoys hunting and fishing and gadding about in general. For this month’s feature on easy hikes, “Happy Trails,” we asked  him to uncover the state’s 10 top trails—hikes that are easy to do, varied in their topography, and scenic almost any time of year.
Although illustrator Lars Leetaru was born and raised in Pennsylvania, he says he feels a “shared cultural sensibility” with Minnesota. In addition to illustrating, Leetaru likes to travel, taking his sketchbook to new and exciting places. He also plays the banjo, which his neighbors have been very gracious about. This month, he lent his talents to Minnesota Monthly for the “Hidden Minnesota” feature.
Minnesota Monthly art director Jeremy Nelson, who designed the layout for “Happy Trails,” has a deep appreciation for the outdoors. A former resident of Minot, North Dakota, he spends much of his free time hiking, camping, snowboarding, and biking. He joined the MM staff last fall and serves as the art director for Midwest Home magazine and Reserve, a publication produced for U.S. Bank.