Post updated June 2021
My family loves to hop in the car and go on an adventure. After commuting to Austin, MN for 5 years, we developed some favorite adventure spots. We did short stops at each location to get home in time for naps, but you could spend hours exploring if you want to choose only 1 or 2 stops on your field trip (this is usually what we do).
Jay C. Hormel Nature Center
We started our day at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center. Before it got too toasty outside, we took a walk on the trails. It is stroller-friendly and very shady; perfect for those with littles in tow! My boys had strong memories of our walk last spring when the bluebells were in bloom, so they were slightly disappointed they weren’t there. It’s worth a trip during bluebell season! Check out their website because they have great classes for a small fee and free activities all summer long. In the spring/summer/fall, you can canoe. In the winter, you can rent skis and snowshoes.
After the kiddos were tired and hot from a great hike, we went inside the air-conditioned interpretive center to explore. There are many interactive exhibits for kids (and adults). Night animal sounds, a giant turtle shell, and domes in the middle of a prairie exhibit, to name a few.
There’s even an early childhood room where activities are geared towards the younger visitors. My boys enjoy putting on puppet shows and making nature rubbings.
Our next stop for the day was the SPAM Museum. SPAM is what most everyone thinks of when they hear Austin, MN. It’s true, Hormel is a big staple in the community. The new museum opened in 2016, and it does not disappoint. You can learn all about SPAM and the Hormel corporation. Who knew Hormel owned SO MANY food processing companies?! There are many interactive exhibits and a great indoor play area!
Chances are, you’ll be asked to try a “SPAMple” at some point on your visit. They’ll have several different flavors of SPAM to taste!
Coffee House on Main
While we’re playing at the SPAM Museum, either I or my husband will run across the street to the Coffee House on Main for a caffeine refuel. I’m not a big coffee drinker like my hubby, but I do love a good mocha, and the Coffee House on Main has great mochas! We grab our drinks to go and continue to play at the museum with our kiddos.
After the kiddos have exhausted the museum, we walk across the street to Sweet Reads. It is the most adorable new and used book shop with the sweetest owner. While you’re visiting there, you are sure to meet her! We like to cozy up in the kid’s section and read a few books, take a look at the HUGE Berenstein Bear exhibit and grab a treat and a dollar book for the road. I love the variety of old-fashioned candy offered as well as cool ice cream treats!
Piggy Blues BBQ
We’ve been busy busy busy on this little adventure of ours, and our tummies are grumbling. There are SO MANY great locally owned Austin establishments to eat at (1910 Fresh Mexican Kitchen, Tendermaid, Steve’s Pizza, to name a few of our favorites), but the boys will ALWAYS choose Piggy Blues BBQ when given the option. The atmosphere is so laid back and kid-friendly (there’s even a bucket of kids toys when you walk in to bring to your table). The kid’s meals are reasonably priced with gelato included in the meal, and the food is delicious. You must get the sweet corn nuggets when you make your visit!
Maybe you’d rather pack a picnic lunch? We do this from time to time as well! There are many great parks to visit! Our favorite is Todd Park. They have picnic benches and pavilions all around, and several different playgrounds to choose from.
Even though I no longer work in Austin, I know we will visit regularly to explore! I hope you do too!