Category: RootsRated

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in the Twin Cities

By rootsratedpartners on June 1st 2017

How great is that moment of relaxation that washes over you when you sit down after a long day of tackling the trails to take your first sip of a locally brewed beer? Some might call it priceless, but most agree it’s at least worth the $5-7 price tag for a cold pint in the Twin Cities.

In addition to being a place where taphouses quadrupled (!) between 2013 and 2016, Minneapolis and St. Paul offer extensive outdoor activities. The area has taken home awards like the #1 Bike City and has been the only U.S. city on a global list of bike-friendly spots; not to mention the paddling opportunities on urban lakes and trails winding through some of the best parks in the country.

All of this adds up to one thing—you simply have to tackle a Trail to Tavern® adventure in this Minnesota metropolis the next time you have a long weekend coming up. Because the Twin Cities are just that—two cities smashed together—the area isn’t tiny, so the best way to approach a long weekend is to divide and conquer. We’ve done all the planning for you, so all you’ve gotta do is get yourself here!

Day One

Minnehaha Park is one of the oldest and most popular parks in the area. Adam Fagen

Your first day should absolutely be spent exploring the outdoors in Minneapolis. There’s plenty to choose from, but the beauty is that they’re all doable if you start your day early enough. Luckily, each option is also great all by itself, so you’re guaranteed a good time even if you only tackle a few.

Kick off your weekend with a trip to Bogart’s Doughnut Co. for a quick and delicious donut and coffee before you head over to Minnehaha Regional Park—a must-see for waterfalls, Mississippi River overlooks, and hiking that will make you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the city. There are almost 10 miles of paved path at the park, so pick up a map when you get there and start exploring!

If you’ve got Fido in tow, there’s an excellent dog park within Minnehaha for more than six acres of off-leash glory—filled with trees, sand, and plenty of riverfront for your four-legged buddy to enjoy. (You do need to buy a permit in advance to take your dog to the dog park, though.)

When it’s time to take a break, relax on the patio or play some Skee-Ball at Pat’s Tap. This Skee-Club (yes, that’s right) and gastropub serves up squeaky cheese curds, full meals, and a wide range of drinks. With 20 beers on tap and more than 100 available in cans, you’re sure to find something to drink here (even if you need gluten-free). This south Minneapolis hot spot also welcomes dogs on its patio, so don’t feel like your pup has to stay behind.

After fueling up at Pat’s, biking the 5.5-mile Midtown Greenway is an excellent way to take a tour of the city itself while getting a few miles of cycling in. You can rent a bike from Nice Ride, the Twin Cities’ public bike sharing system, and it’s just $3 per half hour.

The Fulton Taproom is a local favorite. Photo courtesy of Fulton Beer.

When the sun starts to set, keep the day going by hitting up another of the city’s many amazing breweries. The Fulton Taproom is a local favorite (you have to try the Lonely Blonde) and Lakes and Legends is another super pup-friendly spot that has a variety of games like hammerschlagen—a German game that entails hitting a nail into a piece of wood with the narrow end of a hammer. Bauhaus in Northeast (or Nordeast if you ask a local) has one of the best patios in the city and a solid rotation of local food trucks to supplement their brews.

For those that are less into beer, head on over to recently opened Twin Spirits, the first one-woman owned distillery in the entire state. You can tour the distillery on Wednesdays or Saturdays, and be sure to taste Mamma’s Moonshine, which is more of a mead made with Minnesota honey instead of the traditional white corn whiskey.

Where to Stay

Like any big city, Minneapolis has many chain and boutique hotels. A couple of good options are the Nicolette Island Inn on an island in the Mississippi and the Alma Hotel and Cafe along the banks of the river. If you brought a four-legged companion, try the pet-friendly Kimpton Grand.

If Airbnb is more your style, look for something in South Minneapolis for a residential feel or Uptown (Lyndale / Lake area) to be close to all the nightlife action.

Day Two

Paddling around the Lake of the Isles can be a peaceful experience. Michael Hicks

Start your second day at Al’s Breakfast, located in the heart of Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus. This gem is counter service only, and is the go-to spot for traditional morning favorites like scrambled eggs and strong coffee. Then it’s off to the city’s signature lakes.

There’s a reason that the Chain of Lakes is one of the pride and joys of the Twin Cities—not many places can boast four major, connected lakes within their boundaries. Found near the bustling Uptown neighborhood, Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, Lake of the Isles, and Cedar Lake offer endless outdoor fun all year long. During the summer the lakes are filled with swimmers, beachgoers, and paddlers of all kinds, but even in the winter there are ways to enjoy the lakes. Ice fishing is popular, as is simply taking a walk across the frozen wonderland that the lakes become when they freeze over. There’s also an annual lantern festival, the Luminary Loppet held on Lake of the Isles, that is an incredibly unique event designed to celebrate Minnesota’s most extreme season: winter.

Paddling is a great way to spend your day at the lakes. One option is to put-in at Lake of the Isles Park and paddle through a tree-lined canal down to Lake Calhoun, a popular spot for windsurfing. From Lake of the Isles, you can also paddle up to Cedar Lake, where you’ll find a little beach. You can also put-in at Lynnhurst Park just south of Lake Harriet and paddle Minnehaha Creek east to Minnehaha Falls (it’s about six miles). For a real adventure, skip the lakes and head about half an hour west to Lake Minnetonka and take Minnehaha Creek all the way to the falls (this trip is about 22 miles).

Because the lakes are smack-dab in the middle of the city, there are plenty of options nearby for grabbing a quick lunch after building up an appetite. Bread & Pickle near Harriet Lake (only open from May until Labor Day) offers sandwiches, salads, and ice cream, using locally sourced ingredients as much as possible. If you find yourself at the northern lakes, try Namaste Cafe for a great selection of vegetarian fare, or Stella’s Fish Cafe & Prestige Oyster Bar for tuna poke or blackened fish tacos. Stella’s also offers a handful of beers on tap and in bottles.

After you’ve had your fill of the water and your feet start to itch for solid ground, the lakes are also the perfect place to go for an afternoon run. Each lake is encircled by a fully paved running and biking path and they all connect for about 15 miles of trails, which means you can run or bike for exactly as long as you want.

Once you get cleaned up and are ready to explore the nightlife, Uptown is full of great places to hang with the locals. LynLake Brewery is located just a few blocks from the lakes in the heart of uptown. It has a rooftop complete with a fire pit and a view of the city to rival the rest. For the gamers in your group, Up-Down is a top notch spot filled with giant Jenga and Connect Four, craft beer, and a variety of video games like Mario Kart and Frogger in addition to 90s TV shows like Rugrats and Ah! Real Monsters on repeat. Bryant-Lake Bowl is the place to go to drink, eat, and bowl until 2 am. The best part? The bowling is totally free (as long as you’re buying a drink).

Day Three

There are some excellent trails to discover at Fort Snelling State Park. Jeanne W

On your third and final day, make your way across the river to the less-explored St. Paul side of the Twin Cities. Here you’ll find fewer hipsters, but just as many outdoor opportunities and local beer options. The Minnesota River Trail is an expansive, 318-mile water trail that stretches from Big Stone Lake in the northern part of the state to where it meets the mighty Mississippi River near St. Paul’s Fort Snelling State Park. Here, you can take off for an exploration of the last few miles of the massive river trail or trot along any of the historic fort’s 18 miles of hiking trails.

If you’ve been dying to get some time on your mountain bike, continue east to Battle Creek Regional Park. The trail system here has 4.5 miles of singletrack and 3.3 miles of multi-use trails with rolling hills and steep climbs through the forest.

For lunch, catch a food truck and a pint at Bad Weather Brewing Company, a local favorite that prides itself on crafting beer that is “untethered and unpredictable, just like the weather here in Minnesota.” As such, their brews are always in flux, constantly offering something new to their loyal band of followers. If none of the seasonal options tickle your fancy, try one of the popular flagship brews, like the hoppy Windvane Red IPA or the citrusy Hopcromancer American IPA.

Post-feast, put in a solid climbing session at Vertical Endeavors, one of the largest indoor gyms in the country. They have a location in Minneapolis, too, but the one on Phalen Boulevard and Arcade Street/U.S. 61 is just a few miles from Bad Weather. With more than 18,000 feet of climbing space, offering top-roping, two bouldering spaces, an auto-belay device, and lead-climbing routes, it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon. The gym also features a Nicros A.R.T.Wall™, made from molds of real rock for a natural look and feel.

Finish your weekend at the Summit Brewing Company, the source of the national favorite, or the Wabasha Brewing Company. You can’t go wrong with either, but the latter is “just a stone’s throw” from the Wabasha Street Caves—one of the most fun and well-kept secrets in the Twin Cities.

With so much to do, this itinerary is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to adventure in the Twin Cities, and that’s not even touching the Great Lakes (a mere 2.5-hour drive away). As you can see, there is plenty to keep you busy for weeks, months, or even years, so you may want to carve out a few long weekends to visit this northern state.

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by PunkToad

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in Portland, Maine

By rootsratedpartners on May 22nd 2017

Known for lobster, miles of coastline, and landscapes that have inspired artists for centuries, Portland may be our coziest Trail to Tavern® city yet. Once the capital of Maine and still the largest city in the state, this industrial town has turned into a true foodie destination with about 200 restaurants and more than 20 breweries (and that number grows each year). Pair that with more than 70 miles of urban trails, and you’ve got a full weekend ahead.

But with so many options, how do you make the most out of three days in Portland? Even just walking, eating, and drinking your way across the Forest City would be considered a major accomplishment. But we’re going to get you off the peninsula, too, and pack as much as possible into the three days you have here.

Day One

The Eastern Promenade is easily accessible from downtown, and is a popular spot for locals. murphman61

Start your first day at sunrise (trust us, it’s worth it!) on Munjoy Hill. The spot is located in the Eastern Promenade, and you’ll have the best vantage point for breathtaking views of Casco Bay, Fort Gorges out on Hog Island Ledge, and other nearby islands. The “Eastern Prom” offers a 2.1-mile paved and stone trail along the water that is perfect for running or biking, and also connects to the 3.6-mile Back Cove Loop if you want to add in more mileage.

After finishing your run back at the Eastern Prom, take a dip in the ocean at East End Beach, or bring your kayak or canoe and launch right off the beach or the boat ramp. (You can also rent a kayak or stand-up paddle board at the promenade.) Paddle around the bay, or go under Tukey’s Bridge to the calm Back Cove.

By now, everyone else will probably be awake, so make your way down the hill for coffee at Coffee by Design on India Street with some of the friendly locals. Committed to the environment, their partners in South America, and the community, the micro roaster offers up perfectly brewed flavored coffees (and single origin black coffee, too!) and tasty pastries like handmade donuts from The Holy Donut.

After a little breakfast, head over to the Casco Bay Lines’ terminal for a 20-minute ferry ride out to the biggest nearby island, Peaks Island. The first boat leaves at 5:45 am, and then every hour after that until the last boat at 11:30 pm. The schedule may vary, so check the ferry website.

You’ll need fuel for your upcoming adventure, so stock your backpack full of bread, cheese, meat, and delicious spreads from Rosemont Market or Standard Baking Co. before boarding the boat.

Once you do get out to the island, beeline it to Brad’s Island Bike Rentals & Repairs. Making your way around the island via pedal power is the best way to take in all in. You’ll find birds to watch, beaches to explore (check out the back shore), and Battery Steele, a fortification from World War Two. The Umbrella Cover Museum is a quirky little place featuring (you guessed it!) umbrella covers, and with a motto of “Celebrate the Mundane!”

Of course, paddling is almost always an option when you’re on an island, and the Maine Island Kayak Company is the place for rentals or guided tours. There are half-day and full-day options that are suitable for beginners or those with a little more experience, and your guide will take you out to “secret” areas that are tough to find on your own (think a lighthouse, a lagoon with starfish and lobsters, and more). If you have self-survival skills, they will rent you a kayak in the warmer months of July and August, but the tours are worth checking out.

It’s 100% okay to bring a boat beer for the ride back, so stop by Hannigan’s Island Market (about a three-minute walk from the ferry) for a wide selection of local brews. Sometimes you can even snag a seasonal beer that is sold out on the mainland!

Once you get back on the mainland, head over towards the Back Cove to the family-owned Rising Tide Brewing Company. Making small-batch beers with an “aim to create well-balanced beers that are inspired by old world traditions but with modern twists,” they offer tours and tastings throughout the week. You’ll also find a food truck there most days.

If you didn’t find something to snack on at Rising Tide, wrap up your day with dinner at The Thirsty Pig, serving up house-made sausages and local beer. With options ranging from a pork sausage with Thai chili sauce to a Lithuanian Kielbasa, this place is a must stop for good beer and food. You can even get vegan chili and vegan hot dogs for the non-meat eaters in your crew.

Where to Stay

Portland has several chain hotels, but for an authentic experience, look into a bed and breakfast. There are several in town, each with their own character. The Danforth Inn is just south of downtown, near the Casco Bridge, and is housed in the renovated Old Port Mansion. A few blocks away, the Inn at Park Spring is a little smaller with just five rooms in an old brick house dating back to 1835. A third option is the Inn at St. John, which is a little closer to a hotel than a B&B. With 39 rooms, it’s the oldest continuously operating Victorian inn (built in 1897).

Day Two

Founded in 1995, Allagash Brewing Company focuses on Belgian beers. Allagash Brewing Company

After filling your first day around and on the water, we’re heading inland for day two. Before leaving the peninsula, though, fuel up at Tandem Coffee Roasters on Congress Street in the West End. The cafe is known for espresso and drip coffee, as well as muffins and mouth-watering cinnamon rolls.

A 30-minute drive from Tandem will get you to Pownal’s Bradbury Mountain State Park. The park is home to nine trails ranging from flat and easy to steep with sharp turns, all converging at Bradbury’s summit, with views of Casco Bay and Portland’s skyline on a clear day. The trails are short (the longest is 1.5 miles), but it’s easy to link them up for more mileage. All of them are open to foot traffic, but a few are open to mountain biking and horseback riding, so be aware of who might be coming up behind you.

After working up an appetite, drive just a half-mile back to Pownal Center to Edna and Lucy’s, a locally-owned cafe serving up a menu of quick bites like sandwiches, wraps, salads, and soups. The options change daily, but make sure that you save room for dessert—they have some of the best old-fashioned German donuts in the state!

Pownal is very rural compared to Portland, but it’s a mere five miles from downtown Freeport. This former sleepy village is now a busy retail outlet town, so Main Street offers all kinds of shopping for clothing, jewelry, and outdoor apparel. Turn off Main onto Bow Street and see what’s new in the local Toad&Co store while you’re in town.

After leaving downtown Freeport, point your GPS south towards Maine Beer Company on your way out of town. While Maine Beer Co. is all about their beer, they’re also a brewer with a conscience, committed to reducing, reusing, and recycling. Knowing that you’re supporting a company who cares about the environment might just make their Lunch IPA or Maine Peeper taste even better than they already do!

If you want to grab one more drink on your way back to Portland, stop by Allagash Brewing Company right off the Maine Turnpike. Allagash focuses on Belgian-inspired beers and is known for their flagship Belgian white. They offer 10 beers year-round, plus some limited editions, and a few brewed with spontaneous fermentation, a traditional Belgian method of cooling hot, unfermented wort overnight with outside air. They offer free tours and tastings daily (by reservation), just get there before they close at 6 pm!

Right across the street from Allagash is Foundation Brewing Company, with a core line of more traditional beers (an American IPA, a brown ale, etc.), but also unique flavors like the cherry Magnus and an apricot sour ale.

Once you get back to town, meander over to the other side of the city for pad thai or drunken noodles at Boda, then watch the sun set over the Western Promenade.

Day Three

There’s plenty to discover when hiking the trails in Portland. Terry Cockburn

Spend your last day in Maine hitting the trails in Portland. Portland Trails, a nonprofit urban land trust, maintains the 70 miles devoted to hiking, walking, and mountain biking throughout Greater Portland. Visit the Presumpscot River Preserve, a 48-acre public preserve, for a tough 2.5-mile route through a ravine and wooded areas to the Presumpscot River. Another solid option is taking Andrews Avenue out to Mackworth Island, a legislated bird sanctuary. The 1.25-mile loop on Mackworth is relatively flat and follows the perimeter of the island. There are fantastic views of Casco Bay, and also a few side trails that lead down the steep slopes to the beach.

What better way to wrap up a Trail to Tavern weekend than with a trip on the environmentally friendly Maine Brew Bus? Rarely does a month pass without word that yet another brewery has opened, so the easiest way to hit some of the best spots is to hop aboard the bus and leave everything in the capable hands of your tour director and bus driver.

The company offers several different tour options, from the Southern Crawl through southern Portland to Breaking Brews (exploring the newest breweries) to the Curling and Brew Tour that throws in a trip to the Portland Ice Arena for some friendly competition before heading to two local breweries.

Before you leave town, we highly recommend taking your time to enjoy a family-style meal at Empire Chinese Kitchen in the heart of the city’s art district. Known for their dim sum (tasty Chinese dumplings filled with things like mushrooms, pork, and lobster), their extensive menu offers something for everyone, including vegetarians and vegans.

Right about now, you’ll begin to wonder how the last three days have flown by—and there’s still so much to see! The good news is that the friendly locals will welcome you back to the Portland of the East whenever you’re ready, but you’ll be planning your next trip in no time.

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by Allagash Brewing Company

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in Seattle

By rootsratedpartners on May 8th 2017

It’s hard to say what Seattleites love more: getting outside or drinking locally crafted beer. Luckily, in this Trail to Tavern® city, you don’t have to choose just one. With more than 40 breweries and tons of ways to get outside (hiking, trail running, cycling, and paddle boarding, to name a few), Seattle certainly has plenty of opportunities to squeeze in visits to both trails and taverns. Here’s our guide for how to make the most of your three-day weekend in the Emerald City.

Day One

Discovery Park is the largest public park in the city. Samantha Larson.

Start your first day with a lap around one of Seattle’s most popular spots: Discovery Park. Whether you are driving up I-5 or coming in from the airport, take a detour to stop at Cherry Street Coffee House. There are 10 locations around Seattle, and each one has a unique store design. Grab a coffee or tea and a bagel (or housemade quiche!) and continue to the largest park in the city, covering more than 500 acres on a bluff overlooking the Puget Sound.

The 2.8-mile Discovery Park Loop (there’s also a four-mile option) weaves through forests and meadows, past sea cliffs and sandy beaches, while offering stellar views of Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains, and Puget Sound. With steep hills that are sure to get your heart pumping, running through Discovery Park is an equally delicious way to wake up as sipping on a handcrafted latte—and here in Seattle, that’s saying something.

If you’ve got some energy left, stop by for a quick session at Vertical World, America’s first climbing gym, which is about a mile to the east. Bring a towel, and you’ll be able to take a hot shower here before getting on with your day, too.

Grab a flight at the Pike Brewing Company. +Russ

From here, make your way downtown for lunch at another classic Seattle site: Pike’s Place Market. Jump in the long line to get a frappuccino from the original Starbucks and grab a sandwich, falafel, or hom bow from one of the outdoor food vendors. Don’t miss the famous fish throwing spectacle, then head over to the Pike Brewing Company for the 3 pm tour and tasting, where you’ll learn about the art of brewing and try out some samples. This family-owned establishment was founded in 1989 by Charles and Rose Ann Finkel, who dedicated themselves to brewing after falling in love with beer while traveling in Europe. From Belgian lambics to English ales, they wanted to bring these flavors back to the Pacific Northwest. The brewery really took off when they concocted the Pike IPA in 1990, which is still one of their most popular drinks.

After a tasting at Pike, spend some time exploring the market, the waterfront, and maybe take a ride or two on Seattle’s Great Wheel for picturesque views of the city and the Puget Sound.

Finish the night with dinner back at Pike’s Place Market at one of Seattle’s newest breweries, the Old Stove Brewing Co. Just because the brewery is the new kid in town, don’t think that Scott Barron, the head brewer, is a greenhorn: he came to Old Stove after stints at three other local breweries. If you like a bold tasting beer, try the Touch Too Much IPA (though we think it’s just the right amount of hops), or the Streaker Citra Ale for something a little lighter and brighter. Pair either option with a Fresh Dip sandwich and you’ll be set.

** Where to Stay**

Get some sleep in a uniquely Seattle abode by renting a houseboat or a sailboat on Airbnb. If you would rather stay on dry land, Hotel Max is a solid alternative—and they offer free craft beer during happy hour (what more could you ask for?).

Day Two

The route to Colchuck Lake makes for a wonderful day hike. laffertyryan

For day two, get out of the city and into the wilderness by taking a trip to Leavenworth, a Bavarian-themed village nestled in the Central Cascades. But don’t be fooled by this quirky tourist town—it’s the gateway to some of Washington’s best outdoor adventures. At 2.5 hours away, it’s a bit of a drive from Seattle, but well worth it. Get an early start and book it to Pioneer Coffee Roasting Company along I-90 in North Bend for breakfast and cup of joe before continuing on.

Since you’ll likely want to eat lunch on-the-go, swing by family-owned Good Mood Food once you get to Leavenworth for snacks and a sandwich, and then let the adventure begin.

The Enchantments have been called an alpine paradise, and as soon as you find yourself surrounded by granite boulders and blue alpine lakes (maybe even mountain goats!), you’ll understand why. You could spend a lifetime exploring the area, but the eight-mile out-and-back hike to Colchuck Lake is a great option if you only have a day. You’ll hike through the forest and across several streams before tackling a series of switchbacks. After more than 2,000 feet of elevation gain, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of Dragontail Peak, Colchuck Peak, and the Colchuck Glacier.

Leavenworth is also home to one of the best climbing areas in the state, with a high concentration of sweet boulder problems, trad routes, and sport climbs. The Washington Climbers Coalition is an excellent resource for information on the climbing here.

After a day filled with adventure, stop by Leavenworth’s Icicle Brewing Company for a bite to eat and a drink before hitting the road. Try their Colchuck Raspberry Wheat, fermented with Willamette Valley raspberries, with a turkey sandwich or salad.

Once you get back to Seattle, celebrate the day with a cold one (or two!) from Two Beers Brewing Company in Seattle’s Industrial District. After spending several years perfecting the art of homebrewing from his kitchen, Joel VandenBrink decided to take the craft even further and founded the company in 2007. The brewery now produces almost 6,000 barrels every year. The Day Hike, a light and crisp lemony summer session ale, is the perfect way to top off the day’s activities.

Day Three

The Burke-Gilman Trail is part of 90 miles of biking trails in Seattle. Seattle Parks

Ease into day three with brunch in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. A good place to start is with a Belgian-style street waffle with sweet or savory toppings from Sweet Iron Waffles or a traditional Syrian breakfast at Mamnoon. Then grab a bike from a local rental shop and head north for a leisurely ride along the Burke-Gilman Trail, a paved bike path that hugs the shores of Lake Washington, Lake Union, and the Ship Canal. The greenery lining the trail is, in part, thanks to the tree-planting efforts of organizations like the local conservation group Forterra.

Check out the salmon ladder at the Ballard Locks as you ride to the end of the Burke to Golden Gardens, a beach on Puget Sound with magnificent views of the Olympic Mountains on a clear day. Rent a paddleboard or kayak and take the easy, two-mile trip out to the Discovery Park Lighthouse. (Keep your eyes peeled for jellyfish below and seals frolicking in the water around you!)

The Burke also offers excellent access to some of the best breweries in town, so get ready for a little brewery hopping on the return trip as you wrap up your weekend in Seattle. Stoup Brewing is the product of a scientist and self-proclaimed beer geek, with a goal to brew the best beer scientifically possible. Just a block away is Reuben’s Brews, whose beers have won awards both nationally and internationally. If you order a pie from Zeeks or Ballard Pizza, you will not only get a discount, but you can also take it into Reuben’s with you.

The family-owned Maritime Pacific Brewing Company’s seafaring theme and traditional recipes are a hat-tip to the Ballard neighborhood’s roots as a fishing town. Try the Old Seattle Lager, made with Cascade hops, or the Flagship Red, both available year round. And just a little farther away is Hale’s Ales Brewery & Pub and the Fremont Brewing Company.

Did we mention that Seattle has a lot of breweries?

But don’t worry about hitting them all in this trip—you need a reason to start planning your next visit, right?

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by David Herrera

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in Philadelphia

By rootsratedpartners on April 26th 2017

Philadelphia might be best known for cheesesteaks and ‘Brotherly Love’, but this trail to tavern city is working hard to earn a new nickname: America’s Best Beer City. Philadelphians love drinking and brewing beer so much that they’ve dedicated an entire week to the craft each year. For outdoor enthusiasts looking to pair ales with hiking trails, America’s 5th biggest city has a ton to offer—if you know where to find it. From trekking on the Appalachian Trail to exploring the wilds of the Wissahickon, you can spend time in nature without even leaving the city limits. Follow this long-weekend itinerary for some of the best outdoor activities (and the best beer!) that the city has to offer.

Day One

No visit to the America’s birthplace is complete without seeing a landmark steeped in history. Kickoff your day at Valley Forge National Historical Park, where General George Washington’s Continental Army set up camp during the original British Invasion in 1777. Take some time to tour Washington’s headquarters then go forth to conquer Mount Misery and Mount Joy. It’s just over 4 miles (if you climb both) of lush, wooded trails. You’ll pass a dilapidated, old bottling plant, a covered bridge from the 1800s and eventually pop out at the summit of Mount Joy. America the beautiful, indeed!

On your way back from Valley Forge, grab a beer in the Philly neighborhood of Manayunk. Its vibrant Main Street is home to more than 60 funky shops and restaurants, and the most scenic spot for lunch is Manayunk Brewing Company. Order a flight and hang out on the massive riverside deck overlooking the Schuylkill River.

After a cold drink, make your way to Center City and grab lunch at the Reading Terminal Market. This farmer’s market has all kinds of restaurants, ranging from Thai food to burger joints, but it’s pretty much a requirement to get yourself a cheesesteak when in Philly. By George! Pizza, Pasta and Cheesesteaks is one of the best. It’s also a good option to pick up a slice of pizza if cheesesteaks aren’t your thing.

After filling up at the market, take it easy and rent a bike from Philadelphia’s Indego bike share. Saddle up and cruise on one of America’s best urban trails: the Schuylkill River Trail. Take in views of the Philadelphia skyline as you ride along the water, and continue up the riverfront to the Philadelphia Art Museum. Movie aficionado or not, channel your inner Rocky Balboa as you ascend the steps. And if you throw up your arms in celebration at the top, we won’t judge.

To get a true education on Philadelphia’s beer scene, head straight to the source. Tucked down a dark, inconspicuous alley in the heart of the city, you’ll find McGillin’s Olde Ale House. As Philadelphia’s oldest continuously operating bar, the beer’s been flowing here since 1860 and hasn’t stopped since – not even during Prohibition (hence the dark, inconspicuous alley). McGillin’s is still the rowdiest ale house in town, but they’re serious about great beer. You’ll find 30 beers on tap, with a focus on eastern Pennsylvania breweries and three signature brews: McGillin’s Real Ale, McGillin’s Genuine Lager, and McGillin’s 1860 IPA.

McGillin’s has typical bar fare (think nachos and mozzarella sticks), but also has a full menu with everything from pizza and salad to full-on entrees like chicken parm, meatloaf, and a German sausage platter.

Where to Stay

After a long day, head to the revitalized Fishtown neighborhood to get a good night’s sleep. This up-and-coming neighborhood currently has just one hotel—a four-room boutique called Wm. Mulherin’s Sons. Housed in a restored 1800s whiskey distillery that bore the same name, Muhlerin’s shares its space with one of the city’s best restaurants and is walking distance from the best breweries and taphouses around.

Day Two

Jumbling towers! #actionshot #biergarten #spring #jazzhands

A post shared by Nicole Ashleigh (@nicoleashleighl) on

After a potentially long night at McGillan’s, you may need a little pick-me-up to start day two. Luckily, just a couple blocks from the hotel is the Gryphon Coffee Company. Check out the local art on display while you sip your latte and then head out to escape the city’s hustle and bustle with a mountain bike ride or trail run in Wissahickon Valley Park.

Just beyond the city’s art museums, this forest haven is technically within city limits but feels worlds apart. Out of eye and earshot of Philadelphia, explore some of the 50 miles of rugged trails winding through the gorge. Look for remnants of the old milling industry: crumbling dams, preserved homes and roadhouses, and the only covered bridge left in Philadelphia.

Despite the name, Forbidden Drive is one of the easiest trails at the park, with a gentle grade and wide gravel path. The 5.35-mile route follows the Wissahickon Creek from one end of the park to the other, and is popular for biking or an easy trail run. For more of a challenge, try the 4.39-mile White Trail. You’ll find technical singletrack with some steep sections along the eastern side of the park.

Once you’ve worked up a sweat, head to Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood for a free tour and tasting at Philadelphia Brewing Company. Every Saturday, this local brewery opens their doors to the public from 12-3 p.m., and the vibe is totally casual—no reservations necessary. You’ll learn about the brewing process and they say you might even pick up a few useful tidbits of information as well. Try year-round classics like the Kenzinger, a crisp, light golden beer that you’ll find all over town or the PHL Session IPA if you like it hoppy.

Sunbathing & cold beer on the barges ☀️ #saturdaze #SSHP

A post shared by Spruce Street Harbor Park (@sprucestreetharborpark) on

From Philadelphia Brewing Company, grab another Indego bike and head down Christopher Columbus Blvd. to Spruce Street Harbor Park on the Delaware River Waterfont. Grab a bite to eat at one of the vendors or at the floating (that’s right, floating) restaurant, and then hang out in one of the colorful handmade hammocks. You can also take a walk along the boardwalk, play one of the many games available (bocce ball, life-sized chess or Connect Four), or play traditional boardwalk games housed in converted shipping containers. This pop-up park is open from May – September.

From the park, go about three miles north for a drink at the Evil Genius Beer Company, an old auto body shop turned innovative beer lab. The ridiculous names and unique flavor combinations make for a memorable pit-stop. Try the Purple Monkey Dishwasher, a chocolate peanut butter porter, or the I Love Lamp, a pineapple Hefeweizen. And if you need a 90’s video game fix, a vintage Sega Genesis is calling your name (that’s the actual game console, not a beer, FYI). They’ve got a kitchen too, so stock up on hoagies and sloppy joes, too.

The night doesn’t have to end there: less than a half-mile walk from Evil Genius, get a taste of Germany on Fishtown’s bustling Frankford Avenue. The massive indoor-outdoor beer garden at Frankford Hall is the place to challenge your friends to a round of Jenga or foosball. Go big and order a giant one-liter stein of German (or local) beer, and pair it was a Bavarian soft pretzel the size of your face.

Day Three

For your last day, we’ve got one more hike for you, and it’s a toughie. Drive 90 mins to the town of Hamburg and jump on the 8.7-mile Appalachian Trail circuit to the Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock. The high point of the AT in Pennsylvania, Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock’s expansive vistas make this steep, rocky trek worthwhile.

Another Option

If you want to get a different perspective on the city, head back over to the Schuylkill River and rent a kayak or paddle board from Hidden River Outfitters. Located at the Walnut Street Dock, Hidden River also runs tours a couple days a week during the summer. Paddlers of all levels will feel comfortable on the waterway, and the outfitter offers moonlight kayak tours and movie nights if you end up staying for one more night.

Top off an adventure-filled weekend than one last pint at Yards Brewing, a Philadelphia mainstay since 1994. Rent an Indego bike and follow the paved East Coast Greenway to this riverside brewery. Free tours are offered from 12-4 p.m. and you should take it. You’ll learn why Philadelphia water is tops for beer production and how Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale is made (hint: it’s a historically accurate beer made from the original recipe that ol’ TJ brewed at Monticello).

When it comes to food, Yards has you covered – they feature a different local food truck every Saturday, while Oink & Moo BBQ is there every Sunday. You can also load up a bowl of homemade bison and beef chili, nachos, or a sandwich to fill your stomach before calling it a weekend. Just make sure you get there before last call (usually around 7 p.m.).

Don’t say we didn’t warn you: it only takes a couple days to fall in love with a place like Philadelphia. Between the tasty beer, extensive trail network, and historical landmarks, the city of Brotherly Love offers something for everyone. Don’t be surprised if you start planning your next trip on the ride home.

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by Montgomery County Planning Commision

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in Golden

By rootsratedpartners on April 21st 2017

Golden might be the best little Trail to Tavern® town in Colorado. It’s only about 15 miles from the heart of Denver, but somehow has that sleepy mountain town feel. North and South Table Mountains keep it hidden from the plains, and Clear Creek Canyon offers access to endless paddling, climbing, hiking, and mountain biking opportunities. The name fits, too—it was established during the mid-19th century Pikes Peak Gold Rush. Golden’s quaint main drag, Washington Avenue, sums up the friendly town’s attitude with a sign that reads “Howdy Folks!”

If you’re not already sold on Golden, consider its biggest export—craft beer. The town’s best-known resident is the Coors Brewery, but it’s not just big beer that’s brewed here. Golden is home to several excellent craft breweries, all gathering places for adventurers fresh off a bike ride at North Table Mountain or a paddle in Clear Creek. Make the most of a three-day weekend in Golden with this trail-to-tavern itinerary.

Day One

Rocky Mountain National Park is about 90 minutes away from Golden, and has tons of hiking and bouldering opportunities. Miguel Vieira

Start your first day with a delicious breakfast burrito at the family-owned La Casa del Sabor, and then kick off your weekend with an adventure into the Wild West. From downtown Golden, head west towards Clear Creek Canyon on the bike path. Keep an eye out for a small sign marking the start of the Chimney Gulch Trail, which makes for a lung buster of a mountain bike ride up technical singletrack. Follow Chimney Gulch to the Windy Saddle area (a good place to stop for killer views of the canyon), then follow the road to the top of Lookout Mountain.

The Lookout summit is chock full of history: it’s not only the final resting place of the legendary Buffalo Bill, but you’ll also find a museum here dedicated to his life. Spend some time checking out the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, then head back down the mountain. The trip will be about seven miles when it’s all said and done, and keep your eyes peeled for the giant “M” on the east face of Mount Zion—a symbol of the local Colorado School of Mines that has been around since the early 1900s.

Follow the bike path back to Washington Avenue, the Main Street of Golden. After your trip up Lookout Mountain you’ll probably be on the verge of hangry, so pick one of the many restaurants for a bite to eat—like the Buffalo Rose Saloon that dates back to 1858 or the Old Capitol Grill with its old Western atmosphere. After that, take your time looking at the shops (make sure you check out the new Toad&Co store!) and old buildings along Washington Avenue. Learn about the history of mountaineering at the museum in the American Mountaineering Center, or head to the other side of the highway to see the Colorado Railroad Museum, with a 15-acre rail yard and artifacts from the days of Buffalo Bill.

Top off the afternoon with a stop at Golden City Brewery, historically the second-largest brewery in Golden, and enjoy a Lookout Stout or a Clear Creek Gold Pale Ale. Like most of Golden’s breweries, you’ll find a food truck at GCB most nights.

Where to stay: Table Mountain Inn is the perfect base camp for your Golden adventures. It’s right on Washington Avenue, so you’re steps away from all the action. You can’t miss it: the adobe-style hotel stands out and brings just the right amount of Southwestern charm. Also, they have a great happy hour (think $6 margaritas the size of your head), and a restaurant with Southwestern-inspired meals.

Day Two

New Belgium Brewing is known around the country for their tasty beer. +Russ

Golden has tons of breweries per capita, but its northerly neighbor is home to the Colorado’s best-known brewery, so we’re heading to Fort Collins for day two. Before you set out, though, walk about a block from your hotel to get a cup of coffee or chai from Cafe 13. Offering homemade pastries, bagels, and eggs to order, Cafe 13 will set you up for a day of adventure.

Hop in the car and get on I-25 north to Fort Collins, home of 100% employee-owned New Belgium Brewing. New Belgium is among the country’s largest craft breweries, and it’s not hard to see why their beer can be found all over the country—you’re probably already familiar with beloved brews like the Fat Tire Amber Ale and the Ranger IPA. Take a 90-minute tour of their brewing facility, which includes beer tastings (score!). Tours fill quickly, especially on weekends, so you’ll want to reserve your tickets online in advance. The brewery offers several tours daily between 11:30 AM and 4:30 PM. (Local tip: If you get up to FoCo before your tour starts, stop at Lucile’s Creole Cafe for a homemade, New Orleans-style beignet.)

After your tour, get a real Colorado-style mountain pie at Beau Jo’s. Order your pizza by the pound—one, two, three, or five—and then load it up with fresh toppings. The crust around the edges is super thick to hold all that flavor in, and you’ll see locals dipping the crust in honey to finish it off.

Horsetooth Reservoir is another great spot for trail running or for throwing down a crash pad and bouldering a bit. Angelika Boyko

Next up on the agenda is hitting the trails at nearby Horsetooth Mountain Open Space. Its namesake reservoir was created by four separate earthen dams, each built in 1949. Today, Horsetooth is a recreational playground. Bring a crash pad to check out the excellent bouldering (there are tons of moderates here) or lace up your trail shoes to go for a run on the park’s many well-maintained trails.

Bonus: Feeling ambitious? Include a side trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in your day. It’s about an hour and a half drive west of Fort Collins, but has tons of hiking and bouldering. Lots of park roads are closed during the snowy winter months, but after Memorial Day, drive up Trail Ridge Road for panoramic views of the Rockies.

Whenever you’re ready, drive back down I-25 to Golden and get some sleep before your last day.

Day Three

Holidaily Brewing Company is the only dedicated gluten-free brewery in Colorado. Holidaily Brewing Co.

Thanks to its location at the base of the Rocky Mountain foothills, Golden offers access to tons of high-quality trails, all of which are walkable from downtown. This also means it’s entirely possible to do a pub crawl using the trails right out your back door.

Start your tour de brew with a trail run or bike ride on North Table Mountain. Take the 7.5-mile North Table Loop around this spectacular mesa, or mix-and-match the many trails that criss-cross its plateau. The steep, half-mile fire road from the west side parking lot to the top of the mesa also accesses some of Golden’s best single-pitch trad climbing.

If you have been searching far and wide for gluten-free beer, look no further than Holidaily Brewing Company. The only dedicated gluten-free brewery in the state, their beers are well-loved by everyone, gluten sensitivity or not. Just down the road, you can pop into Cannonball Creek Brewing Company, where you’ll find anywhere from 8-14 beers on tap at any given time, including many that have been awarded medals at the Great American Beer Festival.

Running right through downtown Golden, Clear Creek offers tubing and whitewater paddling, as well as a lovely trail that is perfect for biking or walking. Grant Bishop

If you’ve been itching to get out on the water, you’ll love the Clear Creek Whitewater Park. Designed for more experienced paddlers, this free, quarter-mile course includes boulders, drops, pools, and eddies. If tubing is more your speed, the best place for this is right around downtown, where the water will be the calmest. (Locals recommend not starting any higher than Tunnel 1 on Route 6.) Check in with Golden River Sports on Washington Avenue if you need any information before heading out.

After getting your water fix, stop by Mountain Toad Brewing Company, a local favorite that’s just two blocks away from Clear Creek on Washington. Depending on the day, sip a sour, stout, or saison out on the patio.

Finish up the weekend with a jaunt to the top of the aptly-named Castle Rock on South Table Mountain, which boasts the best views in Golden. Take the Golden Summit Trail from the dead end at 19th and Belvedere Streets, and get ready to go up. The trail is short (only about two miles round trip) and not as steep as the Sleeping Elk Trail, but will still be a decent workout.

Round out the brew crawl with a stop at Barrels & Bottles Brewery, where you’ll find an assortment of drinks from beer to wine slushies to kombucha on tap. Before heading home, play a few board games with your friends or family as you recount your amazing Colorado adventure (and plan your next one).

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by Ken Lund