My family went on a mini vacation this past weekend. We were invited to a wedding at the lovely Villa Bellezza in Pepin, Wisconsin so decided we’d stay overnight in nearby Lake City, Minnesota instead of driving home after the wedding. Saturday was also my daughter’s 16th Birthday so part of our decision to make a weekend of things was to make Rose’s Birthday extra special!

Me and my kids at Villa Bellezza

Me and my kids at Villa Bellezza

Saturday was a lovely day, albeit quite hot, for a drive down to Pepin and Villa Bellezza was a gorgeous venue for the wedding. After dinner and dancing, we headed back to our hotel (an Americinn) and all slept well. Sunday morning, we had breakfast at the hotel then walked around the marina in Lake City before heading south a bit to Wabasha, Minnesota to explore.

I’ve heard a lot about Wabasha, it’s a town of about 2,500 located 70 miles southeast of Minneapolis/St. Paul, but have never visited before. We just had a short time to explore today but, based on the few hours we spent in and around Wabasha, I want to go back and see more!

Lake City Marina, Lake City, Minnesota

Lake City Marina, Lake City, Minnesota

We started our visit with lunch at Stacy’s Kitchen where breakfast is served all day. The food was excellent and the service friendly and quick even during the post-church lunchtime rush. After lunch, we walked about a block to the National Eagle Center where we listened to a great presentation on Eagles, saw several Bald Eagles up close and personal and took in the exhibits in the Center. The National Eagle Center is well worth a visit – so much so that I’d visit again and again.

Here's Was’aka - the Bald Eagle featured in the presentation we saw at the National Eagle Center.

Here’s Was’aka – the Bald Eagle featured in the presentation we saw at the National Eagle Center.

After the National Eagle Center, we walked along the river then found our way to The Chocolate Escape where we sat for a bit and enjoyed coffee, chocolate, a malt and ice cream (I had a latte and a chocolate truffle). Cute place. Excellent chocolate! Had we more time, we would have explored downtown Wabasha more. There are several B&Bs, cute looking shops and many other intriguing places to eat that I will check out next time.

I love gardens and picked up a brochure about a place called The Anderson Gardens while at Stacy’s Kitchen so we decided to stop in for a quick visit. Anderson Gardens is about 5 miles south of Wabasha. It was a bit off the beaten path and somewhat of a challenge to find but we are so glad that we made the effort. The garden is at Vern and Shirley Anderson’s house and takes up the entire front and back yard. We walked into the garden and soon were greeted by Shirley who said Vern, the gardener, would be right there to meet us. Vern then gave us a tour of his gardens and then we sat and chatted in the shade for a bit and Shirley served us lemonade (wonderfully refreshing because it was really hot outside). Vern and Shirley are the nicest people. If you like gardens I suggest you visit!

A panoramic view of Anderson Gardens near Wabasha, MN

A panoramic view of Anderson Gardens near Wabasha, MN

Across the river from Wabasha is the small town of Nelson where we heard there was a great cheese place. Located about a block off the main drag through Nelson, Wisconsin, Nelson Cheese Factory is also worth a visit. We had a bit of a challenge finding it, though. I had misplaced the travel brochure that listed the place and our maps app led us to a field. Finally, we stopped at a gas station and discovered that the not very well marked so we had trouble finding it then discovered the shop was almost right in front of us. Nelson Cheese Factory is a prime stop for ice cream and light fare. There’s also a wine room and plenty of places to sit and eat. We had already had something to eat so we checked out the great selection of cheeses and picked up a several to bring home.

It was getting towards evening so we decided to head towards home but first stopped back at Villa Bellezza to pick up a couple of bottles of Cotes du Pepin wine to bring home with us (it was served at the wedding and we really liked it!) Then, tired out from our mini-vacation weekend, we headed north along the bluffs of Wisconsin, crossed back into Minnesota at Red Wing then drove across the fields westward to our home.