These kid-friendly, local hidden gems know how to perfectly balance high-quality ingredients with out-of-this-world taste.
Springtime has officially (finally!) set in. Temps are consistently pushing above 70 degrees. The days are longer and outdoor projects and recreation are in full swing. Though many of us have no problem enjoying a big bowl of ice cream year-round, there’s something special about this time of year in Minnesota that makes cool and creamy treats taste extra satisfying.
There’s certainly no shortage of places to get your chocolate-covered, candy-coated fix around town, but if you’re looking for a sweet treat that errs toward wholesome and nutritious, consider trying out The Local Blend, Good Earth Co-op or Oak Station Coffee & Cone this summer. And as a bonus, they’re also kid-friendly and offer outdoor seating. Score!
The Local Blend (19 W Minnesota St., St. Joseph)
Beyond their expansive menu of hearty sandwiches and from-scratch muffins are refreshing drinks and treats just waiting to cool you off on a warm, sunny day. Grab a fruit smoothie or a signature Squiggle (ice-blended coffee drink) for the road or stay awhile to savor an ice cream sundae (side of cake totally optional). If you’re lucky, the freezer will be stocked with a fresh batch of banana pops. These frozen bananas dipped in chocolate are popular and sell out fast for good reason. To add to the appeal, many of The Local Blend’s ingredients are organic and sourced from local suppliers whenever possible. Whether you’re gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or just appreciate real, high-quality food, you’ll find something to love at The Local Blend.
Good Earth Food Co-op (2010 Veterans Dr., St. Cloud)
Good Earth’s full hot bar of house-made, globally-inspired and seasonally-influenced entrees make eating healthy and delicious food as easy as can be. Their options for cold, nutritious treats to satisfy your sweet tooth are no different. Located next to the hot bar is an open cooler that houses Fountain of Juice, a collection of locally-made, fresh-pressed juices. Start simple with a Healthy Glow (made of carrot, coconut and apple) or Green Reboot (organic papaya, kale, lemon, apple, ginger) or go wild with a Probiotic Pina Colada (made of keifer, orange, coconut milk and pineapple). Kids are sure to love them, too. Juices rotate daily, and often times samples are provided so stop in regularly to taste them all!
Oak Station Coffee & Cone (216 1st Ave South, Freeport)
In only their second year of business, Oak Station has quickly grown a fan base thanks to its array of ice cream flavors and ultra-cool, retro-inspired digs. With 16 flavors always on deck and over 40 in the rotation, this up-and-coming seasonal spot takes quality seriously by only serving Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, a super premium ice cream made in Madison, WI. And when they say “super premium” they mean it. All ice cream is made of high quality ingredients, including real dairy. With four cone types (including a gluten-free option) and various toppings, a treat from Oak Station is worth the 25-minute drive from Waite Park. Or work up an appetite by biking there, as it’s conveniently located just off the Lake Wobegon Trail.
So when the craving for something cool, sweet and satisfying kicks into high gear this summer, think beyond your typical go-to’s and give these local spots a try!