Minnesota Greenroutes

Writer and  National Geographic Green GuideEcopolitan” blogger Jay Walljasper often contributes to Traveler’s Destination Watch Department, and today he sends along a dispatch from the wilds of Minnesota.

While Lake Wobegon is a figment of humorist Garrison Keillor’s imagination, the small towns he celebrates each week on his show A Prairie Home Companion are real. A drive through the Minnesota countryside introduces you to a land of Old World Lutheran churches, cafés with daily hot-dish specials, and other charming local attractions. Now an innovative website devoted to authentic travel, Greenroutes.org, can help you plan such a trip. It’ll guide you to Spring Grove, where you stroll down a Main Street that feels more Norwegian than American, then to a tour of a more than 100-year-old plant where soda pop is made the old-fashioned way (with cane sugar…and no caffeine). It’ll also direct you to a Native American café at a highway crossroad on the White Earth Reservation, which has buffalo and wild rice on the menu.

Greenroutes.org is the brainchild of Minnesotan Brett Olson, who conceived the idea after going on camping trips in the West and on a voyage exploring beyond-the-guidebook sights in Europe. He and several friends thought it would be fun to do the same thing back home and went to work finding unique attractions that promoted environmental, economic, and social sustainability. The site now details more than 110 unique locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin, which was just added recently. Next up on the Greenroutes.org agenda: the states of Washington and Arizona, and upstate New York.

Photo: Early Morning Minnesota, courtesy Brett Olson