Hanukkah begins on Thursday, and Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Years will be hear before you know it. While the weather this time of year might make you want to stay indoors, there is plenty to explore, from holiday markets to pop-up holiday bars.
Kristen Glazer has all the top spots in across Minnesota. She runs a blog called “Expedition Kristen” along with an Instagram page that has more than 33,000 followers. She joined MPR News host Cathy Wurzer to talk all things holiday markets, light displays and more.
Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.
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CATHY WURZER: Oh, holidays, yes? As a matter of fact, we are officially in the holiday season. Hanukkah starts this week. Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year's will be here before you know it. And while the weather this time of the year maybe makes you want to stay indoors, there is plenty to do, from holiday markets to pop-up holiday bars.
Kristen Glazer has all the top spots across Minnesota. She runs a blog called Expedition Kristen, along with an Instagram account that has about 33,500 followers. Is that right? Welcome back to the show, Kristen. It's good to hear your voice again.
KRISTEN GLAZER: Thank you so much for having me again.
CATHY WURZER: I love holiday markets. I think that it's just-- they're just beautiful. They're fun. They've got food and gifts. European Christmas markets, of course, are popping up all over the place. What are some of your favorites?
KRISTEN GLAZER: Yeah, there's so many markets going on. And one of my favorites that I was actually just at yesterday is that European Christmas market that's at Union Depot in St. Paul. And that one, I think, is really special because it's actually put on by people who are originally from Germany and moved here to Minnesota. So it's just really authentic. The pierogies, mulled wine, all the beautiful crafts and music-- it's really a pretty special place.
CATHY WURZER: The mulled wine, by the way, is pretty darn fine. This next one was pretty popular last year-- the Nordic Village at Four Seasons?
KRISTEN GLAZER: Yeah, I just popped over to that one a few weeks ago, and it's it's quite interesting because it's on that sort of rooftop level of the Four Seasons. So you've got a really cool view of the downtown Minneapolis skyline. And you can also get kind of a peek of the rooftop hot tub that they have up there. But just again, really cool local artists selling all of their jewelry and purses and artwork. And kind of a pro tip for that one, too-- you can actually get free valet parking at the Four Seasons if you're heading upstairs for the market.
CATHY WURZER: I like the rooftop hot tub concept.
KRISTEN GLAZER: Yeah, especially this time, it's a lot of fun.
CATHY WURZER: I bet it is. I bet it is. So for folks who want to get into the holiday spirit, as it were, there's a lot of festive pop-up bars. Where are you going to get a drink?
KRISTEN GLAZER: Yes, so there were so many in the past that actually didn't return this year, which created a new opportunity for so many new places. So there's just been a ton popping up, and I keep learning about new ones every week. But I was able to check out a couple already. The Grinch's Lair is inside the basement level of Hotel Emery, right in downtown Minneapolis. So the whole place is decked out in the Grinch theme. They've got the movie playing, the decorations, the names of the drinks. It's just really fun and different, and you take an elevator to get down to that vault level.
CATHY WURZER: And I understand the Red Cow Uptown has the Red Nose Room?
KRISTEN GLAZER: Yeah, so that's also another one that's brand new. Both of these are brand new this year. And that one is, just as you said, it is the uptown location, because there are several Red Cows, but it's only at that uptown location. And the entire restaurant is decorated in tons of lights and wreaths and garland. They have a lot of really fun, festive drinks and fun glassware shaped like Santa and Christmas light bulbs and all this kind of fun stuff. They also have a handful of non-alcoholic cocktails as well. So it could be a fun place if you're looking to get something without alcohol.
CATHY WURZER: Say, I am in downtown Duluth right now. I'm at our studios--
KRISTEN GLAZER: Oh.
CATHY WURZER: --on Superior Street, yep. And so right down the road is Bentleyville in Duluth, oh, one of the larger holiday lights displays probably in the region. Have you gone to Bentleyville before?
KRISTEN GLAZER: I have been before. It's been a few years, but I was there, and it is extremely impressive. It's just massive to walk around. And I don't know if a lot of people know this, but it's actually free to go. You just have to pay for the parking, so it's well worth it.
CATHY WURZER: Right, and it looks like it's always, always, always popular, wildly popular. A friend of mine, Sam, was taking some fantastic pictures over the weekend at the arboretum, which I also hear has got a really lovely light display.
KRISTEN GLAZER: Yes, I have not been to that one yet. I've been to the arb in other seasons, but not the light show. I have seen the photos, and that looks just really unique, too, because I think they have a heavy theme of flowers and flora and fauna type of feel. So it's, I think, really unique and different from the rest of the light shows that are going on.
CATHY WURZER: Say, have you gone to any other light shows that are around that you might want to pass along to folks?
KRISTEN GLAZER: Yeah, last weekend, my husband and I, we went to Glow, which is in St. Paul. It's actually just around the corner from that European market, so you can even park in the same lot and just walk to both of those things. But that is at the CHS Field, so you can walk all over the place. There's rides for kids and s'mores and a zipline and cool tunnels that are all lit up that you can walk through. So that one is really fun. I think it was just pretty impressive, what they could do in that large space.
CATHY WURZER: Was that the same Glow show that was at the fairgrounds a couple of years ago? Is that right?
KRISTEN GLAZER: I don't know. I'm not sure about that.
CATHY WURZER: That's all right. So I'm also wondering about-- we're talking about things to do and places to go and drink and eat and that kind of thing and watch lights. But if you just want to get away with somebody special, where would you go?
KRISTEN GLAZER: Oh, there's so many good options. One really unique place this is actually just across the river, on the Wisconsin side of St. Croix Falls, which is across from Taylors Falls. They have Big Rock Creek, it's called. And they have this whole light show that's called Miracle at Big Rock. But in addition to that, you can actually sleep there. And they have geo domes and cabins and yurts and all kinds of different things. So it's sort of like a Christmas winter wonderland, where you can actually sleep and stay for a night or two.
CATHY WURZER: Oh, give me that name again. That sounds really interesting.
KRISTEN GLAZER: Yeah, it's called Big Rock Creek in St. Croix Falls. So just across from Taylors Falls.
CATHY WURZER: OK. You must be horribly busy, given that you've just given us all these great ideas. How busy do you get during the holidays when you're out and about and sampling all of this?
KRISTEN GLAZER: Yeah, I'm definitely busy. It's always really fun things, but I'm always looking for the next thing to check out. And luckily, my husband is up for anything, and I've got a lot of girlfriends that are up for anything. So we're just trying to make the most of it and visit everything. A lot of these are only open for a few weeks or a month or so. So I'm trying to get out and sample as many things as I can right now.
CATHY WURZER: Say, getting back to places to go to shop because, of course, many of my friends love to have locally made crafts. Have you gone to Dayton's yet, their Christmas market?
KRISTEN GLAZER: You know what? Somebody else recommended that to me the other day. I haven't been, but it sounds really impressive. Have you been there before?
CATHY WURZER: I have not. I mean, of course, yes, as a kid. Well, most native Minnesotans have gone to Dayton's and seen the eighth floor auditorium, but I've heard that, actually, those vendors that are there this year have really some interesting things to sell. So I have not gone, but I'm going to go for sure.
KRISTEN GLAZER: Yeah, I plan to as well, and it sounds like it's one of the larger markets out there. So sounds like there's just a huge variety as well.
CATHY WURZER: Can we crowdsource in about a minute here? Any other places you're going to go here in the next few weeks? I bet probably there's a number of them.
KRISTEN GLAZER: Yes, I'm always thinking about what to do next. So hoping to check out a few more holiday bars, another market or two. And it's like I said, they're always like popping up. Something new every week I learn about. So just trying to stay on top of what what's opening and hitting as many of them as I can.
CATHY WURZER: All right. Kristen, thanks for helping us out and giving us some ideas. It sounds like fun.
KRISTEN GLAZER: Thank you so much for having me.
CATHY WURZER: Kristen Glazer's been with us. She runs the Minnesota travel blog and Instagram account, Expedition Kristen. Hey, by the way, Jess Berg, thank you, Jess. She sent this along, too, and I've not done this yet. Sam's Christmas Village, I believe is in Somerset, Wisconsin. Is that right, Jess? I believe that's correct. Sam's, by the way, has got a fantastic holiday light display. And you can evidently rent the s'more cabin. Check it out when you have an opportunity. That is samschristmasvillage.com.
That's going to do it for us here today on Minnesota Now, the special Duluth edition, since I'm here in downtown Duluth. Thank you to my friends here at our Duluth station. They've been more than accommodating. Appreciate it. I hope you have a good rest of the day. The weather-- eh, a little foggy. It depends on where you are. We're going to see some sunshine tomorrow, and then we really warm up the rest of the week. Temperatures close to 60 in some places.
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This is MPR News, 91.1 KNOW Minneapolis-St. Paul. Clouds, fog, 32 degrees where I am right now in Duluth. Downtown Duluth, sun's out. It's 37 degrees. High today should be pretty much where we are in the Twin Cities, about 32, 33. Overnight, lows will be about 25 degrees.
Tomorrow, clearing skies after some fog in the morning. Tomorrow's high will be about 35. Now, you probably thought to yourself, did Wurzer say we're going to get to about 50, some places, 60? That is correct. Wednesday, highs of 45 degrees. Wednesday night, lows of 35. Thursday, close to 50.
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