Beer, trails, and a world-class music festival at your doorstep
If you want to make friends in this life -- real friends, the sort you’ll hang with for the rest of your days -- then spend a few winters two hours from Minneapolis. The upper Midwestern folks here have a knack for making the most of that dreary, dark season. You’ll still see bikes (with snow tires) commuting in negative temperatures, which at first may seem insane but eventually... you kind of get it. Duck out of the snow and into a warm, toasty bar -- Water Street is saturated with them -- for a pint of Lazy Monk IPA or New Glarus Spotted Cow. Eat some cheese curds, play a board game or 200, and let the winter roll on by, as it always manages to do.
Once spring rolls around, everyone starts peeling the sleeves off their pale-ass torsos and preparing to smash their way into a temperate, gorgeous summer together. The Chippewa River runs through this city, with loads of trails, parks, even beaches, and a shiny waterfront downtown is rolling in locally owned shops and locally sourced eats. June brings about the Eaux Claires music festival, started in 2015 by Wisconsin’s own Justin Vernon, where local artists share a bill with such little-known acts as Vernon's Bon Iver, Wilco, and Paul Simon. -- Kylie Maxcy