The Growler’s Tourism Guide 2020

Illustration by Kelsey King

Illustration by Kelsey King

Whether you regard the prospect of long stretches in the car with cautious enthusiasm or deep dread, the road trip has been a near-ubiquitous American experience for right around a century.

Here at Growler HQ, we tend toward enthusiasm when it comes to road trips and hope to share a little bit of this excitement with you. Who doesn’t love an expanse of open road, playing music louder than is strictly necessary and the magnetism of a new destination pulling you irresistibly onward?

Road trip skeptics, read on with an open mind. There are ways to keep everyone in the car happy, nourished and engaged, international destinations you may not have ever considered, and closer-to-home excursions you’ll be appalled you didn’t think of yourself.

Road trip enthusiasts, rejoice! This guide is for you, too. With tidbits even the most seasoned car traveler will find interesting and informative, and a smorgasbord of great audio recommendations to queue up in the car, this is The Growler’s homage to Midwest-area road trips.

Quick! Call shotgun and hop in for the ride.


Caroline Carlson

Road Trip Playlists

The difference between dreading the endless hours on long, lonely stretches of highway and cherishing the open road as an essential part of your vacation can all come down to the soundtrack. If you tailor your playlists for an array of variables—mood, landscape, time of day, amount of caffeine consumed—the drive can be just as fun as the destination.

Road Trip Podcasts

When you’re behind the wheel watching the interminable flat expanse of the Great Plains slowly roll past your window, hit play on an audio adventure that will fill the silence and get those neurons firing on all cylinders again. Here are some titles to add to your library that will make the drive a little more engaging.

Reinventing Road Trip Food

If you find that the thrill of eating whatever fast-food garbage you want when traveling long distances fades after the first couple hundred miles, take heart. There are a number of really satisfying, entertaining, and even downright impressive ways to stock your own cooler and travel in culinary style.

Adventure North of the Border

Winnipeg: Canada’s Heart Beats

Stepping out of the car into Winnipeg after a 456-mile drive from the Twin Cities feels a little bit like time travel. (Think payphones and DVD rental shops, for starters.) But while dated in some ways, Winnipeg has experienced a palpable revitalization over the last two decades—with better food, attractive public spaces, and nascent nightlife.

A Voyage to Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay is less than six hours from Minneapolis–St. Paul, but it feels like another world. This metropolis of more than 100,000 Ontarians is a regional hub immersed in thousands of square miles of woods, rocky shoreline, and water.

Illustration by Kelsey King

Supper Clubs that Reign Supreme

It’s the great, once-unsung Upper Midwestern place to eat: a civilized outpost of prime rib, steak, fried fish, and strong cocktails set against a backdrop of sprawling wilderness—the country supper club.


Summer in the Park: A Town Ball Tour in Southern Minn.

My wife is, let’s say, baseball-tolerant. She’d never watch a game on TV but is more than happy to head out to the park to soak in one of the 60-or-so days when it’s actually enjoyable to be outside in this state. And we’ve found that this pleasant summer pastime is most gratifying in the greater Minnesota towns that host town ball teams.