Find more great travel ideas in The Growler’s Tourism Guide 2020
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.
If you fancy taking a few hours to relax in the sun with a cheap can of beer and the smell of cut grass—then carousing in a town you’d never otherwise frequent—let the standout destinations of the Minnesota Baseball Association be your guide. Here are five places to start.
Your initiation to Minnesota town ball should begin a scant 40 minutes from the Cities down Highway 169 in the historic home of the Jordan Brewers. Start at Roets Jordan Brewery, which does fine work with maltier beer styles (get their ESB or Scottish Ale if it’s on tap.) Afterwards, gawk at the knickknacks at Water Street Antiques and the Corner Peddler, then bring a cooler and stop at the Pekarna Meat Market to load up on traditional German sausages.
At the ballpark, you could sit under the grandstand, but I suggest bringing a picnic blanket to stretch your feet on the grassy hill on the third-base side. Cans of beer are a few bucks, same with hot dogs and popcorn. The Jordan Brewers won the Class C championship last year—they’re a sharp squad. Stare out at the manual scoreboard, and the spire of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church rising behind centerfield. After the game, a Premium at Moola’s Bar is a must.
The second you walk into Jack Ruhr Field in Miesville, you see the cornfield beyond the fence and half expect Shoeless Joe Jackson and the rest of the Black Sox to appear for a ghostly exhibition. Even sans apparitions, there aren’t many dreamier places to while away a humid evening than under the lights with the Miesville Mudhens.
Hop onto Highway 61 south from Hastings, and in about 16 miles you’ll happen upon a singular strip with a ballpark, a burger place, a bank, a church, and a supper club. If there’s any other reason besides town ball that has brought the hamlet of Miesville to your attention, it’s probably King’s Place. This iconic burger joint has been hailed in several “Best Of” lists, and rightfully so. After the game, Wiederholt’s Supper Club is the place to be—especially Friday through Sunday for prime rib.
Maybe you’ve been down for Oktoberfest or Bock Fest in the spring, but we recommend you take in New Ulm during one of the lazier dog days. It’s a great downtown for ambling, especially to and from the B&L bar (there’s no better place to drink a Schell’s.)
You’ll find Johnson Baseball Park a short walk away at 5th and German streets, and this home of the New Ulm Brewers (naturally) is one of the nicer amateur ballparks in the state. After the game, how can you resist the allure of sauerkraut balls at Veigel’s Kaiserhoff? And did you know there’s a new weekend-only speakeasy in town? (Look it up.)
Nestled into a crook of the Cannon River is Memorial Park in Dundas, just south of Northfield and home to the Dukes. Placing second in the state in Class B last year, the Dukes always put on a fine show at their gorgeous tree-lined stadium at the end of the cul-de-sac.
After the game, saunter down the block to Chapel Brewing, where a Kölsch (or probably two) is the order of the day. Or sit under the pergolas on the patio at the L&M Bar. Check to see if the tasting room at Keepsake Cidery is open just south of town.
The elevated grandstand behind home plate at John Burch Park in Cannon Falls is a delightful perch for watching some town ball. The home of the Bears is a neighborhood stadium just down the street from Tilion Brewing Company and Cannon River Winery.
About a mile-and-a-half further, Falls Landing from chef J.D. Fratzke is among the most exciting new restaurants in the state. The Winona-born chef takes steak-and-chop prowess developed during his time at the Strip Club Meat & Fish, and injects it with the fried perch and walleye roulade sensibilities of a classic Midwest supper club.