(Minneapolis) – There are plenty of “Best of” lists out there related to Minnesota. In fact, just recently, the Minneapolis Star Tribune released a special section highlighting 100 things to love about The Land of Ten Thousand Lakes.
However, until now, there hasn’t been a list pulled together of the best places to write in Minnesota. Well, who better to come up with one than a publishing company? The staff at Wise Ink Creative Publishing of Minneapolis put on their thinking caps, and polled their authors, and here’s what they came up with:
1) Open Book, 1011 S. Washington Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55415.
Founded in 2000, Open Book, which is a collaboration among three non-profits: The Loft Literacy Center, Milkweed Editions and the Minnesota Center for Book Awards, was designed to support, teach and celebrate the idea and art of the book. In simpler words,
Open Book is a writer’s paradise. From the moment a writer walks through the door, he or she is sure to be inspired by the literary buzz in this converted warehouse space. There are plenty of places to sit back and write, including the coffee shop overlooking the street, the commons area outside the main office, and the various nooks and crannies throughout the renovated warehouse space.
According to Meghan Pipe, Open Book’s administrative assistant, many a writer has attended a class in one of the center’s classrooms, then wandered off into a place they can call their own for a while and let the magic happen. “The only spaces that are off limits for writers are the classrooms and presentation rooms. Any other space you can find is available on a first come first serve,” she said.
There are even seven writer’s studios available for rent that offer 24/7 access to an office space, equipped with wired and wireless Internet access, a handcrafted wooden table and chair, a rocking chair and ample lighting. Rent is $125 per month if you go month-to-month, $300 for a 3-month commitment and $525 for a 6-month commitment.
Pipe says about 30 people currently have contracts to use the space. She only knows of one-or-two instances in the past two years when the rooms were all in use and people with contracts had to wait their turn to use the space.
2) The Shire in the Woods, 1044 220th Street, McGrath, MN 56350.
For those writers who find inspiration in nature, or just want to drop off the grid for a while and practice their craft around the clock, Wise Ink co-founder Dara Beevas recommends the Shire in the Woods.
Located 18 miles east of northern Mille Lacs Lake, the retreat features seven year round dwellings in which you can rent a room for as little as $65 per night. “This is my favorite place to write. I always find inspiration when I am there,” said Beevas, who enjoys the sights and sounds of the surrounding woods and the solitude she has found at the northern
Minnesota Retreat. Of note, Cheryl Strayed, author of The Wild, which was recently turned into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon, wrote one of the drafts of her novel there.
3) The Gunflint Lodge, 143 S. Gunflint Lake, Grand Marais, MN 55604.
Since she was a kid, Wise Ink Create Publishing co-founder Amy Quale has considered the Gunflint Lodge in northern Minnesota one of her favorite places to spend time—
and write. The resort features plenty of cabins, all with a lake front view.
“I actually honeymooned on at the Gunflint Lodge, and as a lifelong journal keeper, I found the main lodge the perfect place to capture the memories of our time there.”
The Gunflint Lodge is open year round.
4) Nina’s Coffee Shop, 165 Western Ave. N., St. Paul, MN
If you enjoy writing at coffee shops, one worth checking out is Nina’s Coffee Shop, which is at the corner of Western and Selby in the heart of Cathedral Hill, St. Paul. The shop serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and of course coffee all day and night long. Hours are very generous: 6:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. seven days a week. When the weather is nice you can sit outside. There is plenty of seating inside as well.
“I love the snacks. And you can’t beat the library wallpaper with illustrated books spines on it. There’s a list by the door that you sign once you finish writing your book if any or all of it was written at Nina’s,” said Laura Zats, editorial manager at Wise Ink.
“The vibe there is unparalleled. It's a writer's paradise—inspiration abounds. It's my favorite spot to go when I have a serious case of writer's block,” said Wise Ink author Angela Miller.
“Great for the java jolt and all kinds of flavor and interesting people,” added Wise Ink author Jean Chagnon.
5) Minnehaha Falls (Minneapolis, MN)
One of the most inspiring acts of nature to observe for a lot of writers is the racing water associated with a waterfall. So, it should come as no surprise that Minneapolis’ Minnehaha Falls is one of the most popular outdoor places to write in the Twin Cities. On any given day, it’s not unusual to find more than a dozen people with pen and paper in hand, or computers in their lap, writing away as the water races past them.
It doesn’t hurt that the waterfall is easy to access either. It is right in the middle of a well-maintained city park.
6) Oak Island on Lake of the Woods
Another outdoor oasis for writers in Minnesota is Oak Island on Lake of the Woods, home of the Lake of the Woods Writers Retreat. Getting there is an adventure to write about in itself, as you have to cross into Canada then take a 10 to 15 minute boat ride to reach it.
“The nature is gorgeous and it feels worlds away from regular life, but is still in Minnesota,” says Kim Hruba author of Elevator Girl. Hruba considers the Writer’s Retreat one of the best places in the state to hone her craft.
7) Faith’s Lodge, 4080 W. Broadway Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55422.
Built on 80 acres of Wisconsin’s North Woods, Faith’s Lodge is a 12,000 square foot oasis for families who are either battling a serious childhood illness or have lost a child. The resort is the vision of Susan and Mark Lacek, a Minneapolis couple who found comfort in the Northwoods after their first child was delivered stillborn in 2000.
Angela Miller, author of Mother of all Mothers, found the resort to be a wonderful place to write. “Anyone can rent it out for the weekend. The views are incredible, the vibe peaceful, and the rooms are top-notch and oh-so-homey. There is a fireplace in every room and lake views galore. It is gorgeous.”
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