Tag: cottage view drive-in
With its historic landmarks, top-notch restaurants, and equally decadent hotels, it’s a well-known fact that St. Paul offers plenty of opportunities for a fancy date night. But during the summer months especially, it provides the perfect setting for a charmingly off-the-cuff, casual date night.
The perfect way to start? Mini golf at the Science Museum, of course! And it being the Science Museum, you know you’re going to learn something the fun way. The nine-hole EarthScapes Mini-Golf course, housed outdoors on the museum’s Big Back Yard terrace, is inspired by how landscapes erode, and how rivers transport sediment.
An added treat is the “edible garden” that surrounds the course, including raspberry bushes, and apricot and sour cherry trees. It’s like mini golfing in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, only with healthier snacks. ($4.50 plus $11 admission or only $5 after 5 p.m. for mini-golf only. 120 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, 651-221-9444, www.smm.org)
After indulging in the gorgeous outdoors (it is summer, after all), be sure to take a swing around the museum’s current exhibition, “The Dead Sea Scrolls,” a high-profile touring show of the oldest existing documents to feature the written word. If you have some childlike curiosity left in you, try your hand at some of the nifty science-teaching tools and find out just how weird your fingernail looks magnified. (“The Dead Sea Scrolls” is $28 including museum admission, or $34 with Omnitheater admission.)
Given more time, the museum’s Omnitheater is a local treasure not to be dismissed. It’s wraparound screen puts you in the driver’s seat of nature, with varying science and nature-based documentaries that can be just as – if not more – thrilling as a summer blockbuster. ($17 for Omnitheater and museum admission or $8 for Omnitheater only.)
Next stop: dinner. Punch Neapolitan Pizza’s original location in Highland Park is an ideal candidate, thanks to a menu packed with delicious and affordable options, and an intimate patio in one of St. Paul’s most charming neighborhoods. (704 Cleveland Ave. S., St. Paul, 651-696-1066, www.punchpizza.com)
We started things out with the Roasted Baby Peppers ($5.95), a new menu item that features juicy, miniature red, yellow and orange peppers drizzled in balsamic vinegar, then roasted on fragrant rosemary flatbread. It was made all the more delicious when paired with a glass of Santa di Terrossa 2008 Pinot Grigio – a refreshing Italian white wine with just enough bite to meet up to the entrees to come.
A meal isn’t complete without a salad, in my opinion, and a restaurant is only as good as its salad. It’s an oft-ignored course, but not so at an Italian eatery such as Punch. The new Rocket salad ($6.95) met up to the challenge, with chopped tomatoes and fresh mozzerella on a bed of arugala. The fresh take on the caprese salad is a new hot summer day classic.
With pizza being Punch’s specialty, we had to try at least a couple of their Neapolitan-style offerings, all served with flame-kissed flaky crusts, San Marzano tomatoes, and fresh mozzerella. For a little variety, we picked a couple of styles on opposite flavor spectrums: the Margherita Extra ($12.45) and the Siciliana ($11.95). The Margherita Extra is just that – the traditional margherita-style Neapolitan pizza with extra flavor. Layered with basil, Mt. Versuvio tomato and mozzarella di bufala – a specialty cheese made from the milk of water buffalo, ideal for Neapolitan pizza for its ease in melting in wood-burning ovens and its rich flavor, it’s no surprise to find out that the Margherita Pizza is Punch’s most popular. But the Siciliana was in close running, covering our meat craving with cripsy, salty prosciutto, and perfectly offset with juicy artichoke, picholine olive and basil. All in all, the check ended up barely cracking $40 – not bad for a two-person meal with a drink each.
Capping the night off in true date night form, we jumped in the car and took a jaunt to out the Cottage View Drive-In, located about 30 minutes southeast of St. Paul in Cottage Grove. I hadn’t been to the historic drive-in movie theater since childhood, and the place drips with nostalgia. You won’t find any high-tech HD sound or video, but you will be able to open up the moon roof, prop your feet up, and snack on popcorn and soda in the comfort of your own car, with your windshield serving as a viewfinder. It’s as intimate as it gets for a hot date at the movies, but it’s also a great excuse to grab some friends (or your kids, if you’re the family type) and load some folding chairs into the van for a magical night under the stars. ($8, cash only, 9338 E. Point Douglas Rd. S., Cottage Grove, 651-458-5965, www.manntheatresmn.com)