The American Midwest is still, in many ways, just as the first pioneers left it: wild, rugged, and extreme. So it’s no surprise that today it offers some of the coolest, once-in-a-lifetime experiences available in the U.S. With just one visit to Minnesota, in particular, you can unleash your inner badass with tanks, bulldozers, guns, and plenty of top-notch craft beer.
Drive a Tank
Few things are more exhilarating than heavy machinery and crushing things. The folks at the aptly named “Drive a Tank” company offer an experience that combines both. Visitors register for one of three packages to determine the length and complexity of their ride. Every package allows budding tank pilots to navigate a heavily wooded course that puts their newly learned skills to the test. The real fun starts with the company’s available add-ons, however. For an additional $700-900, you can drive over a car or two. For a whole lot more, they’ll even let you drive through a mobile home. The goal: to leave nothing standing.
Related: Micro Guide: Minneapolis
Take the “100 Brewery Challenge”
The craft beer boom has expanded well beyond Colorado and the coasts to include the Midwest. Minnesota now boasts more than 100 breweries. While that figure is dwarfed by states like Oregon, it’s not insignificant given the state’s relative population. Visitors can now find a decent bottle of brew in virtually every corner of the state. Fans of the Fargo TV series will likely appreciate the kitsch of grabbing a pint at Bemidji Brewing (located in the tiny city of Bemidji – where much of the show’s premiere season took place). Beyond that, there are at least 100 more breweries to explore!
Play in a (Very Big) Sandbox
Extreme Sandbox embodies every Tonka Truck-loving kids’ lifelong dream. The company offers visitors the opportunity to climb into a bulldozer, skid steer, or massive, 19-ton excavator and tool around a large, purpose-built sandbox just because. Packages start at less than $200 which provides access to a single piece of equipment for one hour. The flagship $900 experience includes seven full hours of playtime with your choice of machinery. Add-on packages also include car crushes and the ability to compete in a head-to-head “duel” with a partner using the bulldozer or excavator.
Hunt & Fish the 10,000 Lakes
Dubbed “The Land of 10,000 Lakes”, Minnesota is paradise for the avid hunter or fisherman. The state is home to some of the country’s best freshwater fishing, including pike, smallmouth bass, trout, and walleye. All that wide-open space also provides for 528 designated hunting areas spread across 11 million acres of public land. Hunting is a huge part of the state’s long-standing tradition of living off the land. Visitors will find no shortage of small game opportunities, including turkey, pheasant, and deer.