Think for a moment about the last time you visited a city you knew nothing about. Did you eat at the restaurant on Main Street? Did you stop in at the local general store? How about take a walk along the park trail? Each city or town has a story to tell. This story takes place in New London, Minnesota aka “the city on the pond.”
HOW I ENDED UP IN NEW LONDON
My romance with New London begins at the 2018 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener. New London was among the cities hosting all of the events and festivities leading up to the fishing opener on Green Lake. I had never been to New London before this, but I’m thankful I got to experience this dreamy little city.
I call it a romance because it’s easy to fall in love with a place like New London. For a city of only 1300+, there sure is a lot to see, do, eat, and drink — yet still feel the charm of a small town.
A big thanks to Explore Minnesota for inviting me and Willmar Lakes Area for hosting. The events and festivities took place in Willmar, Spicer, and New London. You can learn about all three cities in this interactive guide.
5 REASONS YOU SHOULD VISIT NEW LONDON THIS SUMMER
I hope this summer is full of new adventures in new places for you and your family. I put together a list of why New London should definitely be on your list of places to visit!
1. LIFE ON THE WATER
Their slogan says it all. “The city on the pond” is surrounded by ponds, rivers, lakes, and parks including Sibley State Park. That means plenty of opportunities to fish, kayak, paddle board, bike, and hike. You can even rent kayaks and SUP right along the Crow River.
New London is also home to the Little Crow Ski Team. It’s a group of more than 70 skiers who competitively water ski. You can expect to see Little Crow performing at Neer Park very Friday evening throughout the summer.
Be sure to paddle the Crow River in the Voyageur Canoe with Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center. It’s a 34 feet long canoe that’s perfect for a big outing with your friends or co-workers. They’re hosting “Paddle the Crow 2018” on June 2nd, if you’re interested! Prairie Woods also has a plethora of other environmental education and outdoor recreation programs so check them out!
2. BOUTIQUE SHOPPING
I don’t know about you, but I love checking out local shops. It’s a chance to update the wardrobe, check out some local artisans, and support the city’s economy. You’ll find everything from antiques to apparel, floral, pottery, bridal shops, and home decor.
With the limited time I have, I stopped by Simple Days and got the cutest comfy tee that says “fishing hair don’t care.”
You can keep up to date on different sales and events happening on the Experience New London Facebook page.
I seriously am planning on going back so I can spend more time eating in New London.
I loved everything from Middle Fork Cafe. The wraps were phenomenal along with their cookies. They have a sweet little patio setup with a really unique wine bottle chandelier. The cafe plans to expand by opening another set of doors in Willmar this summer.
The local folks also mentioned the New London American Legion as a great place to eat. Other places talked about include, The Deep Freeze (award winning ice cream drive-thru and walk-in place), New London Bakery, and an upcoming farm-to-table restaurant called Model Citizen at Goat Ridge Brewing. Model Citizen is expected to open on May 25!
For your local coffee, hit up Lake Affect Coffee. Grab a latte and a breakfast sandwich. Be sure to check out their lunch menu too.
If you’re a fan of good beer, you’re in luck. There are two breweries in the vicinity. The brewery I visited and instantly oogled over is Goat Ridge Brewing Co. in New London. The taproom is warm and inviting with earthy wood and modern textures, board games, live music, and a beer garden right along the Crow River with view of the dam. Brewer and owner Josh was super nice and welcomed a huge group of us to the taproom, even though he was probably really busy getting ready to open Model Citizen. I highly recommend the Brutus (Belgian Dark Strong Ale) and the Adirondack chair that’s located directly next to the river.
The other just a hop, skip and a jump away in Willmar called Foxhole Brewhouse. They brew small batch, flavorful, and aromatic beer. Next time I visit, I definitely want to try their Perkins Lumber Peanut Butter Porter (omg!) and Irish Stout.
For wine, there’s the Glacial Ridge Winery. I didn’t have time to stop here this time, but later this summer — I’ll be sure to swing by their orchard and winery. With names like “Zinful Bastard” and “Minnesota Maui,” you can expect a wide variety of vino from Glacial Ridge.
5. THE PEOPLE
Hosting an event like the Governor’s Fishing Opener is no easy feat. The local people, including the mayor, businesses, community leaders, and neighbors were all sooo nice and hospitable. Minnesota people are typically nice — but these folks were especially kind.
It’s especially noticeable in New London’s local art. All throughout the downtown area, you’ll notice art created by students, hobbyists, and professionals. I love when a community can add color and creativity in their city in a meaningful way. That’s representation of unity in the community. Collaboration, not competition.
My friend Annie and I also had a fun time with our fishing hosts Dick and Cory Engstrom. They were rockstars on Diamond Lake, trolling around in search of that honey hole. Their hospitality and personalities kept us motivated to keep casting our lines! In the end, not a nibble for us. But we just wanted to make sure we left enough fish for the other anglers. 😉
Also, a big thanks to Annie (check her out at @ahendricksonphoto) for coming along and shooting photos over the weekend. We had tons of fun. Be sure to follow her on Instagram and let her photograph your next big event or adventure!
Here, I leave you with a few shots from the Governor’s visit to kickoff the fishing opener in Willmar!