I used the grill for both "ingredients"...
Lunch turned out great at a Vietnamese place. Who wouldn't love pho and a ban mi for lunch? Very good food.
From what I've heard from a close source, Sandcastle used to be nothing more than a hotdog stand next to Lake Nokomis. It's now been transformed into a stately eatery serving the hungry park patrons. And by "mid-June" the transformation and construction should be compete, even selling beers and wines.
We had a very simple yet solid dinner. I'd recommend this as a nice change of pace to the normally busy lakefront eateries in the Twin Cities. At Sandcastle on the Monday night we went, there were no lines and little wait time for food.
For those that don't know, I have a long and rich history with one of the US' best amusement parks. That park is the Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, IL. We would visit once each summer as kids (and on an eigth grade school trip) for the water rides, food, souviners, glowing necklaces as darkness fell...and once we were tall enough, the roller coasters.
Once you were big enough, the roller coasters were something you got to do with dad at the park. Mom didn't do coasters and not all the siblings liked them. So, the non-squeamish, tall kids would stand in line with dad for the thrill rides. It was a great way to cultivate the love of coasters. This love, though rarely enjoyed since I was a kid, still burns strong.
Having lived and worked relatively close to MN's best amusement park (I believe they claim, "the biggest amusement park in the Upper Midwest) for many years now, it was high-time I went to check it out and re-kindle my coaster love affair.
A coworker and I set off from a halfday at work to enjoy five hours of Valley Fair.
Boy did we! We hit the half-dozen or so major coasters at the park, with names like High Roller, Renegade, Venom, Wild Thing, etc. Plus, a few other classic or more tame coasters that are spread through out the park. It was a great way to spend the afternoon, only sharing the park with what seemed to be every 8th grade graduate in the state.
The coasters here at VF are as much fun as I remember. The wooden ones are very herky-jerky, the large steel coasters are very swoopy (yes, these are technical coaster terms). Many of them bang you around and throw in surprises.
We happen to have a former VF insider at our office, so we knew the staff at VF is often made up of a large portion of foreign exchange students, doing something of a summer work program in the US from countries in Europe. That said, I was very impressed with all of the (teenage) employees at the park. They had great attitudes, worked fast, wore their uniforms well, and kept us all safe on the various rides. Especially considering what they do and who they serve all day long under the hot sun (i.e. help pimply-faced teenagers not lose a limb on an amusement park ride before they start highschool in the fall).
Since I also purchased a "gold" season pass, that will pay for itself in only two visits, I can go back as often as I like this summer...and maybe in the Fall for their "Valley Scare" theme during Halloween.
A few notes from the day:
- Food and drink are more overpriced than in a movie theater. Use any means necessary to avoid paying their prices. We noticed a number of families eating at their cars in the parking lot.
- Many kids and families enjoy "Soak City" during the same day trip to VF. It's a separate but neighboring, major waterpark and seems like a good way to cool off. Personally, I'd do the coasters first and the water park second.
- Less is more. If you load your pockets with stuff each day, you may want to leave a lot of it in the car at VF. Coasters require empty pockets and some even have you remove eyeglasses and flip flops. Go with gym shoes and as empty pockets as feasible (the food and drink prices do benefit you here at least)
- Of course, there's and app for that too. No joke.