Tag Archives: Richfield

Adventure Gardens Miniature Golf

Ever since my recent trip to The Links at Dred Scott, I’ve had a renewed interest in miniature golf.  Yeah, yeah, such a thing is mostly for kids, but when designed right, it’s a fun test of skill and creative thinking.  When designed wrong, or rather, when not really designed at all, the activity becomes annoyingly arbitrary.  Unfortunately, most courses tend to be exercises in arbitrariness, as course “designers” tend to think that it’s good enough to just add random bumps and objects.  The best courses make you have to figure out how to get the ball to the hole through skillful aim and/or planning on how to use the objects and hills to change the course of the ball.

The Links at Dred Scott only slightly fulfilled this requirement, and because of its lack, and simply because of being reminded of how much fun mini-golf can be, I’ve found myself hankering to try out some other courses.  This desire was so strong that last week I almost tried to persuade my wife to try out the course at the Mall of America, Moose Mountain Adventure Golf, while we were there, even despite the astronomical $9 per person.  Luckily, my wife made a really good point: it was such a nice day, so why would we spend it at an inside course when we could try out an outdoor course?

And so we found ourselves trying out Adventure Gardens Miniature Golf at 6335 Portland Avenue South, Richfield, MN 55423.  Some of my main complaints about The Links at Dred Scott was it utter openness, its lack of atmosphere, and its arbitrary design.  Adventure Gardens corrects almost all of these flaws.  The course is located in a city park, but is off to the side mostly surrounded by trees.  That in itself is a big plus, as it creates a feeling of walking through the woods (even if the surrounding area was completely open fields).  Additionally, the water features are actually interesting, albeit sparse.  It does have a “waterfall” type feature, as well as a running “stream” and a few pools of water.  While not exactly brilliantly designed, it did add to the experience so that it wasn’t just mini-golf, it was a summer afternoon stroll.

The course itself is generally good.  Some thought has been put into creating holes for which you had to think about how to hit the ball, so that you use hills, walls, and objects to bounce the ball to the hole.  And while there was a reasonable amount of water features, the holes did not have any issue with moisture, as The Links at Dred Scott did.

However, while the holes did offer some creative thought, a lot more planning could have gone into it.  Most of the holes are extremely short, and what seemed mildly clever and interesting at the beginning becomes a bit tiring by the later holes when the same devices are used over and over again.  Additionally, even if you do hit a clever shot, you’re unlikely to gain much on a person simply hitting the ball straight.  There’s really not enough strategy or skill required for the course.
 

Click on thumbnails for larger images

The main question is whether or not I’d return.  It’s hard to say.  The normal price for a round is about $7.  We had a 2-for-1 coupon making it far more reasonable.  Given the very short time it takes to finish a round, that the holes become uninteresting with more exposure, and because the atmosphere wears a bit thin because of the surrounding open fields, it’s hard to rationalize $14 for two people. 

The course is undoubtedly better than The Links at Dred Scott, so if it’s a choice between the two, definitely go with Adventure Gardens.  Additionally, because of the better water features and design, kids will probably have more fun with Adventure Gardens.

Next up, Moose Mountain… maybe.  Again, it is the Mall of America… and $9 per person.

Cheers,
Charlie

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The Quest for “Our Place” – Part 2: Sandy’s Tavern

Round number two (or three, if you count Fuddrucker’s) in the quest for “our place.”  This time, Sandy’s Tavern at 6612 Penn Ave S. in Richfield, Minnesota.  Sandy’s has the distinct advantage of being a rather short drive away from where we live, and has a reasonably sized parking lot so that there are next to no obstacles to getting in the door in the first place.  Although, the Sandy’s is a bit small, so going there on a weekend night might pose some issues in getting a table.

The interior of Sandy’s is what I’d describe as a clean dive bar, which is next to perfect for what we are looking for.  The walls are lined with booths made of wood, and the place has a nice blue-collar, but not too loungy type feel to it, complete with neon signs and local sports team paraphernalia.  It’s just comfortable and quite welcoming.  This place is anything but pretentious.  Although, thank god for the smoking ban, as the place probably would have been saturated with smoke.  So, as far as the search for “our place” goes, it definitely had the style and location down pretty well. 

The food offering was a bit sparse.  The menu basically consisted of bar food off of an a la carte menu.  Not bad, but I was hoping for just a tad more than that since I’m looking for a more distinctive type place.  But the main reason we went to Sandy’s, of course, was for the burgers.  Sandy’s is listed as number eight in Citysearch’s Top Ten Burgers in the Twin Cities for 2008.

As I’ve said before, the best burger is not a pre-formed patty with “special” toppings.  The best burger is juicy with just a decent kick of bite from the grill.  And so, with all Sandy’s had going for it, the burger itself was a let down.  It was quite clearly a pre-formed patty.  Now, this doesn’t doom it outright, but the likelihood of juiciness is slim with such patties.  While it wasn’t dry, the burger just wasn’t very juicy.  It was also a bit thin.  Now, I made the mistake of not ordering any sort of onion on my burger, but I’m pretty sure that even with the onion the burger would have remained a bit bland.  Unfortunately, the burger only had a slight tinge of bite from the grill.

However, I would say that the burger was still above average, and it was mainly due to one thing, and this one thing is something you probably wouldn’t expect.  The burger was still fairly tasty, but it was the bun that made it better than average.  The bun was perfectly toasted, adding its own bit of bite and flavor.  Without the bun, the burger would have been unremarkable.  With it, it kicked the quality up a notch.

Anyway, as I’ve said, the search for “our place” does not hinge on the burger alone.  It hinges a lot on whether or not we’d just like to hang out there and have a few beers, as well as having a distinct menu item.  As such, it succeeds on the hang out requirement, but as of yet, does not quite succeed as far as having the food item.  The menu is filled with items such as cheese curds and chicken strips, so there is a chance we might just find a different food item that solves this issue.

As of yet we have not found our place, but we seem to be coming closer.  Although, as we were eating lunch on Saturday afternoon, a group of four seniors (two men, two women) over 70 came in, sat down and ordered a pitcher of Summit.  Maybe this is my place after all.

Cheers,
Charlie