Time to march off all that turkey and those mashed potatoes?

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, Minnesota's 75 state parks and recreation areas will be open free of charge as a way to encourage people to get outside and move.

The average American consumes around 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving, according to the state Department of Natural Resources, which is waiving a $7 daily park entrance fee and reminding people that "a brisk walk can burn about 300 calories in one hour."

Spending time outside also helps people's mood, creative thinking and problem solving, the DNR notes, as well as promotes conservation ethics.

Some parks will offer organized hikes and other free programs that day.

Find a list at mndnr.gov/freeparkfriday.

Pam Louwagie

North Shore

Speed limit increases on North Shore Drive

Road tripping to Canada just got faster.

The state Department of Transportation (MnDOT) recently increased the speed limit from 55 to 60 miles per hour on sections of scenic Hwy. 61, also known as the North Shore Drive, from a spot just south of the Lafayette tunnel near Two Harbors to the Canadian border.

Several stretches will keep the current 55 mph limit, however, including sections from Schroeder to Tofte and a section on the Grand Portage Reservation from Mineral Center Road to Store Road.

Under a directive from the Minnesota Legislature, MnDOT has been studying whether speed limits can safely be increased on the state's two-lane, 55-mph highways.

Engineers study crash rates, physical attributes of a roadway such as shoulder width, and existing speeds.

Pam Louwagie


Children's museum nears funding goal

A proposed children's museum is close to reaching its fundraising goal, organizers said last week.

In a Facebook post, board members of the proposed Otter Cove Children's Museum said the organization had raised $555,000 of its $575,000 goal and is expected to open by early March.

"We are on a crazy fast trajectory to get this done," said Tasha Rohlfs, the museum's board president.

Construction of the museum in downtown Fergus Falls has been underway during the fundraising efforts.

Organizers say the closest other such facilities are in St. Paul and Brookings, S.D.