A vintage van becomes a canvas for art at Hot Sam’s.
HOT SAM’S ANTIQUES, rural Lakeville, defies a singular definition. It’s unlike any place I’ve ever toured.
Vintage vehicles are scattered throughout the property.
Weird and quirky surprises are seemingly propped everywhere.
Atop the hill, behind the sunflower and the fanciful treehouse, are a log cabin and other buildings housing antiques and collectibles for sale.
It’s part photo park, theme park, artist’s haven, junkyard, antique shop. It is undeniably unique. And how you perceive this place depends on your individual preferences. If you like the odd, unusual and quirky, you’ll appreciate Hot Sam’s.
Posted at the entry to Hot Sam’s located along Pillsbury Avenue just off Interstate 35, Lakeville exit.
The lovely and friendly Kathy poses for a quick portrait with the resident pooch.
Avon collectible vehicles line a log along the driveway. A hodgepodge of items decorate the fence.
I first visited this attraction just off Interstate 35 south of the Twin Cities several years ago, returning on a drizzly Saturday afternoon in early June. Things had changed a bit. I couldn’t simply pull out my camera and start photographing the vignettes created by owner Jake Hood and his artist friend Barry. I had to check in with Kathy Sakry, Jake’s partner. With a bit of prompting, she remembered me and then waived the usual photographer’s fee, a necessity, Kathy says, to cover expenses.
The narrow gravel road into Hot Sam’s leads to a quirky world of art and finds.
Geese wander the shore of the on-site pond.
Looking toward a section of the beach and the pond, the setting for many water-themed vignettes.
With Kathy’s OK, I threaded, camera in hand, down the puddled gravel driveway toward the sandy beach. I kept a watchful eye on the overcast threatening sky.
Sand is hauled in to stage the beach scenes like this recently-added cabana.
An inviting tropical scene…
Jake visits with a guest.
The beach-side cabana, turtle-topped sand dune and dune buggy scene is Jake’s latest project. Thatch materials came from a now-closed business at the Mall of America. No surprise. Jake hints at connections to junkyards/scrappers/other sources from Minnesota to the coasts. You clearly need those ties to create an attraction like Hot Sam’s.
My husband obliges my request to sit for a photo.
Butt bar stools, for example, come from some place in Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. There’s a certain mystique that envelopes Hot Sam’s, although if you had the time, Jake would likely share detailed stories.
This guitar sculpture and other sculptures are perched atop a hill along Interstate 35 south of Lakeville.
Jake and I talk before he takes my husband and me into a hidden paradise.
Entering Hot Sam’s tropical paradise. This is the only peek you’ll get of this place from me. Maybe Jake will take you there. But then again maybe not.
As it was, he invited my husband and me to board his golf cart for a short drive into a hidden section of the property. I hung on as Jake twisted the cart through the woods, down a hill, around a curve and into a recreated island-themed paradise. This party spot is most often frequented by musicians drawn to Hot Sam’s by an over-sized guitar sculpture visible from Interstate 35, Jake tells me.
If you’ve seen this shark and other hillside sculptures from Interstate 35 south of the Lakeville exit, then you’ve found Hot Sam’s. Take the Lakeville exit and go east a short distance before turning south onto Kenrick Avenue.
For years, sculptures have been positioned roadside atop Hot Sam’s hill. For years, I’d seen the art and never bothered to exit the Interstate. I expect many other motorists have done the same.
The front porch of a building filled with antiques and collectibles.
That’s the thing. We drive by, just drive by. And then one day, if we have the time and/or inclination, we stop. And then we discover a place that defies easy definition, a place that showcases creativity, a place that everyone should tour. At least once. Or twice. When we’re always in a hurry, we miss the Hot Sam’s of the world. And that is our loss.
You never know what awaits you if you only take the time to stop at a place like Hot Sam’s.
TELL ME: Have you ever toured Hot Sam’s? Or have you visited a place just as interesting and unique? I’d love to hear. Check back tomorrow for one final photo look at this south of the metro area attraction.
FYI: To get to Hot Sam’s Antiques from Interstate 35, take exit 81 near Lakeville and go east on Dakota County Road 70 about half a mile to the stoplight. Then turn south onto Kenrick Avenue/County Road 46. Continue approximately 1 1/2 miles on Kenrick, which turns into Pillsbury Avenue. Hot Sam’s is located on the west side of the road at 22820 Pillsbury Avenue South, Lakeville. You’ll see a sign.
Open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. weekdays (except closed on Thursday) and Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. I recommend calling in advance to confirm hours.
© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling