Now that school is out and the weather is sunny and warm (finally), it is time to plan your summer vacation before the cold weather cycle begins again. Lucky for us Minnesotans, our great state has a vast amount of places worth sticking around for when vacation time arrives. Check out these local vacation ideas for a Minnesota getaway that takes advantage of the sunshine and the diversity of our state.
One Valleyfair Drive
Shakopee, MN 55379
Take part in the excitement of summer at Valleyfair. This family amusement park has been a Minnesota favorite for nearly 40 years, but it keeps updating yearly with new rides, food and entertainment. Dinosaurs Alive! and Picnic Park are two added features to Valleyfair for 2013, but the childhood favorites are still there too, including the bumper cars and SuperCat. For the more adventurous park-goer, test your thrill-ride limits on the 360-degree turns of Steel Venom and 200-foot drops of Wild Thing.
Houseboating On The Lake
Timber Bay Lodge & Houseboats on Birch Lake
Babbitt, MN 55706
School’s out. Round up the kids for some family bonding time on a houseboat. There are many houseboat outfitters throughout Minnesota and its beautiful lakes. Timber Bay rents houseboats, as well as cabins, on Birch Lake which is 15 miles south of Ely and close to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). Sleep soundly on your houseboat as it sits on the peaceful water overnight. Wake up to sail the miles of tree-lined shore, venture out to canoe the Kawishiwi River into the BWCA, fish for walleye and more. Birch Lake is also an ideal location for land-going adventures as it is close to the many museums, festivals, wildlife viewing, nature centers and trails for walking, running and biking.
Discover The Mississippi River’s Roots
Itasca State Park
S. Entrance Road
Lake George, MN 56458
Discover where the mighty Mississippi River begins at the Itasca State Park. Here, you can walk across the headwaters of Minnesota’s proud river as it originates the 2,552-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Hiking and wildlife viewing is popular in the state park, as well as camping, fishing and exploring historical areas. To extend the Mississippi River adventure, take a drive down the Great River Road, which runs 575 miles along the river throughout Minnesota before it continues to nine more states on the journey to the Gulf. Areas of interest along the route include 11 state parks, the Chippewa National Forest and various historic Minnesota towns, to name a few.
37200 Wild Mountain Road
Taylors Falls, MN 55084
Wild Mountain is a great place for families to gather for a day (or a few) because of the many choices of activities. While the park does boast several large waterslides, a lazy river and a kiddie area, there are plenty of dry entertainment options as well. Race your friends and family at the go-cart track, enjoy a picnic in the sun or zoom down the 700-foot long alpine slide. There are also volleyball courts and horseshoe pits throughout the park, nearby canoe or kayak rentals and boat tours of the St. Croix River.
Grand Portage National Monument
170 Mile Creek Road
Grand Portage, MN 55605
Celebrate part of our great state’s heritage at the Grand Portage National Monument in Northern Minnesota. Learn about the Ojibwe people, fur trading, French-Canadian voyageurs and how they tie into Minnesota history. The staff recreates old Grand Portage by dressing, speaking and behaving as if they are living in the late 1700s. Explore the geology and plants of the area as well with hikes through the beautifully preserved 710-acre monument grounds that overlook Lake Superior and the Pigeon River.
Related: Best Spots For A Picnic In Minnesota
Cortney Mohnk is a freelance writer covering all things Minnesota. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.