Given the current rising costs of travel, you might consider planning a staycation close to home this year. But sticking around town doesn’t mean that you can’t have any excitement! In fact, there are plenty of fun staycation ideas right in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
Here are the top staycation ideas for local individuals and families. Note: We’re providing multiple tips for each of the four major seasons, so you’ll have things to do all year. Read along for more staycation ideas and activities.
When should I take a staycation?
Whether you’re saving for a down payment on a home or feeling the current economic squeeze, it may be time to opt for a staycation rather than an out-of-state trip. Luckily, Minnesota and western Wisconsin offer four distinct seasons, each filled with its own things to do.
We’ve broken down our best staycation tips by season, including:
- Staycation ideas for the winter
- Staycation ideas for the spring
- Staycation ideas for the summer
- Staycation ideas for the fall
Staycation ideas for the winter
Winters in the Midwest tend to stick around just a tad longer than most of us would prefer. While the snow remains glittery and new for the first few months, a mid-season intermission from the cold is typically much appreciated.
Even if you don’t hop on a plane this winter, there are still plenty of ways to make the season enjoyable from home. The four staycation activities listed below are bound to break up the long winter – and maybe even help you find new joy in the seasonal weather, too!
- Go ice skating or fishing
- Have an adult-only outing
- Learn from the Science Museum of Minnesota
- Schedule a virtual get together
Go ice skating or fishing
One way to breathe new life into winter and embrace the cold is to go ice skating or fishing. Don’t let the cold coop you up, ice skating will get your blood pumping and ice fishing can be done in a heated fish house.
Seeing as ice skating is a top winter activity in the region, most cities have both indoor and outdoor public rinks for skating.
Ice fishing is a popular winter event, as well. Here are some of the best lakes for ice fishing that you can explore throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin on your staycation this winter:
- Zippel Bay
- Oak Lake
- Lake Pepin
- Lake Elmo
- Nelson Lake
Have an adult-only outing
Whether you have little ones at home and you’re hoping for a rare adult-only outing, or you’re used to having independent time to explore, there are tons of winter activities for adults this season. Warm up with drinks in an ice bar in Rochester or laugh at a local comedy club. Or, try something new like a glass-blowing class in Duluth or a dog sledding experience in Ely. Ready to really embrace winter? Experience a unique Scandinavian tradition with the mobile sauna experience at 612 Sauna Society. (Don’t forget to jump in the snow after.)
No matter what winter staycation idea you choose to do, make sure to carve out time for just you and potentially other adult friends this winter.
Learn from the Science Museum of Minnesota
Learn something new at a visit to the Science Museum of Minnesota. The museum is known for its variety of immersive experiences hosted indoors. Some collections to explore at the museum include:
And, if you’re not feeling up to facing the cold and driving to the museum for an in-person visit, you can still take a day to virtually explore the exhibits through kid-friendly at-home activities.
No matter how you choose to visit the Science Museum this winter, you’re sure to have both an educational and creative experience after adding this event to your staycation checklist.
Schedule a virtual get together
Similar to a virtual housewarming party, you can host a virtual dinner party or play date to bolster your staycation itinerary. Start by sending a virtual invite to your friends or long-distance family members and set up a time to connect. Here are some virtual activities that you can easily organize via webcam:
- Dinner party
- Game night
- Coffee chat
- TV show or movie (via Teleparty)
- Conversation cards
This staycation plan is ideal for those who prefer not to drive long distances in the snow to meet up, or for those who have loved ones located out of state. With a virtual get together, you can stay home while connecting with the people who mean the most to you.
Staycation ideas for the spring
Everything feels fresh and alive in the springtime. After emerging from a chilly winter, now is the time to reset and recalibrate. Jumpstart spring with a staycation filled with your favorite Minnesota and western Wisconsin activities. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Book a spa day
- Visit the zoo
- Experience the “waterpark capital of the world”
- Attend an art walk
Book a spa day
Just like many people conduct spring cleaning to enrich their living spaces after a long winter, you too can book a spa day to invigorate your body after it’s been buried in snow. Customize your spa experience to meet your needs. Here are some spa services in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota that will make for an ultra-relaxing staycation:
- Immersive experience at The Salt Cave in Minneapolis
- Float tanks at Inner Bliss in Duluth
- Massage, acupuncture and cupping at Optimal Movement in Rochester
- Massage, acupuncture and energy healing at Healing Elements in St. Paul
Plus, a spa day is a super convenient staycation idea. No matter where you’re located, you likely have a spa within a few miles from your home.
Visit the zoo
Create a sense of adventure during your staycation by spending the day exploring the zoo. The Twin Cities area is home to these widely-recognized zoos:
Visit each website for more details on in-person zoo events and digital programming that brings animals right to your living room.
Experience the “waterpark capital of the world”
If you’re ready to hop in the water this spring before the lakes are warm enough to dive into, consider a visit to one or more of the Wisconsin Dells waterparks. These waterparks are known for their one-of-a-kind themes and giant slides. Book your trip to the Wisconsin Dells now if you’re hoping to float down the lazy river as part of your spring staycation.
Attend an art walk
Whether your town hosts its own art walk or you’re planning to make the drive to a nearby town that does, these events are a great way to experience something creative during your staycation. And, spring is one of the best times to visit art walks thanks to the sunny weather and the much anticipated comfortable temperatures.
Here are some popular art walks and related events in and around Minnesota:
- First Friday monthly event in Grand Rapids
- First Thursdays monthly event in Minneapolis
- Thursdays Downtown weekly event in Rochester
Staycation ideas for the summer
With warm weather, long days and a break from school, summer is a highly-coveted staycation season. Staycation details are easy to plan during this time of year, especially if you have school-aged kids. Tune in for the top summer staycation ideas and activities below.
- Camp out (or in)!
- Picnic in the rose garden
- Spend a weekend at the cabin
- Plan your “perfect” day
Camp out (or in)!
If you’re in the mood for a cozy night at home, stay in and camp at your house. Put up a tent in your backyard or build a makeshift fort in your living room or basement and play camp. You can even get a fire going in the fire pit, make smores and share campfire stories.
For an added element of fun, set an alarm to search for the Northern Lights or stargaze for special constellations and shooting stars.
Picnic in the rose garden
From mid-June to early October, rose gardens flourish in Minnesota and the surrounding areas. Some popular blooming parks to visit are:
- Leif Erickson Park and Rose Garden in Duluth
- Lyndale Park Rose Garden in Minneapolis
- Riverside International Friendship Gardens in La Crosse, WI
Toss down a blanket and come prepared with picnic foods. Eating, chatting, reading and simply admiring the roses will add a special charm to your summer staycation.
Spend a weekend at the cabin
If you’ve financed a second home or cabin or you co-own a cabin with family or friends, now is the time to enjoy it. Summer at the lake is hard to beat, especially in the land of 10,000 lakes. Mark one (or a few!) weekends in your calendar designated to time spent relaxing at the lake.
Even if you don’t own a cabin, you can still make a summer staycation at the lake possible. See if you can make a booking at a lodge nearby or talk to your cabin-owning friends about renting or using their space on a weekend they don’t plan to be there.
Plan your “perfect” day
Everyone has different ideas of what the perfect vacation, or staycation, entails. Challenge your partner, yourself or an older kid to come up with day plans that meet a specific budget, think $30 to $50. Your perfect day might include some of the following:
- Revisiting a cherished restaurant
- Peeking in area thrift shops
- Taking a walk around your favorite part of town
- Going to live music
- Purchasing supplies to craft
Make a plan in advance so you can iron out the final details of the day before setting out on this staycation activity. This exercise is perfect for those trying to stay on a budget.
Staycation ideas for the fall
As the roar of summer calms down, fall offers a calm season for staycations. Whether you’re hoping to take in the colors of the season or wholeheartedly embrace the spooky season, there are many fall staycation options in the area.
- Attend a spooky event
- Explore a nearby state park
- Go to a college sporting event
- Pick apples or pumpkins
Attend a spooky event
No matter where you live, there’s an ongoing list of fall events in Minnesota and western Wisconsin to keep you busy. Haunted ships and streetcar rides make up some of the fun. Here are more details on fall and Halloween-related events in the area.
Keep in mind, if the spooky event you envision isn’t available in your area or when your calendar is open, you can plan your own spooky staycation spectacular with carved pumpkins and haunted movies at home.
Explore a nearby state park
Fall is arguably the best time of year to visit the state parks in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Luckily, there is an abundance of state parks in these neighboring states. Between Minnesota’s 66 state parks and Wisconsin’s 43 state parks, staycationers have countless opportunities to search for fall colors in nature.
While planning to explore the state parks in the area, make sure to reference the fall color report. This resource will help you plan your staycation around the most vibrant fall colors.
Go to a college sporting event
Fall is marked not only by the changing leaves, but also by the return to school. While there can be mixed feelings regarding the start of another academic year, the school session brings about another set of fun activities for a staycation: sporting events.
It might not be often that you head out to a college football or soccer game, but there’s likely a nearby college or university that has a team whose event you can attend. Or, if your alma mater is in the area, plan a day trip to one of their sporting events as part of your staycation.
Pick apples or pumpkins
Is there anything that represents a more picturesque fall than apple or pumpkin picking? Plan a staycation day full of apple or pumpkin harvesting – or both.
Local favorites include:
Then, treat yourself to a yummy dessert with your freshly picked produce. Making a delicious dessert in your kitchen is a wonderful way to spend quality time with others during your staycation this fall.
Edina Realty can help find your next home to have a staycation in
For additional homeowner tips throughout the seasons, reach out to Edina Realty or your agent. Our local housing experts understand the intricacies of each location and season, whether you’re moving forward with a staycation or determining the best month to sell your home.