Need to get away but don’t have the time, or the cash? We all have responsibilities that make it hard to take a vacation, but that’s usually why we need one. Luckily, you don’t have to book a spendy vacation to have a little fun this holiday season. We have plenty of escapes right here in Minnesota. Check out one, or all, of these ideas for the relaxing time that you know you need.
A Day In Downtown St. Paul with the Kids
The Science Museum of Minnesota
120 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St Paul, MN 55102
Spend some time at the Science Museum, then walk over to the world-class History Center. Or, if you have kids with you, the Children’s Museum is also a great option down the street. Dine at some of the metro area’s best restaurants including Meritage, Pazzaluna or St. Paul Grill. The Landmark Center is in the midst of everything as well, featuring two museums and free concerts.
Most of the attractions are skyway accessible, so here is the Saint Paul Skyway Map if you want to get around without spending too much time in the cold weather outside.
Added bonus: the Winter Carnival starts on January 22 and goes until February 1, 2015. If your staycation falls along those dates, that is yet another attraction for you.
Minnesota Wild Game
Xcel Energy Center
199 Kellogg Blvd. W.
St Paul, MN 55102
Plan to end your downtown staycation with a hockey game. The Wild, one of Minnesota’s few professional sports teams that plays a promising season, will play many home games throughout the holiday season.
Downtown St. Paul will make for a great staycation as you can stay occupied all day long, all the while enjoying beautiful architecture and walkable streets, treating the capital city’s downtown as a tourist would.
Mall of America and Water Park of America
60 E. Broadway
Bloomington, MN 55425
The largest tourist attraction in the state can be fun for locals, too. Spend your afternoon swimming and playing in the water at the massive water park, slipping and sliding, splashing and having fun with the whole family or friends. A shuttle connects the mall with the water park, so you can get lunch or dinner, do some shopping or catch a movie at the mall all in the same day. But you can certainly spread this trip over a few days; maybe ride a few rides at Nickelodeon Universe one day, and go face to face with some of the ocean’s craziest creatures at the beautiful Sea Life Adventures the next. There is plenty to do at this commercial epicenter just outside of the Twin Cities.
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
1225 Estabrook Dr.
St Paul, MN 55103
This can be one of the best local escapes during the cold of winter, as the tropical climates inside the conservatory make for a jungle getaway right in the middle of Saint Paul. The expansive conservatory lets you forget that the ground is covered in snow as you stroll amongst blooming flowers, lush greenery, waterfalls and koi ponds. The zoo, with its constantly expanding facilities, is also available for your enjoyment. These recently enlarged gorilla and polar bear sections show animals much happier in their habitats.
Green Line Brewery Tour without the Kids
Not saddled down with kids? The metro’s brewery boom makes for an adventure of the adult variety. With multiple breweries along the Green Line Light Rail, you won’t have to worry about a sober cab. The list here starts in St. Paul, but if you’re coming from the west metro, obviously you can start the other way.
Tin Whiskers Brewing Company
125 E. 9th St., Suite 12
St. Paul, MN 55101
Downtown St. Paul’s new(ish) brewery boasts a giant mural, plenty of games, and yes, really good beer. The Wheatstone Bridge has been popping up in bars all over the metro, and it is as good as they say. Make sure to give some of the beta beers (still in the testing phase) a try as well.
2320 Capp Road
St. Paul, MN 55114
This unique little brewery makes brews using only organic ingredients, and even the tap room was built from reclaimed materials. All of that is interesting, but most importantly, the beer is awesome. Try the Neat, a single malt, lighter beer, or the Nice, a deep, dark beer perfect for winter.
Urban Growler Brewing Co.
2325 Endicott St.
St. Paul, MN 55114
Riding the city limits of St. Paul is the newest of these breweries, and it is also one of the coolest. In the summer, there will be a beer garden so you can enjoy your brew outside, but the inside, complete with kitchen (and food will be very necessary by this point), is a great place to hang out as well.
414 N. 6th Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55401
At the very last stop on the Green Line lies one of the earlier members of the metro’s beer boom. Fulton, with its Lonely Blonde and Sweet Child of Vine being available almost everywhere, is a great place to end the tour. The awesome beer, and tap room, solidifies the Twin Cities’ status as a beer hub, and the added bonus of these Light Rail-accessible breweries makes for a great mini-vacation full of hops and suds.
Related: Best Brewery Tours In Minnesota
Adrian Schramm is a resident St. Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.