Prime Vacation Planning Time

By Bailey Hovland

We’ve come to the time of year when spring seems like it will never come and summer feels like a distant memory. With the holiday season long gone and nothing to celebrate until Valentine’s Day (if you’re ever so lucky), we need something to add a bit of excitement… which is why right now is prime vacation planning time.

Make your own adventure in the Willmar Lakes Area with a wintry vacation, something you and a few girlfriends or your whole family can look forward to. The first step, of course, is booking a place to stay. And with so many great options, it will be hard to choose. The Hampton Inn on Green Lake is in the heart of downtown Spicer, close to some great area restaurants and shopportunities (shopping opportunities), including: O’Neil’s, Zorbaz, Westwood Cafe, and Urban Escape. The Hampton Inn has a pool perfect to get some exercise in before the day or to entertain the kids for an afternoon.

The book selection at Flyleaf is unparalleled, offering both old classic and new favorites, all in great condition.

New London also has a hotel that could be your perfect place to stay, with the GrandStay Hotel out at the newly remodeled Little Crow Golf Resort. The hotel is close to downtown New London, a small business shopping haven, where you can spend the day reading a book at Lake Affect Coffee or revamping your wardrobe at The Happy Sol. And over in Willmar there’s the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, the Country Inn and Suites with a 90-foot water slide, the Best Western Plus, and even the AmericInn, all featuring quality Wi-Fi and hot tubs or heated pools. And no matter which hotel you choose, it’s certain to be a great place to start and end your vacation.

Next you’ll have to add some activities to your vacation schedule. Of course you can lounge around at your hotel’s pool or get your shop on at some of the incredible small businesses throughout the area, but the Willmar Lakes Area also has a ton of community events too. Buy some tickets to a Willmar Warhawks game and spend the day immersed in the most Minnesotan sport there is: hockey. The players come from around the country, hailing from Arizona, Michigan, New York, Minnesota, and are joined by a few international players too. Cheer on the red and black at the Willmar Civic Center with a cup of hot cocoa and your warmest mittens.

Bring a book to one of your favorite coffee shops for an afternoon of relaxation. In Willmar, there’s the Middle Fork Cafe, LuLu Beans, Dunn Brothers, The Goodness Coffee House, and Cornerstone Coffee. In New London, there’s

The art at greenwater garage + gallery is absolutely stunning, as seen in this breathtaking image of two feminine subjects (photo courtesy of green water garage + gallery’s website).

Lake Affect Coffee and the original Middle Fork Cafe. And in Spicer there’s The Kofe Shop and Coffee & More. Each coffee shop has a unique atmosphere that’s perfect for curling up with a good book. The next three titles on my booklist are “The Nest” by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, “Where’d You Go Bernadette” by Maria Semple, and “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt, each of which can be found at Flyleaf Book Shop, located inside the Middle Fork location in Willmar and Lake Affect Coffee in New London.

There’s also a number of artists and galleries around the area. Gossman Pottery in New London has an impressive assortment of pottery. Bill Gossman uses wheel throwing and hand building techniques to create clay masterpieces, glazed with local granite, wood ashes, and clay material and finished in a wood-fired kiln. And at New London’s greenwater garage + gallery, visitors can tour the art gallery, buy local art, and even attend visual art workshops. Out in Atwater, Curiosity Cabin is a place where the mind reigns free. You can buy artwork, take painting classes, and even participate in music jam sessions. Either way, this Minnesota community has a strong tie to the arts that you can dive into.

The Glacial Ridge Winery’s soup and wine nights are perfect for mother-daughter time, where you can take some vacation time to unwind with girl time (photo courtesy of Moriah Johannes).

And finally, every Friday night through March, Glacial Ridge Winery hosts Friday Night Soup and Music from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Upcoming musicians who’ll be singing the night away include Gravel Road, Phil Berbig, 3D Band, Radio Acoustic, and Ava Hanson. The winery begins serving soup and chili at 5:00 p.m. and at 6:00 will also give you the option to order a pizza. Warm soup, flavorful pizza, and local wine: the ideal combo for a night of your wintry vacation.

These are just a few of the unlimited activities you can partake in throughout the Willmar Lakes Area. So go wild and plan your vacation in the community we call home. And if you’re hoping for vacation in the warmer months, there’s still plenty of community activities for you! Look for our spring blog coming soon, detailing the exciting things you can do on a spring or summer vacation in the Willmar Lakes Area.

Fish our lakes

The possibilities are endless on our 30 recreational lakes…boating, swimming, fishing, water skiing, tubing, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boating, hydro biking, paddle boarding and so much more!

Fishing Report

Explore our Trails

Surrounded by beautiful lakes and scenery…who wouldn’t take a hike or a leisurely bike ride to enjoy the view? With miles of trials to choose from, you can always find new places to explore.

Trail Report