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, and The Goodness Coffee House. 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 Kafe La Baja 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. The Willmar Area Arts Council provides the rotating exhibits in the Willmar Education and Arts Center as well as hosts themed, invitational exhibits in The Barn Theatre‘s mezzanine gallery that run in conjunction with the current production. 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.

And finally, enjoy a variety of live music at the many bar and restaurants in the area. Ruff’s Wings & Sports Bar, connected to the Best Western Plus, has live music every Friday night. The New London American Legion and O’Neil’s in Spicer both host a variety of musical groups a few times during the month. And we can’t forget about the two amazing breweries in Kandiyohi County, Goat Ridge Brewing Co. and Foxhole Brewhouse as they also host live music each month. Make sure to check out the Event Calendar to see what’s playing during your stay.

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! Check out our other blogs detailing the exciting things you can do on a spring or summer vacation in the Willmar Lakes Area.

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