Weekend Retreats

Close-to-home getaways are my favorite. I love acting like a tourist in places just outside my own back door. Do you have close-to-home spots you love escaping to on weekends? Here are a few of mine, straight from the pages of What’s Great about Wisconsin? and What’s Great about Minnesota? (Although I have to confess, some of these spots I haven’t been to in approximately forever. Hmmm, perhaps it’s time for a weekend retreat!)

9781467733908fc_LargeWisconsin Dells
Water parks! Need I say more? Of course, there’s a lot more than water slides in Wisconsin’s most-visited city. The area has gorgeous natural features, from cliffs and gorges to rock formations. There’s also a crazy upside-down White House—a funhouse that looks just like the US landmark.

Door County
This peninsula in Wisconsin juts out into Lake Michigan. It has no fewer than 300 miles of shoreline. Lots of beautiful and mysterious lighthouses are found near those shores—fantastic for exploring. There’s also no shortage of amazing food in Door County: Fresh cherries perfect for picking, ice cream at old-fashioned parlors, lingonberry pancakes. If I did nothing but eat during my stay at Door County, I’d go home happy.

Mall of America
Yeah, it’s kind of campy, but it’s also—almost literally—right
outside my door, so it does make for a convenient getaway. It’s the biggest mall in the country, with more than five hundred stores, about fifty restaurants, an amusement park, and an aquarium—all
of which can help you feel like you’re truly on vacation. My favorite is to go in the winter, when the greenery in the amusement park makes it seem like you’re in your own little tropical world.

Minnesota State Fair
Does this count as a getaway? It’s more of an event than a place (although it’s so big, it almost feels like its own city), and you have just two weeks before Labor Day to take advantage of this particular retreat—then the fair closes up shop until next year. The fair boasts the giant slide, projects by 4-H kids, the Miracle of Birth Center, and heads carved out of butter. It’s also home to many famous foods, including overflowing buckets of chocolate chip cookies, roasted sweet corn, cheese curds, deep-fried candy bars, and pickles on a stick.

Here’s to weekends, close-to-home retreats, and playing tourist on your own stomping grounds. Happy Hometown Exploring, blog readers!