Enjoy the best the area has to offer on your spring break staycation.
Spring is nearly here, and for local kids, that means one thing: spring break! And while our sights may be set on far-off, warm places as this Minnesota winter comes to an end, many of us will likely find ourselves indulging in a well-deserved staycation.
Yes, there may be an inclination to cozy up at home during break, but let us not forget that White Bear Lake was once a vacation destination in its own right. Even before the lake melts and boats return to White Bear Lake, there’s so much to enjoy about our hometown, and we’re ready to prove it.
“Both residents and visitors are so proud of this community,” says Lisa Beecroft, Editorial Advisory Board member and owner of Beecroft Marketing & Events. “You can see it in the beauty of the landscape and the buildings—all the love that people put into the things that they have. It just makes it wonderful for everybody to come to the White Bear area and enjoy all of the different amenities.”
Wondering where to start? With the help of Beecroft and our community, we’ve come up with some suggestions—one for almost every hour—of the best ways to enjoy your hometown staycation.
Start the morning off right with breakfast at one of the many cafes and bakeries around downtown. Locals love the traditional breakfast options at Cobblestone Cafe and Keys Cafe & Bakery. Lighter eaters will find something quick to enjoy in the form of pastries and espresso from Grandma’s Bakery.
In White Bear Lake’s resort days, the area was a mecca for lake adventures. Enjoy the natural bounty of the area before the ice melts with an ice fishing excursion on the lake. If it’s your first time, make sure to keep an eye out for the lake’s natural springs as the weather warms, and hire a local guide. Or take the family skating indoors during open skate at the White Bear Lake Sports Center
($5 per person, $4 skate rentals available; 9–11 a.m., weekdays).
Embrace the area’s legacy of lake resort leisure by making an appointment at one of the area’s many spas and salons. Families with older children (16 and under, with chaperone/waiver) may enjoy a massage or facial at Sunbear Salon & Medical Spa or Indulge Salon and Spa, both located downtown.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, choose from one of many fantastic restaurant options around the lake. Some 2022 Readers’ Choice favorites for a sit-down menu include Brickhouse Food and Drink and Washington Square Bar & Grill, or try take-out at Eat! @ Banning and 5th or Alleycat’s Gourmet Sandwiches if you’re not ready to slow down.
One of the main draws for visitors is White Bear Lake’s downtown core, but it has much to offer locals, too. “I love walking around downtown,” Beecroft says. “…certainly there’s always something to find.” Start off on Washington Square Avenue, and stroll in a square around the block, down Third Street, Banning Avenue and Fourth Street. Don’t miss some
of the newer businesses, including Roam Bike Shop, Haus Theory and Oldies & Goodies.
White Bear Lake is well known for its artistic side, which can be seen in full force with a visit to the White Bear Center for the Arts (WBCA). Along with courses on a variety of mediums, WBCA has rotating gallery exhibitions that are open to the public and an art shop where visitors can purchase works by local makers.
It’s time to get outside! “My first draw is always the lake,” Beecroft says. “So much of what we build and do is around the lake.” History lovers will enjoy the historic homes and lake views along Lake Avenue near downtown. Bring the kids to Discovery Hollow Nature Play Area at Tamarack Nature Center to enjoy fort building, climbing and other nature-based play.
After your outdoor explorations, warm up with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate from The Anchor Coffee House or a sweet treat from Orso Bianco Gelato, and enjoy some quiet reading or browsing at Lake Country Booksellers in downtown White Bear Lake or the local branch of Ramsey County Library.
Enjoy dinner at one of the area’s many premier dining establishments. Mizu Japanese (Beecroft’s top pick for its sushi), Acqua Restaurant & Bar, Rudy’s Redeye Grill and Manitou Bar + Kitchen are popular destinations for dinner located within walking distance of the lake
If you have time, don’t miss watching the sunset from a local beach. Even when the lake is frozen, you can expect beautiful colors to fill the sky above the lake on clear evenings.
Try to align your day on the town with a show at Hanifl Performing Arts Center. March 10 is the opening night of Calendar Girls, a production by the Lakeshore Players Theatre in its 70th season. Families with children age 10 and older will enjoy The Giver, which opens on April 14.
It’s been a long day! End your tour of White Bear Lake with a nightcap at The Alchemist or Big Wood Brewery before settling in for the evening at your home or local lodging.