Though they've only been leading paddling tours for a few years, the certified guides of Stand Up MN have already helped thousands of people explore the Twin Cities' local waterways up close. After equipping their guests with standup paddleboards, personal flotation devices, and ample training, they embark on trips along the quiet stretch of the Mississippi River that cuts through their urban landscape.
From St. Paul, groups glide under bridges and pass idyllic natural areas—and from Minneapolis, they can take a break from paddling to high-five low-flying birds from a rope swing over the water. Stand Up MN also leads extended paddling tours to Taylors Falls, where state parks and tumbling waterfalls abound. These excursions are complemented by the company's special events, which include speed-dating events at which participants spend most of the time hanging out while paddleboarding.
Tucked in the cool shadows of old, forest oak trees, St. Croix Valley Golf Course's nine-hole layout invites golfers to swing across 133 acres of rolling topography. Originally sculpted into the woods in 1925, the 3,060-yard course eschews sand traps and favors natural obstacles including ponds, trees, elevation changes, and indigenous photographers who snap their shutters during players' backswings. The golf experts that preside over the pro shop can sharpen swings with lessons, ensure trustworthy equipment with club regripping services, and offer rental clubs so players don't have to hit with the oversized gavel normally used to settle remote control disputes at home.
Course at a Glance: * 9-hole, par 36 course * Length of 3,060 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 34.7 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 122 from the farthest tees * Four tee options
Your Boat Rentals helps people enjoy the benefits of boat ownership without hassles such as towing, cleaning, and repairs. The club maintains a fleet of boats, including leisurely Luxury Bennington pontoons that can hold up to 11 people. Renters need only make online reservations for one of these vessels, arrive at their dock of choice, and speed away with a fully fueled and clean boat. Six different lakes set the stage for these aquatic excursions, giving families many boating options. On any given day, Your Boat Rentals' vessels carry passengers across a number of lakes including White Bear Lake, Forest Lake, Waconia, Prior Lake, and Lake Minnetonka.
Gander Mountain Academy updates its lessons in gun safety, handling, and marksmanship with virtual shooting technology that was once only available to military and law-enforcement agencies. The ladies-only basic fundamentals class gives women a foundation in the mechanics of handguns and how to use them safely. Students start by winnowing down the right type of gun for their needs, be they self-defense, hunting, or reclaiming the garage from infestations of gremlins. Next, instructors with callused trigger fingers explain the safety rules of handguns, compare ammunition options, and demonstrate proper grip, stance, and trigger control.
The Dead End Hayride rumbles into the dark, eerie expanses of Pinehaven Farm on a trail that seems to lead nowhere. In the middle of the woods, guests are evicted from the wagon and must rely on their own feet, wits, and ouija compasses to make it back safely. Wandering the Departed Oaks Trail, which outcast creatures and spirits call home, hikers confront the Site 66 cornfield, where a 28-foot tower casts an ominous shadow over the surrounding expanse. Screams and explosions set the stage as lost souls fight their way through the winding paths and fend off creatures more terrifying than a killer whale jumping out of a hall closet. DJs and bonfires await survivors each night.
At dawn, just as the sun breaks the horizon and a layer of dew reveals a path of fresh footprints, fairways open up through the morning fog to reveal a challenging circuit of golf holes. Chisago Lakes Golf Course's relatively open, par 72 layout features forgiving tree-lines and multiple ponds, which come into play on 12 holes to supply the bulk of the course's difficulty and relief for caddies with dry-mouth. Runaway swings gain traction at the club's driving range, which features a grass hitting area that measures 40 yards by 60 yards to ensure a natural lie for each swing rehearsal.
At the pro shop, golfers stock their Scottish quivers with new equipment and accessories from Titleist, Cobra, Cleveland, and other top brands. Chisago Lakes also encompasses The Gallery Bar & Grill, which serves up an eclectic menu that includes classic burgers, steaks, and seafood.
Course at a Glance: