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A wildly successful alternative to traditional day spas—its more than 300 locations blanket 36 states and half a dozen countries—Planet Beach Contempo Spa is a futuristic relaxation station where state-of-the-art machines administer all the spa and tanning services. These friendly automatons sometimes replace familiar treatments, such as the Luminous facial, a light-based service that delivers blemish-busting results similar to those of a conventional facial. But other equipment maps out new spa territory entirely: the Hydro-Derma Fusion chamber moisturizes the whole body with nutrient-rich steam in order to offset the effects of a dry climate or a rear-end collision with a salt truck. Other machines whiten teeth, spray-tan skin, and massage muscles.

Planet Beach operates on a gym-style membership system, meaning members purchase packages or pay flat monthly rates. As members spend more time at the spa, they get to know the helpful assistants who are always on hand to demonstrate how to use the equipment without activating its ability to cry.

1775 Market Blvd
Hastings,
MN
US

Skiers and snowboarders gently rise over the St. Croix River Valley in one of 18 chairlifts that grant them access to Afton Alps’ 300 acres of skiing terrain. With 48 trails—80% of which are manageable for beginner and intermediate alpinists—and an average annual snowfall of 48 inches, guests can carve their way down Afton Alps’ 350-foot vertical drop in a variety of ways, from slowly snaking down a 3,000-foot run to tucking into a cannonball at the peak and landing with a white splash at the base. Three rental shops provide guests with high-quality gear, and a snowtubing park offers a more leisurely way to enjoy the tender romance between snow and gravity.

In the spring, the melting snow gives way to the fairways and greens of Afton Alps’ 18-hole golf course, where golfers hunt pars over a combination of flat and hilly terrain. Guests can take in scenic views of the St. Croix River and its attendant wildlife aboard a peppy golf cart or while cruising down trails on a mountain bike or runaway wheelbarrow.

6600 Peller Ave S
Hastings,
MN
US

Though it advertises itself as the largest no-kill shelter in the Twin Cities, Animal Ark’s homey facility seems more like a relaxing retreat for the more than 1,000 homeless cats, dogs, and rabbits that come through its doors each year. Cats bask in sunlight within feline apartments as dogs lounge atop soft raised beds in their own spacious kennels, sinking teeth into chew toys and treats. Of course, time at Animal Ark isn't all leisure. Canines awaiting their forever homes stretch their legs across a large outdoor play yard, aptly named the Ark Park, where ample trees and greenery mix with park benches where dogs can train their human friends to sit.

Potential owners can also get to know adoptable pets online. The website posts a first-person profile of each available animal that lists its breed, personality, and master’s degrees.

2600 Industrial Ct
Hastings,
MN
US

In 1962, Lawrence William Yanz opened Hastings Bierstube, where he dished out German delicacies such as bratwursts, Reubens, and 6-ounce sirloin steaks. After his passing in 1983, his sons, Jim and Mike, started two new locations before forming a fourth with a family friend. The sons expanded Hastings Bierstube’s already extensive menu, introducing the Taste of Deutschland sampler platter, which features a selection of wienerschnitzel, sauerbraten, and house-made spaetzle.

Along with slinging authentic cuisine, the owners send lucky diners on vacations to Germany during giveaways, which fall on special occasions such as Oktoberfest and David Hasslehoff’s half birthday. For visitors remaining on American shores, the restaurants host weekly events, including bingo, open mics, karaoke, and live music.

109 11th St W
Hastings,
MN
US

The Great Urban Race is a one-day event pitting teams of two against one another in a race combining physical challenges, scavenger hunts, and puzzles. Up to 700 twosomes will traverse 4 to 8 miles of Toronto terrain on foot and by public transportation as they solve 12 challenging clues in a fun quest to reach the finish line first. Sample clues and challenges from past Great Urban Races include charades, bubble-gum chewing, pig Latin deciphering, bicycle races, and word scrambles, making this race ideal for competitive eaters and cryptographers alike. Teams are encouraged to dress up in matching outfits, and prizes will be awarded for best costume. Prizes are also given for race results, with $300 going to first place, $200 to second place, and $100 to third place. The top 25 teams will qualify for the National Championship in New Orleans in November, with the top three teams receiving free entry. Each participant gets a T-shirt and postrace refreshments of fruit, granola bars, and a run through a Perrier sprinkler. Read over the rules and FAQs for more information.

6600 Peller Avenue South
Hastings,
MN
US

Having grown up in Cottage Grove, Susan Tuthill takes particular pleasure in helping Prescott-area residents emanate beauty with her aesthetic treatments. Susan tailors each of these based on the individual's needs. Her chemical peels —which can reduce hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles—target the face, the neck, or the hands. Facials range from express sessions that last 30 minutes to complete treatments that last 90 minutes, or, slightly longer than the William Henry Harrison presidency. The full version incorporates galvanic and high-frequency currents to de-clog pores.

209 Broad Street
Prescott,
WI
US