St. Louis Park Staycation

Transport yourself in a neighborhood vacation.
Chris Brummund and Lisa Bol enjoy a staycation day with a picnic in Wolfe Park.

It’s a buzzword that’s now part of the cultural landscape—“staycation,” a vacation of the local variety that doesn’t require travel. It might sound boring, but it’s no secret that we live in one of the most pleasant and interesting communities around, well worth a day or more of deep exploration. No matter what kind of person you are—artsy or outdoorsy type, family guy or gal pal—there’s a lovely day of leisure for you in St. Louis Park. Here are six different staycations for six different agendas. Feel free to mix and match.   CULTURE VULTURE Pavek Museum of Broadcasting The museum documents the history of recorded sound and appeals to radio nerds and civilians alike. There are all kinds of broadcast-related contraptions, like an early tinfoil and wax recording cylinder. Most everything at the museum still works and is ready to demonstrate. Stop by and try your hand at the theremin (you’ll have to visit to find out just what that is). 3517 Raleigh Ave., 952.926.8198; pavekmuseum.org Taste of India Taste of India features northern Indian cuisine, where a riot of spices will take you on an exotic vacation within your staycation. There’s an ever-changing lunch buffet with intriguing treats such as chunky vegetable pakoras, chicken tikka masala and spicy beef curry. 5617 Wayzata Blvd., 952.541.4865; tasteofindia-online.com Movie at ICON Theatre at West End You can catch mainstream hits here, but there is at least one art-house film option on any given evening. Reserve your seats online in advance; snag the VIP area with huge leather chairs where you can order cocktails while you watch. The lobby lounge serves upscale food and adult beverages too. 1625 West End Blvd., 612.568.8375; showplaceicon.com NATURE FREAK Westwood Hills Nature Center is a 160-acre natural area featuring marsh, woods and restored prairie. This is a special place for contemplation and meandering; keep an eye out for deer, fox and other critters. There are trails galore, an interpretive center and a variety of classes. 8300 West Franklin Ave., 952.924.2544;stlouispark.org Cedar Knoll Park This three-quarter-acre off-leash dog park is St. Louis Park’s latest in canine accommodation. It’s tucked into a neighborhood, but feels like a world away. If you don’t have a dog, consider borrowing one; our furry friends love this spot. It’s hilly, shady and full of nooks for snuffling and frolicking. Make sure you have a current St. Louis Park dog license and an off-leash dog park permit.  2541 Nevada Ave. S., 952.924.2540; stlouispark.org Wolfe Park PicnicWolfe Lake’s shoreline restoration has enhanced wildlife habitat, decreased erosion and provided numerous learning opportunities to the residents of St. Louis Park. Also great fishing. Grab some grub from the nearby Trader Joe’s at Excelsior and Grand and relax by the pond. 3700 Monterey Dr., 952.924.2540; stlouispark.org   SPA LOVER Yoga Center of Minneapolis Yoga classes include vinyasa, ashtanga, yin, restorative and meditation. You can book a half-day package, full-day package or weekend package, which includes one class, one spa service, one workshop and lunch. Sample combinations include: Energize: vinyasa yoga class, core or arm balance workshop, reflexology; and Detox: vinyasa yoga class, detox workshop, deep-cleansing facial. 4200 Minnetonka Blvd., 612.436.4700; yogacentermpls.com Beyond Well Acupuncture Certified acupuncturist Deb Shulman works with all ages and all physical concerns. A 75-minute session includes an intake interview and 20 minutes of deep relaxation using slender acupuncture needles that restore balance, release tightness and alleviate stress. Cupping also available. 5009 Excelsior Blvd., Suite 100; 952.920.9876 Blast Blow Dry Bar Dry bars are the latest in hair care; these hip beauty stops do not offer cuts or color, just a fantastic styling job with high-powered blow-drying to create the popular silky-flat look. The Wash-Blow-Style-Go is only $35; other services include deep-conditioning hair repair or an “Uptown Girl” upstyle for a fun summer look. 1668 West End Blvd., 612.564.6959; blastdrybar.com Mill Valley Kitchen Chef Mike Rakun offers creations from the latest in delicious healthy ingredients like freekeh and quinoa. The Cordon Bleu graduate applies a background in traditional French cooking to a modern organic sensibility, serving beautiful plates of luscious fare that will make you feel pampered and decadent at the same time. 3906 Excelsior Blvd., 952.358;2000; millvalleykitchen.com FAMILY FUN Pickleball The name alone will induce giggles; pickleball also happens to be one of the fastest-growing sports in America. It’s sort of a cross between tennis and badminton with a wiffle ball. St. Louis Park has a new pickleball court at the Lenox Community Center. It’s easy to learn, fun for all ages and highly addictive. 6715 Minnetonka Blvd., 952.928.6444; slpcommunityed.com Aquatic Park Nothing says fun like a water park. SLP’s outdoor water park has 20,000 square feet of water, geysers, water toys, a 25-meter lap pool, drop slides, two dizzyingly tall winding slides, an obstacle course and more. This could take all day. 3700 Monterey Dr., 952.924.2540; stlouispark.org. Galaxy Drive In Space alien-themed, dog-friendly drive- in diner with a surrealistic sculpture garden? Not to be missed. Definitely order a s’mores kit for the fire pit. 3712 Quebec Ave.S., 952.277.7777; galaxy-drivein.com Bakken Museum The best kind of learning doesn’t feel like learning; The Bakken Museum delves into the mysteries of electricity with fun hands-on activities and demonstrations. Scads of entertaining programs include Inventors Club, Lego robots, Summer Science day camp, Ben Franklin’s electricity party and Frankenstein’s laboratory. 3537 Zenith Ave. S., Mpls.; 612.926.3878; thebakken.org    SHOPAHOLICS Shops at West End Apparel, home goods, beauty supplies, jewelry, a grocery store and a host of restaurants and bars occupy this development conveniently located off I-394 and Highway 100. Two of our favorite stops here are Lululemon and Anthropologie, where you’ll find irresistible girly things; look for the latest in yoga togs and try on some French-country-inspired blouses. Good for an hour or more of wandering and coveting.1621 West End Blvd., 763.450.0554; theshopsatwestend.com Yum! Bakery and Kitchen Take a break and stop in for a fresh and energizing lunch like the salmon couscous salad with dill and yogurt dressing. Or if it’s that special-occasion kind of shopping excursion, choose the lobster club. It’s got avocado and aioli on challah. Why not pick up some tasty cupcakes for a post-shopping treat? 4000 Minnetonka Blvd., 952.922.4000; yumkitchen.com Iverson’s Scandinavian Imports This little jewel box of a store hides in a nondescript strip mall, but once you enter you’ll suddenly feel the need for Swedish crystal, Norwegian snowflake sweaters and Danish Royal Copenhagen plates. Go with it. 5101 Excelsior Blvd., 952.545.6051;iversonimports.com Opitz Outlet The Opitz Outlet overflows with quality discounted designer clothing at 70 to 80 percent off. Labels include Calvin Klein, Juicy Couture, Valentino, Prada and many more. A once-in-a-lifetime serendipitous discovery awaits. 4320 Excelsior Blvd., 952.922.2435; opitzoutlet.com FOODIES Four Firkins This is the only liquor store in the state that sells nothing but beer; the recent explosion in local microbrews has introduced beers from companies such as Surly, Lift Bridge, Fulton, and Harriet. The self-described “beer geek, but never beer snob” owners are on hand to advise. Don’t miss the on-site Minnesota beer history museum. 5630 W. 36th St., 952.938.2847; thefourfirkins.com Gourmet Oil and Vinegar Browse through gourmet oils and vinegars from all over the world, including black and white balsamic vinegars, flavored and infused oils, and bath and body products. The staff at this Excelsior and Grand oasis is happy to provide recipes, suggest pairings or help you find  the perfect gift. 3840 Grand Way, 952.303.4220; gourmetoilandvinegar.com Trader Joe’s Foodies are known to be purists who would never shop at a chain supermarket. Trader Joe’s somehow transcends the mass-market stigma; we love stopping in to see what kind of new products they have on hand. Wasabi-flavored edamame? Lobster tamales? A $3 bottle of Sangiovese from Italy? Yes, please! 4500 Excelsior Blvd., 952.285.1053; traderjoes.com Little Szechuan We were thrilled when the revered St. Paul eatery opened a branch in the Shops at West End. There are many gustatory adventures here: quick-fried lotus root, jellyfish in scallion sauce, and twice-cooked pork belly, to name just a few. 5377 W. 16th St., 952.322.7671; littleszechuan.com   @ Need more SLP staycation ideas? Visit discoverstlouispark.com, call 952.426.4047 or email info@discoverstlouispark.com. Be sure to check out the City of St. Louis Park’s “Stay and Play” program for discounts on hotel rooms, coupons to local businesses and exciting promotions including Stay-and-Play Swag Bag.