Minnesota (MN)

12 Best Things to Do in Willmar, MN

Willmar might be a small city in the state of Minnesota, which might cause many people to look past it when looking at places for vacation. Usually, they’ll opt for bigger cities, like Saint Paul.

But just because it’s tiny doesn’t necessarily mean it’s no fun. In fact, there’s so plenty to do in Willmar! If you’re in the area, we definitely recommend you add this city to your itinerary. Read on for 12 of the best things to do in Willmar, MN!

1. Go to the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center

The Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center is a fantastic place to learn all about nature and get in touch with it. It’s ideal for families since there are programs that cater to both children and teens.

This outdoor recreational center spans across 500 acres and you’ll see not just forest, but also prairie lands and water.

Photo Credit: Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center

There are many hands-on activities for your family, such as cross-country skiing, hiking, canoeing, and rock wall climbing. There’s also a rope challenge course for the kids!

If you want to rent a bike, kayak, canoe, snowshoes, cross-country skis, kicksleds, then call at least 24 hours ahead to reserve them.

2. Visit the Glacial Lakes State Trail

The Glacial Lakes State Trail takes you through 22 miles of gorgeous scenery. As the name implies, you’ll see a few glacial lakes as you go through the trail, as well as lots of wildlife such as reptiles, birds, and small mammals.

Photo Credit: Glacial Lakes State Trail

Not only does it take you through Willmar, but also Spicer, New London, and Hawick. For those who want an extra challenge, you can also take another part of the trail that takes you 7.5 miles out from Roscoe to Cold Spring.

You can walk, jog, run, bike, and horseback ride in Glacial Lakes State Trail. You’ll need a license to do the last activity, as well as fish. In the wintertime, you can also ice skate, cross-country ski, and go snowmobiling!

3. Play Around at Willmar’s Destination Playground

Here’s another family-friendly place you can bring your kids. Willmar’s Destination Playground is the largest playground you’ll find in the 5-state area and is the 3rd-largest in the entire US!

Photo Credit: Willmar’s Destination Playground

This playground was recently renovated in 2017, so it’s practically brand new. You and your children can play on the swings, slides, monkey bars, and even go zip lining! Other features include musical instruments and a fantasy castle.

If it’s a particularly hot day, you can count on the misters to keep you cool. Plus, the playground is fully rubberized for safety and is accessible for wheelchairs.

4. Catch a Play at The Barn Theatre

The Barn Theatre is a great place to go if you’re looking for a kid-friendly venue! It’s been around since 1964 and is housed in a barn, hence its name.

Photo Credit: Greg Gjerdingen / Flickr

At this theatre, you can catch plays, recitals, orchestra performances, and drama performances. And for the kids, there’s a children’s workshop where little ones can participate in the concerts throughout the year.

Make sure to see a performance if you’re in Willmar during the summer or winter. There are 3 to 5 summer productions per year, as well as 6 winter ones.

5. See a Game at Bill Taunton Stadium

Bill Taunton Stadium is home to the Willmar Stingers of Willmar. So before you head into the city, check the schedule to see if the team’s playing. If so, then buy your family some tickets so you can cheer on the home team!

Photo Credit: Willmar Stingers

Screaming and hollering at a baseball game can be a fantastic bonding experience. Plus, the stadium has both food and drinks, so you won’t have to run out to buy some food to refuel. You can spend most of your time engrossed in the game!

6. Book a Cruise With Lake Waconia Cruises

Are you vacationing in Willmar between May to October? Then you’re in luck, as Lake Waconia Cruises runs during this period!

Photo Credit: Lake Waconia Cruises

When you get out on the waters, you’ll get a unique view of all the lakes that surround Willmar. And it’s a great way to relax, unwind, and have a romantic time with your significant other.

What’s outstanding about Lake Waconia Cruises is all their boats offer a tiki atmosphere, so it’ll feel like you’ve been whisked away to a tropical cruise!

7. Visit the Kandiyohi County Historical Society and Museum

The Kandiyohi County Historical Society and Museum is a great way to learn about the county’s extensive history.

Photo Credit: Jimmy Emerson / Flickr

The museum is large and has 6 buildings, so you can spend an entire afternoon and more here. The notable parts are The Schoolhouse, The Sperry House, Grandpa’s Shed, and The Guri Endreson Cabin.

If you find this museum interesting, then make sure you visit the various ones in Mankato, MN. This city’s also got tons of cool historical places to see!

8. Check Out the Schwanke Car Museum

This one’s good if you and your family love cars, tractors, and/or trucks. The Schwanke Car Museum showcases all 3, as well as engines, pumps, and signs. It’ll be an excellent opportunity to upgrade your automotive knowledge, as well as snap some excellent pictures.

Photo Credit: Schwanke Car Museum

Before you leave, don’t forget to visit the gift shop. You’ll be able to buy tractor books, signs, pedal cars and tractors, and more!

9. Spend a Day at the Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center

Will you be in town during the summer? Then cool off at the Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center.

There’s a recreational pool that has 6 lanes and is 3 to 5 feet deep. You can also go climbing at the poolside climbing wall, which goes up 12 feet!

Photo Credit: Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center

Your kids will have lots of fun here too. They can do down a mini slide into a shallow pool. For the bigger kids (and you), there are 2 water slides; one fully enclosed and one open.

10. Browse West Central RockHounds

West Central RockHounds is one of many stores in Willmar, MN that offers a unique experience for those who love gems and stones.

Photo Credit: West Central RockHounds

As expected, you’ll be able to browse the amazing selection here. And you just might bring some a new wine topper, carved animal, or geode. You can also get full lapidary services at this shop.

What’s even better is you can have a fun “mining” experience here! It’ll feel like you’ve made a discovery when you uncover a gemstone.

11. Have a Beer at Foxhole Brewhouse

Are you a fan of craft beer? Then you’ve got to make a stop at Foxhole Brewhouse. This establishment’s been around since 1899, so you know they serve some good beer!

Photo Credit: Foxhole Brewhouse

Take a peek at their menu before visiting and you’ll be instantly impressed by their extensive menu. Foxhole Brewhouse is definitely a good place to stop off at when you want to rest your feet after a long day!

Do note that they only serve beer here, so if you’re hungry, you’ll have to drop by some other Willmar restaurants.

12. Grab a Meal at Grizzly’s Wood-Fired Grill & Bar

If you’re looking for the best restaurants in Willmar, MN, then look no further than Grizzly’s Wood-Fired Grill & Bar. They’re rated #1 in the city and serve up some tasty dishes.

This restaurant makes their soups fresh daily, as well as their salads. They’ve also got delicious lunch entrées, sandwiches, and tacos.

As for dinner, you can start off with some mouthwatering appetizers or fresh-made salads and soups. For your main, choose from things like fresh premium burgers, wood-smoked rotisserie grill plates, pastas, and more.

There’s also a kids’ menu available so you won’t have to split your meal with your little ones.

FAQs About Things to Do in Willmar, MN

If you want to learn more about Willmar, MN, then you’re in the right place. Here are some FAQs about the city.

What’s Willmar, MN Known For?

Willmar, MN is known for the Machine Gun Kelly gang bank robbery in July 1930. It was also home to the Sonshine Festival from 1982 until 2014.

What’s in Willmar, MN?

There’s plenty to do in Willmar! Spend time in places like Sibley State Park, Glacial Lakes State Trail, and The Barn Theatre.

What’s the Weather in Willmar, MN Like?

The weather is pleasant for the most part. The summers are long and warm, but the winters are snowy and windy. All year long, it’s partly cloudy.

Make Unforgettable Memories in Willmar, MN

As you can see, there are many things to do Willmar, MN, even though it’s a tiny city. From walking on a trail and visiting museums, to catching exciting shows and dining at great restaurants, you’ll have lots of things to add to your to-do list!

If you’re thinking of visiting other places in Minnesota, then check out this article about Alexandria, MN!

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