Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Waterfront Wonders

Put these venues with views of Minnesota's rivers and lakes at the top of your list of places to meet this summer

By Lauren Pahmeier

After long, cold winters and unpredictable springs, there are few better places to soak up newfound warmth than on the water. As soon as the ice melts and temperatures start to rise, Minnesotans flock to their favorite watering holes to boat, paddleboard, fish, or simply relax along the shores.

While many Midwesterners simply love to participate in their favorite aquatic hobbies during the short warm season, recent studies have shown that there’s a deeper reason we as humans are collectively drawn to water. According to an article by Sarah Jacoby, a health reporter for the Today show, being within sight of water lowers psychological stress levels and mental fatigue. More specifically, the presence of lakes, rivers, oceans, waterfalls, and even water fountains can prompt mindfulness and reflection, a particularly desirable reaction for attendees of association meetings, corporate treats, and more.

Although the 9-to-5 responsibilities don’t disappear during Minnesota’s much-anticipated summer, full-time employees can still reap the benefits of the water while they’re on the clock with a little intentional planning. Booking gatherings at waterfront venues gives attendees a chance to enjoy the beauty of Minnesota’s blue spaces even before they sign off for summer weekends.

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Duluth’s Pier B Resort. || Courtesy of Pier B Resort

Lakeside Locales

Luckily, the Land of 10,000 Lakes provides plenty of shoreline space and, therefore, waterfront venues. Our biggest lake, Lake Superior, feels more like an ocean—and Pier B Resort in Duluth capitalizes on those views, as the property is surrounded by the lake on three sides. “How often can you take a break from a meeting and see a freighter ship from another country pass by or view the sunrise on the water?” asks Lisa Filzen, director of sales at Pier B.

Both small and large groups can appreciate the breathtaking views of Duluth Harbor, the Aerial Lift Bridge, and more from the resort’s meeting spaces, where capacities range from 22 to 300. One of the most desirable spaces is the Rooftop Harborside Deck, where groups of up to 150 can gather for open-air cocktail receptions when the weather permits. However, if small groups prefer to be closer to the waves when 5 p.m. hits, renting a boat and departing from Pier B’s boat slip is another dreamy way to spend the golden hour. Either way, the outdoor hot tub and lakeside fire pits are satisfying ways to wrap up summer evenings—especially when you keep the complimentary s’mores in mind. During downtime, guests can rent bikes, paddleboards, and kayaks.

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Taking a break from meetings at The Hotel Landing. || Courtesy of The Hotel Landing

Of course, Duluth isn’t the only lakeside destination in Minnesota. Closer to the Twin Cities is The Hotel Landing in Wayzata, situated near the shores of Lake Minnetonka. “We’re a destination that’s right here in the Twin Cities, where you can host a retreat without having to travel far. That’s really who our primary customer is,” says Diane Reardon, area director of sales and marketing.

Many clients of The Hotel Landing book multiday corporate retreats, often planning half days of meetings followed by afternoons turned evenings spent golfing, biking, boating, and exploring downtown Wayzata. “When you look at how big Lake Minnetonka is and all the different towns it incorporates, there is something for everybody around that lake,” says Reardon. No matter how attendees choose to spend their free time, each is made better because of the peace and relaxation that proximity to the water brings.

Meeting at Leopold’s Mississippi Gardens in Brooklyn Park. || Courtesy of Leopold’s Mississippi Gardens

Riverside Settings

While Minnesota is known for its countless lakes, the state also has several major rivers that provide the same mental and psychological benefits upon exposure. In Brooklyn Park, Leopold’s Mississippi Gardens is another beautiful spot to take in views of the grand Mississippi.

“From virtually any spot on our property, a guest has amazing views of the Mississippi River,” says Erin Hegedus, general manager. “From our ballroom with floor-to-ceiling windows on the east side facing the river, to our upper deck and lawn, and then all the way down to the river flats, there isn’t a bad spot to view the incredible gift of nature and the Mighty Mississippi.”

While Leopold’s has the 24-foot deck and the riverbank for outdoor spaces, the ballroom inside the venue can hold 330 seated, 500 standing, and up to 1,000 when planners use the indoor and outdoor spaces together. Since Leopold’s only hosts one event at a time, planners can be sure that there will be enough space and time for each attendee to soak in the beauty and benefits of nature—especially knowing that they don’t have to worry about parking, with 190 free spots available for attendees.

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Stillwater River Boats on the St. Croix River. || Photo by Kelley Brenner

While events on the shoreline are surely stunning, planners can take it up a notch by booking events on the water itself. On the St. Croix River separating Minnesota from Wisconsin, Stillwater River Boats hosts events for groups of up to 675 on one of their six boats. Most cruises traverse the St. Croix River between Stillwater and Hudson for 2 1/2 to four hours at a time, covering around 10 round-trip miles per ride. Guests can relax when celebrating team accomplishments, company anniversaries, and more, taking in all of the waterfront wonders and peaceful views the St. Croix River Valley has to offer.