Houseboat in Voyageurs National Park

All Aboard for a Minnesota Houseboat Vacation

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Rent a houseboat to explore Voyageurs National Park on board your own floating vacation home 
Places to Stay // Houseboats // Boating // Article

All Aboard for a Minnesota Houseboat Vacation

By Explore Minnesota

Love being out on the water? Want some special time with family or friends? How about a different kind of adventure this summer? Find some floating fun aboard a Minnesota houseboat, where your lodging is your vacation.

Several businesses rent houseboats for a few days or a week on some of Minnesota's most beautiful bodies of water. Those who have discovered this one-of-a-kind getaway come home with great stories about life on the lake in their floating home away from home.

Northern lights over a houseboat in Voyageurs National Park

Northern lights over a houseboat in Voyageurs National Park

Places to Houseboat

Voyageurs National Park at the top of the state is a beautiful, water-based National Park surrounded by forest and wilderness. The best way to explore Voyageurs is by boat, and houseboats are a comfortable option for a leisurely tour of the park, stopping in secluded bays along the way. 

Houseboats are also available for rent on Lake Vermilion, north of the Iron Range, and Birch Lake, near Babbitt in the Superior National Forest.

Further west, Leech Lake near Walker in another big lake where you can rent a houseboat. Or opt for a more urban experience and stay in a permanently moored houseboat on the Mississippi River in St. Paul—no driving required.

houseboat on rainy lake at sunset voyageurs national park

Houseboat on Rainy Lake at sunset in Voyageurs National Park / Jim Umhoffer

What to Expect on Your Houseboat Vacation

Houseboats come in a variety of sizes, from 30 feet or so up to 55 feet, and can accommodate various group sizes, from couples to families or groups of friends. Rent one with your buddies for a different kind of fishing trip, or pair up with one or two other couples for a fun group vacation. It's also a unique option for family reunions.

In essence, houseboats are kind of like floating cabins, with a small kitchen and dining area, bedrooms with bunks for sleeping, bathrooms, and decks or screened in porches for sunning and enjoying the view. Many models come equipped with air conditioning, dishwashers, TVs, swimming slides, and even hot tubs and "staterooms" instead of bunks.

There's plenty to do both on and off the boat. Fishing, swimming, hiking on shore, watching for eagles and other wildlife are among the options on most lakes. Best of all, houseboats are the perfect place to relax: prop your feet up and watch the lake glisten in the sun, chat and play cards with your companions, and stargaze after the sun sets. If you're lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the Milky Way or a northern lights show.

You do, of course, have to navigate and drive the houseboat, but houseboat controls are designed with the novice boater in mind, and the rental agent will give you instructions and a demonstration before you head off on your own. Many come with a fishing boat and/or kayaks/canoes that you can use to explore the lake while your houseboat stays put.

To start planning your houseboat adventure, check out our list of houseboat rentals.