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 houseboat!
Several businesses rent houseboats for a couple of 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.
Voyageurs National Park at the top of the state is a beautiful, near-wilderness area, a park of mostly lakes surrounded by forest. 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. Lake Vermilion and Birch Lake, also in northeastern Minnesota, are both large lakes surrounded mostly by state or national forest. Houseboat rentals are available on both.
Leech Lake and the Whitefish Chain, both in resort areas of central Minnesota, are other waters where you can find houseboat rentals. Or, for more of a "Huck Finn" experience, cruise the waters of the Mississippi River at Lake Pepin in the southeast of the state. (All right, house boating is much more luxurious than a raft!)
Houseboats come in a variety of sizes, from 30 feet or so up to 55 feet, to accommodate various group sizes, from couples to families or groups of friends. Sometimes, buddies rent a houseboat together for a fishing trip, or a few couples chip in for a joint vacation. It's also a fun option for family reunions.
Houseboats are floating cabins, with a galley, dinette, bunks, shower, barbecue grill and decks. More upscale models come equipped with air conditioning, dishwashers, TV/VCRs, upper sundecks, swimming slides, and even hot tubs and "staterooms" instead of bunks.
There's plenty to do-fishing, swimming, hiking on shore, watching for eagles and other wildlife. Best of all, houseboats are the perfect place to relax: prop your feet up and watch the lake scene go by, chat, play cards and stargaze.
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.
Depending on the size of the boat and its amenities, houseboat rentals range from about $250-$1,000 per day or $1,100 up to $5,000 per week, the highest prices for the largest, most luxurious models. Sharing with friends or extended family can help make it an affordable vacation.
To get you started on your adventure, Explore Minnesota Tourism provides a listing of houseboat rentals.