White Bear Lake

With a polar bear as its mascot, it’s no surprise that White Bear Lake makes the most of winter. Bundle up for holiday shopping, photos with Santa, and carriage rides down historic Main Street.

Sunbear Spa & Salon

Nip in for a manicure, stay for a Red Flower Body Ritual treatment, or plan to spend the entire day here, blissed out. A visit to White Bear Lake is not complete without indulging in one of the Twin Cities’ best day spas. This chic retreat was recently revamped to create more rooms for treatments, relaxation, and group events (ask about their bridal parties). The medical spa offerings are another recent addition, and they include Botox, Restylane, and photo facials. 2207 Third St., 651-426-5884, www.sunbearspa.com


Truly owners Sherrie Chapin and Samantha Hagel do their homework. They scour urban craft fairs and artisan websites to uncover independent designers, and scoop up handmade, often one-of-a-kind, creations. The store’s inventory changes daily with the arrival of a new piece of jewelry (Chapin’s line is the best-seller), baby bib, handbag, or sushi set, all direct from the creator. You’ll be amazed that so many things of beauty and style can be found under one roof. 2175 Fourth St., 651-426-8414, www.trulyonline.com

Photo by Alli Jagoda

Backdoor Candy Store

You can’t miss the back door or the front door (both are painted in sugary-sweet pastels) and you won’t want to miss the intoxicating scents wafting through them: chocolate, caramel, butter. It’s no wonder locals flock here for orange-and-black treats (the White Bear Lake school colors), retro Slo Pokes and Charleston Chews, and the freshest, most addictive Chicago Mix­ popcorn we’ve had outside the Windy City. 4746 Washington Square, 651-762-8200, www.backdoorcandystore.com

Washington Square Bar & Grill

Exposed brick walls, modern art, and killer martinis give this sprawling bar-restaurant-patio a surprisingly urban vibe, considering its quaint post in the historic center of town. Washington Square’s enormous menu features mostly standard bar-and-grill fare, but locals know to order the Mexican specials, and anything that’s been slathered in the garlicky house-made pesto. 736 Washington Square, 651-407-7162, wbsquare.googlepages.com


You’ll find something for everyone on your shopping list at this White Bear Lake establishment. An enormous seasonal display up front is always bursting with linens, candles, and home-decorating inspiration. For timeless treasures, don’t miss the beaded Mariposa serving pieces, decorative frames, and coffee-table books. Goodthings’s collection of women’s clothing is equally eclectic—from downy cashmere to funky flats—and decidedly upscale. Wrap it all up with papers, ribbons, and greeting cards from the huge assortment in the back of the store. 2184 Fourth St., 651-426-0625, www.seegoodthings.com