With winter chills still hanging in the air, it can be hard (yet heartening!) to remember that summer’s long sunshine-shine-filled days will be here before we know it. That’s why now’s the time to start anticipating your much-deserved summer getaway. Destination? We recommend heading north to the Brainerd Lakes Area of Minnesota — to a land where you can breathe in the summer air on the fairways at dawn and hear the call of a lonely loon at dusk. If you’ve visited Minnesota, you may have felt the magic of a northern summer here and yearn to feel that thrill again. And if not, we know it’s an adventure you’ll want to experience for yourself and your loved ones.
As you carve out this time to bring your family closer together while making lasting, lifetime memories, you’ll want to be sure there’s something for everyone. Here are some ideas to consider that are perfect for getting “off the grid” and “on the green” this summer.
Dining & Drinking
First things first, you’ll want to sample a true taste of Minnesota. Fortunately, our northwoods offer dining options to please the most sophisticated foodie or the pickiest preschooler. Looking for something casual yet memorable? Try some of the lake area’s best pizzas and burgers at Breezy Point Resort’s Dockside Lounge (accessible by car or boat!) If you’re looking for a family-friendly slice of local legacy, you can’t do better than Irma’s Kitchen at Cragun’s on Gull Lake, first established as the Hungry Gull Restaurant back in 1926. Today, the restaurant has been enlarged and redecorated to better serve Irma Craguns’s original family recipes to its many adoring, sun-soaked patrons.
For fine-dining options, you might consider The Classic Grill at Madden’s, where you savor the breathtaking, panoramic view of The Classic while enjoying your Classic Walleye and a Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee. These spots will tide you over as you embark on your day’s activities.
Activities & Culture
Golf and Outdoor Sports – It almost goes without saying, but the Brainerd Lakes Area offers endless options for some of the best golf in the Midwest. There’s The Courses at Madden’s, which offers four golf courses that have received national accolades from Golf Digest and Golf Week, making it a top U.S. golf destination. If you’re seeking an artful design, you might try Dutch Legacy Championship Course at Cragun’s Resort, an Audubon Signature Sanctuary course, upon which Golf Digest has bestowed a prestigious 5-star rating. Or, you can experience the first championship golf course layout in the Brainerd Lakes Area at the Whitebirch Course at Breezy Point Resort.
And that’s just the beginning. For an outdoor adventurer or sports enthusiast, Minnesota lakes grant opportunities to fish, boat, water ski, kayak/canoe, and more. Most of the local resorts, including Madden’s and Cragun’s, offer equipment rentals, so you don’t even need to haul your own equipment. On land, cyclists and hikers can revel in countless bike paths and hiking trails at Crow Wing State Park, or hug a tree at Northland Arboretum.
Shopping and Culture – Poking around quaint, downtown shops is a great way to soak in the local culture, spend a day, and pick up some postcards to tell your friends about all the fun you’re having. You won’t regret swinging into Fancy Pants Chocolates in Brainerd, MN, or browsing books at Turtle Town Books & Gifts in Nisswa, MN.
Travel & Accommodations
The MSP Airport, which has received international recognition for efficiency and experience, makes getting to northern Minnesota simple, even if you live out of state. Many people like to make a resort their home base for their day-time adventures, such as Madden’s On Gull Lake, Cragun’s Resort and Hotel on Gull Lake, or Breezy Point Resort. All of these rest near miles of shoreline, making them ideal for quintessential lakeside getaways, and offer multiple amenities like dining, water sports rentals, and of course, stunning views on their championship golf courses. You might come to relax, eat well, or be entertained, all with the added bonus of being a mere half-tank away from the Twin Cities.
While we suggest a golfing vacation, whatever your perfect summer getaway looks like, rest assured that Minnesota has something for you and your loved ones. Enjoy thinking about the warmer months to come, and next time you step outside, take a deep breath and imagine the day you’re able to pack the car with your clubs and kids, leave distance-learning and working remotely in the rearview mirror, and plan what you’ll write on the post-cards you’ll send. Just remember to sign it, “From Minnesota, with love”.