Like clockwork (or perhaps like “Groundhog Day” the movie), every early February many golf-wives/moms across the country start plotting the coming summer’s trip to Minnesota. (Were that duty left for the dads to accomplish, they would be checking for hotels a couple of days beforehand.) But moms are better suited: they want to plan activities for the kids, a place to boat and swim, family dinners and outings, excellent shopping and a beautiful view of the lake. So, dad petitions for some great golf to be included, and mom zeroes in on the Brainerd/Baxter area of central Minnesota, where everyone in the family will have a great time.
Often called the Central Lakes region, the Brainerd/Baxter area of Minnesota (the “Land of 10,000 lakes”) is filled with great lakes views, countless golf holes for players of every ability, a bustling commercial area for shopping and family activities and numerous high-end resorts that provide fine dining, lakeside amenities and exquisite lodging that Mom will appreciate.
Let’s start with golf. The Brainerd/Baxter area features four of the finest golf resorts in the state: Breezy Point Resort, Cragun’s Resort, Grand View Lodge Spa and Golf Resort and Madden’s on Gull Lake. All tolled there are 12 separate courses and 207 golf holes amongst them in the area. That includes the nine-hole family courses (The Garden 9 at Grand View, The Reversible 9 at Cragun’s and The Social 9 at Madden’s), and several award-winning championship tracks:
Grand View Lodge: The Pines and The Preserve
Madden’s: Pine Beach East, Pine Beach West, and The Classic
Breezy Point: The Tradition, Whitebirch, and Deacon’s Lodge
Cragun’s: Dutch’s Legacy and Bobby’s Legacy
They are among the finest golf courses the state has to offer, and the beauty and challenge of each will captivate every golfer in your group.
But Mom wants the kids in the water, and these resorts fit the bill. Grand View, Cragun’s and Madden’s are all located on Gull Lake, while Breezy Point is on the shores of Pelican Lake. That means swimming, boating, water skiing, tubing, paddleboards and fully equipped marinas for a day on a pontoon or guided fishing tours for the entire family. The resorts, which offer plentiful lakeside cabins and villas with gorgeous waterfront views, include sand beaches where the kids can tire themselves out by day with activities such as sand volleyball or enjoy a relaxing night at a beach-front fire roasting marshmallows.
The resorts also boast indoor swimming pools and recreation centers when the weather isn’t cooperating, tennis and bocce ball courts when the golf game needs a break and luxurious spas at Breezy, Grand View and Madden’s to give the “vacation planner” a break.
You needn’t leave any of these resorts to find the kind of dining that fits your mood on a particular night. From a pizza place or family restaurants for your whole crew to a romantic evening of fine dining for two, each of these resorts has enough culinary expertise and restaurant variety to accommodate any group for the length of their stay.
If you do want to venture offsite, there is hiking, biking, horseback riding, zip-lining, go karting and Brainerd International Raceway for some real excitement in the area. Heading into the town of Brainerd, you can also find a lot of unique, local shopping opportunities for a memorable knick-knack, that perfect piece of apparel or some other souvenir of your trip. And before heading back to the resort, stop by one of several local breweries and sample some of Minnesota’s best craft beer options.
There is so much to do on a family trip to central Minnesota that the kids will stay busy and excited, mom will be pleased, and no one will even notice how much golf dad played. Just check out the resort websites for all the options, activities and amenities. It’s so easy to navigate that even dad could plan the next trip.