Best & Fun Things To Do + Places To Visit In Brainerd, Minnesota

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Brain-erdy for Fun: The Best Things to Do and Places to Visit in Brainerd, Minnesota

Are you planning a trip to Brainerd, Minnesota, and wondering what fun things to do and places to visit? Look no further! Brainerd is a beautiful city located in the heart of Minnesota, and it has something for everyone. Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast, a foodie, or a history buff, Brainerd has plenty to offer.

If you are looking for outdoor adventures, Brainerd is the perfect destination for you. With over 500 lakes, rivers, and streams, you can enjoy activities such as fishing, boating, kayaking, and swimming. You can also explore the parks and trails in the area, such as the Paul Bunyan State Trail, which is the longest paved trail in Minnesota. If you are feeling adventurous, you can even try zip-lining or take a hot air balloon ride.

When it comes to family fun, Brainerd has a lot to offer as well. You can visit the local water parks, amusement parks, and zoos. You can also attend events and festivals such as the Crow Wing County Fair, the Street Fest and Classic Car Show, and the Lakes Bluegrass Festival. With so many options, you are sure to find something that everyone in your family will enjoy.

Key Takeaways

  • Brainerd, Minnesota, is a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts, foodies, and history buffs.
  • You can enjoy outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, kayaking, and swimming, or explore the parks and trails in the area.
  • Brainerd also offers plenty of family-friendly activities, such as water parks, amusement parks, and festivals.

A Glimpse of Brainerd, Minnesota

Ah, Brainerd, Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes and even more mosquitoes. Don’t worry, though, the mosquitoes are just a small price to pay for all the fun you’ll have in this central Minnesota gem.

First things first, you have to check out the Paul Bunyan State Trail. This 120-mile trail is perfect for hiking, biking, rollerblading, or just admiring the beautiful scenery. Plus, it’s named after a giant lumberjack, so you know it’s going to be awesome.

If you’re looking for something a little more fast-paced, head over to the Brainerd International Raceway. Watch the cars zoom by or even take a spin on the track yourself. Just make sure to buckle up and hold on tight.

Feeling a little more zen? Check out the various spas and wellness centers around town. Treat yourself to a massage, facial, or yoga class. Relaxation is key in Brainerd.

Of course, you can’t visit Brainerd without spending some time on the water. Rent a boat, go fishing, or just take a dip in one of the many lakes in the area. And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, try out some water sports like wakeboarding or jet skiing.

And let’s not forget about the shopping and dining options in Brainerd. From cute boutiques to delicious restaurants, there’s something for everyone. And don’t forget to try some of the local specialties like walleye and wild rice soup.

So pack your bags, grab some bug spray, and get ready for a fun-filled trip to Brainerd, Minnesota. You won’t regret it.

Outdoor Adventures in Brainerd

Brainerd is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy and entertained throughout the year. Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, boating, golfing, skiing, or snowmobiling, Brainerd has something for everyone. Here are some of the best outdoor adventures you can experience in Brainerd:

Hiking and Biking Trails

Brainerd has some of the best hiking and biking trails in Minnesota. You can explore the Paul Bunyan State Trail, which is the longest trail in Minnesota, stretching over 120 miles. The trail is perfect for biking, hiking, and snowmobiling. You can also explore the Northland Arboretum, which has over 12 miles of hiking and biking trails. The trails wind through forests, prairies, and wetlands, offering breathtaking views of wildlife and nature.

Water Sports and Boating

Brainerd is home to over 500 lakes, making it a perfect destination for water sports and boating. You can rent a boat and explore the crystal-clear waters of the Mississippi River or go jet skiing on Gull Lake. You can also enjoy swimming, paddleboarding, and kayaking on the numerous beaches and ponds in Brainerd.

Golfing in Brainerd

If you love golfing, Brainerd is the place to be. Brainerd boasts some of the best golf courses in Minnesota, including the Legacy Courses at Cragun’s Resort, The Classic at Madden’s on Gull Lake, and the Deacon’s Lodge Golf Course. These courses offer breathtaking views of forests, lakes, and wildlife, making your golfing experience unforgettable.

Fishing Spots

Brainerd is a fishing paradise, with over 500 lakes and rivers. You can fish for walleye, bass, trout, and more. Some of the best fishing spots in Brainerd include Gull Lake, Pelican Lake, and the Mississippi River. You can also enjoy ice fishing during the winter months.

Winter Sports

Brainerd is a winter wonderland, with plenty of activities to keep you entertained during the winter months. You can go skiing or snowboarding at Mount Ski Gull or enjoy cross-country skiing at the Lake Bemidji State Park. You can also go snowshoeing or snowmobiling in the forests and parks around Brainerd.

In conclusion, Brainerd is a perfect destination for adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts. With its beautiful lakes, forests, and parks, Brainerd offers endless opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing, boating, golfing, and winter sports. So, pack your bags, and head to Brainerd for an unforgettable outdoor adventure!

Exploring the Parks of Brainerd

Brainerd is home to some of the most beautiful parks in Minnesota. Whether you’re a nature lover or just looking for a place to relax, you’ll find something to enjoy in one of the many parks in the area. Here are three of the best parks to visit in Brainerd.

Crow Wing State Park

Crow Wing State Park is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves the great outdoors. The park offers over 3,000 acres of pristine wilderness, including miles of hiking trails, picnic areas, and a beautiful beach on the banks of the Mississippi River. You can also rent a canoe or kayak and explore the river on your own. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like bald eagles, deer, and even black bears!

Northland Arboretum

If you’re looking for a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the Northland Arboretum is the perfect place to visit. This 500-acre nature reserve is home to over 2,500 species of plants, including many rare and endangered species. You can explore the park on foot or by bike, and there are plenty of picnic tables where you can enjoy a relaxing lunch in the shade.

Paul Bunyan Land

No trip to Brainerd would be complete without a visit to Paul Bunyan Land. This iconic amusement park is located just 8 miles east of Brainerd and features a variety of rides and attractions for kids of all ages. One of the park’s most famous attractions is the giant Ferris wheel, which offers breathtaking views of Gull Lake and the surrounding countryside. Don’t miss the chance to meet Paul Bunyan himself, who has been greeting visitors by name since 1954!

So whether you’re looking for a place to hike, relax, or have some fun, Brainerd’s parks have something for everyone. Be sure to add these public parks to your list of must-visit destinations in Crow Wing County.

Family Fun in Brainerd

Looking for a family vacation destination that offers plenty of fun activities for the whole family? Look no further than Brainerd, Minnesota! With its abundance of amusement parks, zoos, and family resorts, Brainerd is the perfect place to create unforgettable memories with your loved ones.

Amusement Parks

Brainerd is home to a wide variety of amusement parks that are sure to delight visitors of all ages. From the thrilling go-kart tracks at Brainerd International Raceway to the whimsical Merry-Go-Round at Paul Bunyan Land, there’s no shortage of fun to be had.

If you’re looking for a waterpark experience, be sure to check out the Three Bear Waterpark. With its lazy river, wave pool, and thrilling water slides, it’s the perfect place to beat the heat on a hot summer day.

Zoo Visits

Animal lovers won’t want to miss a visit to Safari North Wildlife Park. This family-owned zoo is home to over 50 species of animals, including tigers, lions, and bears (oh my!). With daily animal shows and interactive exhibits, Safari North is a must-visit destination for families visiting Brainerd.

Family Resorts

Brainerd is home to a wide variety of family resorts that offer a range of activities and amenities to keep the whole family entertained. From the indoor waterpark at Arrowwood Lodge to the pioneer village at Grand View Lodge, there’s something for everyone.

For a truly unique experience, consider staying at the Babe the Blue Ox-themed cabin at Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge. With its whimsical decor and cozy accommodations, it’s sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike.

Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a longer family vacation, Brainerd is the perfect destination for families seeking fun and adventure. So pack your bags, grab the kids, and get ready for a vacation you’ll never forget!

Events and Festivals in Brainerd

Brainerd is a happening place, with exciting events and festivals taking place throughout the year. Whether you’re a fan of music, food, sports, or culture, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of the best events and festivals in Brainerd that you definitely don’t want to miss:

Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals

Are you a fan of high-speed racing? Then you’re in luck because Brainerd hosts the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in August every year. This drag racing event is a must-see for adrenaline junkies and car enthusiasts alike. Watch as the world’s best drag racers compete for the championship title. You might even get to meet some of your favorite drivers!

Street Festivals

If you’re looking for a fun day out with the family, head to one of Brainerd’s many street festivals. These events are a great way to get a taste of local culture and cuisine. Sample delicious food from food trucks and vendors, listen to live music, and browse through local arts and crafts. Some of the most popular street festivals in Brainerd include the Mary Boran Downtown Art Stroll and the Viking Festival.

Music Festivals

Brainerd is home to several music festivals throughout the year, featuring local and national acts. From country to rock, there’s a festival for every music lover. The Lakes Jam Festival is one of the biggest music festivals in Brainerd, featuring top country and rock performers. The festival also includes camping, food vendors, and other fun activities.

Sporting Events

Sports fans won’t be disappointed with the variety of events happening in Brainerd. From golf tournaments to fishing competitions, there’s always something to cheer for. The Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza is one of the most popular sporting events in the area. This ice fishing tournament attracts thousands of participants every year, all vying for the chance to win big prizes.

So, whether you’re a racing fan, foodie, music lover, or sports enthusiast, Brainerd has got you covered with its exciting events and festivals. Mark your calendars and get ready for some fun!

Local Cuisine and Dining

You can’t visit Brainerd without indulging in some of the local cuisine and dining options. From classic American fare to unique twists on traditional dishes, there’s something for everyone.

If you’re looking for a fun and lively atmosphere, head to Zorbaz. This local favorite serves up delicious pizza and Mexican food, and they have a great selection of beer on tap. Plus, the lakefront location offers stunning views while you dine.

For a more refined dining experience, check out some of the top-rated restaurants in the area. The Classic Grill at Maddens is unmatched for Brainerd fine dining. Their menu features locally sourced ingredients and expertly prepared dishes that will leave you feeling satisfied and impressed.

If you’re in the mood for a quick bite, there are plenty of fast food options available. Made Rite sandwiches are a local favorite, and you can find them at The Barn. Or, if you’re looking for a classic diner experience, head to The Local 218 for some American comfort food.

No matter what type of cuisine you’re in the mood for, you’re sure to find it in Brainerd. So go ahead, indulge a little and try something new. Your taste buds will thank you.

Accommodation Options

You’re planning a trip to Brainerd, Minnesota and you’re looking for a place to stay? Well, you’re in luck because the Brainerd Lakes area has a variety of accommodation options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a cozy lodge or a grand resort, you’re sure to find something that suits your needs.

One of the most popular places to stay in Brainerd is the Grand View Lodge. This beautiful resort offers a wide range of accommodations, from cozy cabins to luxurious villas. The Grand View Lodge is perfect for families, couples, and groups of friends who want to relax and unwind in a beautiful setting.

If you’re looking for something a little more rustic, check out some of the lodges in the area. These cozy retreats offer a true Minnesota experience, with wood-burning fireplaces, cozy furnishings, and beautiful views of the surrounding lakes and forests.

Of course, if you’re looking for more traditional accommodations, there are plenty of hotels to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly option or a luxurious stay, you’re sure to find something that suits your needs.

No matter where you choose to stay in Brainerd, you’re sure to have a great time. So pack your bags, grab your sense of humor, and get ready for an unforgettable trip to one of Minnesota’s most beautiful destinations!

Historical Spots and Museums

If you’re a history buff or just looking for a change of pace, Brainerd has plenty of historical spots and museums to keep you entertained. Here are a few that you won’t want to miss:

Crow Wing County Historical Society

The Crow Wing County Historical Society is a great place to learn about the history of the area. The museum and library are filled with artifacts and documents that tell the story of Crow Wing County from its earliest days to the present. You’ll find everything from Native American artifacts to displays about the logging and railroad industries that helped shape the region.

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Did you know that the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh spent his childhood in Minnesota? You can learn all about his life and accomplishments at the Charles A. Lindbergh State Park. The park is home to a museum that features exhibits about Lindbergh’s life, as well as a replica of his childhood home. You can also hike through the park’s beautiful woods and enjoy the scenery.

Pine Grove Zoo

If you’re looking for something a little different, check out the Pine Grove Zoo. This small zoo is home to a variety of animals, including tigers, bears, and monkeys. You can also take a tour of the zoo’s conservation center and learn about the work they’re doing to help protect endangered species.

Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for something new and fun to do, Brainerd has plenty of options to keep you entertained. So grab your friends or family and head out to explore all that this great city has to offer!

Exploring Nearby Towns

Brainerd, Minnesota, is surrounded by charming towns that are worth exploring. Here are a few nearby towns that you should add to your itinerary:


Nisswa is a small town with a big personality. It’s known for its unique shops, including Zaiser’s, which sells everything from handmade chocolates to vintage toys. If you’re feeling adventurous, head to the Nisswa Zip Line Adventure Park and soar through the treetops like a bird. And don’t miss the Turtle Races, a Nisswa tradition that takes place every Wednesday during the summer. Who knew turtles could be so exciting?


Baxter is a bustling town that’s home to the Westgate Mall, where you can shop ’til you drop. But that’s not all Baxter has to offer. If you’re a beer lover, head to Jack Pine Brewery and sample their delicious brews. And if you’re looking for a little adventure, check out the Northland Arboretum, where you can hike, bike, and cross-country ski on the trails.

Little Falls

Little Falls is a picturesque town that’s perfect for a day trip. Start your day at the Charles A. Lindbergh State Park, where you can learn about the famous aviator’s life and see the house where he grew up. Then head to the Minnesota Fishing Museum, where you can see vintage fishing gear and learn about the history of fishing in Minnesota. And don’t forget to stop by the Pine Grove Zoo, where you can see exotic animals like tigers and kangaroos.


Aitkin is a quaint town that’s known for its beautiful lakes and rivers. If you’re a fan of the outdoors, head to the Ripple River State Park and hike the trails or go fishing in the river. And if you’re looking for a little culture, check out the Jaques Art Center, where you can see works by local artists. And don’t miss the Aitkin Farmers’ Market, where you can stock up on fresh produce and homemade goodies.

So there you have it, some nearby towns to explore when you’re in Brainerd. Each town has its own unique charm and attractions, so be sure to visit them all!

Brainerd International Raceway

If you’re looking for some high-octane entertainment, look no further than the Brainerd International Raceway (BIR). This international raceway has been around since the 1960s and has hosted some of the biggest names in motorsports. Whether you’re a fan of drag racing, superbike racing, or just love the thrill of speed, you’re sure to find something to get your heart racing at BIR.

Billy Bones Raceway

One of the most popular attractions at BIR is the Billy Bones Raceway. This miniature golf course is not your typical putt-putt course. Instead, it’s designed to look like a drag strip, complete with miniature race cars and obstacles that mimic the challenges of a real drag race. It’s a fun activity for all ages and a great way to take a break from the high-speed action on the track.

Lucas Oil Nationals

If you’re a fan of superbike racing, you won’t want to miss the Lucas Oil Nationals at BIR. This annual event brings together some of the best riders in the world for a weekend of high-speed racing. With multiple classes of bikes and riders from around the globe, there’s always something exciting happening on the track. Plus, with vendors selling everything from souvenirs to food and drink, you’ll have everything you need for a fun-filled day at the races.

No matter what type of racing you’re into, you’re sure to find something to love at the Brainerd International Raceway. So grab your tickets, buckle up, and get ready for some high-speed thrills!

Sustainable Practices in Brainerd

Brainerd may be a small town, but it’s doing big things when it comes to sustainability. Here are some of the ways Brainerd is reducing its carbon footprint:

Recycling: You may think recycling is boring, but Brainerd makes it fun! The town has a recycling program that accepts all kinds of materials, including glass, plastic, and even electronics. Plus, they have a recycling center that’s open seven days a week. So, next time you’re in Brainerd, don’t throw that plastic bottle in the trash—recycle it!

Sustainable Dining: Brainerd has a number of restaurants that focus on sustainable practices. For example, The Local Plate sources ingredients from local farms and uses compostable to-go containers. And The Iron Range Eatery has a menu that’s 90% plant-based, so you can feel good about what you’re eating.

Eco-Friendly Lodging: If you’re looking for a place to stay in Brainerd, why not choose an eco-friendly option? Cragun’s Resort has a number of sustainability initiatives, including a geothermal heating and cooling system and a program to reduce water usage. And Grand View Lodge has a “Green Team” that’s dedicated to reducing the resort’s environmental impact.

Bike-Friendly Community: Brainerd is a great place to bike, with miles of trails and bike lanes throughout the town. Plus, the town has a bike-sharing program called Nice Ride, which makes it easy to get around without a car. So, next time you’re in Brainerd, rent a bike and explore the town on two wheels.

Brainerd may not be the biggest or most well-known town, but it’s definitely doing its part to be a sustainable community. So, next time you’re in town, be sure to support these eco-friendly initiatives!

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the scoop on Brainerd’s waterpark?

Ah, the waterpark. It’s a must-visit spot for families with kids who love to splash around. The Brainerd area has several waterparks, but the largest and most popular is the Paul Bunyan Water Park. It has everything from water slides to lazy rivers to a giant tipping bucket. Just be prepared to wait in line for some of the more popular attractions.

Can you recommend any unique places to eat in Brainerd?

Absolutely! If you’re looking for something different, head to Prairie Bay Grill & Catering. They serve up some seriously delicious dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. Another great option is Sage on Laurel, which has a cozy atmosphere and a menu filled with creative takes on classic dishes.

How many lakes are in the Brainerd area? Are they all swimmable?

There are over 500 lakes in the Brainerd area, so you’ll have plenty of options for swimming, fishing, and boating. However, not all of them are swimmable. Some of the smaller lakes are better for fishing, while others are too shallow or have too many weeds to swim in. Make sure to check with locals or park rangers before jumping in.

Is Brainerd a nice place to live or just visit?

Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. If you love the outdoors and don’t mind long winters, Brainerd can be a great place to live. The cost of living is relatively low, and there are plenty of job opportunities in industries like healthcare, education, and manufacturing. However, if you’re used to big city amenities and nightlife, you might find Brainerd a bit lacking.

What events are happening in Brainerd, MN soon?

There’s always something going on in Brainerd, whether it’s a music festival, a craft fair, or a sporting event. Check out the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce website for a full list of upcoming events. One event you won’t want to miss is the Crow Wing County Fair, which takes place every August and features everything from carnival rides to live music to 4-H exhibits.

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