Located along the Mississippi River in the geographical center of Minnesota, the Brainerd Lakes area consists of Brainerd, Baxter, Nisswa and other communities within Crow Wing County. With more than 500 lakes, the Brainerd area is a thriving region for hospitality and recreation. Brainerd can suit the most active of visitors or those looking for some peace and quiet.

Getting There

Brainerd is approximately 120 miles north of the Twin Cities. Getting there is an easy drive from the cities starting out on Interstate 94 west and then taking Highway 10 west. After staying on Highway 10 for about 60 miles, take MN 371 north for the remaining 25 miles. It should take about 2 1/2 hours depending on traffic.

What To Do

paulbabe2 One Tank Trip To Brainerd

(credit: VisitBemidji.com)

Paul Bunyan Land
17553 State Highway 18
Brainerd, MN 56401
(218) 764-2524

Paul Bunyan Land features the 27-foot-tall statue of Paul Bunyan, the legendary logger who has been greeting park attendees since 1954. Paul winks, speaks and says the names of visitors as they arrive. Babe the Blue Ox and Paul’s other friends are also on display here. Carnival-style rides and This Old Farm Pioneer Village will entertain in this dated, yet classic Minnesota theme park.

Nisswa Square
Main St. and surrounding streets
Nisswa, MN 56468

Cute boutiques and specialty shops surround this area of Brainerd Lakes called Nisswa. Stores to browse include Quirks, an art gallery featuring 40 artists from Minnesota that feature stained-glass pieces, photography, blown glass and more, Turtle Town Books and Gifts for new books, puzzles and games and Bagatelle for Vera Bradley bags, stationary and glassware.

Related: Weekend Guide To Rochester, MN

thetrails One Tank Trip To Brainerd

Credit: Brainerd Lakes Chamber

Northland Arboretum Trails
14250 Conservation Drive
Brainerd, MN 56401
(218) 829-8770

The Northland Arboretum trails span more than 500 acres of the Brainerd Lakes area. This is a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors by hiking, running, cross-country skiing, biking or walking. The trails accommodate various skill levels nicely and even have some paths lit for evening activities.

waterpark splash buckets One Tank Trip To Brainerd
Holiday Inn Express Brainerd/Baxter Three Bear Waterpark
15739 Audubon Way
Baxter, MN 56425
(218) 824-3232

The Holiday Inn Express in Baxter is the biggest waterpark in the area with a lazy river, tube slides, two 300-foot water slides, body slides and an area for children. There is a bar and grill onsite as well as an arcade.

Where To Eat

Iven’s on the Bay
19090 Highway 371
North Brainerd, MN 56401
(218) 829-9872

If you are looking for a great dinner with a fine glass of wine, this is the place. Iven’s has received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence from 2003-2012. It is a bit more upscale than most restaurants in the area with sushi offerings and Peruvian Ceviche. Treat yourself to some seared Swordfish for a truly enjoyable dining experience. Desserts are made fresh daily and ingredients are grown on site.

fries thinkstock One Tank Trip To Brainerd
Northwind Grille
603 Laurel St.
Brainerd, MN 56401
(218) 829-1551

Bring the whole family in for a meal at Northwind Grille. This spot has a little of everything and it’s all good. Come in during the morning for a great French Toast Sandwich or Loaded Omelette. Refuel midday with the Northwind Club stacked with turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomato. Substitute either beer-battered onion rings or waffle fries for your side. If looking for a great dinner, Northwind delivers with hearty options like a Meatloaf Dinner or lighter dishes like the Grilled Chicken Breast.

Related: Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip To Grand Rapids, MN

Cortney Mohnk is a freelance writer covering all things Minnesota. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.


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