By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Fourth of July is a busy time at Minnesota lakes and resorts.

But research done by Explore Minnesota shows the number of resorts in the state has dropped significantly over the past 30 years.

Ben Lapinski and his family took a leap of faith In 2016. They bought the former Walleye Dundee’s resort in Waukhon on Lake Milles Lacs.

“We saw a fun opportunity for a fun little place on a great lake with a lot to offer,” Lapinski said.

They changed the name, and instead of focusing on walleyes, they reeled in customers by focusing on other fish.

“The bass fishing, the recreation, the muskie, you know, it’s an hour and 15 minutes north of the metro area. If you really focus on those types of things, you’ll bring in different crowds that historically haven’t been here,” Lapinski said.

Beachside’s business has steadily gone up, but their story is a rare one in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

“They’ve been declining about 30 resorts per year for the last 20 years,” said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota.

In fact, the number of Minnesota resorts dropped nearly in half from 1985 to 2017. Edman said there are several reasons for the decline, including an increase in the value of lakeshore property.

“Consumers are demanding different types of amenities at the resorts. Plus, there’s a lot of different other options in terms of lodging besides just resorts,” Edman said.

Edman said the resorts that have been doing well offer more recreation and family activities like hiking and golf. Still, he thinks the majority of destinations still standing are here to stay.

“We’re just not going to lose as many per year, but I do expect that to stabilize somewhat,” Edman said.

Because there are fewer resorts, Edman said that demand at many of them is on the rise, which is why it’s recommended that if you have a place you like to visit and a time of year you want to go, you should book as far in advance as you can.

John Lauritsen

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