Minnesota (MN)

Top 12 Things to do in Brainerd, MN

Brainerd, Minnesota, is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, since it is surrounded by lakes and forest. When it comes to activities like as fishing, hiking, and biking, as well as seeking thrills at the Brainerd International Raceway, we realize how tough it is to leave a location that has so much to offer! It’s no surprise that Brainerd is referred to be “Minnesota’s Playground.”

It doesn’t matter whether you’re planning a summer vacation or simply passing through on your way north; this thriving town nestled among the pines has plenty to offer every kind of tourist. Here are the top 12 things to do in the surrounding region.

1. Visit the Paul Bunyan State Trail

The Paul Bunyan is a must-see for visitors to the state of Minnesota. A recreational wonderland awaits you with 120 miles of the track paved, many neighbouring loops, and numerous hiking trails!

The Paul Bunyan State Trail, which begins at Crow Wing State Park in Brainerd and extends to Lake Bemidji State Park, is a fitting tribute to this American icon. If you’re going to make the journey, start in Brainerd at the arboretum and go north from there.

Photo Credit: Ken Ratcliff / Flickr

Hiking, canoeing, boating, and fishing are all popular summer activities. And definitely don’t forget to try rollerblading on the Paul Bunyan Trail! Fall colours arrive early in Minnesota, so plan to take advantage of the best viewing opportunities from mid-September to mid-October.

In the months of January and February, temperatures may plummet to far below zero, with snowfall measured in feet. However, don’t let the winter put you off; it’s time to go snowmobiling and cross-country skiing!

2. Get your adrenaline pumping at Brainerd International Raceway

Do you remember watching racing on television as a child? The opportunity to see a live racing event is what makes Brainerd so special. Throughout the summer, the Brainerd International Raceway stages a wide range of racing events, including drag racing and super bike racing. Take a look at the current events on the website.

Photo Credit: David Kryzaniak / Flickr

Even better, by attending the BIR Performance Driving School, you will be able to drive a racing car around the race track at speeds of up to 130 mph.

The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals are, without a doubt, the most anticipated event in the region. The world’s greatest drag racers and quickest automobiles will be on display in August if you visit. Thousands of wild fans go from all over the globe each year to witness this event and you can be one of them!

3. Explore Paul Bunyan Land

The theme park of Paul Bunyan Land became famous with the portrayal of the giant “Paul Bunyan” in the movie “Fargo” and the appearance of the Blue Bull Inn in the film. Marge’s first line on the phone to Jerry Lundegaard is, “Brainerd is the home of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.”

Photo Credit: Lorie Shaull / Flickr

Many of the film’s most memorable scenes may be seen at this 23-hectare park. You should definitely pay a visit to Pioneer Village, which consists of over 45 buildings and holds the biggest collection of late 1800s to early 1900s antiques in Minnesota. This amusement park has a Ferris Wheel and a Merry-Go-Round, among other carnival-themed attractions.

4. Take in the tranquility of Gull Lake 

Let’s now get some quiet and relaxing time at Gull Lake. Gull Lake is the largest in the Brainerd Lake Area. There are dozens of residences, as well as a number of resorts, located around the lake. It’s the perfect place to go away for a few days and unwind by the stunningly clear seas. Simply lounging in the sun with a good book is all that is required.

Photo Credit: Loren Chipman / Flickr

During the summer, you may go canoeing, paddle boating, or riding a water bike. If you want to try diving, Gull Lake a local scuba diving hot spot. Divers may dive in the lake at any time of year.

Have you ever tried ice fishing? In the Winter, you can join the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza, which is the largest charitable ice fishing contest on earth. Enjoy the scenery and explore what the Lake has to offer! 

5. Visit Safari North Wildlife Park

Do you have a soft spot for animals? Get up close and personal with the animals! Safari North is definitely on our radar! It is a hidden gem in northern Minnesota. Since its inception in 2014, Safari North Wildlife Park has been selected the Brainerd Dispatch’s Best Summer Family Fun in the Brainerd Lakes Area.

Photo Credit: Safari North Wildlife Park

Safari North Wildlife Park’s goal is to raise awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation. You’ll get the opportunity to feed giraffes, ride camels, and experience an outdoor zoo in its entirety.

To name a few, there are sloth bears, tigers, zebras, porcupines, and warthogs at Safari North, as well as a wide variety of other animals from across the world. Allow 2-3 hours for this fantastic zoo so that you may appreciate every minute of it!

6. Seeing Brainerd from above with a Thrilling Zipline Experience

Brainerd Zip Line Tour, Minnesota’s No. 2 outdoor activity, adds exhilaration to any trip to the Brainerd Lakes.

From Mount Ski Gull, a 15-mile panorama can be seen from the seven lines tour. The 2.5-hour trip takes you into Pillsbury State Forest, near Gull Lake, where you’ll be able to see the Brainerd Lakes region as well as the magnificent forest surrounds.

Photo Credit: Brainerd Zip Line Tour

Enjoy the tour with professional guides and safe equipment, you will also find an optional 50’ free-fall experience! The Drop will definitely get your adrenaline high.

7. Swim and fishing at Mille Lacs Lake

A huge but shallow Minnesota lake, Mille Lacs Lake is a popular recreational destination for boaters and swimmers. Fun fact: the deepest point is 42 feet below the surface (13 m). The lake is a must-visit for walleye anglers who want to enjoy the best of the best when it comes to walleye fishing. There are numerous resorts, public landings, restaurants, and charming, beautiful communities all around the lake.

Photo Credit: Doug Kerr / Flickr

Get yourself a four-hour Mille Lacs launch fishing excursion and go for walleye, bass, muskie, or big perch in the mighty Minnesota lake. Most importantly, launch captains perform the dirty work, such as baiting hooks and cleaning fish, so you don’t have to worry about anything. Take time to enjoy the spectacular sunsets as you’re taking in the sights of the summer landscape.

8. Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum and Library

If you happen to be in downtown Brainerd, we highly encourage you check out Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum as well. You may get a valuable insight into the lives of settlers in the nineteenth century by participating in this activity. You’ll be shocked at how much history can be found in such a small setting.

Photo Credit: Brainerd Dispatch

Do you want to try some new and exciting things? Spend some time in the county jail! Lock yourself in a prison cell that has been kept from the county jail built in the late 1800s. The museum’s exhibits may help you learn about the history of mining in Crow Wing County, see actual objects that were used in ordinary family life during the early days of settlement in central Minnesota, and go back in time to an age when railways were the dominant mode of transportation.

Do not miss this hidden place because it is a “scavenger hunt”!

9. Cragun’s Legacy Courses

Playing golf at this renowned course is next on our list of things to do in Brainerd. Named “Property of the Year” by Minnesota Innkeepers, Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake offers a nine-hole reversible Par-3 course as well as foot golf. At Cragun’s Legacy Courses, golfers are surrounded by lush forests and crystal-clear lakes as they enjoy a unique experience of unrivalled beauty and championship fun.

Photo Credit: Cragun’s Resort

We encourage that gold couples or groups of friends go. These courses provide a range of alternatives to suit golfers of all ability levels, all while taking in the breathtakingly beautiful Minnesota countryside.

10. Skiing and Snowboarding at Mount Ski Gull

Brainerd offers a variety of activities throughout the year, not just during the summer. Mount Ski Gull, located in Brainerd, Minnesota, has excellent skiing and boarding opportunities for downhill skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels.

Their terrain park features 12 runs (40 percent for beginners, 30 percent for intermediates, and 30 percent for experts), a dedicated high-speed rope tow terrain park, a bunny hill tow rope and triple chair lift, a terrain park designed for both snowboarders and skiers, a tubing hill, and ski and snowboard rental.

Photo Credit: Mount Ski Gull

You can discover a brand new, fully automated, hands-free tubing hill, which is one of the biggest in the state, right there. Can’t seem to find enough time? Because of the brand new lighting facilities and the presence of a couple of pleasant fireplaces, you can enjoy night skiing without worrying about being uncomfortable.

Hours of operation and other relevant details may be found on the Mount Ski Gull calendar at https://www.mountskigull.com/.

11. Shop at Growers’ Market

We want to support local farms so we need to put this place on our list!

The food of the Brainerd Lakes Area, especially the locally produced fruit and meats, is a significant draw for visitors. The Brainerd/Baxter Lakes Area Growers’ Market is the greatest location to get fresh produce.

Photo Credit: Brainerd Farmers Market

The stalls are operated entirely by the farmers and their family members themselves. The market offers a wide variety of meat and dairy products sourced from locally and sustainably raised animals. You may buy high-quality, fresh food straight from the farm, including fruits and vegetables, flowers, and handcrafted crafts.

12. Grab a beer at Rendezvous Brewery

Want to take a rest stop from the Paul Bunyan Regional Bike Trail? There is this Rendezvous Brewery in Hackensack, which is a little town north of Brainerd on Highway 371 and is just 45 minutes away from Brainerd!

Doug and Sue Toth, the couple that owns Rendezvous, didn’t like the term retirement, so they selected Rendezvous instead. They are very enthusiastic about brewing their own beer.

Photo Credit: Rendezvous Brewery

In addition to offering up to 12 taps of beer, this brewery and tap room always has at least two options in each of the following categories: “lighter”, “happier”, “darker”, and “something different”.

Please keep in mind that they do not provide food other than snacks, so if you are hungry, you will need to visit the nearby restaurants.

FAQs on Things to Do in Brainerd, MN

If you’re looking for information on Brainerd, Minnesota, you’ve come to the right spot. Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the city.

What’s Brainerd, MN Known For?

Known for its wonderful family holidays, high class Minnesota resorts, golf courses, fishing, bicycling trails, gorgeous vistas and a variety of other activities, Brainerd, MN has it all.

How Many Lakes Are in Brainerd, MN?

More than 460 lakes may be found within a 25-mile radius of Brainerd! We wish you an incredible and unforgettable stay in the Brainerd Lakes Area!

What’s the Weather in Brainerd, MN Like?

Brainerd has a humid continental climate with a lot of seasonal changes. Summers are pleasant and sometimes hot, but winters are often bitterly cold. With this in mind, the city itself has a lot of fun things to do all year long. You are definitely up for an adventure!

Make Unforgettable Memories in Brainerd, MN

As you can see, there are several activities to do in Brainerd, MN, ranging from hiking trails and experiencing “the Drop” to going on a fishing excursion and participating in car racing. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of natural and man-made attractions in Brainerd, Minnesota, and its surrounding areas.

If you’re thinking of visiting other places in Minnesota, then check out this article about Willmar, MN!

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