Midwest Vacation Guide
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Vacation season is right around the corner, and you definitely deserve a break. Order out, sleep in, explore a part of the Midwest you’ve always wanted to explore. Don’t think about the pressures of work, don’t think about the stresses of everyday life, don’t think about those never-ending “to-do” lists. Just get out of town and have fun.
Distance from the Twin Cities: 120 miles south along the Great River Road Scenic Byway 61.
Describe your destination in five words or less: Spectacular beauty. Remarkable arts and culture.
Popular for: Top-notch festivals like the Great River Shakespeare Festival and Minnesota Beethoven Festival, fun events, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum (with pieces by Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh) and theaward-winning Winona County History Center. Great hiking along the bluffs and trails, fishing, road and mountain biking, wildlife-watching, golfing, disc-golfing, and downtown architecture.
Insider tip: Winona’s Park and Recreation offers free canoeing/kayaking, and visitors can try stand-up paddleboards. One of the best panoramic views of the river valley is from the Garvin Heights Overlook. While you’re up on the bluffs, stop at Garvin Heights Vineyard.
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately 40 miles south.
Describe your destination in five words or less: Arts, history, nature. Cannon River.
Popular for: Being home to both Saint Olaf and Carleton liberal arts colleges, culture, outdoor recreation, history, nature, wining, dining, relaxing, fun festivals and events.
Insider tip: On Sept. 7, 1876, the brave Northfield townspeople defeated the infamous James-Younger Gang when it attempted to rob the town’s First National Bank. From Sept. 5-9, witness the re-enactment of the bank raid and see an informative show that includes live horses, gunshots and townspeople during the Defeat of Jesse James Days, voted “Best Re-Enactment of the West” by True West Magazine.
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately two hours west in the city of Alexandria.
Describe your destination in five words or less: Waterpark, spa, golf, beautiful scenery.
Popular for: Big Splash Indoor Waterpark, Darling Reflections Spa, 18-hole golf course, cruises on Lake Darling, Camp Arrowwood childrens’ activities, wacky Olympics, horseback riding, evening bonfires.
Insider tip: Arrowwood is near Carlos Creek Winery and the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum.
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately 100 miles west.
Describe your destination in five words or less: Thriving arts, historical attractions, lakes.
Popular for: 35 neighborhood parks, Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center, Robbins Island, Ridgewater College, bison ranch, alpacas, museums, theaters, wineries, hiking, biking, fishing, golfing, bird watching, water recreation, shopping, and dining.
Insider tip: Willmar’s largest park, Robbins Island, is a 55-acre island located between Willmar and Foot Lakes, hosting seven shelters, a soccer field, Frisbee golf course, swimming beaches, shore fishing, and a public boat access.
Wilderness Resort Villas
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately 140 miles northwest on the shore of Middle Cullen Lake, Pequot Lakes.
Describe your destination in five words or less: Secluded, sandy beach, star-gazing, luxury.
Popular for: Family-friendly atmosphere, secluded lakeshore with private sandy beach, lake recreation, boat launch, jet ski rentals, paddleboats, swimming docks, waterskiing, fishing, hiking, golfing, near Nisswa’s upscale boutiques. Beautiful villas with Jacuzzis, fireplaces, and private patios, main fitness center and game room in lodge.
Insider tip: Pets are allowed in the four-bedroom, four-bath lake home villa No. 12.
Good Ol’ Days Resort
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately 120 miles northwest in Nisswa.
Describe your destination in five words or less: Lifetime memories are made here.
Popular for: Location in the heart of the Brainerd Lakes resort area, on Lower Cullen Lake, wonderful beach, 10 modern, comfortable cottages and an 8-unit lodge, close proximity to the Paul Bunyan Trail, six blocks from shopping in downtown Nisswa, organized kids’ activities, close to great golfing and dining options and fun attractions.
Insider tip: Kayak, canoe, and paddleboat rentals are included. Rent a fishing boat or pontoon for an additional fee.
Distance from the Twin Cities: 200 miles northwest in Itasca State Park.
Describe your destination in five words or less: An oasis in the wilderness.
Popular for: Great location on the edge of Itasca State Park (boasting some of the finest scenery in the area), 73-year history, 12 clean, comfortable cabins, heated outdoor pool, direct access to 16-mile bike trail, great hiking, bird watching, canoeing on Lake Itasca.
Insider tip: The Headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River—a famous cultural (and natural) landmark— is within walking distance.
The Lodge on Lake Detroit
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately 200 miles (about 2.5 hours) in the city of Detroit Lakes.
Describe your destination in five words or less: Eco-friendly lakefront hotel, affordable luxury.
Popular for: Fun events (Murder Mystery weekends, Mother’s Day Wine Tasting, Father’s Day Beer Tasting and Shrimp Boil), beautiful sunsets, beach/lake activities and outdoor fire pits, focus on green living (rain gardens, organic wine, sustainable products), and wonderful day spa services on-site.
Insider tip: Enjoy live music at the Lodge every Thursday during the summer months.