Edit ModuleShow Tags

Guide to the Whitefish Chain of Lakes


Sunset over Pig Lake at Black Pine Beach Resort. Photos by Halle Mason.

Every summer my family (including my parents, siblings, my dad’s three brothers, their wives and kids, and my grandmother) pack up and spend one week in the Whitefish Chain of Lakes. It’s been a family tradition ever since I can remember. The greater Whitefish area is just a half hour north of Brainerd and offers tons of opportunities for boating, hiking, and campfires—Whitefish is Minnesota’s s’more capital, after all. Here are a few of my favorite spots along the chain.

Where to Lodge

Black Pine Beach Resort is tucked away in Pequot Lakes on Pig Lake, and owned by Bob and Lynn Scharenbroich, who—along with their wonderful staff—anticipate all your needs and strive to provide top-notch service. After all these years, we know Bob and Lynn personally, and they really take the time to connect with their guests and make sure your stay runs smoothly.

As a kid, I always loved playing with their yellow lab (unfortunately, the resort is strictly no pets), and heading to the gift shop to pick up a real, old-fashioned root beer (it’s not a root beer if it isn’t in a glass bottle) and some candy from their goodie shop—particularly Hot Tamales and gummy worms. We used to bounce from resort to resort on the Whitefish Chain, but more than 10 years ago, we fell in love with Black Pine Beach Resort, and I don’t see our tradition stopping anytime soon.

whitefish chain of lakes
Pond near Pig Lake

Where to Dine

There’s one restaurant that’s become a tradition for our yearly trips: the Wharf in Crosslake. As the sign reads, “Come as you are, by boat or by car.” The walleye always proves to be a favorite among my uncles, but I’m more a fan of the black & bleu burger. A tip from a Wharf pro: Get the onion rings; I’ve never regretted it. Like my mom always says, “if you’re going to do something wrong, do it right.”

Where to Shop

On the rainy days of our trip, we visit the nearby towns, specifically Nisswa, which is just 20 miles away. Nisswa is home to bluPaisley Boutique, a socially conscious store that focuses on selling American-made, fair-trade clothing. The Purple Squirrel houses fun vintage items, ranging from furniture to signs, and household items. My dad in particular has spent a good amount of time in Nisswa after we once stranded him there. We thought he was in the other car with his brother’s kids—it turns out he wasn’t. (You would think this lesson would have taught him to carry his cellphone at all times, but alas.)

Where to Ice Cream:

The absolute best night, rain or shine, of our one-week stay in the Whitefish Chain is our yearly pilgrimage to Crosslake’s Crafts & Cones. The staff is friendly and fast—a great thing for this small store, considering the line is almost always through the door whenever we stop by.

As the title suggests, they sell both ice cream and crafts. Before or after you snag a scoop, you can wander the aisles, looking at trinkets and fun cabin décor. I recommend the monster cookie ice cream in a waffle cone. Be sure to look out for the jellybean at the bottom of every cone!

The Whitefish Chain of Lakes holds special childhood memories for my two siblings and me, like when we played rainbow tag on the beach, or my Uncle Barry whipping the boat around in donuts as we fought (unsuccessfully) to stay on the tube. It’s comforting to know that wherever life takes my family, we’ll always meet the last week of July at Black Pine Beach Resort. 

Discover more vacation destinations on our Minnesota Journeys travel blog.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

Learn about the contributing writers.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Travel Blog

Minnesota Love in 3 New Books

The Boundary Waters, First Avenue, and fun facts about Minnesota—all highlighted in these recent publications

Holiday Volunteer Opportunities Around the Twin Cities

While counting your blessings on Thanksgiving, think ahead to helping others in December by volunteering your time at one of these locations around the Twin Cities metro.

What Else To Do on Black Friday: Alternative Plans across the State

Things to do on Black Friday in Minnesota—other than shop

Where to Run a Turkey Trot in Minnesota This Thanksgiving

Burning off those Thanksgiving Day calories is a great way to start the day before giving thanks for what you have. Join one of these fun (and local) turkey trot races on Thanksgiving morning.

Sue Z.'s Charitable Check-In: November

Sue Z.'s ideas for getting charitable this month include baking with North Minneapolis teens and the annual Taste of the NFL

Finding Neverland Brings the Story of Peter Pan to Life

There was never a dull moment during the performance of Finding Neverland, the story of how Peter Pan came to be.

Drag Queens Fill First Ave for Puerto Rico

Flip Phone and drag queen Phi Phi O'Hara team up for a First Avenue show in Minneapolis with all proceeds benefiting victims of Hurricane Maria

Photos from Nigeria: A Series with a Cause by a MN Resident

MN photographer Bre McGee's series "Stolen Lives: The Lost Futures of Nigeria's Trafficked Youth" raises money for victims of child labor and sex trafficking

Calhoun, Mud Lake, and Pig’s Eye: A Brief History of Renaming Minnesota Places

Lake Calhoun is on its way to becoming Bde Maka Ska, but it's only the latest in the history of Minnesota place renamings, which includes N-word lakes, Pig's Eye, and a middle school almost named after Prince

Staging a Magazine: A Storytelling Pop-Up in St. Paul

St. Paul's Fitzgerald Theater hosts a "live magazine"—where journalists become performers

What to Do on Halloween around the Twin Cities

Celebrate scariness over the weekend—or on Tuesday,, October 31—with haunted tours, a First Ave monster mash, and the last Zoo Boo

Pumpkin Nights: 3,000 Artful Jack-o'-lanterns

In this photo essay, check out how the MN State Fairgrounds have transformed into a Halloween celebration—and go for yourself this weekend

The Weird Beauty of Scream Town

How the decade-old Minnesota scare fest, in the middle of a Chaska cornfield, has combined today’s "Insidious"-conditioned jump-scare obsession with the dreamlike, strangely touching allure of old-world Disneyland

Hit the Road for a Fall Weekend in Alexandria, Minnesota

When fall comes around in Alexandria, Minnesota, the leaves aren’t the only things that are colorful. Fall festivals and events brighten up the first chilly months and give life to a city that lives on the lake during summer.
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags