Discover The Best Things To Do In Brainerd MN

Things To Do In Brainerd MN

Planning a trip can often feel like a puzzle, especially when you’re on the hunt for activities that’ll put smiles on everyone’s faces. We know the feeling all too well, that mix of excitement and slight overwhelm while sifting through options.

Thankfully, our search led us to uncover Brainerd, MN—a place brimming with outdoor adventures and family attractions that feel like hidden gems waiting to be explored in the Brainerd lakes area.

Stick around as we explore what makes it such a standout destination!

Key Takeaways

  • Brainerd, MN offers over 450 holes across dozens of golf courses, making it a golfer’s paradise with greens designed by legends.
  • With more than 400 lakes and rivers, Brainerd is the perfect spot for boating, water sports, and fishing all year round.
  • Paul Bunyan Land and Safari North Wildlife Park are great places to explore for families looking for fun and learning experiences.
  • The area provides unique winter activities like snowmobiling on 1,200 miles of groomed trails and ice fishing in top-notch lakes.
  • Local attractions include exploring downtown Nisswa’s quaint shops and attending events at the Crossing Arts Alliance for art enthusiasts.

Top Outdoor Activities in Brainerd

Things To Do In Brainerd MN

Discover the thrill of golfing with lush greens and stunning views. Experience the adrenaline rush with boating, water sports, and fishing in crystal-clear lakes. Explore scenic hiking trails that lead to breathtaking natural beauty.


We love hitting the links in Brainerd, known for its stunning golf courses. With over 450 holes spread across dozens of courses, there’s a green for every golfer here. Places like The Pines at Grand View Lodge and The Classic at Madden’s on Gull Lake stand out.

They’re not just fields with flags; they’re masterpieces designed by legends like Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Arnold Palmer.

Whitefish Golf Club shines too, earning 4 ½ stars from Golf Digest. Imagine teeing off surrounded by Minnesota’s breathtaking landscapes! Each course offers tee times, services by pros, special rates, and equipment rental options making it easy to play where the champions do.

Whether you’re looking to challenge your skills or just enjoy a day outdoors with friends, these greens are calling your name.

Boating and Water Sports

With over 400 lakes and rivers around, we’re spoiled for choice in Brainerd for boating and water sports. You can find us tubing, skiing, wakeboarding, or simply cruising on the calm waters.

The Mississippi River, Crow Wing River, and Gull River are our go-to spots for these adventures. We hop onto boat tours with Gull Lake Cruises or enjoy a relaxing ride on the Breezy Belle to soak up the sun and scenery.

The Cuyuna Recreation Area is another gem that offers an unusual twist: scuba diving in historic mine pits. It’s not every day you get to explore underwater worlds right here in Minnesota.

Whether you’re looking for thrill-packed water activities or peaceful cruises through beautiful landscapes, Brainerd has something special for everyone who loves getting out on the water.


We love fishing in the Brainerd Lakes Area because it’s home to some of the best spots in the state. You need a license to fish here, but catching your dinner is worth that small step.

The lakes turn into ice fishing paradises come winter. Don’t worry if you don’t own equipment; rentals are easy to find.

Local guides can take you out on guiding packages. They know where the fish bite, no matter the season. Whether summer sun or winter chill, they’ll have you reeling in walleye and bass like a pro.

These experiences make memories that last much longer than any fish story.

Hiking and Trails

When exploring Brainerd, one can discover the beauty of nature through the marvelous hiking and trails available. The Paul Bunyan State Trail offers an impressive stretch that spans 114.7 miles, while the Mississippi River: Brainerd to Little Falls trail covers a distance of 35.1 miles.

These trails are not just for avid hikers as they are wheelchair accessible too, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to immerse themselves in the scenic wonders that Northland Arboretum’s expansive 400 acres and Crow Wing State Park’s inviting hiking paths provide.

Popular Attractions in Brainerd

Explore the enchanting world of Paul Bunyan Land and get up close with wildlife at Safari North Wildlife Park. Lose yourself in the serene beauty of nature at Northland Arboretum and rev up your adrenaline at Brainerd International Raceway.

Dive into a day of fun at Three Bear Waterpark, offering something for everyone! For more enticing attractions, dive deeper into our blog.

Paul Bunyan Land

When visiting Brainerd, a must-see is Paul Bunyan Land. This iconic attraction features a 26-foot tall talking lumberjack that has been captivating visitors since 1954. From Memorial Weekend to Labor Day, the site welcomes guests to explore Pioneer Village, housing relics from the late 1800s to early 1900s within over 45 buildings—boasting the largest collection of antiques in MN.

The amusement park offers an array of rides including the Merry-Go-Round, Ferris Wheel, and Space Shuttle for an enjoyable family experience.

The unique charm of Paul Bunyan Land coupled with its historical offerings makes it a standout stop in Brainerd. It’s truly an experience like no other – making it perfect for those eager to explore quieter and smaller towns while enjoying family fun and learning about local history.

Safari North Wildlife Park

Located in Brainerd, Safari North Wildlife Park offers a fascinating wildlife experience. Opened in 2014 by Kevin and Kelly Vogel, the park features animals from various regions such as North America, Asia, Africa, South America, and Australia.

For just $14.99 for adults and $9.99 for children aged 2-12, visitors can engage in thrilling activities like feeding giraffes or riding camels while enjoying the serene surroundings.

While exploring the park’s diverse habitats encompassing several continents of the world — including intriguing species like zebras and kangaroos amid picturesque landscapes — it’s quite an immersive experience to interact with nature at its finest.

Furthermore, gemstone mining adds a touch of adventure to this wildlife encounter!

Northland Arboretum

Northland Arboretum, established in 1972, encompasses over 400 acres of scenic beauty. The admission fee is $5 for adults and $1 for children, with the grounds open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Visitors can look forward to upcoming events such as adult classes and youth gardening sessions at this expansive location.

The Northland Arboretum serves as an excellent place where we can immerse ourselves in the natural world. With a plethora of activities available, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Whether it’s exploring trails or participating in educational programs, this destination provides a tranquil setting away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Brainerd International Raceway

Brainerd International Raceway hosts various events throughout the year, including the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals and MotoAmerica. You can also enroll in its Performance Driving School to enhance your driving skills.

Moreover, there are tower suites available for rent if you want to immerse yourself in the racing experience. Additionally, Brainerd International Raceway is known for hosting additional exciting events such as Lakes Jam and the PGI Fireworks Expo.

The venue’s offerings provide an opportunity not only to witness thrilling races but also to gain valuable knowledge through educational experiences like the Performance Driving School.

Whether it’s attending high-profile races or enjoying unique events at the raceway, Brainerd International Raceway promises a mix of entertainment and learning that cater to all who appreciate motorsports.

Three Bear Waterpark

Located at 15739 Audubon Way, Baxter, MN 56425, Three Bear Waterpark has a capacity of 250,000 gallons of heated water. Lifeguards and attendants are on duty at all times. The park offers exciting attractions including The Big Splash, Grizzly Express, and Lazy River.

Visitors can experience the thrill of sliding down The Big Splash or enjoy a leisurely float along the Lazy River. Additionally, the park’s Grizzly Express provides an exhilarating adventure for those seeking some excitement during their visit.

Unique Things to Do in Brainerd

Explore local distilleries and breweries, attend the Crow Wing County Fair, wander around downtown Nisswa, visit the Nisswa Historical Society Museum or check out the Crossing Arts Alliance for a myriad of artistic activities.

To learn about all these unique options at your fingertips in Brainerd, continue reading our blog.

Visit local distilleries and breweries

When visiting Brainerd, make sure to stop by the local distilleries and breweries—the 5Rocks Distillery and Jack Pine Brewery offer excellent options. Both feature unique flavors in their craft beverages.

Attend the Crow Wing County Fair

The Crow Wing County Fair, established in 1884 and now one of the five largest fairs in Minnesota, attracts over 100,000 visitors annually. The fair offers something for everyone with more than 6,000 exhibits showcasing livestock, agriculture, arts and crafts.

With a grandstand seating capacity of 1,800 and a large horse arena with bleachers, the fairgrounds provide a lively venue for thrilling entertainment such as live music performances and the famous Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.

So when you visit Brainerd MN is packed full of excitement at this historical fair.

Explore downtown Nisswa

Downtown Nisswa offers quaint shopping and a charming small-town vibe. The area provides various outdoor dining options, creating a relaxing atmosphere for the visitor to enjoy a meal.

Every Wednesday in summer, the town hosts the famous Nisswa Turtle Races, adding an element of fun and entertainment to the experience. Voted 2018’s Best Small Town in Minnesota by WCCO, Nisswa is sure to appeal to those who seek more than just typical tourist spots.

Nisswa’s downtown is known for its unique attractions that include local distilleries and breweries. The area also houses the popular Nisswa Historical Society Museum and hosts events at the Crossing Arts Alliance, which caters to art enthusiasts looking for something beyond traditional museum experiences.

Whether strolling amidst historical sites or taking part in lively events, there’s plenty to uncover while exploring downtown Nisswa.

Visit the Nisswa Historical Society Museum

The Nisswa Historical Society Museum welcomes visitors at 25611 Main Street, Nisswa, MN 56468. It opens during specific weekends in May, June, and September. For those keen to explore the historic Pioneer Village on a self-guided tour, admission costs $4 for adults over 10 years old and $3 for children aged 5-10.

Children under 5 enter free of charge.

Check out the Crossing Arts Alliance

When exploring Brainerd, one activity not to be missed is a visit to the Crossing Arts Alliance. This downtown gem offers diverse exhibits, classes for both adults and children, and engaging events.

It’s an ideal place to immerse oneself in local arts and even purchase unique works by area artists. The alliance is deeply rooted in the community, providing educational opportunities that allow access to meaningful art experiences for all ages.

The Crossing Arts Alliance stands out as a vibrant hub of creativity within downtown Brainerd._Pathways_

Exploring Small Towns Near Brainerd

Explore the charming town of Nisswa, named 2018’s Best Small Town in Minnesota. Engage at local spots such as Mini Golf and Princesses Anna where you can delight in a relaxed day out.

Additionally, head on to Crosby known for hiking, diving, camping, and biking trails offering nature-lovers ample opportunities for adventure. Lastly, step into Crosslake – it’s famed for weddings and hosts outdoor movies in the park.

Pequot Lakes is associated with Paul Bunyan folklore – an interesting connection worth exploring while visiting these small towns near Brainerd!

Winter Activities in Brainerd

Winter in Brainerd offers a plethora of outdoor fun, from snowmobiling on extensive trails to ice fishing on frozen lakes. Skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts can carve up the slopes at nearby resorts while winter festivals and events provide seasonal entertainment for everyone.


Brainerd offers 1,200 miles of groomed trails, making it one of the upper Midwest’s premier snowmobiling destinations. The trails radiate in every direction from Brainerd, offering diverse terrains for an exhilarating snowmobiling experience.

Whether you’re exploring the Paul Bunyan Trail or navigating through highways 371 and MN-18, snowmobiling in Brainerd is an adventure worth embracing. With its vast network of trails and stunning winter landscapes, this small town provides a perfect playground for snowmobile enthusiasts.

Ice Fishing

When seeking winter activities in Brainerd, ice fishing is a must-do experience. The region boasts top fishing lakes, providing the perfect backdrop for this unique pastime. Ice safety is crucial and visitors are advised to check local conditions before venturing out onto frozen water bodies.

Rental equipment is readily available at local resorts, and there are also options to enlist the services of knowledgeable fishing guides for an enhanced experience. So if you’re looking for a memorable adventure during the winter season, consider exploring the realm of ice fishing in Brainerd.

Skiing and Snowboarding

When enjoying winter activities in Brainerd, don’t miss out on the exhilarating skiing and snowboarding opportunities. Mount Ski Gull provides 12 runs catering to all skill levels.

For cross-country enthusiasts, there are numerous trails in the area with most requiring a Minnesota Ski Pass for access. Snowboarding and tubing options are also available, ensuring an action-packed experience for those seeking outdoor adventure amidst the beautiful snowy landscapes.

Winter festivals and events

Winter in Brainerd is a time for lively festivals and events. The Frozen Fore Winter Weekend, Snowfest, Ice Fest, and the renowned Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza are must-experience occasions.

These winter celebrations feature exciting activities like the Frozen Flop, tent parties, scavenger hunts, and live music from popular bands such as Boogie Wonderland and Mother’s Hotdish.

Whether you’re a fan of outdoor adventures or cultural festivities, these winter events in Brainerd offer an array of unforgettable experiences to enjoy during the colder months.

Things To Do In Brainerd MN Conclusion

Ready to uncover the charm of Brainerd, MN? Experience a plethora of outdoor activities and attractions that cater to every taste. From golfing and boating to exploring small towns nearby, there’s something for everyone here.

Don’t miss out on the winter adventures like snowmobiling and skiing – it’s a year-round treasure trove! So, pack your bags and get ready to create lasting memories in this delightful destination.

Things To Do In Brainerd MN FAQs

1. What are some fun things to do in Brainerd, MN?

Brainerd, located on Highway 371, is full of exciting activities. You can visit Northland Kart Kountry for a thrilling kart race or explore the various parks around the city.

2. Is there anything educational to do in Brainerd?

Yes! There are several learning centers in Brainerd that provide an informative and engaging experience. They offer a deep dive into different subjects which could be quite enlightening.

3. Can I find any water parks in Brainerd?

Absolutely! Water parks are one of the main attractions in Brainerd, providing fun-filled experiences for both kids and adults alike.

4. What makes Northland Kart Kountry a must-visit place in Brainerd?

Northland Kart Kountry offers an adrenaline-pumping kart racing experience that’s hard to match elsewhere. It’s conveniently located along Highway 371 making it easily accessible for visitors.

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