10 Things to do in Brainerd MN – 2024 Ultimate Guide

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Welcome to Brainerd, Minnesota, a hidden gem in the heart of the Land of 10,000 Lakes. This charming city offers a plethora of exciting things to do in Brainerd MN, making it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking adventure and relaxation. From pristine lakes perfect for fishing and water sports to lush forests ideal for hiking and wildlife spotting, Brainerd has something for everyone. Join us as we explore the top attractions and activities that make Brainerd a true paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty of Brainerd and create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.

Popular Experiences and Attractions

Paul Bunyan Land:

Essential Information

– Address: 17553 State Hwy 18, Brainerd, MN 56401
– Opening Hours: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM (Seasonal variations, check website for details)
– Fee: Adults $20, Children (3-12) $17, Children under 3 free
– Visit Duration: 2-3 hours
– Ideal for: Families, children, fans of folklore


Paul Bunyan Land in Brainerd, MN, is a must-see attraction for those seeking a fun and nostalgic experience. This family-friendly amusement park brings to life the legendary tales of Paul Bunyan, the larger-than-life lumberjack of American folklore. Visitors of all ages can enjoy a variety of activities and attractions that pay homage to this iconic figure.

One of the highlights of Paul Bunyan Land is the chance to meet Paul Bunyan himself, a towering animatronic figure that greets guests with his booming voice and friendly demeanor. Families can also explore the amusement park’s rides, games, and interactive exhibits that showcase the rich history and whimsical stories of Paul Bunyan and his trusty blue ox, Babe.

Whether you’re a fan of folklore, looking for a fun day out with the family, or simply curious to learn more about American legends, Paul Bunyan Land offers a unique and entertaining experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression. Plan your visit to Paul Bunyan Land and step into a world where the tales of Paul Bunyan come to life in a delightful and engaging way.

Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area:

Essential Information

– Address: 307 3rd Street, Ironton, MN 56455
– Opening Hours: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
– Fee: $7 daily vehicle permit
– Visit Duration: Half-day to full-day
– Ideal for: Outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers


Nestled in the heart of Brainerd, MN, Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area is a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure off the beaten path. With over 25 miles of natural shoreline, this recreational area offers a plethora of activities for visitors of all ages. From hiking and mountain biking along rugged trails to kayaking and paddleboarding on crystal-clear lakes, there is no shortage of ways to explore the stunning natural beauty of the area.

One of the main draws of Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area is its world-class mountain biking trails, attracting riders from near and far. The network of trails winds through lush forests and rocky terrain, providing a thrilling experience for both beginners and seasoned riders. Additionally, the area is home to an abundance of wildlife, making it a prime spot for birdwatching and nature photography.

Whether you’re looking to challenge yourself on the trails or simply unwind in nature, Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area offers a unique outdoor experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression. So pack your gear, hit the trails, and discover the natural wonders waiting to be explored at this must-see destination in Brainerd, MN.

Northland Arboretum:

Essential Information

– Address: 14250 Conservation Dr, Brainerd, MN 56401
– Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
– Fee: Free admission, donations appreciated
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: Nature lovers, families, outdoor enthusiasts


Northland Arboretum in Brainerd, MN is a hidden gem for nature enthusiasts seeking a peaceful retreat. With over 500 acres of lush greenery and diverse plant species, this arboretum offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. The well-maintained trails provide the perfect opportunity for a leisurely stroll or a refreshing hike, allowing visitors to reconnect with nature and unwind in a tranquil setting.

One of the highlights of Northland Arboretum is its beautiful gardens, showcasing a variety of native plants and flowers that bloom throughout the seasons. Whether you’re a botany enthusiast or simply appreciate the beauty of nature, the arboretum’s gardens are sure to captivate your senses. Additionally, the arboretum hosts educational programs and events that cater to both adults and children, making it an ideal destination for families looking to learn more about the local flora and fauna.

Overall, Northland Arboretum is a must-see destination for anyone looking to escape the city and immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Minnesota. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat, a scenic spot for a leisurely walk, or a place to learn more about the local ecosystem, this hidden oasis has something to offer for everyone.

Brainerd International Raceway:

Essential Information

– Address: 5523 Birchdale Rd, Brainerd, MN 56401
– Opening Hours: Varies depending on events, check website for schedule
– Fee: Admission prices vary, check website for details
– Visit Duration: Half-day to full-day
– Ideal for: Motorsports enthusiasts, families, adrenaline junkies


Brainerd International Raceway is a premier motorsports destination in Brainerd, MN, attracting racing enthusiasts from near and far. The raceway offers an exhilarating experience for visitors of all ages, with a variety of events and activities to enjoy. From drag racing to road courses, the raceway provides heart-pounding excitement for adrenaline junkies and casual fans alike. Whether you’re a seasoned motorsports enthusiast or just looking for a thrilling day out, Brainerd International Raceway is a must-see destination in the heart of Minnesota. Plan your visit to experience the thrill of speed and the roar of engines at this iconic raceway.

Safari North Wildlife Park:

Essential Information

– Address: 8493 State Highway 371, Brainerd, MN 56401
– Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM daily
– Fee: $20 for adults, $15 for children (3-12 years old)
– Visit Duration: 2-3 hours
– Ideal for: Families, nature enthusiasts


Safari North Wildlife Park in Brainerd, MN, is a must-see destination for families and nature enthusiasts alike. This wildlife park offers a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of animals in a natural setting. From majestic lions and playful lemurs to exotic birds and curious reptiles, Safari North provides a memorable experience for visitors of all ages.

One of the highlights of a visit to Safari North is the chance to participate in interactive feeding sessions and educational animal encounters. Learn about conservation efforts and the importance of protecting wildlife while observing these incredible creatures in action. The park’s knowledgeable staff are passionate about animal welfare and are dedicated to providing a safe and enriching environment for both the animals and visitors.

Whether you’re seeking a fun day out with the family or simply looking to connect with nature, Safari North Wildlife Park offers a one-of-a-kind experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression. Plan your visit today and embark on a wild adventure in the heart of Minnesota’s beautiful countryside.

Crow Wing State Park:

Essential Information

– Address: 3124 State Park Road, Brainerd, MN 56401
– Opening Hours: Daily from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm
– Fee: $7 for a daily pass
– Visit Duration: 2-4 hours
– Ideal for: Nature lovers, hikers, history enthusiasts


Crow Wing State Park in Brainerd, MN, offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical significance that makes it a must-see destination for travelers. The park’s lush forests, winding trails, and picturesque river views provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor adventures. Whether you’re looking to hike through the scenic landscape or simply relax by the water, Crow Wing State Park has something for everyone.

One of the park’s main attractions is the Crow Wing River, which offers excellent opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and wildlife spotting. History buffs will also appreciate the park’s historical significance, as it was once a bustling trading hub for Native American tribes and European settlers. Visitors can explore the park’s historic sites, including the Crow Wing Townsite, where remnants of the past offer a glimpse into Minnesota’s rich history.

Overall, Crow Wing State Park is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. With its natural beauty, recreational activities, and historical charm, this park is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a peaceful retreat in the heart of Minnesota’s wilderness.

Mount Ski Gull:

Essential Information

– Address: 9898 County Road 77, Nisswa, MN 56468
– Opening Hours: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM (seasonal variations)
– Fee: Varies based on activities and rentals
– Visit Duration: Half-day to full-day
– Ideal for: Families, beginners, and intermediate skiers and snowboarders


Mount Ski Gull in Brainerd, MN, is a must-see destination for those seeking outdoor adventure and winter sports fun. With a range of activities suitable for families, beginners, and intermediate skiers and snowboarders, this recreational area offers a thrilling experience for all ages. The well-maintained slopes and trails provide the perfect setting for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing during the winter months. Visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape while gliding down the slopes or taking on the challenges of the terrain park.

Whether you’re looking to improve your skills on the snow or simply enjoy a day out in nature, Mount Ski Gull has something for everyone. The friendly staff and instructors are dedicated to ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for all guests. So, grab your gear and head to Mount Ski Gull for a day of winter fun and excitement in the heart of Minnesota.

The Classic at Madden’s

Essential Information

– Address: 11266 Pine Beach Peninsula, Brainerd, MN 56401
– Opening Hours: Varies, check website for details
– Fee: Green fees start at $75
– Visit Duration: 4-5 hours
– Ideal for: Golf enthusiasts and nature lovers


Golf aficionados and nature enthusiasts alike will find a haven at The Classic at Madden’s in Brainerd, MN. This premier golf course offers a challenging yet rewarding experience set amidst the picturesque landscapes of Minnesota. With meticulously manicured fairways and stunning views of the surrounding lakes, The Classic at Madden’s provides a serene escape for those looking to tee off in a tranquil setting.

The course’s strategic layout, designed by renowned architect Scott Hoffman, offers a test of skill for golfers of all levels. From the rolling hills to the lush greenery, every hole presents a unique challenge that will keep players engaged and inspired throughout their round. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a casual player looking to improve your game, The Classic at Madden’s promises an unforgettable golfing experience in the heart of nature.

So, if you’re seeking a memorable day on the greens surrounded by the beauty of Minnesota’s outdoors, make sure to add The Classic at Madden’s to your itinerary. With its blend of natural splendor and top-notch golf facilities, this hidden gem is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to combine sport and scenery in a harmonious setting.

Brainerd Zip Line Tour:

Essential Information

– Address: Brainerd, MN
– Opening Hours: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
– Fee: $50 per person
– Visit Duration: 2-3 hours
– Ideal for: Adventure seekers


Brainerd Zip Line Tour offers an exhilarating experience for adventure enthusiasts visiting Brainerd, MN. The attraction provides a unique opportunity to soar through the treetops and take in breathtaking views of the surrounding natural landscape. With a variety of zip lines of different lengths and heights, visitors can enjoy an adrenaline-pumping adventure while exploring the beauty of the area from a bird’s eye view.

The Brainerd Zip Line Tour is a must-see destination for those looking to add a thrilling outdoor activity to their itinerary. Whether you’re a first-time zip liner or a seasoned adventurer, this attraction offers a fun and safe experience for all. So, if you’re seeking an unforgettable adventure in Brainerd, be sure to include the Brainerd Zip Line Tour in your travel plans.

Legacy at Cragun’s:

Essential Information

– Address: 11000 Craguns Drive, Brainerd, MN 56401
– Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
– Fee: $15 for adults, $10 for children
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: Families, history enthusiasts


Legacy at Cragun’s is a must-see attraction in Brainerd, MN, offering visitors a fascinating glimpse into the history and heritage of the region. With its interactive exhibits and engaging displays, this cultural site provides a unique opportunity to learn about the legacy of the area in an immersive way. From the early settlers to the modern-day developments, Legacy at Cragun’s showcases the evolution of Brainerd through the years.

Visitors can explore various themed sections that highlight different aspects of the region’s past, including its natural landscapes, industries, and communities. The museum’s curated collection of artifacts and photographs offers a comprehensive look at the people and events that have shaped Brainerd into the vibrant destination it is today. Whether you’re a local resident or a first-time visitor, Legacy at Cragun’s provides valuable insights into the rich heritage of this charming Midwestern town.

Food and Cuisine

Walleye Sandwich

Why is it so special:

The Walleye Sandwich is a local favorite in Brainerd, MN, known for its fresh and flaky walleye fillet, lightly breaded and fried to perfection. The dish perfectly captures the essence of the region’s abundant freshwater fish and is a must-try for seafood lovers. The sandwich is typically served on a toasted bun with lettuce, tomato, and a side of tartar sauce, creating a delightful combination of flavors and textures.

Where to Try It:

For an authentic and delicious Walleye Sandwich experience, head to the local diners and cafes in Brainerd such as The Barn, where you can enjoy a casual dining atmosphere and savor this iconic dish. For a more upscale dining experience, visit Prairie Bay Grill & Catering, known for their elevated take on regional cuisine featuring the Walleye Sandwich on their menu.

Tater Tot Hotdish

Why is it so special:

Tater Tot Hotdish is a classic comfort food dish that holds a special place in the hearts of Minnesotans. This hearty casserole typically consists of ground beef, mixed vegetables, cream of mushroom soup, and of course, a generous layer of crispy tater tots on top. The dish is beloved for its simplicity, heartiness, and nostalgic appeal, making it a staple in many local households.

Where to Try It:

To sample a delicious rendition of Tater Tot Hotdish, visit local eateries like Yesterday’s Gone or The Local Blend, where you can enjoy a homestyle version of this beloved dish. For a more gourmet twist on the classic hotdish, make a reservation at The Classic Grill at Madden’s on Gull Lake, known for their upscale take on traditional Minnesota fare.

Events and Festivals

1. Street Fest

Street Fest is an annual event in Brainerd MN that celebrates local art, music, and food. Visitors can enjoy live performances by local bands, browse through art vendors showcasing their work, and indulge in delicious food from various food trucks. The festival usually takes place in the downtown area and is a great opportunity to experience the vibrant culture of Brainerd.

2. Lakes Jam

Lakes Jam is a popular music festival held in Brainerd MN, featuring a lineup of both local and national artists across various genres. The festival takes place near one of the beautiful lakes in the area, providing a picturesque backdrop for music lovers to enjoy their favorite bands. In addition to the music, Lakes Jam also offers camping options for attendees who want to make it a weekend getaway.

3. Crow Wing County Fair

The Crow Wing County Fair is a traditional county fair that takes place in Brainerd MN and attracts visitors of all ages. The fair features agricultural exhibits, carnival rides, live entertainment, and a wide variety of food vendors offering classic fair treats. It’s a family-friendly event that showcases the community spirit of Brainerd and provides a fun-filled experience for everyone who attends.

Interesting Facts

– Brainerd, MN is home to the famous Paul Bunyan Trail, a 120-mile long recreational trail that is perfect for biking, hiking, and snowmobiling, offering stunning views of the surrounding lakes and forests.
– The city hosts the annual Crow Wing County Fair, one of the oldest fairs in Minnesota, featuring traditional fair activities, live entertainment, and a wide variety of delicious food options.
– Brainerd is known for its unique water tower, which is painted to resemble a giant fishing bobber, reflecting the city’s strong connection to fishing and outdoor recreation.

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