Minnesota might not be the first place you think of when you hear the word “resort.” But delve deeper and you’ll find this state has its fair share of lakeside retreats, luxury accommodation, and outdoor hot spots. Heading up north to spend a week at the lake is a big part of Minnesota culture, and a stay at one of these resorts is the perfect way to experience that.
Whether you just want to hole up in a cozy cabin in the woods during the winter or experience watersports and fishing in the warmer months, Minnesota has plenty of options. Most of these resorts consider themselves “four seasons” getaways, which means they’ve got tons of activities for all times of the year, even the colder, snow-filled days. Because even if you’re not kayaking or boating, you can still go skiing and snowshoeing… or just get a massage at the spa.
Lets explore the best resorts in Minnesota:
1. Quarterdeck Resort
A two hour drive from the Twin Cities, Quarterdeck provides a real taste of Minnesota lake life. You can explore Gull Lake with a cabin retreat, romantic stay in a lodge suite, or a family vacation in one of their cottages. Located on 27 acres in the popular Brainerd Lakes area, Quarterdeck is a boutique resort that boasts dramatic vistas and casual elegance.
You can fish, golf, or go boating in the summer, and in the winter you can go skiing or have the resort arrange ice fishing and snowmobiling if you’re up for a little adventure. For a fresh lakeside meal, visit Jack’s Beach Grill on the property for coastally-inspired dishes like lobster tacos. The resort’s accommodation gives guests maximum views and privacy, with balconies to watch the sunrise over the lake and whirlpool tubs and fireplaces to help them get cozy.
2. Grand View Lodge
When you ask for a recommendation for a resort in Minnesota, chances are locals will point you to the popular Grand View Lodge. There’s so much to do at their location in Nisswa that you’ll need at least a week to pack it all in. You can take a pontoon boat ride, play a round of golf at one of their two championship golf courses, go fishing, or spend an afternoon boating and tubing around the lake with the family.
Alternatively, spend a day at the Glacial Waters Spa for some pampering or explore the culinary side of the resort at one of their six restaurants and bars. Grand View Lodge has the perfect accommodation for your style, whether you feel like renting a cabin to unwind after a day on the lake or you want to lounge in a fairway townhome after hitting the links.
3. Madden’s on Gull Lake
Madden’s is the definition of “classic Minnesota luxury” and they offer guests their choice of houses on the bays of Gull Lake or villas on the golf course. Their golf packages include rounds at three courses, a driving range, and lessons if you need them. Guests have access to the tennis and croquet club too. If you’re looking for something a little more relaxing, visit the Spa at Madden’s where you’ll feel rejuvenated while overlooking Wilson Bay.
The resort provides fishing guides and any watersport amenities you or the kids might need to enjoy the lake and their private beach. At mealtimes, have your pick of several restaurants, from fine lakeside dining, to casual family-style fare or fresh-baked pizza. Then head over to the 19th Hole & Pool Deck for outdoor cocktails or the O’Madden Pub for a pint, karaoke, and live entertainment.
4. Lost Lake Lodge
They’ve been voted Minnesota’s “Best All-Inclusive Resort” by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and they’re a bit smaller than most resorts in the area. Despite being location in the popular Brainerd Lakes area, this resort is nestled in a secluded pine forest. Rustic yet modern, the property contains 14 cabins and cottages, all located short stroll away from the private, self-contained Lost Lake. Cottages come with free wifi, televisions, and fireplaces, plus daily housekeeping and towel service.
Beach toys and lake recreation accoutrements are included in your stay, from kayaks to paddleboards to fishing poles to waterslides. A complimentary boat slip is available so that you can bring your own boat, but the resort also rents pontoon boats, powerboats, and fishing boats. The cuisine at Lost Lake Lodge is anything but basic, with a menu that boasts dishes like scallop ceviche, house-made gnocchi, and lobster fried rice. Every meal is provided for guests. According to Lost Lake Lodge, all you need to pack is clothing!
5. Breezy Point Resort
Open for over 90 years, Breezy Point Resort considers itself a vacation destination for all seasons. The marina is the happening place to be for socializing, sunbathing, and lakeside dining. There are four distinctly different restaurants on the resort property with live music and entertainment most nights of the week at Dockside Lounge. You might even catch an Elvis sighting!
Take a boat out to Gooseberry Island for a swim and a spin around Pelican Lake. Whether it’s a golf vacay, spa retreat, or family holiday you’re after, they have accomodation to suit your needs. You can opt for hotel style rooms, jacuzzi suites, condos, and full vacation homes. Book an appointment at Serenity Spa, or just spend the day between the resort’s pools and sauna. Breezy Point also recently acquired the Deacon’s Lodge golf course, which they consider the crowning jewel of the resort.
6. Arrowwood Resort
Possibly the biggest draw of Arrowwood Resort is its incredible indoor waterpark. Located in Alexandria next to Lake Darling, it contains three waterslides that reach over four stories in height. The whole park spans over 38,000 feet and it also houses the Banana Cabana Snack Bar, so you know where the kids will be all week. Arrowwood also offers guests the newly renovated Atikwa Golf Course, where the scenery is as stunning as the play.
Like any great resort up north, the facilities are set right on the lake’s edge. You’ll have the marina at your disposal, offering you everything you need for a day on the water from kayaks to paddleboards. There are also horse stables on the property if you fancy a trail ride. As far as accommodation, you can stay in a traditional room, cozy cottage, or luxurious townhome. Guests can dine al fresco at the Deck Bar & Grill, eat fresh food at the Lake Cafe, or grab some cocktails and appetizers at the inviting Rafters Lounge.
7. Lutsen Resort
Situated in its own private cove on Lake Superior, Lutsen is the oldest resort in Minnesota. Founded by a Swedish immigrant, the lodge shows its Scandinavian heritage in the stone fireplaces and hand-hewn beams. Guests have the option of staying in the lodge itself to be near the dining room, pub, and pool, or they can choose from townhomes, log cabins, river condos, or sea villas. Amenities range from jacuzzi rooms to private decks and patios, but they all include fab lakeside views.
No matter the season, Lutsen offers a range of complimentary activities and equipment, whether you’re into paddling, skiing, hiking, or just playing around on the beach or lawn. The resort has free kids camps, hiking tours, and fly fishing lessons in the summer. Snowshoe and cross-country ski tours are free of charge in the winter. And did I mention that they have over 125 wines to choose from in the Lakeside Dining Room?
8. Cedar Valley Resort
With just nine log cabins, Cedar Valley Resort provides the perfect place for a family reunion, family vacation, or group retreat. Well, one of those log cabins can house up to 40 people, so just invite everyone you know. Surrounded by nature and wildlife, you’ll often see eagles, deer, and wild turkeys, and at night you’ll hear coyotes and owls. Cedar Valley is located just next to Lanesboro, one of “America’s Prettiest Towns,” as well as the Root River State Bike Trail if you’d like to explore the nearby area.
You’ll also have your choice of fishing, hiking, kayaking, or tubing. There are over 12 trout streams within 20 minutes of the resort too, so you can arrange a fishing guide… or just take it easy and schedule a massage in your cottage. There’s wifi in each of the cabins, but get out and enjoy the sand volleyball court, basketball court, or the 9-hole frisbee golf course on the property.
9. Eagle Nest Lodge
Truly a family resort, this place has it all in terms of activities. Their business is preserving the Minnesota tradition of going “up north” with the family to rent a cabin on the lake and make memories. The resort is located in the Chippewa National Forest on the edge of Lake Winnie and Cutfoot Sioux, which together make up Minnesota’s fifth largest lake. The scenery and wildlife are a huge draw for visitors.
Accommodation ranges from one-bedroom cabins to a five-bedroom house that sleeps up to 19 people. The fishing is world class, and dock boys will help launch your boat so your day on the lake goes as smoothly as possible. There’s a well-kempt sand beach on the property with chairs and loungers, and you can also use the resort’s paddleboards, kayaks, hydrobikes, and even a Hobie Cat sailboat for water-filled fun. Their Activities & Naturalist Program can arrange trail hikes, treasure hunts, bingo, and even a water slide for guests.
10. Gunflint Lodge
Located deep in the woods next to Gunflint Lake, this resort is the perfect getaway if you want to retreat into nature. The area is pristine and remote, and moose sightings are common. Choose from comfortable cabins with one to five bedrooms, all equipped with a working fireplace in the living room. You’ll also have a full kitchen and sauna to yourself, and even a spa tub if you upgrade.
There’s a beach for sunbathing, swimming, or feeding the ducks, and guided fishing trips are available if you want to try your hand at catching walleye, lake trout, and smallmouth bass. The lodge can also arrange canoe trips, hikes, and canopy tours. In the winter, there’s cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and even dog sledding. For mealtimes, the resort has you covered with its full bistro menu daily and a choice of six dinner entrees in the evening. Coffee, tea, hot chocolates, and baked goodies are available for free all the time!
11. Fair Hills Resort
Fair Hills is a like a summer camp for your family! They get tons of repeat guests because people love reuniting with friends every summer… and getting all their meals cooked for them. The staff at Fair Hills fills your schedule with as many (or as few) activities as you like. You can spend your days playing games like capture the flag, kickball, and ultimate frisbee, and there’s a talent show, campfire, and water slide for all ages. Adults can also schedule yoga classes, massages, bike tours, and a “paints and pints” class. And don’t worry, there’s a cocktail hour for them too.
Fair Hills is famous for their Tuesday nights. They begin with a cruise of Pelican Lake and a smorgasbord dinner, followed by the “Hootenanny” musical performance which has been taking place for 50 years now. The resort has over 100 comfortable cabins with up to four bedrooms each, and daily maid service is provided.
12. Chase on the Lake
Located on the edge of Leech Lake in the town of Walker, Chase on the Lake is historic, elegant, and warm. Guests can choose from lakeview hotel rooms or condominiums, with pet friendly options available if a furry friend wants to join. The 502, the resort restaurant, offers up classic American dishes but also lighter “spa” cuisine if that’s what your getaway is all about. The resort has a bar too, with happy hour specials and several big screen TVs.
As far as activities, guests can go fishing, biking, kayaking, jet skiing, golfing, and more. But this resort also offers to arrange hunting trips and even ice fishing outings on the lake with your own private ice house! For something more chilled, the Copper Door Aveda Spa provides a range of treatments from nail care to massages. The resort also boasts its own two-lane bowling alley, and they even offer to add catering or cocktail service while you bowl!
13. Ludlow’s Island Resort, Cook
If you’ve always wanted your own private island, then you’re in luck! There won’t be any crowds if you stay in one of the 22 luxury, hand-crafted cottages built by the Ludlow family on Lake Vermillion. From a romantic retreat in a one bedroom cabin or a large family getaway in a five bedroom house, each cottage is unique. Built with wood-burning fireplaces as well as screened in porches and decks, they’re all situated within 50 feet of the water.
The vibe around here is laid back but luxurious. You can arrange day trips with one of the lake’s best fishing guides and upon your return, the staff will clean your catch and deliver it to your cottage. Rent a pontoon boat for cruising or a speed boat for waterskiing, or stick to the land and get in a few rounds of golf. The resort’s staff can arrange kids’ activities in the summer or put together special trips for guests, like romance packages, father’s day getaways, and gourmet weekends.
14. Eagle Ridge Resort at Lutsen
This resort is located in the heart of America’s “North Coast,” situated amongst state parks, the rocky shores of Lake Superior, and the Lutsen Mountains. Eagle Ridge deems itself your “base camp for adventure,” no matter the season. In the winter, it’s all about skiing and snowboarding, but you can go snowshoeing or dog sledding too. The rest of the year feel free to play golf, go kayaking, or take a hike up a dramatic ridgeline on one of the property’s trails.
Guests can go biking, enjoy a campfire, or spend some time in the pool, sauna, and hot tub. The resort will even help you plan a wildlife or birding walk. And make sure to take advantage of their Alpine Slide, a half mile of luge-like twisting track that runs down the side of a mountain. They’ve got 75 cozy yet modern studios and condominiums, all with fireplaces and mountain views. For dining and drinking, guests can visit Papa Charlie’s Restaurant and Tavern.
15. Boyd Lodge
Boyd Lodge is an award-winning resort located on the Rush and Lower Whitefish Lakes near Crosslake, Minnesota. As a fishing resort it’s perfect for a family vacations, but they also specialize in corporate retreats and romantic getaways. Their beautifully-appointed loft cabins and cottages are surrounded by natural beauty and many come with amenities like a Weber gas grill, bar area, and your own dock space and private boat landing.
Summer is their most popular season, when guests can go fishing, play volleyball, or lie on the resort’s sugar sand beach. They can also take a dip in the pool or paddle a canoe out on the lake. If you’re visiting with the family, the resort will even plan activities like ice cream socials, T-shirt tie-dyeing, and turtle races. But in the winter, guests can venture out to the resort’s snowmobile and cross-country ski trails or try ice fishing just outside their front door!