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Overview

Although one of the larger population centers in Minnesota's Heartland, Brainerd (population around 13,000) is nonetheless typical of the region's smaller cities. Surrounded by lakes, its population swells during warm weather months as Snowbirds come back from wintering in the south and tourists arrive. Attractions and activities that were suspended for the winter — lunch and dinner cruises aboard a paddle-wheeler on the Mississippi, hot air balloon rides, miniature golf courses and race car tracks — re-open. Bikers, hikers and roller skaters appear on the 100-mile-long Paul Bunyan Trail that begins at Brainerd. People take pictures of their ...

Although one of the larger population centers in Minnesota's Heartland, Brainerd (population around 13,000) is nonetheless typical of the region's smaller cities. Surrounded by lakes, its population swells during warm weather months as Snowbirds come back from wintering in the south and tourists arrive. Attractions and activities that were suspended for the winter — lunch and dinner cruises aboard a paddle-wheeler on the Mississippi, hot air balloon rides, miniature golf courses and race car tracks — re-open. Bikers, hikers and roller skaters appear on the 100-mile-long Paul Bunyan Trail that begins at Brainerd. People take pictures of their kids standing next to the super-size Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox at This Old Farm amusement park. A few miles north of town, summer residents open their cottages at Gull, Pequot, Long, Upper and Lower Whitefish and dozens of other lakes. Art shows and specialty shopping in upscale Nisswa — the Heartland community reputed to have the greatest cachet with Twin Cities residents — cause mini-traffic jams on weekends.

Connie Emerson
About the Expert

Connie Emerson is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Cheapskate's Guide to Branson, Missouri and Eyewitness Top Ten Travel Guide – Las Vegas.

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Connie Emerson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Mid-May through Labor Day