Families looking for the perfect place to unwind, go fishing in a lake, hiking and try new activities, can check into one of these unique resorts and lodges located on picturesque lakes and rivers in Minnesota. The properties on our list offer well-equipped cottages, houses and villas with kitchens, living areas, bathrooms and porches, providing families with plenty of space and comfort. Most overlook scenic lakes, perfect for swimming, kayaking, canoeing and other adventures. Here are some of the best Minnesota vacation ideas. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Clearwater Historic Lodge, Grand Marais - 4 hours 40 minutes from Minneapolis
© Clearwater Historic Lodge
Clearwater Historic Lodge has been welcoming guests since 1915 and is a popular starting point for visitors undertaking a canoe trip along the Gunflint Trail. The lodge specializes in planning excursions and providing all the gear you would need for such a canoe adventure. The warm and rustic log cabins have various bedding configurations and can sleep up to 8 people; they all have a kitchen, bathroom, fireplace, and an outdoor charcoal grill, and there are also a few rooms and suites in the main lodge.
You will find plenty of water-based activities to keep the children happy including fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boards, all of which you can reserve in advance.
774 Clearwater Road Grand Marais, MN 55604, 218-388-2254 | 800-527-0554
2.Cedar Valley Resort, Lanesboro - 2 hours 20 minutes from Minneapolis
© Cedar Valley Resort
Picturesquely spread out along the banks of the Root River, the Cedar Valley Resort offers year-round activities to get everyone in the family out into the fresh country air. The famous Root River trail runs through the property, providing perfect conditions for hiking, biking, or rollerblading in summer and fabulous cross-country skiing in winter.
The river is great for canoeing, kayaking, tubing, and fishing, and equipment is available to hire. The well-equipped log cottages with three, four, or six bedrooms all have a good kitchen, living area, two bathrooms, and a shady porch overlooking the river, and there is plenty of open space for children to enjoy themselves. There is a wealth of additional attractions within a 20 mile radius.
905 Bench Street, Lanesboro, MN 55949, 507-467-9000
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3.Ruttger's Bay Lake Lodge - 2 hours 20 minutes from Minneapolis
At Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to accommodations and activities. The lodge offers various options to suit most tastes and budgets, ranging from fully equipped large lakeside villas to lodge rooms. While adults enjoy the many lodge facilities, Kids Kamp and Youth Adventure will keep the children occupied and happy. On-site facilities include golf, a sandy beach with water slide, a heated pool, tennis, volleyball, and biking trails.
There are also three restaurants, a bar, and a spa. Cuyuna State Recreation Facility (close by) offers even more activities to make your vacation memorable.
25039 Tame Fish Lake Road, Deerwood MN 56444, 218-678-2885 | 800-450-4545
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4.Appeldoorn's Sunset Bay Resort - 1 hour 40 minutes from Minneapolis
Sunset Bay Resort is a true year-round vacation destination situated on the shores of popular Mille Lacs. Accommodation choices are numerous, and you can rent anything from a studio cabin for two to a ten-bedroom house, all with cable TV, kitchens, and Wi-Fi. The activities on offer are just as varied and include golf, hiking, biking, and fishing for the adults, while children will be kept busy all day long on the beach or enjoying canoeing and paddleboats.
There is a playground for younger children and a games room. In winter the area is transformed into a snowy wonderland offering ice fishing, cross-country skiing, skating, and snow-mobile trails.
45401 Mille Lacs Parkway, Isle, MN 56342, 320-676-8834
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5.Minnesota Vacation: Pine Terrace Resort
Pine Terrace Resort is situated in a secluded area on the shores of Star Lake and surrounded by beautiful pine forests. The twelve rustic long cabins are widely spaced along the lakeshore for privacy, and there is plenty of space for children to enjoy themselves in the great outdoors. Most of the log cabins have their own private dock and fire-pit, and all units have kitchens for relaxed holiday self-catering.
The resort has a great sandy beach packed with (complimentary) water toys to keep the whole family busy all day, and there is a playground for younger children. Boat and pontoon rentals are available, and there is on-site laundry.
35101 Pine Terrace Road, Crosslake, MN 56442, 218-543-4606
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6.Kavanaugh's Sylvan Lake Resort - 2 hours 30 minutes from Minneapolis
This beautiful family-owned holiday resort offers all the necessary elements to make your family lakeside vacation memorable. The cottage-style accommodation is particularly comfortable and well equipped (full fitted kitchens, cable TV, Wi-Fi, gas-fireplaces, air-conditioning, and Weber grills). Summer outdoor activities include hiking, cycling, canoeing, kayaking, tennis, and swimming, and there is a playground for younger children.
In winter there are miles of snowmobile trails, cross-country skiing and ice-skating to enjoy – hire equipment is available on site. Close by there is golf and horseback riding. In near-by Brainerd there is great shopping, a variety of restaurants, and various children’s sporting activities such as softball, baseball, and figure skating.
1685 Kavanaugh Drive, East Gull Lake, MN 56401, 800-562-7061
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7.Minnesota Vacation: Ballard's Resort
Ballard’s Resort on the shores of Lake of the Woods near Baudette is the perfect place to visit if your family is into fishing. The resort offers rustic but comfortable cabins perfectly suited to families and varying in size from one to three bedrooms. There is also a very large unit that accommodates up to fourteen for larger groups.
Each cabin has a fully equipped kitchen with all you need to rustle up your meals, or you can choose a fully inclusive option and eat at the Lodge. The cabins are air-conditioned and have cable TV. The Lake offers excellent fishing opportunities, and each cabin has a picnic table and outdoor grill where you can cook your catch.
3314 Bur Oak Rd, NW Baudette, MN 56623, 218-634-1849 | 800-776-2675
More family ideas: Grand View Lodge.
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This popular lakeside resort on the shores of Leech Lake has just about everything you could ever need for an active lakeside vacation, with activities to keep the entire family busy from dawn to dusk. The comfortable log-cabin-style cottages vary in size from one to four bedrooms and all have a kitchen, living room, bathroom, and outdoor picnic table with Weber grill. All have Wi-Fi but a few smaller units do not have TV – check when booking.
The resort has a sand beach, almost limitless water sports, and a central lodge with a games room and activities for rainy days. There is great shopping and a variety of restaurants in Walker, just 15 miles from the resort.
9530 Pine Point Road NW – Walker, MN 56484, 888-547-5477
9.Family Vacation Ideas in Minnesota: Cascade Lodge
Situated on the North Shore of Lake Superior, Cascade Lodge is an ideal year-round family holiday destination. In summer you can hike, kayak, fish, or bird-watch in the surrounding pristine Cascade River State Park, while in winter you have a huge choice of snow-related activities to keep you busy. Cross-country skiing along groomed trails, down-hill skiing at Lutsen Mountains and National Forest, snow mobiling, snow-shoeing, and ice-fishing are just some of the activities available.
The lodge offers a wide range of accommodation to suit all budgets, varying from inexpensive motel rooms to self-catering log-cabins and a fully equipped holiday home for up to 12 people. The resort offers summer and winter packages for hikers, golfers, and skiers.
3719 West Highway 61 Lutsen, MN 55612, 800-322-9543 | 218-387-1112
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10.Minnesota Vacation: River Bend's Resort
River Bend’s Resort caters principally to families who are looking for a great location for their fishing vacation. The resort has a selection of two and three bedroom cabins, several of which are situated right on the lakeshore. To ensure that you have a comfortable place to relax after a busy fishing day, the cabins are air-conditioned and have flat-screen TV with cable and fully equipped kitchens. There are also campsites and serviced RV plots.
There are various packages available that include accommodation and fishing excursions. In near-by Zipple Bay State Park there are hiking and snowmobile trails and great bird watching, while Timber Mill Community Park has volleyball and a playground for younger children.
3343 Red Oak Rd NW, Baudette, MN 56623, 218-634-3084
11.Birch Forest Lodge
Birch Forest Lodge takes pride in running a lakeside resort where the emphasis is firmly on families. The lodge has eleven rustic style cottages, all with full kitchens, bathrooms with showers, a living room, and two or three bedrooms. The resort offers a wide range of activities to keep active children happy; there is a playground and a variety of water sports including fishing, kayaks, canoes, tubing, and water skiing.
There is also a swimming beach and Laundromat on site. The main lodge offers a games room and cable TV, and each cabin has an outdoor picnic table and charcoal barbecue. Area attractions include the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary and Vermillion Falls. Birding is exceptional around the lake.
4442 Birch Forest Road, Orr, MN 55771, 218-757-3470
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12.Minnesota Vacation: NorWester Lodge
Situated right on the edge of the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area), the NorWester Lodge puts you right in the heart of the fishing, boating, and hiking action on the famous Gunflint Trail. You can choose from a one, two or three-bedroom cottage or a large four-bedroom villa for larger groups. (There is also an RV park on site.)
All cottages have fitted kitchens and a deck with charcoal grill. Most also have a private dock and fireplace. Summer activities include swimming and boating on picturesque Poplar Lake or hiking along the many trails, while in winter there are extensive groomed trails for snowmobiles. There is also a playground for children.
7778 Gunflint Trail, Grand Marais, MN 55604, 800-992-4386 | 218-388-2252
13.Family Vacation Ideas in Minnesota: Golden Eagle Lodge
Occupying a prime water-front location on the shores of Flour Lake in Superior National Forest, Golden Eagle Lodge is the ideal base for active family vacations. There is plenty to do in the area including boating, fishing, hiking, bird-watching, canoeing, and swimming, while in winter, you can try cross-country skiing, ice-skating, and snow-shoeing.
For something really different you can take the children moose antler hunting in the forest! Spend your nights in comfortable log cabins that are widely spaced for privacy and vary in size from snug studio units to spacious three bedroom cabins. All the cabins have equipped kitchens and an enclosed deck or screened porch with an outdoor barbecue.
468 Clearwater Road, Grand Marais, MN 55604, 800-346-2203 | 218-388-2203
14.Minnesota Vacation: Moonlight Bay Resort
Moonlight Bay Resort makes an ideal base for exploring the popular Leech Lake area. The resort has log-cabin style accommodation consisting of two and three bedroom cottages with equipped kitchens, cable TV, free Wi-Fi, and outdoor gas grills. In addition to these, the resort also has a few budget one-room sleeping cabins with shared bathrooms and a large campsite with full hook-ups for RV’s.
Although the emphasis at the resort is on lake-based activities including fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding, there is also a heated swimming pool, playground, basketball, and other activities to keep the family happily entertained all day long. There is also a golf course across the road and great hiking on site.
6409 Wedgewood Road NW, Walker, MN 56484, 218-547-1443 | 888-973-7078
15.Minnesota Vacation: Nelson's Resort
This traditional North Woods resort has been welcoming visitors to Crane Lake for 84 years. Most are attracted by the promise of excellent fishing, while others come to enjoy the solitude and relaxation. Nelson’s Resort has 27 individual log cabins spread out along both sides of the swimming beach.
Some of the cabins have full kitchens, while others are not self-catering, in which case meals can be taken at the lodge. In addition to swimming, children will enjoy the canoes, kayaks, hiking trails, playground, and toasting marshmallows at the nightly bonfires. There is a games room for rainy days and a golf course just 10 minutes away.
7632 Nelson Road, Crane Lake, MN 55725, 800-433-0743
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16.Anderson's Starlight Bay Resort
Ideally situated on the south shore of 8th Crow Wing Lake and spread out over 20 acres, Anderson’s Starlight Bay Resort is a haven of peace and tranquillity with plenty of activities for the energetic. You can choose from one of the 10 comfortable lake-side log cabins (all have fully equipped kitchens, charcoal kettle grills, dock space, private pit fires, and Dish TV) or bring your RV and enjoy one of the full hook-up camp sites.
There are plenty of water toys at the sandy beach, canoes and paddle boats are available, and there is also fishing, hiking, volleyball, and basketball to enjoy. The lodge has a playground and games room on site.
27155 County Road 33, Nevis, MN 56467, 218-652-3530
17.Family Resort in Minnesota: Grand Superior Resort
Hugging the north shore of Lake Superior, the Grand Superior resort is a year round lakeside vacation destination for nature lovers. Whether you choose to stay in one of the comfortable and modern lodge rooms and suites, or in one of the fully equipped log-cabin style homes, you will have wonderful views looking over Lake Superior.
The log homes come in several different sizes and layouts, most with kitchens, TV/DVD, and whirlpool-tubs, and they are perfect for families.Activities include hiking, biking, bird-watching, picnicking, and kayaking in summer, while in winter there is cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, and more. There is an on-site restaurant and games room with indoor pool, hot-tub and sauna, and two golf courses close by.
2826 Highway 61, Two Harbors, MN 55616, 800-627-9565 | 218-834-3796
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18.Family Vacation Ideas in Minnesota: Timber Trail Lodge
© Timber Trail Lodge
For adventure lovers and those looking for peace and solitude, it does not get much better than the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, with its rugged crags and cliffs, canyons, hills, rocky shores, rugged rock formations, lovely sandy beaches and thousands of lakes and streams.
Timber Trail Lodge is located on the shore of Farm Lake, surrounded by dense forests, about 7.5 miles from the town of Ely and has direct access to Boundary Waters. Cozy but no frills rooms are spacious and comfortable, with private bathrooms and fully equipped kitchenettes. Private small rustic cabins have one to six bedrooms, full kitchens and their own decks and dock spaces. Many cabins have magnificent lake views.
629 Kawishiwi Trail, Ely, MN 55731, Phone: 800-777-7348
19.Minnesota Vacation: Sandy Pines Resort
Sandy Pines Resort is set on the shores of Big Portage Lake and boasts a selection of exciting activities to keep the children happy and active all day long. Although there is an emphasis on fishing activities, there is also a nice sandy beach and plenty of water activities to enjoy, including the (free) use of canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats.
The resort provides additional children’s activities at least three times a week.
Cabin sizes vary from two to five bedrooms and all of them have fully equipped kitchens and an outdoor picnic table. You can enjoy lake views as you prepare the catch of the day on your gas or charcoal Weber grill.
2731 Raven Lane, Backus, MN 56435, 218-947-4467
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20.Minnesota Vacation: Campfire Bay Resort
Campfire Bay Resort is extremely family-oriented, and your children will never have a dull moment here. There is a sandy swimming beach offering complimentary use of hydro-bikes, canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. Off the water the children can enjoy volleyball, horseshoes, badminton, a playground, and a games room, and the resort has organised activities for children every day. Highchairs and cribs are available.
There are a selection of comfortable modern cabins to choose from all with cable TV, air-conditioning, and equipped kitchens. Some of the cabins can be inter-leading for larger groups and families. Area attractions for the whole family include golf, hiking, biking, horse-riding, shopping, and more.
31504 Azure Rd, Cushing, MN 56443, 218-575-2432
This third-generation-owned lodge occupies a prime position on the south shores of Lake Gunflint close to the small town of Grand Marais, and it offers numerous outdoor activities to keep children occupied and active all year round. There is an emphasis on hiking, fishing, and horseback riding with guided activities available.
In winter there is cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and even dogsledding. The accommodation is very family-oriented and consists of Classic one, two, and three bedroom cabins with fitted kitchens and outdoor barbecues. There is also a selection of Romantic Cabins and Lake Homes, most of which have indoor or outdoor spas, saunas, or hot tubs. Fully inclusive packages are available to give Mom a break from cooking.
143 S. Gunflint Lake, Grand Marais, MN 55604, 800-328-3325
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22.Eagles on the River
Eagles on the River and the historic Anderson House hotel are situated on the south bank of the Mississippi in the little town of Wabasha, the ideal destination for an escape from the city. There is a selection of accommodation options to choose from including the Lofts (romantic, with double whirlpool tubs), the one-bedroom riverside condos, the historic hotel suites, and the two-bedroom Carriage House.
With the exception of the hotel suites, all accommodations are self-catering with equipped kitchens. There is plenty to keep children amused and occupied in Wabasha – the National Eagle Centre, the Chocolate Escape, guided paddling tours, and the Coffee Mill Ski and Snowboard Centre.
152 W. Main Street, Wabasha, MN 55981, 800-482-8288 | 651-565-3509
23.Minnesota Vacation: Big Foot Resort
Big Foot Resort is adjacent to Lake Mary near Alexandria and has a great deal to offer for families. There are 10 log- cabins right on the lake shore, and an additional 71 RV sites with electric hook-ups. The cabins vary in size, and some can sleep up to 12 people. All cabins are air-conditioned and have cable TV and Wi-Fi.
The kitchens are well equipped and cabins seven and nine have a dishwasher. There is a great variety of activities for children, including two pools, boat and pontoon hire, fishing, and a playground. In winter there is downhill and cross-country skiing and snow mobile trails close to the resort. Alexandria has restaurants, shopping, and many family attractions.
8231 St. Highway 114 SW Alexandria, MN 56308, 888-239-2512 | 302-283-5533
24.Family Resort in Minnesota: Cyrus Resort
Situated on quiet Bostic Bay, Cyrus Resort can best be described as a family-friendly fishing resort. While the emphasis is squarely on fishing, children have also been taken into consideration, and the resort has paddle boats, a heated outdoor pool, a playground, and plenty of space for children to run around.
The log cabins come in a variety of sizes and configurations, and some can sleep up to 8 people. All the cabins have air-conditioning and equipped kitchens, but you can have all your meals at the lodge if you prefer. The lodge also has a pool table, arcade games, and free Wi-Fi.
3298 Cyrus Rd. NW. Baudette, MN 56623, 800-9321-2924 | 218-634-2548
25 Best Family Vacation Ideas in Minnesota
Driving Distances from Minneapolis
|From Minneapolis, MN To ||Driving Time|
|Grand Marais, MN||4 hours 40 minutes|
|Lanesboro, MN||2 hours 20 minutes|
|Deerwood MN||2 hours 20 minutes|
|Isle, MN||1 hour 40 minutes|
|East Gull Lake, MN||2 hours 30 minutes|
|Baudette, MN||5 hours 30 minutes|
|Walker, MN||3 hours 15 minutes|
|Lutsen, MN||4 hours 10 minutes|
|Orr, MN||4 hours|
|Grand Marais, MN||4 hours 40 minutes|
|Walker, MN||3 hours 15 minutes|
|Crane Lake, MN||4 hours 50 minutes|
|Nevis, MN||3 hours 45 minutes|
|Two Harbors, MN||3 hours|
|Backus, MN||3 hours|
|Angle Inlet, MN||7 hours 45 minutes|
|Cushing, MN||2 hours|
|Grand Marais, MN||4 hours 40 minutes|
|Wabasha, MN||2 hours|
|Alexandria, MN||2 hours|
|Baudette, MN||5 hours 30 minutes|
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