Midwest Living Review
This area, about 130 miles northwest of the Twin Cities, has more than 120 resorts and other lodgings (large and small). The region offers boating, swimming, fishing, biking, golfing, shopping and a nationally known racetrack. For many, though, the main draw is an easy escape from everyday rush and routine. For visitors wanting more than sun and sand, the area offers plenty of alternatives. Early mornings, flotillas of anglers troll the shorelines of Gull Lake, the area's largest, and other waterways. Golfers play 17 courses, many of which have earned national acclaim. Cyclists and walkers follow the 100-mile Paul Bunyan Trail, a bike path that passes lakes, through forest and into lively little towns, including Nisswa and Pequot Lakes. Nisswa draws serious shoppers who flock to more than two dozen clothing and home boutiques and souvenir shops. The Chocolate Ox entices with truffles, bins of old-fashioned candy and ice cream that tastes like birthday cake. The area's biggest nostalgia trip, Paul Bunyan Land, operates carnival rides that have entertained generations of families. A few years ago, the amusement park relocated east of Brainerd along State-18. The 26-foot lumberjack still towers above the entrance, surprising young visitors by nodding his head and booming, "Hi, kids!"