Detroit Lakes Trip Guide | Midwest Living

Detroit Lakes Trip Guide

Old-school resorts promise away-from-it-all fun in the heart of Minnesota's lake country. Check our our tips for what to do, where to eat and where to stay in the Detroit Lakes area.

Think of Detroit Lakes as an anchor to fun on the water. More than 400 lakes are within 25 miles of this west-central Minnesota town. Some bustle with boats, others with wildlife. You’ll find espresso and Wi-Fi, but also old-school resorts where the calendar seems to have stayed in the ‘60s. And that’s a good thing.

Fair Hills Resort

Fair Hills Resort


Detroit Lakes City Beach The mile of sugar-fine sand along Little Detroit Lake attracts lots of loungers. Fish from the pier, or get on the water in a rented boat, pontoon or pedal boat.

Detroit Mountain Recreation Area A lodge built in 2014 brought this ski resort back to life after it was closed for 10 years. In summer, pro mountain bikers cross ladder bridges, and toddlers develop skills at Strider Adventure Zone.

The Nines Score cute dresses, fashion boots, scarves and blingy jewelry—all at affordable prices—in this downtown shop.

Red Willow A white clapboard cottage houses colorful kitchen gadgets, plus beauty products, clothing, gifts and a wide range of home decor items.

Shady Hollow Flea Market About 100 vendors gather on summer weekends to sell antiques, collectibles, glassware and produce on a grassy field 5 miles south of town.

Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge More than 250 species of birds and 50 species of mammals live in this 43,000-acre sanctuary in the heart of the transition zone of the northern hardwood, coniferous forests and tallgrass prairie (18 miles northeast of Detroit Lakes). Explore it on a 5-mile drive or via hiking trails.


The Fireside Restaurant Dine on stellar steaks and sip on specialty cocktails in a screened-in pavilion on Detroit Lake.

La Barista In addition to freshly brewed coffee, this Washington Square Mall joint serves a rotating menu of home-style soups and salads that pair well with a small selection of wines. La Barista on Facebook

Spanky’s Stone Hearth Located 14 miles southeast of town, the restaurant showcases prime-grade, hand-cut steaks; duck; and seafood flown in fresh daily from Hawaii.

Speak Easy Don’t be fooled by the waitstaff’s fedoras and mafia-theme entree names: Speak Easy serves serious Italian entrees and desserts a few blocks from Detroit Lake beach.

Zorbaz This regional pizza chain channels every beach bar you’ve ever known with its bright signage and huge lineup of tap beers and pub grub like nachos and wings. The original is along Detroit Lake.




Fair Hills Resort Take the family to summer camp on the lake. Rates include many campy activities for all ages and unlimited golfing.

Fair Hills Resort

Fair Hills Resort

Five Lakes Resort Fair Hills’ quieter sister resort rents several homes on a lake that allows only electric motors.

The Lodge on Lake Detroit Stay at this Best Western Premier property for lakefront views, a spa and a nightly s’mores reception.

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