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12 Top-Rated Resorts in Minnesota

Written by Bryan Dearsley
Jul 28, 2020

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Minnesota offers no end of great vacation options for travelers thanks to its beautiful countryside, making it one of the top places to visit in the USA. Whether your journey is for business or pleasure, the Northstar State is also home to an abundance of excellent accommodation choices.

Those seeking a stay in a luxury location couldn't do much better than book into the historic Grand View Lodge on Gull Lake, popular for its elegant rooms and manicured grounds.

Prefer something a little more rustic? Then those seeking a comfortable stay in a traditional family-run wilderness resort should consider the charm of the well-appointed country cabins at Ludlow's Island Resort in Cook, or Kavanaugh's on Sylvan Lake near Brainerd, both popular with outdoor enthusiasts.

Whatever your preferred style of travel, we're certain you'll find the best place to stay with our list of the best resorts in Minnesota.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Best Western Premier The Lodge on Lake Detroit, Detroit Lakes

Photo Source: Best Western Premier The Lodge on Lake Detroit
Photo Source: Best Western Premier The Lodge on Lake Detroit

One of the few big hotel brands to make our list of top resorts in Minnesota, the Best Western Premier The Lodge on Lake Detroit owes its popularity to its idyllic location. Set on a lovely 550-foot stretch of picturesque shoreline, this lovely 4-star lakefront property consists of a modest 54 rooms, thus ensuring crowds are never an issue.

These bright rooms come with a choice of one or two queen beds, a handy mini-fridge and microwave, a wet bar, patio, and great views over the lake and surrounding shoreline. An upgrade to consider is the king suite. These spacious units also come with a jet tub, a cozy fireplace, plus a good-sized balcony. A number of easy-access units are also available for those with mobility issues.

On-site amenities include a private 150-foot-long beach for guest use only, boat slips, kayaks, as well as fire pits to enjoy as the sun sets over the lake. There's also a large heated indoor swimming pool, along with a steam room, hot tub, and full-service spa. Other notable features include a 24-hour fitness center, dining, and live entertainment.

Accommodation: Best Western Premier The Lodge on Lake Detroit

2. Chase on the Lake, Walker

Photo Source: Chase on the Lake
Photo Source: Chase on the Lake

Popular for its proximity to great shopping, dining, and entertainment in the quaint town of Walker Minnesota, Chase on the Lake offers guests a relaxing lakeside vacation. It's also popular for the high quality of its accommodations, which consist of a variety of options ranging from standard hotel rooms to spacious condo suites.

Whatever size unit you book, you'll enjoy standard features such as microwaves and mini-fridges, large bathrooms with stand-alone showers and bathtubs, and HDTVs. The condo suites come in one-, two-, and three-bedroom configurations and include such additional features as a master bedroom, a full-kitchen, plus a separate living room.

There's much to keep guests occupied at the resort. Highlights include enjoying a meal in the on-site restaurant, booking a massage or other treatment in the spa, or even taking in some family fun at the resort's private bowling alley.

Other features of note include an indoor swimming pool, a hot tub, as well as a private beach. Water activities include fishing, kayaking, and sailing. In the winter season, be sure to check into their excellent ice fishing packages.

Accommodation: Chase on the Lake

3. Lutsen Resort on Lake Superior, Lutsen

Photo Source: Lutsen Resort on Lake Superior
Photo Source: Lutsen Resort on Lake Superior

Minnesota's magnificent Lake Superior shoreline is a big draw for guests staying at the family-owned and operated Lutsen Resort. Built in 1885, this elegant historic resort is the oldest in the state and continues to provide visitors with a high-end vacation experience.

The emphasis is very much on fun activities and events for the whole family. Popular things to do for families include enjoying live music, taking nature hikes, as well as participating in guided kayak and canoe adventures. Other summer activities include golf, biking, swimming, and fishing.

Come winter, it's all about skiing (downhill and cross-country), snowboarding, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling, and the resort often offers affordable ski and stay packages.

On-site dining is also available in the excellent restaurant (kids' menus are available), as is a full-service spa, a large heated indoor swimming pool, a games room, plus a kids' play area.

Popular accommodation choices include spacious one- and two-bedroom suites, some of which come with loft areas. Other notable features include full kitchens, living rooms with pullout couches, real fireplaces, and large furnished decks with barbecues. The larger two-bedroom units come with an additional bathroom and can sleep up to eight people comfortably. Some pet-friendly units are available.

Accommodation: Lutsen Resort on Lake Superior

4. Quarterdeck Resort, Nisswa

Photo Source: Quarterdeck Resort
Photo Source: Quarterdeck Resort

One of the top boutique hotel-style getaway destinations in Minnesota, the Quarterdeck Resort in Nisswa offers couples and families alike no end of great reasons to visit. Situated on a 27-acre property on beautiful Gull Lake, the resort is especially popular for its charming and well-appointed accommodations.

While couples like the main lodge suites with their king beds, families will want to book into the two queen bed option. In either case, you'll enjoy standard features, including good-sized bathrooms with jet tubs, kitchenettes, fireplaces, and balconies. Some larger suites are also available that include master bedrooms, full kitchens, pullout couches in the living areas, and a dining area.

With its focal point being Gull Lake, there are many fun things to do on the water. Highlights include swimming, fishing, boating (rent or bring your own boat or Jet Ski), and kayaking, as well as enjoying the abundant wildlife, which includes eagles and loons.

Notable on-site amenities include dining in the resort's popular restaurant, a full-service marina, a gift shop, a heated swimming pool with a hot tub, and a fitness center. The resort's attractive function spaces - not to mention its setting - has assured its spot as one of the region's top wedding destinations, too.

Accommodation: Quarterdeck Resort

5. Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center, Alexandria

Photo Source: Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center
Photo Source: Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center

Situated in Alexandria and an easy drive from Minneapolis and the state capital of St. Paul, the four-season Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center is a great choice of destination regardless of your reason for a visit. Sports enthusiasts and convention-goers alike enjoy it for its championship golf course.

Traveling as a family? Then you'll enjoy the resort's huge indoor all-season water park, which comes complete with three thrilling waterslides, a lazy river, and a kid's splash area. Other notable on-site amenities include a full-service spa and a restaurant.

The guest rooms here are spacious and clean, and come with either a king bed or two queen beds. They also feature an always handy mini-fridge plus a microwave. If available, request one of the king rooms with a view of the lake. These larger units come with a master bedroom, a separate living room with a pullout couch, a gas fireplace, a kitchenette complete with a dishwasher and a full fridge, plus a spacious bathroom with a jet bathtub and stand-alone shower. They also offer a furnished patio.

Accommodation: Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center

6. Grand View Lodge, Brainerd

Photo Source: Grand View Lodge
Photo Source: Grand View Lodge

Not only is Grand View Lodge on Gull Lake one of the best resorts in Minnesota, it's also one of the oldest - and one of the most attractive. Opened in 1916, this elegant vacation destination in Brainerd offers plenty of great reasons to keep coming back.

Much of the appeal is the resort's many excellent amenities. Highlights include a full-service spa that uses mineral waters from local springs as part of its treatment program; a variety of on-site restaurant options, including both casual and fine dining; and two world-class championship golf courses.

Fun activities also await at the private beach, along with the heated indoor swimming pool with its waterslide. There are also plenty of kid's programs and activities, and the resort also has meeting and function rooms.

Come bedtime, a popular choice for families are Grand View's fully-equipped townhomes. These spacious luxury units range in size from one to five bedrooms and come with large kitchens, separate dining and living areas (the latter with a gas fireplace), and large furnished terraces with barbecues.

Be sure to check the availability of resort packages in the quieter seasons, as well as during holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Accommodation: Grand View Lodge

7. Ludlow's Island Resort, Cook

Photo Source: Ludlow's Island Resort
Photo Source: Ludlow's Island Resort

One of a number of family-owned and operated resorts that rank highly in Minnesota, Ludlow's Island Resort in Cook offers guests a unique island getaway. Highlights include having your own well-appointed cabin or cottage to enjoy, each offering superb views over Lake Vermilion and plenty of room to spread out.

Notable features of the resort's 22 spacious and unique units include multiple bathrooms, authentic wood-burning fireplaces, as well as large screened-in porches and decks with barbecues (cabins range in size from one- to five bedrooms).

There's also much to do in and around the resort, too. Popular activities include the chance to squeeze in some wildlife spotting to exploring the lake's 1,200 miles of shoreline and 365 islands. Other highlights include a private beach area, along with boating, sailing, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing activities. The resort is also popular as a hiking destination. Numerous kids' programs and activities are also available.

Accommodation: Ludlow's Island Resort

8. Kavanaugh's Sylvan Lake Resort, Brainerd

Photo Source: Kavanaugh's Sylvan Lake Resort
Photo Source: Kavanaugh's Sylvan Lake Resort

Another popular choice for a Minnesota getaway any time of year is the family-run Kavanaugh's Sylvan Lake Resort near Brainerd. The resort covers a large swath of shoreline, ensuring great views from almost anywhere on the property.

Highlights of a stay include relaxing at the recreation complex, which includes an indoor swimming pool plus a spa and fitness center. This sizeable amenity also houses a games room, laundry facilities, as well as the the resort's large heated outdoor swimming pool. Sports enthusiasts can enjoy activities such as tennis, and the resort also boasts an extensive trail network that connects to area hiking routes.

When it comes to accommodations, there's plenty of choice. Popular with groups of up to five people, the one-bedroom cottages come with a master bedroom with a king bed and twin pull-out, a spacious bathroom, full kitchen, dining room, and a living area with a gas fireplace and a queen pullout. They also include a laundry room, plus a large lake-view deck with a barbecue. A three-bedroom cottage is also available.

Accommodation: Kavanaugh's Sylvan Lake Resort

9. Madden's on Gull Lake, Brainerd

Photo Source: Madden's on Gull Lake
Photo Source: Madden's on Gull Lake

Another popular Brainerd vacation spot, Madden's on Gull Lake offers guests a variety of quality accommodations. It's particularly popular for its stand-alone cabins and cottages, which are well-suited to larger groups of friends and family.

One of the most opulent is the large four-bedroom unit perched just feet away from the water. This impressive unit comes with multiple bathrooms, a full modern kitchen, separate living room with a fireplace (there's an additional fireplace in the screened-in porch), a private dock, and a dedicated fire pit. This first-rate accommodation sleeps up to 14 people comfortably.

Sports fans will love the on-site facilities. These include a golf course, tennis courts, badminton courts, croquet lawns, lawn bowling, and volleyball. For watery fun, there are three heated outdoor swimming pools, plus one indoor pool to choose from. Also worth a mention are the kids' wading pool, a hot tub, and a number of fun water toys on the lake, including trampolines and slides.

The resort also has its own marina and offers rentals of motorized watercraft such as boats and Jet Skis, along with canoes, paddleboards, and kayaks.

Accommodation: Madden's on Gull Lake

10. Fair Hills Resort, Detroit Lakes

Photo Source: Fair Hills Resort
Photo Source: Fair Hills Resort

Another vacation destination worth considering is Fair Hills Resort in the Detroit Lakes area. Established in 1926, this sprawling all-inclusive resort is excellent value for families and offers a great deal of on-site fun for all ages.

Popular activities include participating in talent contests, as well as their famous "Hootenanny," a concert celebration featuring folk music and entertainment.

Organized sports events and activities are also plentiful, and include swimming (there's a large private beach, plus a heated outdoor pool), kayaking, and sailing, as well as tennis, basketball, volleyball, and golf. Adding to the relaxation are the inclusion of hammocks and fire pits.

There are also a number of function and conference rooms, too.

Included with your cabin are standard features such as spacious bathrooms, seating areas, and daily housekeeping services. Sizes range from one to three bedrooms, each of which comes with a large private and furnished deck with great views over the lake. Three meals a day are included with your stay.

And a note for TV addicts: forget it! Fair Hills is very much focused on outdoor fun, so TVs aren't provided in your accommodations. And rightly so. With so many things to do outside, who wants to stay indoors anyway?

Accommodation: Fair Hills Resort

11. Gunflint Lodge, Grand Marais

Photo Source: Gunflint Lodge
Photo Source: Gunflint Lodge

Family-owned and operated for three generations (the oldest building on the property dates back to 1928), Gunflint Lodge in Grand Marais offers a variety of great accommodations for those looking to explore and enjoy the beautiful Northwoods area of Minnesota.

Guests can expect a warm welcome and friendly service, whether it be when seeking expert advice on area activities and attractions, or when learning how to get the most out of your stay here.

Activities provided include nature hikes and guided canoe trips, fishing, and even wolf howls. The resort, in fact, operates a full outfitting service, ensuring guests have access to everything needed to explore the surrounding wilderness. Watercraft such as canoes and kayaks are available when needed.

The resort also has its own full-service spa, as well as a great restaurant.

Consisting of stand-alone cabins and cottages ranging in size from one to four bedrooms, you can expect such features as real fireplaces with ample supplies of firewood provided, full kitchens, charcoal barbecues, spacious bathrooms, and daily towel service. If so desired, request one of the units with its own sauna and laundry facilities.

Larger groups should consider the five-bedroom Pow Wow Lodge. This huge accommodation sleeps up to 10 guests and also comes with three bathrooms, a large living and seating area, lake view porch, and its own garage.

Accommodation: Gunflint Lodge

12. Lost Lake Lodge, Nisswa

Photo Source: Lost Lake Lodge
Photo Source: Lost Lake Lodge

Historic Lost Lake Lodge has been welcoming vacationers to its charming 80-acre property near Nisswa for more than 70 years. In addition to offering first-rate meals in its dining room (these are included with your stay), guests can enjoy numerous water activities on Lost Lake, a private lake that's linked to the larger Gull Lake chain.

Outdoor activities include a water slide, boat rentals, rowboats, canoes, paddleboards, and kayaks. Also fun are the many hiking and biking trails waiting to be explored, nightly campfires, sports such as volleyball and basketball, and the use of fishing rods.

Guests sleep in their own charming and cozy cabin, which comes in a choice of one-, two-, or three-bedroom configurations, each with a wood-burning fireplace, HDTV, pullout bed, mini-fridge, microwave, coffee maker, and dock. The largest three-bedroom units can sleep up to 10 people comfortably and include a loft seating area, a family room with a pool table and pull-out couch, three full bathrooms, a laundry room, full-kitchen, and furnished screened in porch.

Accommodation: Lost Lake Lodge

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