Gull Lake is a marvelous place for an action-filled family vacation. Located in the Brainerd Lakes area of Minnesota, with clear waters and surrounding scenic woodland, there are many recreational activities for you to enjoy, including water sports and hiking trails. The lake’s surroundings offer a wide range of attractions specially designed for children and adults. This year-round destination has something to offer for all seasons, and is particularly attractive in the fall when the scarlet colors of the sumac and maple contrast with the golden oak and yellow birch, creating a stunning backdrop for hiking and cycling. There are many vacation rentals on Gull Lake for you to enjoy with your friends and family.
1. Take a Cruise
A great way to experience local hospitality and to get to know the lake is to take a day or evening cruise with Destiny Cruises. The knowledgeable captain and crew provide information about various sites as they pass by, and there is sumptuous food on board. The motor yacht also features three flat-screen TVs and a projector for presentations and sports events.
2. Go Fishing
Remember to pack your fishing gear, as Gull Lake is generously stocked with walleye, northern pike, and various pan fish. Take a boat out into the crystal clear waters, or simply cast your line from the shore. If you choose to rent one of the many available waterfront vacation rentals, you can watch your kids drop a line from your own dock or private beach while you relax and admire the views.
3. Go for a Swim
The Brainerd Lakes have a number of public beaches with facilities such as playgrounds, picnic areas, grills, and shelters to ensure that your family has a fun day out. You can visit most of these beaches for free, but you need to pay a small fee to visit Gull Lake Recreation Area. Facilities include a sandy beach, shaded picnic area, fishing pier, and boat launch.
4. Bungee Bounce at the Northland Kart Kountry Family Fun Park
You’ll probably need more than just a day to enjoy all the activities at the Northland Kart Kountry. Go-carting tracks cater to the whole family with low-powered junior karts to give youngsters a taste behind the wheel, exciting, ground-hugging European style karts for teenagers, and two-seat family carts. A 23-foot climbing wall offers five different routes to the top, while the bungee bounce, batting cages, and jump shot (basket ball on a trampoline) encourage your kids to burn off some excess energy. An 18-hole mini golf offers a slightly more sedate activity and bumper boats let you cool off on the water at the end of a busy day.
5. Go Go-Carting
If your family is focused on go-cart fun, the Billy Bones Raceway features three go-cart tracks. Younger kids can ride with mom or pop inside a two-passenger go-cart and older kids can experience the thrills of driving their own cart on a specially designed track. The raceway is open from the last weekend in April through to the third weekend in October. While you’re there, why not call in at the nearby Brainerd International Raceway Track to take in some drag racing or catch a special show.
6. Putt like a Pirate
Have a swashbuckling time at Pirates Cove and as you putt your way across a pirate ship, through skull shaped caves, past tumbling waterfalls, across bridges, and beneath dungeons. The lush, theme park-like setting has two 18-hole mini golf courses to keep all the family amused, and kids age three and under play for free. The attraction is right next to Billy Bones raceway, so you can combine a visit to both for a great day out.
7. Zip Through the Treetops
For a thrilling adventure high up in the treetops with a 15-mile view of the Brainerd Lakes, take the Brainerd Zip Line Tour. This exhilarating experience sets out from the peak of Mount Ski Gull and takes you through seven ziplines and a suspension bridge before finishing with an optional 50-foot free fall. Your 2.5-hour experience includes a guided eco-tour. Children need to be aged 10 or older and zip lane riders must weigh between 70 and 250 pounds.
8. Go Horse-Riding and Find a New Family Friend
Head out on horseback for a unique view of the area. Pine River Riding Stable has horses, ponies, saddles, and riding helmets to fit all the family. They accept riders of all ages, and if your child doesn’t quite fit their smallest size saddle, he or she can still ride with you in your saddle. As you follow the river trail, look out for local wildlife such as otters, deer, porcupine, wolves, and bobcat. Don’t leave without a visit to the petting farm. Take your own lunch to eat around the fire pit while your kids play with puppies and kittens, and get to see donkeys, sheep, bunnies, ducks, and peacocks. Be warned — they also have puppies for sale so you might just find yourself with an adorable new family member.
9. Experience the Fun of a Sleigh Ride
When the trails are covered with snow, it’s time for Outback Trail Rides to get out the jingle bells and hitch up their one-horse-open-sleigh. In summer the company leads horseback trail rides through the Pillsbury State Forest. If your family has not yet experienced the joys of horse riding. Outback also offers to ride lessons to get you all up to speed.
10. Take a Trip Back in Time
During the long summer vacation, you can help keep the kids’ brains active with a visit to some of the sites preserved by the Crosslake Historical Society. Buildings include an old schoolroom furnished with desks and a chalkboard, and a historic log village complete with a saloon, a store, and a town hall.