Waterparks, amusement parks, laser tag, parks and beaches make Brainerd a great family vacation destination.

Amusement Parks

Brainerd Minnesota is home to a wide variety of great family activities and our Brainerd Lakes amusement parks are a great addition to any visit. Whether it is a stop at Paul Bunyan Land and This Old Farm Pioneer Village or Pirates Cove for mini golf or go cart racing there are plenty of great memories to be made.

Make sure when building your list of things to do in Brainerd you include these and be sure to stay at one of our great Brainerd and Baxter Minnesota HotelsWater Parks and RV Park to give you centralized access to these great Brainerd amusement parks and everything else that the Brainerd Lakes area has to offer.

Plus take a look at our Brainerd Hot Deals page where you may find discounts on these great Brainerd Lakes amusement parks and other great places.

Water Parks

Brainerd is home to three of the best Minnesota waterparks. In addition to our great lake resorts, we have some of the best Minnesota water parks you’ll experience! Each offers a unique lodging experience from giant water slides that dive and swirl through well-designed pools and playgrounds—to quiet gentle pools, treehouses and hot tubs—you’ll find pure water fun for the whole family at our Brainerd Minnesota water parks!

Think a Minnesota water park vacation will be noisy? Not at our Brainerd water parks. Some of the most advanced water park technology has been used and the water park resorts have been designed to offer quiet places to relax and retreat. There’s something for every member of the family at Brainerd MN water parks.

What better way to book a weekend family retreat? Enjoy the best water parks in Minnesota, explore greater Brainerd lakes area, dine at our famous restaurants and enjoy hours of shopping, fishing, snowmobiling and world-class golf! After hours of fun in our famous Minnesota indoor water parks, escape to your comfortable suite—many feature classic Up North Lodge décor and furniture, and offer unique “themed” suites.

Think Brainerd water parks are just for family fun? Brainerd water parks make a perfect business lodging experience! Book your corporate retreat or meeting here, and enjoy the fun-filled water and relaxing pools in your downtime. We’ve got great dining, lounges and all the conveniences you need to make a Brainerd water parks lodge your next business destination!

Marathons & Races

The Brainerd Lakes is home to several incredible races and marathons.

Minnesota is home to a long list of great races, marathons and extreme challenges throughout the year. The Brainerd Lakes Area takes this experience to another level with a variety of challenges in Minnesota’s premier vacation destination. Take on challenges while surrounded by the scenic forests and lakes in this world class destination. Whether you want to walk or run for a cause or if you are looking for a Boston Marathon qualifier you will find it here.

After the race enjoy the wide array of activities available to visitors including craft breweries, biking, birding, mountain biking, dinner cruises, wildlife park, amusement parks and so much more. Or if you are worn out from giving 110% during the race you can go back to one of the areas many hotels or indoor water parks to relax and soak away the day. Our properties will give you all of the comfort and conveniences you deserve.

More information on area races and events can be found HERE.

Paul Bunyan Extreme 5k Mud Run:

Featured Race Events

Run for the Lakes – Marathon, Half Marathon & 10k

The annual springtime running of the Run For The Lakes Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K takes runners on a tour of some of area’s scenic lakes and waterways, along quiet country roads and tree-lined forests. This is a Boston Qualifier. The Run For the Lakes is held in Nisswa which is about 10 miles north of Brainerd/Baxter.

Race for Grace 5k

Race for Grace is a Family 5K Walk/Run in honor of Grace Elizabeth Lee. Proceeds from the event go to The Brighter Days Foundation. The Brighter Days Foundation’s mission is to help seriously and chronically-ill children, ages 0-18, and their families living within the Brainerd Lakes Area by surprising them with meaningful gifts and/or opportunities to brighten their day.

Sour Grapes Half & Half Trail Run

The Sour Grapes half and half trail run includes a half marathon run, a 10.55K run/walk, a kid’s mile run, and a kids half mile run. It is held at the Northland Arboretum which offers more than 540 acres of green space.

Zorbaz Gull Lake Challenge

The Zorbaz Gull Lake Challenge is a swimming race on the Gull Lake Chain’s beautiful Lake Margaret. There are 2.4, 1.2 and relay options offering challenges for swimmers at all training levels. This is the perfect season warm-up for ironman distance triathletes and those training for other swimming races and triathalons.

Brainerd Lakes Race for the Cure – 1k & 5k

The Brainerd Lakes Race for the Cure® is an annual 1K and 5K fundraising walk/run event held at Forestview Middle School in Baxter, MN, supporting breast cancer.

Paul Bunyan Extreme Race

This course is made to challenge people of all ages and abilities. The course includes 16 obstacles from mud pits to swings, nature to man made, and fitness to fear. You can register as an individual or as a team. Proceeds go to Mount Ski Gull.

Nisswa Firecracker 5k & 10k

Part of the 4th of July festivities, this fun race offers both a 5k and a 10k race. Runners gifts for early registrations and all runners receive a free Pabst, crawfish boil, and a ton of great refreshments.

Lakes Country Triathlon

The race begins with a 1/4-mile swim in Whipple Lake (known for its calm waters), then switches to a 14-mile bike through the rolling hills surrounding the Baxter / Brainerd Lakes area,(staying off of Hwy 210) and ends with a very flat 3.2 mile run through a quiet residential area. The Lakes Country Triathlon is a great race, be it your first or fiftieth!

Brainerd Turkey Run 5k

The BrainerdTurkey Run is located at the Brainerd Armory on Thanksgiving Day. This USATF certified course runs on the Paul Bunyan trail and surrounding city streets. The event offers a 1k walk and a 5k. Proceeds go to the Shriners Hospital for Children.

City Parks

Brainerd Minnesota and Baxter Minnesota both have an excellent selection of scenic parks and sandy beaches with modern facilities and plenty of green space for picnics, events, weddings, reunions, or to just walk the dogs. All in, near, or withing a short droive of Brainerd and Baxter Minnesota.

Baxter offers Whipple Beach which is accesable by biking trails with a fishing pier, play area, boat landing, and large picnic area attached to a large sandy beach. While Brainerd offers the Lum Park beach in an expansive park setting with the same ammenities as Whipple beach plus a Frisbee Golf course.

This in addition to several other parks offering tennis courts, ice skating, gazebos and much more. All within a quick drive of our Brainerd/Baxter hotels and waterparks.

Fritz Loven Park – Lakeshore – Photo Gallery
Shhh…this is a secret! This beautiful park just a few minutes from Brainerd/Baxter offers a trout stream with Brook trout running through it. It also includes hiking trails, play areas, covered picnic areas, & a sledding hill. This is a local favorite for getting away to a scenic quiete park and offers excellent bird watching.

Gregory Park – Brainerd – Photo Gallery
This beautiful park near downtown Brainerd hosts two tennis courts, play areas, plenty of green space, a gazebo, and a bandstand. The park hosts events throughout the year including the very popular Arts In The Park.

Lum Park & RV Park – Brainerd – Photo Gallery
Lum Park offers a large park with plenty of green space, beach, fishing pier, boat landing, covered picnic areas for small and large groups, play areas, and frisbee golf course. There is also a very nice RV Park here.

Whipple Beach – Baxter – Photo Gallery
Whipple Beach in Baxter MN near Brainerd offers a beautiful large beach area, large grassy shaded picnic area, bathrooms, shower, play area, fishing pier, and boat landing.


Brainerd has long been Minnesota’s racing destination with two great race tracks surrounded by all that the Brainerd Lakes Area has to offer. Our Brainerd hotels & RV Park offer you the perfect centralized location to access both tracks and everything else that the Brainerd Lakes Area has to offer.

Brainerd is home to the upper Midwest’s largest racetrack, Brainerd International Raceway, which each August hosts the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, when Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers compete. BIR also is host to the BIR Performance Driving School, Street Smart Teen Driving School, and a variety of other racing.

In addition to BIR Brainerd is also home to North Central Speedway that offers dirt track racing at its finest.

North Central Speedway has 2 kids nights, one in August with a 50 bike giveaway, and another one in August where 100 backpacks full of school supplies are drawn for.  In addition to all their unique and fun Saturday night events they host IMCA Modifieds, Northern Sport Mods, Supers, Mod4s, Stock Cars, Sport Compacts, and NCS Pures.  Enjoy the race from the tailgate area, bleachers, or a comfortable booth. North Central Speedway also hosts World Of Outlaw racing in July and Season Champs in August.

Zip Line

Zip line tours at Mount Ski Gull

Opened in 2016 and new to the heart of cabin country is the Brainerd Zip Line Tour! Enjoy 15-mile views of the Brainerd Lakes Area while zipping along cables at the peak of Mount Ski Gull.

The zip line is a two-hour tour from gear-on to gear-off with the great scenic views from the highest point around the area. The longest zip line will come in at more than 950 feet long and a rider’s speed will depend on their weight. Riders will need to weigh between 70-250 pounds and be 10 years old or older. They must also wear closed-toed shoes.

The zip line tours will also provide GoPro mounted cameras for rent allowing riders to capture high-definition photos or video of their wild ride. This makes it great for events like birthday or bachelorette parties as well as for team building and bonding.

The tour includes seven zip lines, a fifty foot suspension bridge, fifty foot free fall, and a guided tour.

Mount Ski Gull is located just a short drive from the Brainerd/Baxter hotels providing visitors centralized access to the entire Brainerd Lakes Area’s wide array of activities, shopping and dining.

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