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Minnesota: Take a Paul Bunyan-size trip through the Land of 10,000 lakes

Lake Country is alive and well in Minnesota. With world-class fishing and hunting on Detroit and Pequot lakes, coupled with an iconic cultural stopover in Bemidji, this trip is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to explore the untouched beauty of the Northwoods.

Drive 173.1 miles, 3 hours, 53 minutes


1. Detroit Lakes

Starting Point

The pier at City Beach is a great place to start your visit to Lake Country. It’s a focal point of life in town and a good place to get the skinny on where the fish are biting. You can cast right off the pier or hire a guide to take you out on one of the more than 400 lakes within 25 miles, but remember, the fish grow to enviable size up north, so be ready for a fight. You can visit the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail or Lake Country Scenic Byway to take in the woodlands that surround the lakes. In the evening, the Detroit Mountain Lodge is the place to go for food, unforgettable views and a little respite from the day’s activities.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

2. Pequot Lakes

97.2 miles, 2 hours, 4 minutes

The lakes, rivers and wetlands in the Pequot region combine to create a hunter’s paradise. Pheasant, chuker, deer and turkey abound, and the numerous outfitters in town are standing by to guide your outdoors adventures in this untouched, one-of-a-kind setting. For a more family-friendly challenge, visit the Wildwedge Amazing Mystery Maze, a 10,000-square-foot wooden maze that tests the navigation skills of both kids and adults. In case you get stuck, friends and family on the observation deck can help guide you to freedom.

3. Walker

39.5 miles, 57 minutes

The great Northwoods are on full display as you hit the shores of Leech Lake. One of the largest lakes in Minnesota, this body of water is a rich source of walleye, canoe and kayak tours. Walker’s downtown area is quaint enough for an evening stroll or lakeside meal, but don’t skip out on the Cass County Museum, which provides insight into the Ojibwa Indians, who originally inhabited the area. The raw beauty and serenity of this retreat extends all the way to the Tianna Country Club golf course, one of the most picturesque in the state.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

4. Bemidji

36.4 miles, 52 minutes

With the headwaters of the Mississippi River just 50 miles to the north, this small college town is known as “the first city” of the great waterway. A jaunt along the welcoming downtown streets yields galleries, sculptures and antique shops galore. For a fun night out, catch a performance at the historic Chief Theatre. If you’re looking for one last dose of wilderness, the paved Paul Bunyan Trail is perfect for a long bike ride, skirting the lake and winding through woods and farmland. Be sure to stop at the enormous Paul Bunyan and Babe statues at the Visitor Center.