Several miles north of the point where the Crow Wing River combines with the Mississippi, lies the charming community of Brainerd, Minnesota. With picturesque scenery, abundantly stocked lakes, and relaxed pace of life, Brainerd is an excellent choice for individuals seeking a leisurely getaway or an extended relocation. Brainerd, located in Crow Wing County, Minnesota, is one of the largest cities in central Minnesota with an approximate population of 14,000. Conveniently located within a few hours of Minneapolis and Duluth, Brainerd is an excellent destination for a weekend getaway, extended family vacation or vacation home.
What is now the city of Brainerd was once located in the heart of Ojibwe Indian territory. Conveniently situated on the shores of the great Mississippi River, Brainerd was established as a railroad and shipping center for transporting lumber, fur and other durable goods to other parts of the country. Brainerd's rich natural resources, lush scenery and plentiful jobs made it a beacon for settlers throughout the 1800's. In spite of their efforts to tame the territory, the relationship between Brainerd's new settlers and the Native American population was strained. This tense relationship ultimately sparked the famous "Blueberry War" of 1872 between the Ojibwe Indians and Brainerd residents. In July of 1872 two of the Ojibwe were hung after being accused of killing a local girl. When a group of Ojibwe Indians subsequently approached the town, the settlers presumed they were there to exact revenge for the lynching of their tribesmen. In reality, the Indians were coming into town to peddle wild blueberries to the settlers. Actual war was avoided, but the relationship remained tense nonetheless.
On March 6, 1873, Brainerd was officially founded as a city. Throughout the late 1800's and early 1900's, Brainerd's industries of lumber and paper thrived. In fact, Brainerd claims to be home to the legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyan, a subject of many American legends and folk tales. While other area industries declined in the 20th century, Brainerd simultaneously emerged as one of the premiere tourist destinations in the great state of Minnesota, as it remains today.
In Brainerd, great opportunities to explore the natural wonders of this region abound. For an aerial view of the majestic forests and scenic lakes, visitors can arrange to take a ride on a small plane high above the beautiful terrain. If you are looking for more direct contact with nature, hiking and biking trails are plentiful throughout the region. In fact, the 100 mile Paul Bunyan/Heartland Trail begins in the Brainerd area. Because a great deal of this trail is paved, it can be used for hiking, biking or in-line skating in warmer months and snowmobiling or cross country skiing in the winter. For aquatic leisure, rent a paddleboat, rowboat, canoe or kayak on one of the area lakes. Fishing in the surrounding lakes is plentiful and there are numerous species of native wildlife to observe.
If you are interested in exploring the history of this beautiful region, Brainerd features a wide variety of options. Be sure to visit the Crow Wing County Historical Society and Museum, located in the former County Jail. Here visitors can view exhibits of Indian lore and artifacts of the settling pioneers. At the Mille Lacs Indian Museum, visitors can learn about the history of the Mille Lacs Band of the Ojibwe through dioramas, artifacts and interactive displays. The Franklin Art Center celebrates the pottery, paintings, photography and bead work of central Minnesotan artisans. A short drive away, families can learn about the extraordinary life of pilot and hometown hero, Charles Lindbergh, at the Charles Lindbergh Historic Site in Little Falls, Minnesota.
In addition to many historical sights, Brainerd is home to a wide variety of family attractions and amusements. No visit to Brainerd would be complete without a visit to Paul Bunyan Land and This Old Farm Museum. Here, visitors can explore the legend and lore of Paul Bunyan and his larger-than-life Blue Ox, Babe. For thrill-seeking visitors, be sure to check out the Brainerd International Raceway, where spectators can enjoy both drag and road racing. If sight-seeing is more your speed, arrange for a ferry ride or even a dinner cruise on the Mississippi Belle of Brainerd, a historic paddle-wheel boat on the Upper Mississippi River. For adult travelers seeking a bit of revelry, the Grand Casino Mille Lacs is open round the clock for gaming amusement.
Regardless of what type of trip you are planning, the Brainerd area has the perfect accommodation choice for you and your family. There are numerous luxury resorts, hotels and bed and breakfasts throughout the region. Camping is also plentiful and there are many modern facilities for either tent or RV camping. For longer stays, consider renting, or even purchasing, a cozy vacation cabin in the woods.
In Brainerd, great adventures, quiet charm and gorgeous scenery await you and your family. Plan your getaway today!
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