The communities of Brainerd and Baxter serve as the gateway communities to the Brainerd Lakes Area. You will find strong business neighborhoods in both cities. Brainerd holds historic significance in the region with a revitalized downtown and the regional beacon, the historic water tower. Baxter is a fast-growing community along the western border of Brainerd that boasts many large retail stores. Both cities offer great shopping options with many one-of-a-kind finds and up-north flair. A green space gem shared by the two cities is the 500-acre Northland Arboretum at the trailhead to the Paul Bunyan State Trail. The Paul Bunyan Trail travels more than 75 miles from Baxter to Bemidji with picturesque views of area lakes. You can hike, bike, walk, or ski through the more than 500 acres of the Northland Arboretum. Many arts and cultural events and festivals are hosted in Brainerd, such as the annual Arts in the Park each summer in Gregory Park in the heart of Brainerd. And the galleries of more than 30 artists can be found in the Franklin Arts Center, a renovated, former junior high school. 

While walking the downtown Brainerd streets, you will be able to discover the many unique retail shops in the newly revitalized core of the city. In 2009, the city completed a nearly $2 million improvement project in the six-block downtown area that resulted in improvements to the face of the city while retaining its historic appeal. 

After taking in one of the many cultural, recreational, or shopping opportunities in Brainerd and Baxter, check out one of our many dining establishments - seek a familiar name or a one-of-kind gem. 

When visiting the region be sure to stop to ask questions and gather information at the Brainerd Lakes Area Welcome Center south of Brainerd on Highway 371.