Lake Mille Lacs

Mille Lacs

December 16, 2015

Megan|Lake and Company - Minnesota

Here's what you need TO know to "Do The Lake" and see what the buzz is all about for yourself.

Since it's winter, you'll want to be ready for anything, so gather all your cold-weather gear from top to bottom--hats to boots and everything in-between. Then make a list of everything you and your crew want to do at Lake Mille Lacs. Lodging is plentiful, whether you want to take over an entire cabin or book a few rooms in a motel or resort.

Nothing brings out the kid in all of us quite like winter. Lake Mille Lacs is a great destination to bring families, friends, and fun together to "Do The Lake" winter-style. With a little bit of preparation, you and your crew will be ready for adventure at the big lake in the heart of the state.

Lake Mille Lacs is just 45 minutes north of the last Twin Cities stoplight or a short jaunt from anywhere in central Minnesota, so everyone can get there easily. With 132,516 acres of lake ice thick enough to drive on (heck, even live on!), great fishing, and miles of forested trails, toss in snowmobiles, cross-country skis, snowshoes, and sleds, and you have a guaranteed recipe for frosty fun. 

"Last fall, a record muskie was caught on Lake Mille Lacs using a flyrod," said Tina Chapman, executive director of the Mille Lacs Area Tourism Council. "It was pretty exciting and really highlighted the sport of fly fishing for muskies on Mille Lacs. But in the winter, it's all about fish houses and the ice town that pops up on the lake. There are plowed roads and everything. Some of the fish houses are quite elaborate. It's a lot of fun." 

Relaxing Quiet Sports

When it comes to quiet sports, there are myriad trails for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Check out the trail maps for great places to ski or snowshoe with terrain that varies from novice to expert. Do you need to rent equipment? You can do that, too. Mille Lacs Kathio State Park even has a sledding hill with hot chocolate available in the adjacent warming house. Although Father Hennepin State Park is closed to cars in the winter, you can still park at the gate and walk in. You may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the rare albino deer that frequent the area.

Step up Your Adventure

If a different kind of adventure is your thing, Lake Mille Lacs is perfect for kiteboarding. The lake's wide-open, wind-whipped expanse provides fun and challenges to kiters on skis or snowboards. Don't miss one of the lake's big kiteboarding events--the annual Mille Lacs Crossing--held the first weekend in March.

If the wind isn't quite right for kiteboarding, head up and fat bike Cuyuna, home of America's highly recognized Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails. Bike rentals are available and it's only 18 short minutes away from Garrison.

Or maybe you love to hit the trails on snowmobiles. Gather your gear, trailer up the machines and bring them along, or arrange to rent sleds when you arrive. Either way, the hundreds of miles of groomed trails will provide plenty of stories to tell around the fireplace when you return to the cabin at the end of the day.

Find the Fish

Darkhouse spearing for northern, with its five-fish limit, is really catching on. Or ramp up the ice-fishing adventure and stay right on the lake in a rented fishhouse. But get ready--it's not your granddaddy's fishhouse! You can book a well-equipped fishhouse that sleeps several and has all the comforts of home, even a kitchen. A cozy fishhouse is a great place to hang out on the lake, play some cards--even fish! Check out the ice reports, hire a guide to learn where to go, grab some tackle and fresh bait, and hit the Lake Mille Lacs ice highway. 

Take It Indoors

To warm up a bit, visit the Mille Lacs Lake Trading Post to shop for handcrafted American Indian art and crafts. If bowling and pizza are on the docket, hit up the eight lanes of Isle Bowl. You can even head to Onamia and take in a movie, catch a concert, or try your luck at Grand Casino Mille Lacs.

There are lots of dining choices and fun events to satisfy your hungry brood. After putting your own fish on ice to take home, don't miss the all-you-can-eat fish fry at Da Boathouse or the all-you-can-eat Sunday breakfast at Appeldoorn's. And if you want some genuine, up-north fun, take in a meat raffle at Wahkon Inn or Castaway while waiting for dinner. Consider it northwoods dinner theater and receive twice the fun for the price of your meal. Who doesn't want to win prizes?

Finally, you admit it's time to leave. You reluctantly load up your gear, check out of your cabins, and head home. You know you'll be back. Fun happens year round on Lake Mille Lacs. Do The Lake.

For more information

about activities and other info visit

Use #DoTheLake to share your Lake Mille Lacs winter photos on social media.