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Get Outta Town!: 48 hours in Detroit Lakes

Photos provided by Visit Detroit Lakes
Arguably the most notorious of the Lakes Country destinations, Detroit Lakes is a guaranteed good time. Only an hour from Fargo, it’s also an easy day trip to explore the city and all it has to offer.


2 p.m. – Check in 

Arrive in Detroit Lakes and check into your lodging for the weekend. There are more than 450 rooms available at hotels, motels, campgrounds and a resort are all located in the city limits of Detroit Lakes. This weekend, opt for an upscale property with the Best Western Premier The Lodge on Lake Detroit. The Lodge includes extras such as hot breakfast, all rooms with a view of Big Detroit Lake and a fireplace lobby with a bar and live jazz music.

3 p.m. – Learn and Stock Up 
Head up the road to the Detroit Lakes Public Library, one among the Carnegie libraries on the national register of historic places. Peruse their selection and pick out a book to enjoy while relaxing on the lake over the weekend. While in the area, maybe stop by Becker County Museum to learn about the past through their displays and extensive files. There are many stores in this area, so use this time to pick up anything you might have forgotten to pack (don’t forget sunscreen and a towel!)

5:30 p.m. – Dinner Time
It’s time for your first dinner in town. Drive about 15 minutes south into the country to Spanky’s Stone Hearth. Whether you opt for a cozy seat by the stone hearth fireplace, a seat overlooking Rose Lake or a spot on the outdoor deck, this restaurant is charming in every corner. When available, Spanky’s strives to use locally grown and sourced ingredients, making it an authentic local spot, all around.

7 p.m. – Back to the Lodge
Spend the rest of your night back at the lodge, soaking up all they have to offer. From live music in the lounge to special events throughout the season, there is always something going on. Grab a drink or two for dessert at the lodge’s LoLa D’s Bar with views of the sunset. The Lodge’s two-story 2-story lakefront, fireside lobby which overlooks Big Detroit Lake is the perfect setting to watch the sunset on your perfect first day of a weekend getaway.

Before or after watching the sunset with cocktails, be sure to check out their indoor pool and hot tub area to wrap up the night. For a real “at the lake” feel, enjoy the handmade schools of ceramic tile fish embedded in the plaster at the bottom of the pool. Warm up and wind down with their therapeutic whirlpool while surrounded by cattails and other authentic, Minnesota foliage that decorates the pool room.


8 a.m. – Rise and Shine
For a breakfast twist on the lake, go to Hub 41 by the beach for Pancake Tacos. Start your morning right at Hub 41 and learn why Lake Time Magazine named it the Best New Restaurant in Minnesota. Prepare for your big day ahead by chowing down at a seat on their rooftop with views of the city beach.
10 a.m. – Get to the Water
How can we only suggest one way to spend your time on the water at DL? Carve out a chunk of your Saturday to embrace all types of things this city offers. Need some exercise? Take a stroll on a mile of sandy beach right on the water. Need a boat, kayak, wave runner or paddle boat? Rentals are available all summer long at J & K Marine, located along the city beach. Fishing for panfish or walleye? Better your chances of a fish fry by using the services of two fishing guides.More than 400 area lakes give you and your family plenty of options for swimming, paddle boarding and jumping off the dock. Less than 10 minutes east of Detroit Lakes, take a leisurely inner tube float down the Otter Tail River. For some of the finest inland diving, Tri-State Diving provides equipment rentals and guides.

2 p.m. – Shop ‘Til You Drop
Don’t cut your day on the water short, but do make sure to head downtown to some shops before they close up for the day! First stop at Shady Hollow Flea Market on Hwy 59 South, open weekends Memorial Day-Labor Day. For over 40 years, this flea & artisan market has been home to antiques, junk, new, repurposed and handmade items… something for every member of the family to love.

Next head to the heart of downtown, from Washington Avenue to Washington Square Mall. There are so many options in this area, like Mainstream Boutique, Becker Pet & Garden, Vintage N Vogue, Red Pine Quilt Shop, The Nines and Red Willow.

6 p.m. – Dinner with a View
What could be better than a walleye dinner paired with a glass of wine and a lake view of the setting sun? Hear back up near where The Lodge is and have a meal at Fireside of Detroit Lakes. Established in 1948, The Fireside is an area icon with house-made, hand-cut foods and a stylish menu of both classic and eclectic fares. Their chic dining room is built around an open-air antique charcoal grill with an unforgettable view of Lake Detroit.

8 p.m.- Drinks with a View
Finish your evening just up the road with more lake views and drinks at microbrewery and bar, Lakeside Tavern. This laid-back bar offers the perfect way to relax after your action-packed day.


9 a.m. – Coffee and a Treat
For a hip start to your day, head to Washington Avenue to find La Barista Restaurant. Order a quiche or a breakfast panini and decide which caffeinated beverage you want from their extensive drink menu. From light to dark roasts, to coffee specialties. Highlights include a Mexican Mocha, Snickers Latte or a Blueberry Muffin Latte.
10:30 a.m – The Great Outdoors
Don’t waste your last morning in DL! There are literally tens of thousands of acres of nature in the Detroit Lakes area to hike, take a scenic drive or do some bird and nature watching. Some favorite nature spots include Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge with a Visitor Center (and 40,000 acres of nature and wildlife!), Detroit Lakes Wetland’s Prairie Marsh Trail, Dunton Locks County Park with a scenic wooden bridge and shelters for a picnic, Sucker Creek Preserve and Detroit Lakes City Park next to the historic Pavilion and City Beach. For a bolder option, if you’re a mountain bike enthusiasts looking for scenic trails to heart-thumping steep slopes and switchbacks, you’ll want to include Detroit Mountain Recreation Area and Maplelag Resort in your plans today.

When you’re worn out, it’s time to return home.

Mt Biking Wood


Plan Your Trip

Any weekend you choose is going to be a good time, but if you’re looking for a specific event going on in town, here are a few events to catch:

Festival of Birds, May 15-18
You don’t want to waste any time in birders’ paradise. More than 275 species of birds are found in Becker County. Avid birders flock here each spring for the annual Detroit Lakes Festival of Birds, you won’t wanna miss out.

It’s six blocks of art, music, entertainment and food. Detroit Lakes cordons off the downtown for the first, big outdoor event of the season. One hundred and twenty-five juried artists set up their paintings, sculptures, pottery, jewelry and other first-class art. Musicians stroll the sidewalks and bands perform from the main stage, all free to attendees.

When it comes to celebrating summer, Detroit Lakes takes its time. The Jaycee-sponsored Northwest Water Carnival lasts a delicious week— or more—in the heart of summer. This will be the 84th annual! Do you love to build sand castles or ships? There’s a competition for you. Tough enough to eat chili in July? Then the Carnival’s chili cookoff is calling you.

The annual event, is held at City Park next to Detroit Lake. Over 100 booths are set up under the shady trees in the park. You’ll find treasures of all sorts – from jewelry and pottery to furniture and fabric goods.

WE Fest, August 1-3

WE Fest is one of the largest outdoor country music and camping festivals in the nation! For 2019, Grammy Award-winning musician Chris Stapleton will be headlining this can’t-miss event.

Written by Josiah Kopp

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