The Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener
In partnership with Explore Minnesota, I was invited to Otter Tail County to celebrate the Governor’s Fishing Opener, which was my very first time at the opener. I have a friend with a lake house in Otter Tail County, but I’ve never been out to explore the area beyond his dock.
About three hours from the Twin Cities, Otter Tail County is home to over 1,000 lakes, which is more than any other county in the United States. It includes the towns of Pelican Rapids, Fergus Falls, Battle Lake, Perham, and more. A great summer destination for fishing, state parks, lake activities, shopping, breweries, and history! Check out my map below for all the places we visited, including a handful of other great stops that were recommended to me, but we didn’t have enough time to see.
#1 Take a Tour at Lund Boats
Lund Boats is the premier aluminum and fiberglass fishing and pontoon boat manufacturer. They offer tours to the public, which last about 50 minutes. You’ll learn how boats are built starting with a simple flat sheet of metal. You’ll also see how the metal is bent and curved, painted, and how the boat gets carpeted, tested for leaks, and ready to sell.
#2 Visit the Historic Flour Mill
For those who love history, you’ll want to visit the historic Phelps Mill. This flour mill was built in 1889 and remains in great condition, largely due to a woman named Geneva Rweten who fought to have the mill protected and turned into a historic site. You can walk around all three floors of the mill and see the original equipment and machinery. Then walk over the bridge and around the beautiful park adjacent to the mill. Touring this mill is totally free.
#3 Take Photos with the Sculptures
There are several massive animal sculptures scattered around town. We photographed above with the otter in Otter Tail. There is a Pelican in Pelican Rapids, a massive loon in Vergas, another otter in Fergus Falls, amongst others. See how many you can find!
#4 Bike Through Glendalough State Park
Glendalough State Park includes five different lakes as well as paved and unpaved paths for biking and hiking. Visit The Galloping Goose Rentals building inside the park to rent bicycles, kayaks, and canoes.
Glendalough State Park also has yurts you can rent and stay in. They are lakefront and have bunk beds, a table and chairs, and a fireplace inside! When people aren’t staying there, you can walk in and check them out yourself.
#5 Hike, Swim, and Boat at Maplewood State Park
Maplewood State Park is another beautiful state park in Otter Tail County. With prairies, dense trees, and expansive lakes, this is a spectacular place to spend an afternoon.
For a short .5 mile walk each way, hike up Hallaway Hill for great views. Visit the beach for a swim, or head over to the boat launch to go fishing or kayaking. Because of the Governor’s Fishing Opener, Explore Minnesota paired me up with a lovely local couple, Linda and Jaime, who have had a lake home on South Arm Lake Lida for nearly 20 years. It was a beautiful way to see the state park from a different perspective.
#6 Grab Coffee at The Williams Company
This cute coffee shop is in the heart of Otter Tail along Main Street. Inside, you’ll find your typical coffee shop items like lattes, muffins, and egg sandwiches. You’ll also find jewelry, hats, clothing, and unique gift ideas, like a popcorn-making kit that comes with a variety of toppings and flavors. There are also a handful of cute boutiques on this street, so after you finish your coffee, you can do some shopping.
#7 Enjoy Lunch on Willy T’s Patio
Visit Willy T’s for a large variety of food choices, and great prices. You can sit in the large indoor space, which is uniquely decorated with dark wood and an assortment of cow paintings. Or, sit outside on the big sunny patio overlooking a golf course.
#8 Eat Pizza at Zorbaz
Zorbaz is a popular pizza shop, and for good reason! The pizzas are huge and cheap, and the atmosphere is fun and laid back. Many people were wearing flip-flops and shorts, and we saw a lot of dogs hanging out. Zorbaz has many different locations, we visited the one in Detroit Lakes. Order a beer from their massive selection of beers on tap, or get a fancy margarita with a little red and white bobber floating on top.
#9 Grab Burgers at Beach Bums
Beach Bums is a great, relaxed spot for burgers and sandwiches. There is a large indoor seating area as well as a huge outdoor patio facing the lake. I had a burger with coleslaw and fries and it was juicy and delicious!
#10 Drink Cocktails at Hub 41
This spot has such fun energy! The outdoor patio faces the lake and I love the bright red chairs by the bar. They offer a wide array of mixed drinks, plus wine and beer. It’s a refreshing way to enjoy your evening and watch the sunset.
#11 Sip Beer at Disgruntled Brewery
At this brewery, you’ll find a pine tree-covered outdoor seating area as well as a bright and low-key indoor space. Disgruntled Brewery has a unique assortment of beers including Down with the Citrus that tastes like a creamsicle, Y.O.L.O. (You Obviously Love Oreos) for the chocolate lovers, and Gimme the Froot, which is a sour beer packed with peach, tangerine, passionfruit, orange, vanilla and marshmallow flavors!
#12 Visit Unique Shops and Boutiques
I stopped into a handful of cute shops including Mama J’s Closet, Soda Shop & Lollipops, and Red Brick Boutique. One of my favorites, however, was Periwinkle Marketplace. They have beautiful blouses, shoes, home decor, jewelry, and much more. Many items had a summer nautical theme and everything was so bright. I loved walking around this happy store!
#13 Grab Donuts at the Farmer’s Daughter
#14 Watch the Sunset from a Private Deck
We loved staying at the Five Lakes Resort! This family-owned property has ten cabins and each one is unique. We most loved the huge deck, where we sat each night with a glass of wine and watched the sunset. Note, there is no WiFi or keys to lock the doors here, so get ready to disconnect!