Winter Adventures Await You on Mille Lacs Lake

Ice fishing—it’s the season we’re all waiting for. Whether you are a hardcore ice angler or are looking to book a wintertime family vacation, Minnesota’s big lake welcomes you. Mille Lacs is located in central Minnesota, just 45 minutes north of the Twin Cities. It’s huge, with 132,516 acres of great fishing and lined with miles of forested trails to explore on snowmobiles, cross-country skis or snowshoes.

“We had some record-setting fish caught on Mille Lacs Lake during the summer, and we expect that trend to continue through the winter,” said Tina Chapman, executive director of the Mille Lacs Area Tourism Council. “In the winter, the lake turns into an ice town. Some of the fish houses are quite elaborate. It’s a lot of fun—on and off the lake.”

Find the fish
Ramp up your ice fishing adventure by staying right on the lake in a rented fish house, but get ready—it’s not your granddaddy’s fish house. You can book a well-equipped ice cabin that sleeps many and has all the comforts of home, even a kitchen. A cozy ice cabin is a great place to hang out on the lake and play some cards. Try your hand at dark-house spearing for northerns, hire a guide to learn where to go, grab your gear and fresh bait and hit the Mille Lacs Lake “ice highway.”

Relaxing quiet sports
When it comes to quiet sports, there are a myriad of trails for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing 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. You may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the rare albino deer that frequent the area as well.

Step up your adventure
If a more active adventure is your thing, Mille Lacs is perfect for kiteboarding. The lake’s wide-open, wind-whipped expanses provide fun and a challenge 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.

Maybe you just 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 at the end of the day.

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 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 many dining choices and fun events to satisfy your hungry brood, from burgers and beer to all-you-can-eat Sunday breakfasts. And if you want some genuine, up-north fun, take in a meat raffle, which is a Northwoods dinner theater “with a twist.”

Book your trip
Indoors or out, fishing or not, Mille Lacs Lake is a year-round vacation destination for the whole family, and a world-class fishery. For additional up-to-date list of events and activities, visit

For more information…
For winter activities, events and lodging options, visit