Skip to Content

15 Best Things to Do in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

Located on the shores of Detroit Lake in Minnesota, Detroit Lakes is the perfect year-round vacation spot. Regardless of the time of year, visitors to Detroit Lakes will find plenty of outdoor activities, cultural events, shopping sprees, seasonal festivals, water sports, unique eating experiences, and heart-pumping activities. 

Keep reading to learn about the top things to do in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.

Fun & Best Things to Do in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

Welcome to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

1. Go Bird Watching

Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge

The legendary Pine to Prairie International Birding Trail is located in Detroit Lakes, making it a birdwatcher’s delight. You can spot over 250 bird types along this famed track that stretches 200 miles (321 kilometers). 

In addition, the city hosts the Detroit Lakes Festival of Birds each year. This festival occurs in May when there are numerous resident bird species dotting the trees and swooping the skies.

If you come during this time of year, you should stop by the Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge to see the dramatic mating ritual of the Greater Prairie-Chickens!

2. Go Mountain Biking or Skiing at Detroit Mountain Recreation Area

Detroit Mountain Recreation Area, Minnesota

There are numerous gorgeous routes in the Detroit Lakes area to enjoy mountain biking. For example, the Detroit Mountain Recreation Area is among the best spots for mountain riding.

It was once a family-owned Alpine Resort for skiing, but now it features downhill-flowing paths for the ultimate mountain biking experience. You can jump on the lift and go high up the mountain to enjoy the downhill slopes to the fullest. 

You can also enjoy mountain riding through a forest at Mountain View Recreation Area. Another choice is Maplelag Resort, which includes a network of paths for cross-country skiing that double as excellent mountain biking paths. 

In the summer, go mountain biking on their downhill routes and most well-cross-country trails. Travel through the loops, test your technical skills on their slopes and drops, and improve your overall fitness.

3. Enjoy Good Food at Roasted Pub and Eatery

The Roasted Pub and Eatery, situated on Washington Avenue’s major highway, is recognized for its outstanding coffee and artisan beer. The well-roasted coffee leaves a lasting impression on coffee connoisseurs, and it goes great with their freshly prepared cupcakes. 

You can also choose from a variety of superb beef and poultry-based dishes. With all that good food comes a lovely and colorful indoor ambiance and additional outdoor dining on bright, sunny days.

4. Visit City Park

Detroit Lakes, Minnesota in Fall

City Park is ideal for a picnic or a day excursion. It features several picnic tables and seats where you can enjoy some quality time with your friends and relatives. Three of the picnic facilities have power and a grill.

One of the park’s primary features is the ability to play frisbee golf with your friends. With ample green and 18 holes lined by traps, the Lakeview Frisbee Golf Course is unique and scenic, and golfers will enjoy the views, particularly from the tee area of the 7th hole, which is at the highest point in the neighborhood, affording magnificent vistas.

If you or your family and friends aren’t up to frisbee golf, the tennis courts are also available.

See Related: Best Minnesota State Parks

5. Local Wine at Richwood Winery

Just 10 miles north of Detroit Lakes, Richwood winery neighbors Buffalo Lake and is known for its excellent wine and breathtaking scenery.

The company began in 2008 with grapes from Marquette and Frontenac Gris, then blended them with other quality grapes. The result is fine wines that the owner will hang their hat on by saying they rival Napa Valley products.

When visiting, make sure to enjoy some wine in the log cabin tasting room that offers incredible views of the vineyard. Check out these other top wineries in Minnesota to build your very own wine tour.

See Related: Best Lakes in Minnesota

6. Events

Detroit Lakes is known for its charming festivals, which you should experience to get an authentic feel for things. The downtown area comes to life for two days in June with a festival showcasing art, culture, and gastronomy. The dates are the Friday and Saturday following Memorial Day.

Over a hundred artists’ booths usually display their one-of-a-kind works. Also, the performers boast of great music and tasty cuisine.

The Northwest Water Carnival takes place in July, right in the middle of summer. The Northwest Parade, which takes place on Washington Avenue and West Lake Drive, is well-known. At Bash on the Beach, you may also see live bands performing on the lake’s sandy beach.

See Related: Best Beaches in Minnesota

7. Hiking at the Spectacular North Country National Scenic Trail

The North Country National Scenic Trail is an extensive path that ranges from 4,700 miles (7,402 km) and covers various states. This particular section of the trail is close to the city, and it’s a great trail to hike. 

It stretches between Reamer and Detroit Lake and features the beautiful Pine Lake. For bird lovers, the hike around the lake offers many opportunities to see beautiful birds.

Plus, the trail is stunning, with lovely fauna, rolling hills, and valleys to explore. Of course, you don’t have to spend the entire time hiking. The Detroit Mountain Recreation Area is an exceptional facility nearby that will wow you with its expert recreational offerings.

8. Excellent Shopping Experience at Washington Square Mall

Your trip to Detroit Lakes would not be complete without a shopping spree. Consider visiting the Washington Square Mall, deep in the city’s center, which contains everything from a movie theater to good dining options.

The mall is 30 years old and a well-known landmark in downtown Detroit Lakes. Washington Square mall also has several unusual boutiques where you may find the perfect souvenir from Detroit Lakes as you shop to your heart’s content.

9. Flea Market Experience

Shady Hollow Flea Market is a must-see for everyone who enjoys bargain shopping. Make sure to visit during the summer, since it is open every Saturday between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

At Shady Hollow Flea Market, you can find everything from clothes and jewelry to books and other items for a meager price. After working up an appetite shopping, you can stop by the Shady Hollow Grill for delicious all-American dinners or go to the food trucks for corn dogs, donuts, and kettle corn.

10. River Tubing Excursions

Ottertail River, Minnesota
Ottertail River in Minnesota

River tubing along Ottertail River with K & K Tubing is a relaxing yet exciting water-based activity for the summer months. You get to enjoy the calm while floating in the river and seeing what nature has to offer. The two-hour tube ride allows you to float on the river while basking in a tranquil environment.

If you are traveling with kids, you can use separate tubes for the children to ensure you have all you need for a memorable family vacation.

In addition, extra hours are occasionally available for free after spending the scheduled hours. 

11. Enjoy Diverse Flowers at Bergen’s Greenhouses

Bergen’s Greenhouses is a fourth-generation family business that has served the upper Midwest since 1921. Their goal is to produce, market, and distribute the best plants locally available as efficiently as possible.

They also implement sustainable recycling and eco-friendly practices that benefit the environment. You can find over 200 species of pretty petunias and 100 types of popular perennials in the greenhouses.

They also grow over 8 million seeds for vegetables and spring annuals, and they have over 1.35 million garden mum clippings for the colder seasons. The greenhouses include a nice blend of plants, trees, and flowers of every kind, and each tour is sure to put you in a good mood.

12. Wildlife at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge

Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge is a premier site of tallgrass prairie, hardwood, and pine forests that offers tourists excellent glimpses of trees, wetlands, and wildlife. It’s just outside of the city, approximately 25 minutes northeast of Detroit Lakes.

Remember your camera and binoculars if you want to go on a guided visitors’ wildlife drive or tour the hiking trails to see refuge habitats and wild animals.

The refuge’s spring and fall bird migrations are massive. You can spy trumpeter swans, bald eagles, subtle ruffled grouse, scarlet tanagers, warblers, and many other species.

13. Scuba Dive with Tri-State Diving

Minnesota is quite far from the ocean, yet that doesn’t stop anyone in the Detroit Lakes community from enjoying a scuba diving adventure! In fact, with the number of pristine lakes nearby, Detroit Lakes offers some of the finest freshwater diving in the world. 

On your visit, stop by Tri-State Diving to book a diving excursion. This diving store offers sales, services, and rentals, as well as charters for any aspiring diver looking to explore Minnesota’s freshwater lakes.

See Related: Best Scuba Travel Insurance Options

14. Wine and Dine at The Fireside

Steak with Rosemary

The Fireside is a fine-dining establishment created in 1948. Over the past several decades, it has become famous in Detroit Lakes. The community as this restaurant prides itself on its diverse house-made and hand-cut goods.

When you visit, you can enjoy the sunshine on the horizon while eating your lunch in an elegant setting with a breathtaking view of Lake Detroit.

They even provide outdoor seating if you wish to dine beneath the trees and sky while observing the beautiful lakefront. The Fireside is also suitable for events and will gladly assist you in making that momentous occasion even more remarkable.

15. Explore SuLaine’s Antique Mall

There’s plenty to feast your eyes upon and do at SuLaine’s Antique Mall. This location is the city’s most extensive collection and antique hub, which has 14,000 square feet of display space and over 70 antique dealers.

There is always something for everyone, and you are sure that you will find the best goods and hidden gems you cannot resist. Explore a vast collection of apparel, postcards, souvenirs, coins, sports equipment, kitchenware, garden décor, antiquities, and more.

You can also discover seasonal bargains on the shelves, embellish your home with new household purchases, seek lovely furniture, peruse the bric-a-brac selection, and amass a collection of vintage objects to take home. 

The selection is relatively large, so narrow down your ideal choices to a few categories before searching. Remember that the staff is always glad to assist you in your quest.

Related Resources

Lock In Your Travel Now

Find Cheap Flights
Use Skyscanner to find flight deals. As my personal favorite flight search engine, Skyscanner scours websites and airlines across the globe, leaving no stone unturned to help you find the best deal possible. And if you really want to take your savings to new heights, pair Skyscanner with Going (Formerly Scott's Cheap Flights). With access to exclusive mistake fares delivered straight to your inbox, you'll be packing your bags and jetting off on your next adventure before you know it.

Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is a low cost way to ensure your travel plans go smooth no matter what's thrown at it. Cover yourself against illness, injury and theft, and protect the arrangements you've made with our flexible travel cancellation insurance. My favorite options for travel insurance are:

Book Your Accommodation
In order to capture the widest selection of properties and the best price, use as they have the cheapest rates for guesthouses, hotels, luxury condos, B&Bs and so much more.

Want More Destination Ideas Direct to Your Inbox?
Be sure to join the ViaTravelers Newsletter for expert tips, tricks and inspiration for your next travel journey!

Discover the Best Travel Tools
Be sure to visit our page on our favorite travel resources to learn how you too can visit over 10 countries in year.