Affordable Lakeside Cabin with All the Views!

The North Shore of Minnesota gets all the glory for it’s beauty- but the Northwoods of Minnesota is just as gorgeous with so much to offer. We were lucky enough to explore this area during fall time, and it is one of the most beautiful places to view the fall foliage. If you are looking for a relaxing, low stress family vacation, you’re traveling solo, with a partner or friends, consider Park Rapids, MN a destination to explore! Park Rapids is about 45 minutes south of Bemidji, 25 minutes from Itasca State Park and 3 hours from the Twin Cities of Minnesota.




What we love the most about the Gilmore is it’s CLASSIC. The cabin itself has a cozy fireplace, 2 bedrooms, and plenty of space in the dining area. It’s lakefront, so you get to wake up to the most beautiful view of Lake Gilmore. There is also a lake on the other side of the cabin, called Dead Horse Lake. The drive to the cabin alone is incredible. It’s located 8 miles from Dorest, 7 miles from Nevis and is only 10 minutes from downtown Park Rapids. Park Rapids is 10 miles SW of Chippewa National Forest.

I enjoyed sitting on the patio with my morning coffee and enjoying the loons on the lake (a lot of loons call Lake Gilmore home). The hosts are wonderful and provide firewood, paddleboard, large inflatable beach toys, travel crib, games & toys for kids and a washer/dryer (as a parent, we know having that in an Airbnb is gold).

The best part? Jumping off the dock into Lake Gilmore. It’s such a classic, Minnesota experience! We came here in the fall & next time we are planning to book for the summer. This is the PERFECT classic family vacation.

Check out the Gilmore Getaway HERE!


Best Things To Do In Park Rapids


Evergreen Fun Park has two main categories for all ages: Fun Park and Escape Room. The Fun Park has activities like bumper boats, ultra challenge go karts, miniature golf, rock climbing, extreme air jump, laser tag, laser maze, super bounce, power wheels (small electric cars for younger kids), mineral mining, batter cages and water wars (water balloon fights). For escape rooms, they offer 3 different themes with different difficulty levels. They are open from memorial day weekend to labor day weekend each year, opening at 11 am and closing at 5p to 7p depending on the day. Wristbands to all activities are $26.95-$36.95.

Plan your visit here.


Character’s Challenge Course offers team building activities for groups and thrill seeking adventures for solo visitors or small groups. Types of thrills are ropes courses, zip lines, trapeze bar, climbing & jumping and a “rip cord” experience. If you are brave or looking for a thrill, this should be a stop on your list! Base packages start at $26.95 (there are 3 packages).

Check out their website for more information by clicking here.


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If you are looking for a place that is not too crowded but displays all the same beauty that places like Itasca State Park has to offer, consider paying a visit to Two Inlets State Forest. This area is located 10 miles north of Park Rapids in Becker County. The forest has 26,000 acres, with rolling hills and some lowlands. There is also a swimming, boating, fishing and picnic area. There is a 26 miles snowmobiling trail, 6 mile ATV trials and 4 mile hiking trail. It’s worth a visit!

Click here for a map of Two Inlets Forest.


If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll love the options for vintage candy stores in Park Rapids. Aunt Belle’s Confectionary has a large selection of classic candy- and you can even watch them make different kinds of candy. It’s located in the downtown area. Enjoy is a candy shop and a gourmet ice cream shop as well- and they have the most delicious toppings! Molly Poppins gourmet snacks is well known for tasty popcorn. No matter what your sweet tooth is, there is something for everyone!


Step back in time when you visit Final Frontier Toys. View vintage comic books, action figures and collectibles at this unique shop, located in the downtown area of Park Rapids. My kids absolutely loved this place- and so did my partner (maybe he loved it more than the kids even!).


Image credit to

Pedego Park Rapids is a locally owned bike store offering rentals for electric bikes. There is a lot to see in Park Rapids and it’s known for the beautiful scenery, so it’s not a bad idea to go for a bike ride. Bike rentals go from 2 hours to 7 hours.

Check out their pricing here.


Not far from Park Rapids is Nevis, which has Lake Belle Taine Public Swimming Beach. A lot of the cabins are located by lakes in the Park Rapids area. For us, we had the option to swim in Lake Gilmore and had access due to our cabin having a dock to the lake. Red Bridge Park has a playground and swimming area. While Park Rapids has TONS of lakes in the area, Fishhook Lake notably has public water access for those who want to take a canoe or boat out.

For a detailed map of all public water access areas, click here. Once at the web page, click the PDF for Hubbard County to view the map.


Downtown Park Rapids has a variety of options for fashionable fun and decor. My favorite stores I visited were Rust 2 Roses, Rustic Cabin Decor, Smoky Hills Outdoor Store, The Trading Post, Whatnot, Glick, Kathryn’s Boutique on Main, Tin Ceiling and Up North. There is truly something for everyone.


Park Rapids has a lot to offer when it comes to breakfast and cafes. My personal favorite stop was Bella Cafe, right next to a must see book store, Beagle and Wolf Books and Bindery (I bought quite a few books here from regional authors). Explore 3rd Street Market and Cafe’s home made soups, salads, wraps and pies. If you are trying to eat healthier, Beyond Juice has some great options. If you are on the go, I highly encourage you to visit the small, drive through coffee shop Espresso 34. They have the most delicious breakfast sandwiches and blonde lattes!

If you like breweries, check out Revel Brewery as well!


Mississippi Headwaters

One of my favorite highlights of Park Rapids is Itasca State Park and the Mississippi Headwaters. This state park has been on my bucket list for YEARS. There is so much to see just at this ONE state park. However, I will note it’s a very big state park and there is a lot to navigate. There are 3 entrances: North, South and East. We entered the through the east entrance and decided we wanted to see the Mississippi Headwaters first. We just followed the signs (everything is well marked) and 12 minutes later we pulled into the parking lot for the Mississippi Headwaters. There is a large visitor center you can explore that shares a lot about the history of the area. The walk to the headwaters is very easy and short (1/2 mile)- not far from the visitor’s center.

Afterwards, we decided we wanted to take a cruise on Wilderness Drive, one of the famous Minnesota Scenic Byways. The drive is 10 miles, and along the way, there are areas where you can park your car and hike the trails or view some of the historic landmarks. Itasca State Park is home to some of the biggest pine trees in the world & they have them marked along Wilderness Drive, along with historic sites where Native Americans used to live.

After Wilderness Drive, we went back to explore Preacher’s Grove, a beautiful place to watch the sunset over the red pines. We also explored Mary Lake Trail, which gives a stunning view of Mary Lake. Both stops are a must-see.

Lake Itasca also has a swimming beach and playground area, a rental center for bikes, pontoons, canoes, kayaks and paddle boats. There is also a tour boat that gives a guided view of the park from the waters.

Click here for a map of Itasca State Park.


I HIGHLY encourage you to take a walk throughout all of downtown Park Rapids. Not only are the building neat, but there are amazing sculptures scattered across the downtown area that you really need to see up close to appreciate. There is also a gorgeous Park Rapids mural downtown, located on what is know as Culture Street. The mural is located at 215 1/2 Main Ave South.


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