I had the pleasure of being invited to the 2021 MN Governor’s Fishing Opener, which was held in Otter Tail County. It was my first time to the area and it definitely won’t be my last. With over 1,000 lakes in the county, this was the perfect location to host the Fishing Opener. Apart from fishing there were SO many other places to explore. From fun photo ops to cool shops + restaurants amongst charming little towns, Otter Tail County has something for everyone!
I’ve listed out some great places to visit on your next trip up! While I’ve barely scratched the surface, this will get you started on your adventures in lakes country. 😉
New York Mills
STAY: The Whistle Stop Bed & Breakfast
The Whistle Stop Bed & Breakfast is one of the most UNIQUE places I’ve ever stayed in. Located right behind the railroad tracks you’ll find a large white house and several old rail cars surrounding it. Remodeled after the Victorian Era, we stayed in the Palace Car and what a delight it was! We were delivered fresh, hot breakfast every morning that was just delicious!
EAT: Farmer’s Daughter Rustic Bakery
Start your day with some fresh baked goods and strong coffee from the adorable Farmer’s Daughter. This rustic baker is housed in an old creamery building! The donuts are to die for and man, they are a steal! Definitely try a maple donut and a sour cream old fashioned – your mouth will be watering once you step foot in here! They also serve breakfast, daily lunch specials, and treats as well!
VISIT: New York Mills Cultural Center
The New York Mills Cultural Center is an arts organization that has been dedicated to expanding the cultural and creative opportunities for rural Americans for almost 30 years! They feature various galleries throughout the year with local artists, as well as have a mini shop of locally made goods from local entrepreneurs as well. They are also the host of the Great American Think Off which has received national acclaim including coverage by C-SPAN, the New York Times, and The Today Show.
PHOTO OP: New York Mills Sculpture Park
For a fun little photo op, head right down to the road to see some fun local installations in the sculpture park. You can’t miss the big red bard, or the larger than life tractor!
DRINK: Gathering Grounds
Right in downtown Perham, you’ll find this cute little cafe nestled right next to the theater. Part cafe, part shop, you’ll find all sorts of gems at Gathering Grounds. They have a delicious assortment of fresh baked goods, an array of coffee offerings, and a cozy ambiance to sit and enjoy or even peruse their space and find something new to bring home! They have a fun selection of home decor, gifts, baby, and apparel.
EAT: Brew Ales + Eats
As one of the top recommended restaurants in the area, a visit to Brew Ales + Eats is definitely worth it. We thought it would be your typical Bar + Grill but we were pleasantly surprised with the quality of their food! They have a fun and extensive drink list too with rotating seasonal favorites. I was able to dive into some rhubarb cocktails as it was the season for it! Eric & I shared the Turkey Club and Cajun Chicken sandwich.. which are pretty much staples at most restaurants but wow. They both were bursting with flavor! We said multiple times how amazing they were!
DRINK: Disgruntled Brewery
Right in the outskirts of town, you’ll find Disgruntled Brewery tucked in amongst the pines. They have an AWESOME outdoor patio complete with lawn games, heaters, and several tables. They are always crafting up creative brews so I highly suggest trying a flight! I tapped one of their sours called Gimme the Froot and it was the best blend of tarty and tasty. It has orange, tangerine, passionfruit, and vanilla marshmallow!
A remodeled church from, you guessed it, 1894, this place is now a bar + restaurant! It has a full bar and serves your typical pub food (definitely get the cheese curds!). They are known for their burgers so definitely give them a try when in town. They also have live music happening often! We were able to catch a local singer while in town which was a nice experience while having a quick beer and snack!
SHOP: Goose Gang
Feed your inner child at this awesome candy, toy, + game shop! We stopped in at Goose Gang for some ice cream to cool off and grabbed some of their creative flavored gourmet popcorn for later! Definitely try the parmesan garlic – we both loved it! They also have an amazing selection of board games and local snacks too!
PLAY: Big Pine and Little Pine Lake
We had to luxury of heading out out Big Pine Lake to do some floating and fishing and it was glorious. Both lakes are in prime spots in Perham with a few options to grab food and drinks at after, such as Zorbaz or Big Pine Lodge!
SHOP: Neverwinter Clothing + Gifts
You can’t miss this beautiful store front in downtown Battle Lake and it’s worth a visit! Neverwinter has great gifts but also but actually their main focus is their clothing brand! They have lots of great Minnesota tee’s and sweatshirts that are all unique designs to them.
DRINK: ABC Brewery
Another brewery in the area – Ashby Brewing Company – Or ABC Brewing is a fun stop during any portion of your trip in Otter Tail. They have large outdoor patio complete with fire pits and lawn games, and they also serve up pizza if you are hungry! Eric recommends the Hazy IPA and I would suggest the Kolsh! Both were refreshing and the staff was very kind!
EAT: Rusty Nail
Voted the place with the best burger in MN from the Minnesota Public Radio Burger Bracket, we had to make a stop at The Rusty Nail. Located right next to the Neverwinter boutique, you can find ample seating with some kitschy decor and a back patio! We were on our way out of town so we ordered a bacon cheeseburger to go and I do have to say it was indeed tasty!
SHOP: Red Brick Boutique
Located in an Old Creamery Building – Red Brick Boutique is of the coolest storefronts I’ve seen! Come here to shop some fun Ottertail branded merch as well as trending women’s fashion. The shop owner was a delight to chat with and I found some gems I couldn’t live without!
EAT: The William’s Company Store & Deli
Part shop, part deli, we popped into William’s Company for some late lunch and everything was so fresh and delicious! Shop local brands there and some great vintage vinyl while you wait for your food. I highly recommend the Thai Bowl and the Ham & Cheese Sandwich!
SHOP: The Grain Bin
A a collection of vintage and new decor, you can find some great gems for your home at The Grain Bin. They also have consignment vendor booths in the back where you will find some unique vintage items.
PHOTO OP: Otter
A local artist made this 10 foot tall Otter made from scrap metal! You can find him on the corner of 78 and 108 as you are entering or leaving town!
We had so much exploring and finding our inner otter. After taking the unique quiz from Otter Tail County, our results ended in the Otter about Town and the Easy Going Otter. I think we tackled the best of both worlds with our weekend! Take the quiz from Otter Tail County to find out which inner otter you are and plan you next visit ASAP!