Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Exploring Our Own Backyard: A Weekend in Otter Tail County

We grew up in the small town of Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, in Otter Tail County. I’ve always had the attitude that exploring your own backyard is important—so many people seem to never try anything new when they are at home. Throughout our childhood, we’ve explored much of our hometown area, but there are still so many places we have yet to see. Because we always have fun being a tourist at home, we partnered with the Otter Tail County tourism board to “Find Our Inner Otter” one weekend this summer.

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

While we have many favorite adventures that we wanted to revisit, we made a point to add some new activities to our itinerary, as well. So, whether you are a local yourself, or if you are just in town for the weekend, here’s how we spent a long weekend exploring Otter Tail County!

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Friday:

We started out our trip in New York Mills where we picked up the Otter Tail County mascot and the “Otter Mobile”, which was our ride for the weekend.

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Our first stop was at the opening party for the Great American Think Off, which is an annual philosophy contest. Writers submit an essay on a given topic and then four finalists are selected to debate the topic in question. Some of the questions in the past have been “Does technology free us or trap us?” or “Is it ever wrong to do the right thing?”, and this year’s question was, “Has the 2016 election changed our perception of truth?” The opening event was held at the Sculpture Park and barn shelter and there was music, food and drinks and even a traveling sauna! We were hoping to go to the debate the next evening, but unfortunately, we ran out of time and couldn’t make it. It sounds like an interesting event and we would love to attend in the future!

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

After checking out the sculpture park and the festivities, we made our way to East Silent Lake Resort, aka our base for the weekend. The resort is beautiful and located right on the shores of East Silent Lake. Our cabin had one bedroom and bathroom and a large kitchen, living room and dining room.

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Plus, we even had a grill and patio table right outside our door. Since we live in the area, we have never spent the night in any nearby resorts or hotels, so I was happy to finally experience this gorgeous lakeside resort.

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

The onsite café offers a variety of options such as pizza from Ole and Lena’s, salads, sandwiches and breakfast items. We decided to order a chicken alfredo pizza for dinner and we ate outside on the patio with views overlooking the lake. It was a great start to the weekend!

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Saturday:

Good coffee is essential for starting the day off right, so we went to The Nest in Perham for breakfast and coffee on Saturday morning. I loved the design of this coffee shop and our breakfast sandwiches and coffee were delicious, too! I couldn’t help browse in the attached shop, as well.

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

The rest of the morning we spent time relaxing by the lake at the resort—we had to take advantage of the lake as much as possible, right?! Some of the activities offered onsite are kayaking, fishing, torpedo rides, skiing/wakeboard lessons, board games, movies, and a playground.

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Grilling is always one of our favorite summer activities, so we fired up the grill and cooked up some brats for lunch. We loved having a little patio to relax on, and the best part was that the lake was just down the hill from our cabin!

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

After a relaxing morning, we needed to get moving, so we made our way to Glendalough State Park in Battle Lake for a bike ride. We brought our own bikes, but there is also a shop at the park that offers bike rentals if you don’t have your own. There is a 5.4 mile loop trail for biking and if you are feeling adventurous, the trail extends all the way into the town of Battle Lake. We just rode the 5.4 mile trail and enjoyed peddling through tree lined paths, next to the lake, and through the open fields.

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

We started to get pretty hungry after the bike ride, so we made our way into Battle Lake for a pre-dinner treat. Normally, we would have gone to Granny’s Pantry for ice cream, but we noticed something new on the same block. There was a sign for a cookie dough bar and we just couldn’t resist going in to check it out. Smackin’ Cakes is a coffee shop that offers scoops of delicious cookie dough for dessert! We had to order a scoop or two each—Micah tried the monster cookie dough with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a cup and I ordered the caramel toffee cheesecake dough in a red velvet cone. They were super rich and filling, but oh so delicious!

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Although the cookie dough could have been a substitute for dinner, we had plans to eat at the nearby restaurant, Willie T’s Tavern and Grill at Thumper Pond. We have been to the resort a number of times for weddings but have never stopped at the restaurant, so it was fun to check it out. It was a gorgeous evening, so we decided to sit on the patio for the pretty views overlooking the golf course.

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

To wind down the evening, we had a bonfire back at the resort. It’s not a visit to the lake without a bonfire!

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Sunday:

When I was looking for things to do in the area that we haven’t tried before, I came across Nootzie’s on Main. This small café is located in Dent, just down the road from the resort and I heard they had caramel rolls that are to die for. So, my mind was made up and breakfast would be a caramel roll from Nootzie’s! Well, I’m happy to report, the roll was as good as everyone had said—Micah picked one up and brought it back to the cabin for us to share. It won’t be our last time there, that’s for sure!

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

To work off our caramel rolls, we made our way to Maplewood State Park. Every year, we try to go on one of our favorite hikes in the area, which is hiking to the top of Hallaway Hill. Because East Silent Lake Resort was located nearby, we decided it would be the perfect time for our annual hike! The trail is fairly short at just under a mile roundtrip (0.4 miles each way), but the views from the top are gorgeous, especially in the fall.

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

My brother’s family was in town for the weekend, so we decided to meet up with them and my parents at Maple Beach for dinner. Maple Beach is a lakeside burger joint that serves delicious burgers—our family has been visiting for years, so it was fun to meet there since we were all in town and it was right down the road from our resort.

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

After dinner, we decided to get out on the water and go for a paddle in the kayak.  It was such a peaceful evening—the water was like glass, loons were swimming around and the sunset was beautiful. If the weather was a bit warmer, we would have jumped in the water for a swim, too!

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Even though we weren’t ready to call it a night, we decided we needed to get to bed early as we had a 6 a.m. wake up call on Monday morning. We needed to get back to Minneapolis for a photo job, but we left wishing we had more time at the beautiful resort that we called home for the weekend.

Find Your Inner Otter Weekend in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

We had such a fun weekend exploring our own backyard and trying a few new activities and restaurants. It’s always great to look at your hometown through a tourist’s eyes—you never know what you will discover!

 

Have you ever been to Otter Tail County? Or have you played tourist in your hometown?

 

 Special thanks to Otter Tail Lakes Country and East Silent Lake Resort for providing us with a weekend to explore our own backyard. As always, all opinions are our own. 

Exploring Our Own Backyard: Spending A Weekend in Otter Tail County Minnesota, USA #FindYourInnerOtter
26 Comments
  • The Wanderer
    Posted at 10:15h, 12 August Reply

    Such a quaint place to spend a weekend!! Loved all of your photographs, but the very first picture stole my heart!! Loved your post.

  • amit
    Posted at 12:03h, 12 August Reply

    I have to say, your back yard looks a lot better than my grab grey town in England haha. No but seriously I think this is something I don’t do enough of, Exploring locally. Otter tail county looks lush too, will have to add it to my list of places to visit when I get to do my USA road trip

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 10:18h, 25 August Reply

      Haha, isn’t it funny how home never looks quite as appealing as other spots?! Hope you do add it to your list for your road trip–most people seem to skip over Minnesota, but it’s a beautiful state!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…A Photo Essay: Columbus, OhioMy Profile

  • Tami
    Twitter:
    Posted at 16:21h, 12 August Reply

    I love the concept of exploring your own backyard, so to speak. Even if you stay in a hotel or resort (or maybe even especially if you do), it’s still cheaper because you’re not having to pay to transport yourself somewhere else. All of your money can go towards great quality experiences, pampering yourself, or seeing something you haven’t had the time to see before. In San Diego, where I’m based, there’s just no excuse for not “staycationing”!
    Tami recently posted…Travel Gifts for Couples on the GoMy Profile

  • Karla
    Twitter:
    Posted at 05:54h, 13 August Reply

    I honestly love your backyad ! Biking and HIking— that’s treat.
    Karla recently posted…Bohol Travel GuideMy Profile

  • Kim Casey
    Posted at 08:15h, 13 August Reply

    These pictures are beautiful, they definitely make me want to go! I’ve not travelled a lot in the US, but this is now totally on my list. And that resort! Gorgeous. I’ll be staying there. Thanks for posting!

  • Wiebke Siemering
    Posted at 09:11h, 13 August Reply

    Great photos! Indeed, sometimes you don’t have to travel far to see beautiful places 🙂

  • Sumti Bhadani
    Posted at 11:18h, 13 August Reply

    biking, hiking, boating, great food esp. ice cream….and much more….Seems to be a perfect gateway for the weekend….Thanks for sharing it…Photos are really amazing and great too..

  • Patricia
    Posted at 17:05h, 13 August Reply

    I’ve never been to Otter Tail County, but you have me completely sold! The resort looks fantastic, and your ability to easily jump into biking, hiking and kayaking is exactly something that would draw my husband to a place. Plus, it’s gorgeous. Of course, when you throw in that amazing looking food, how could you go wrong? Thumbs up for exploring your own backyard! Pinned!
    Patricia recently posted…Step Aboard The Queen Mary HotelMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 09:48h, 25 August Reply

      Glad to hear it! Definitely agree-can’t go wrong with lakes, biking, hiking and great food! It’s really a great area! 🙂
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…A Photo Essay: Columbus, OhioMy Profile

  • Rachel Elizabeth
    Posted at 12:09h, 14 August Reply

    Cycling through Glendalough State Park sounds like a wonderful way to spend the day! I absolutely agree that it’s important to explore your own backyard. I need to see more of my own state, haha.

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 09:50h, 25 August Reply

      Haha, yeah isn’t it funny how exploring the areas close to us seems to never happen?! So much fun to do though and Glendalough was great!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…A Photo Essay: Columbus, OhioMy Profile

  • Claudia Laroye
    Twitter:
    Posted at 13:13h, 14 August Reply

    Otter Tail County looks positively idyllic!! Exploring our own backyards is really one of the best holidays we can arrange. I’m gaga over otters – putting this on our travel map when we visit Minnesota in future.

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 09:51h, 25 August Reply

      Thanks! Glad to hear it–it’s a wonderful area! We love all the lakes and there are lots of great adventures to have in the area too!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…A Photo Essay: Columbus, OhioMy Profile

  • Paige W
    Posted at 16:34h, 15 August Reply

    Sometimes exploring your own backyard can totally blow your mind. I just went on a day trip close to home and it’s one of my favorite days of travel from the year so far. It was wonderfull! I would love to kayak there. It looks wonderful!

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 09:46h, 25 August Reply

      Right?! Isn’t it crazy how much stuff you can miss even though you’ve lived there for so long?! So glad to hear you enjoyed your day trip close to home!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…A Photo Essay: Columbus, OhioMy Profile

  • June harmon
    Posted at 09:11h, 17 August Reply

    I have lived as a child near Vergas, lots of relatives in area. I have visited there all my life but some of these places I have not seen so you have given me some new ideas.

  • Agness of Fit Travelling
    Twitter:
    Posted at 10:46h, 29 August Reply

    Your pictures are truly breathtaking, Jenna! I love the scenery, Are there any good hiking trails there?

Post A Comment

CommentLuv badge