If you’ve enjoyed vacationing in Minnesota’s Northwoods and find yourself wondering what it would be like to retire in the Brainerd Lakes Area, you’re not alone. Like many of my clients, you’ll discover that the area holds rich opportunities for those who choose to retire here. While the Brainerd Lakes Area is known for natural beauty of its lakes and lush Northwoods these are only a few of the things that make it an ideal retirement destination.

If you join this community­—spending your retirement with us—you’ll find plenty to keep you busy besides fishing and golf. (Though, I’m always happy to find a new fishing partner and my son Tony loves to head out on the greens.) Retirement in the Brainerd Lakes Area can be active, relaxing or a little of both. Whether you imagine spending your time in retirement giving back in service to the community, enjoying a beer with friends or exploring your creative side, you’ll find like-minded people in the Brainerd Lakes Area.

1. Accessibility—Trains, Planes & Automobiles

For many, travel is an important part of their retirement lifestyle. If you plan to travel in retirement, the Brainerd Lakes Area can accommodate whether you’re interested in exploring international destinations, touring the U.S. or simply making regular trips to the Twin Cities. If planes are your thing, the county airport offers daily commuter flights to and from the Twin Cities into Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport—making it easy for connecting flights. If you prefer automobiles, the Twin Cities are a short 2 hour car ride away. And, if you want to ride the rails, there is an Amtrak Station right in Brainerd.

2. Arts and Culture—From Literary Arts to Live Theater

Visitors and new residents are often surprised by the strong arts community in the area. Theater fans have many options including productions by independent theater groups at the Franklin Arts Center in Brainerd, productions at Central Lakes College and even Pequot Lakes High School. Brainerd-area local artists and art enthusiasts enjoy classes, events and exhibitions at The Crossing Arts Alliance located downtown Brainerd. We are part of the Five Wings Art District, which supports and funds local artists and art organizations with Legacy Funds allocated from the state legislature. The literary arts community is one of the strongest in out-state Minnesota. Internationally known poets and authors visit for speaking engagements and local authors and writers meet regularly through groups like the Brainerd Writers Alliance and Heartland Poets. Music lovers will find offerings covering a full range of genres. The Lakes area Musical Festival offers an annual schedule of world-class classical concerts and several local breweries feature live acoustic music. If you’re looking to join a jam session yourself, The Center (our local senior community center), has opportunities for you to get together with other musicians. Grandview Lodge also puts on a summer concert series.

3. Lifestyle—Year-Round Lake Living

In the Brainerd Lakes Area, it’s (almost) always fishing season. In addition to the fishing we’re known for in the summer months, ice-fishing is also a popular sport. Once the lake-ice thickens small communities of ice houses popup on every lake, big or small. You can see some of the most luxurious ice accommodations when you take a day-trip to Garrison on Mille Lacs Lake. Why miss the big game when you can watch it from the comfort of a deluxe fish house outfitted with television, bunkbeds, and a warm stove?

If you prefer a faster pace, the Brainerd Lakes Area has miles of well-groomed snowmobile trails. You’ll see snowmobiles out-number cars outside some of the local hot spots as friends stop to fuel up along the way. With heated handle bars and seats, along with high-tech helmets, it’s easy to forget the true temperature outside. Of course, the summer is still our favorite time. That’s when we put the pontoon into the water and watch beautiful sunsets reflected in the water late in the evening.

4. Community Service—A Culture of Giving Back 

It no longer surprises me when clients ask about opportunities to volunteer and give back to the community. After all, many have been involved in nonprofits or charities in some fashion during their lives and retirement frees up your time to commit to making a difference. Whether you’re looking to serve on a leadership board, help prepare and serve food to the hungry, stock food shelves, or pound some nails, you will be able to find plenty of places to put your talents to good use in the Lakes area. There are several local non-profits who welcome volunteers.

5. Treat Yourself 

If you’re looking for unique, one-of-a-kind gifts or clothing items, Brainerd is surrounded by small towns with boutique shops you will love exploring. In Brainerd, Christmas Point is the go-to spot for unique items and a great lunch spot. Take a short drive to Crosby and you’ll be in the “Antiques Capital of the Lakes area.” Beyond boutiques, Brainerd has everything from national outdoor and sporting goods chains to one-stop super stores where you’ll find what you need and more.

6. Golf—Your Choice of Greens

Golf course greens are the perfect complement to the sky blue waters of Gull Lake. You’ll find the challenge you’re looking for on any one of the multiple courses available at Madden’s, Cragun’s, and Grand View Lodge. The Legacy Courses at Cragun’s are 5-star rated by Golf Digest and one of my personal favorites. A little further to the east in Breezy Point, you have the Whitebirch Golf Course and Ruttger’s on Bay Lake to the north is another excellent course. There are several courses to choose from.

I’ll have to admit that my views on the Brainerd Lakes Area may be a bit biased, since I grew up here. But if my list of clients is any indication, you don’t have to be born here to appreciate the quality of life we enjoy. Whether they’ve come from the West Coast, Iowa, or just down I-94 in the Twin Cities, retirees find the Northwoods a place that easily becomes “home.” If you’re considering retirement in the Brainerd Lakes Area, I’d love to meet you and discuss your questions and concerns about making the best of your retirement years.

Prepare for Retirement

Mark Parrish

Mark Parrish

Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor

Mark Parrish has been with Wealth Enhancement Group for more than 15 years. He strives to build trust and confidence in clients to allow them to enjoy life without the burden of managing their finances.