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Brainerd, MN

One of the smaller cities in Minnesota, Brainerd is also known as the Brainerd Lakes Area because of the many lakes that surround the city. Built originally as a railroad town, the city has experienced a notable growth spurt since the 1980s due to its growing tourism and service industry. Today, the city is home to more than 13,000 residents.

NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS

Brainerd accommodates roughly 5,800 houses, of which 96 percent are occupied. Owners occupy more than half of the homes, with renters occupying the remainder.

Brainerd lies in the lake region of Minnesota, and about 500 lakes surround the town, giving rise to the name "Brainerd Lakes Area." The Lakes Area includes Gull Lake, which is one of the largest lakes in Brainerd and is home to numerous fishing tournaments in both the summer and winter. Gull Lake, located just northwest of Brainerd, is also a bustling residential and commercial area that consists of eight lakes and a few thousand residents.

ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES

Brainerd's economy is composed of a number of retail, service, and professional and manufacturing businesses. More than 30 percent of employees are in administrative support jobs, sales, and the food service industry. Brainerd's main industry is tourism. The Lakes Area vacation center attracts thousands of tourists during the summer months, when the population nearly doubles.

Brainerd's impressive fine arts community, which is supported by cultural groups such as the Heartland Symphony and Central Lakes College Theatre, provides another contribution to the city's economy.

Additionally, Brainerd health care systems cater to several communities. The city's hospitals, situated in Brainerd, Crosby, Staples, and Aitkin, offer a wide range of services that are available 24 hours a day. The Brainerd area also has a number of chiropractors, dentists, surgeons, and physicians.

The Brainerd Lakes Area has thrived because of the efforts of the Brainerd Lakes Area Development Corp., a community-supported nonprofit organization that aids in the creation of employment and business opportunities and sustains and increases property values for home owners.

Shopping opportunities include a number of antique shops in downtown Brainerd and trendy clothing stores in Crosslake. Fish lovers can find delectable smoked fish to purchase in this area.

Top employers in the area include Brainerd Public School District, St. Joseph's Medical Center, Wal-Mart, Acensus, and Maddens.

BEST BETS

Brainerd offers a number of attractions for residents and tourists:

  • Brainerd is famous for its talking Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, located near the city limits and featured in Joel and Ethan Cohen's film Fargo.
  • Located on Wise Road, the Paul Bunyan Nature Learning Center provides the opportunity for visitors or Brainerd residents to learn more about the natural splendor of the Northwoods area.
  • The Northland Arboretum, which is found on Conservation Drive, features 500 acres of plant life and animal habitats, as well as several miles of walking trails.
  • Another popular attraction is the Brainerd International Raceway, located on Highway 371 North.
  • The Crow Wing County Historical Society andMuseum offers exhibits on logging and 19th-century American culture.
  • Other attractions in the Lakes Area include the Franklin Art Center, which offers a diverse collection of art forms, including paintings, stained glass, pottery, and photography.
  • Brainerd is home to the Brainerd International Raceway.

FOR VISITORS

The Brainerd Lakes Area is a popular vacation destination for tourists and those seeking recreation of all sorts.

  • The Lakes Area features a number of summer activities, including golfing, biking, and fishing.
  • Additionally, the area includes a number of luxury and rustic-style resorts, as well as hotels and bed and breakfasts.
  • A number of private and federal campgrounds are quite popular with tourists.

Although Brainerd winters are rather cold, visitors can choose from plenty of activities:

  • The annual ice-fishing contest on Gull Lake attracts several thousand participants.
  • An annual fish house parade in nearby Aitkin takes place in late November.
  • For snowmobile enthusiasts, Crow Wing County and the Brainerd area offer many miles of specified trails.

Brainerd also contains two geological wonders:

  • Cuyuna Range, which is situated between Brainerd and Aitkin, reaches to 1,191 feet above sea level and contains a number of challenging hiking trails. The Cuyuna Lakes State Trail connects the Range communities of Aitkin, Deerwood, Crosby, Riverton, Brainerd, and Ironton. Cuyuna Range, named after the first man to discover iron in the area, Cuyler Adams, once contained mines linked to the rail station at Deerwood.
  • Dutchmans Bluff reaches a height of 1,237 feet above sea level and also has hiking trails.

EDUCATION

Brainerd is home to Central Lakes College, which enrolls around 3,000 students.

LOCAL MEDIA

Brainerd has a number of radio stations:

  • 107.5 KLIZ-FM (classic rock)
  • 95.9 WWWI-FM (news)
  • 101.9 KQKK (adult contemporary)
  • 1340 KVBR (news)
  • 1380 KLIZ (sports)
  • 870 KPRM (country)