Brainerd, Minnesota

Photo: Maddens on Gull Lake
Photo: Maddens on Gull Lake

Father’s Day is quickly approaching. You need to figure out a gift as soon as possible. But your dad has enough ties, grill gear, and small batch whiskeys to last through not only this summer, but many summers to come. Besides, what he really wants—not that he’d admit it—is time with his family. His whole family. You could convince your siblings to book flights and head home for a long weekend. Or, better yet, tell dad to meet all of you in Minnesota.

Madden’s on Gull Lake is the perfect place for a mini family reunion. The resort is two hours north of the Twin Cities in Central Minnesota. It sits on a peninsula in between Steamboat Bay and Wilson Bay on the large lake. With three beaches, four golf courses, and five pools, there are plenty of activities to keep everyone occupied. While the rustic, family friendly layout ensures a casual, relaxed vibe.

Your day starts with a warm gooey caramel roll and a cup of coffee at the Lobby Cafe. Everyone else wanted a big breakfast, but you preferred to sit on the quiet terrace and then walk along the property’s short hiking trail. Your father reserved a tee time at the Social 9 Golf Course. Your brothers went to check out lawn bowling. Your mother booked a rosemary-mint body wrap at the Spa at Madden’s. And you’re eyeing the kayaks, since the lake is still so calm and peaceful.

Photo: Maddens on Gull Lake
Photo: Maddens on Gull Lake

After your family spends the morning apart, happily doing what everyone wants to do, you meet for Reubens and smoked salmon wraps at the Classic Grill to compare notes. Your father is trying to convince your brothers to golf with him on one of the other greens tomorrow morning. Your mother is, surprisingly, raving more about the homemade fudge she tasted at Chrissy’s Ice Cream Shop than the spa. And you’re ready for some beach time. Everyone agrees, so you all head down together.

Spend the afternoon sitting in the sun, learning how to paddleboard, and fishing for northern pike. Bike along part of the nearby Paul Bunyan State Trail, the longest continuously paved trail in the country. Lose a friendly bet when your brothers finally get you to try lawn bowling. Sip a strawberry basil lemonade at the 19th Hole Lounge during happy hour. Return to your room for a quick nap and a much-needed shower.

Meet up again for dinner at the Madden Lodge Dining Room. The elegant restaurant, which is surrounded by water on three sides, sits on Mission Point. Eat a Northern Sky kale salad and garlic-and-parsley-crusted walleye as the sun sets. Then skip dessert for s’mores by the bonfire. Your dad has been smiling ear-to-ear since he arrived. Let your brothers try to top this Father’s Day idea next year.

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