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Minnesota: Otter Tail Country, Family Vacations with No Lines Except for Fishing. Families can escape to Otter Tail County no matter what season, and enjoy a delightful family vacation without worrying about crowds or stress. It is a secret family vacation spot with cabins, B & Bs, lodges and resorts tucked away in the woods by lakes and streams or at the edge of a flower covered meadow. Some roads have no names and every other car has a boat or a canoe. Lakes yield fish and nights make star gazing exceptional - no schedules required, having fun is easy.
Here's the scoop. Located in West Central Minnesota, just two and a half hours from Minneapolis and St. Paul, Otter Tail Country is populated with more than 1,000 lakes and streams ideal for fishing, swimming, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, waterskiing, or just relaxing on the beach. A vacation in Otter Tail Country is like wearing your favorite sweatshirt and old your old sneakers, it’s a comfy place.
Family vacation days are loaded with easy tasks – a game of horse shoes or ping-pong competition. Swim to a raft or tube on a river. Wiggle your toes at a soft sandy beach or catch fish for breakfast. Go bowling or take horseback ride through the woods. Organize of game of golf or challenge your kids at putt-putt golf. Listen to fish stories or make one up on your own. Discover a new artist or find a special collector’s item. Make s’mores by a cozy fire or play flashlight tag. Practice calling loons and think of new ways to embarrass your kids. Why not? How else will you get good stories to share at the Thanksgiving dinner table?
Imagine the good old days. Recognized as one of the top county historical societies in Minnesota, Otter Tail County Historical Society Museum provides the means to tell the many stories of the area from Ojibwa and Dakota tribes and the first settlers to beginning of logging and farming. Don’t expect to find a sign that reads "Radisson and Groseilliers slept here" although maybe they did. You will find timelier tourist information, plus displays and exhibits including recreated printer’s shop, an early dentist office, general store, heirloom garden, and E.T. Barnard Library. Bonus points: The gift store on site handcrafted jewelry and a wide assortment of interesting games and toys for children including coloring books, paper dolls and storybooks. (Otter Tail County Historical Society Museum 1110 West Lincoln Avenue, Fergus Falls MN 56537. (218) 739-3075 www.otchs.org)
See and hear about history. History Museum of East Otter Tail County also tells a story of the area’s earliest people, places and events in a different way. Interpretive exhibits include the story of logging in the area and the arrival of the railroad. Original motion picture footage from the 1920s makes the area come to life and there are stories about music and the musicians of East Otter Tail County during the era of dance bands. Bonus points: For local action, attend the Perham Pioneer Festival held annually the third weekend in August. (History Museum of East Otter Tail County 230 1st Avenue North, Perham MN, 56573 (218) 346-7676 or www.historymuseumeot.com)
Find it in Minnesota. Where else? The tiny community of New York Mills (population 1,200) was settled by Finnish immigrants in 1884. It has been named one of the top five culturally cool towns by USA Today Weekend Magazine and one of 50 Funky Towns in America for good reason. New York Mills Regional Cultural Center has sustained its life by infusing the community and the area with art and cutting edge thinking. While the purpose of the center is dedicated to expanding the cultural and creative opportunities of rural Americans it does so much more. The main floor gallery showcases nine different exhibits every year in addition to regional shows featuring local artists. Monthly musical performances include blues, jazz, folk, classical, opera, and rock-and-roll. And for the funky part, the Sculpture Park has the world's largest Art Tractor. Bonus points: As if art isn’t enough, each June the center is also home to the Great American Think-off featuring a provocative question and compelling dialog. (New York Mills Regional Cultural Center 24 North Main Avenue, New York Mills, MN 56567. (218) 385-3339 or www.kulcher.org)
Talk with Finns. Each summer Finn Creek Open Air Museum opens its historic complex and demonstrates history of the area along with Finnish culture. The 18-acre original farmstead includes house, log barns, "Savu" smoke sauna, and a sawmill powered by a steam tractor. Watch an antique tractor pull and see a threshing machine in action. Walk through an original home from the 1900s with its companion log barns. See a country school built in 1890 and peek inside the town hall. Sunday services are held in the chapel and the gift shop has many Finnish import items. Bonus points: The last weekend in August it is the site of the Finn Creek Festival, an annual celebration featuring entertainment, demonstrations and traditional Finnish food like flat bread with pork, black pudding with lingonberry sauce and luscious kalakukko fish pie. And if you want the delicious Finnish flat bread (maitorieska) any other time if you will have to go to the bakery in town. (Finn Creek Open Air Museum New York Mills, MN 56567. Six miles southeast of town just off Highway 106. (218) 385-3339 or www.explorenewyorkmills.com)
Ever raced a turtle? You can do it in Otter Tail Country. During the summer months the town of Pernham hosts International Turtle Races. It’s a summer tradition. The annual turtle races take place every Wednesday morning at 10:30 am during the months of June, July and August, rain or shine Turtle Park between the Perham Area Chamber Of Commerce building the Perham City Hall. The races start with turtles in the middle of the circle, the judges blow their whistles and the turtles are off. The first turtle to cross the outer circle is declared the winner and goes on to race for the title of Grand Champion of the Day. Supply your own turtle for the race or borrow one from the Turtle Pits. Participation is free, but donations are always welcome to help house and feed the turtles. Bonus points: Perham Turtle Fest is held each June and includes family friendly fun, kid events, an official Turtle Egg Hunt, Grand Parade on Friday evening, more turtle races, train rides, a street dance, official Kids’ Tractor Pull and a computer choreographed fireworks at the fairgrounds.
Attend a quirky event. Only in Minnesota can you find events which border on the absurd. Created for the sake of having fun and making memories the list includes: Looney Days, Crazy Days, Mosquito Run, Turtle and Minnow Races, Turkey Days, Watermelon Days, and of course Otter Fest. And the unofficial not so quirky list includes summertime outdoor concerts, weekly flea markets, sporting events and tournaments, rodeos, historical reenactments, and of course the International Friendship Festival, Finn Creek Festival and the Otter Tail County Fair.
Go for the fish. It only makes sense that with more than 1,000 lakes in the area fishing in Otter Country might be a popular pass time. The scaly list includes Minnesota’s state fish - the mighty walleye as well as large and smallmouth bass, panfish, northern pike, muskie, crappie, bluegill, perch sunfish, rock bass. Did you know? Otter Tail Country is the home of Lund Boat Company reported to make the 'world's finest fishing boats'.
Breakaway for sweets in the snow. Each Spring before the snow fades tour the sugar houses near Vergus. See how the sap turns into golden maple syrup. Taste luscious pancakes with pure maple. Make maple syrup snow pops. Watch the craft makers demonstrate their skills and have a cone of maple sugar cotton candy.
After the summer season, think snow. The area slows down but does not close down. Once the leaves have fallen, it is the spot for go snowshoeing, hiking, ice skating, ice fishing and snuggling in a cozy cabin. There’s even sledding, snow tubing, downhill skiing, and snowboarding. Making a snow man is a must and creating snow angels essential to enjoying the season.
Where does one begin? Recreation, relaxation, fun and excitement - make your family vacation in Otter Tail Country happen. Call toll-free 1-800-423-4571 or log on to www.ottertailcountry.com or for more family vacation ideas log on to www.exploreminnesota.com
Content created by FamilyTravelfiles.com and images provided by Minnesota Tourism. Copyright 2012.