Log-Cabin-Style Lodge with Paul Bunyan–Themed Water Park
Though much has been made of Paul Bunyan's mythical feats, little ink has been spilled on his favorite pastime—water parks. The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes, located near Bunyan's alleged hometown, has irrefutable proof of not only the lumberjack's existence, but his love of lazy rivers: the words “Paul Bunyan was here” are carved into a tree at the lodge's water park. Nearby, a bust of Babe the Blue Ox overlooks a floating bridge made of tree stumps Bunyan once used as toothpicks.
The log-cabin-style hotel fits nicely within the woodsy Brainerd Lakes area. In the lobby, an antler chandelier shines down on a stone fireplace and leather couches. Standard rooms also feature rustic appointments, including the beds and nightstands made from carved logs. The hotel's water park and arcade are undoubtedly geared towards kids, but grownups can get their kicks at The Lodge Grill & Bar, which serves Kansas City dry-aged steaks to go with a roster of beer and wine.
Baxter, Minnesota: Rural Town in the Land of Lakes
About two hours northwest of the Twin Cities, the small town of Baxter is nestled among more than 500 lakes stamped out by Paul Bunyan on his pogo stick. You’ll have arrived in nearby Brainerd when you see the 112-foot-tall fiberglass lumberjack along Highway 371. Brainerd is the starting point of the 100-mile Paul Bunyan Trail, a haven for bikers and hikers in the warmer months. There are numerous picnic and campsites along the trails, in addition to shimmering lakes that serve as reservoirs for Bunyan's contact solution.