5 Things You’ll Love About the Northern Minnesota Lifestyle

Here at Bill Hansen Realty, we love Northern Minnesota. Our agents are members of this community, and are as deeply rooted in the Up North lifestyle as every other resident of this unique region. If you’re considering visiting, vacationing, or settling down in Northern Minnesota, get ready for a blend of serenity, nature, and tight-knit community that might just steal your heart.

Minnesota Lake Life, Simplified:

Northern Minnesota isn’t just about having a cabin by the lake; it’s about embracing a lifestyle the revolves around it. Imagine waking up to the gentle sounds of water against the shoreline, spending a lazy afternoon fishing, and gathering around a crackling bonfire under a starry sky. Whether casting a line or soaking in the serene views, the lake is a sanctuary up here.

Immersed in Nature:

From dense forests to sprawling lakeshores, Northern Minnesota is for nature lovers. Surrounded by towering pines, rugged trails, and crystal-clear waters, there’s no shortage of natural beauty. Discover the breathtaking Boundary Waters, where pristine lakes, winding rivers, and untouched wilderness beckon adventurers to explore. Whether you’re an avid hiker, angler, or birdwatcher, nature is always at your doorstep Up North.

Small-Town Charm:

Here, small towns reign supreme, each bringing its own unique character. Your neighbors aren’t just people who live next door; they’re friends, family, and the heartbeat of the community. From lively farmers’ markets to cozy cafes where everyone knows your name, you’ll quickly feel right at home in our close-knit communities.

Peace & Quiet:

If you’re seeking respite from the hustle and bustle of city life, Northern Minnesota delivers. Trade in the busy sounds of the city for the peaceful melodies of birds and local wildlife. Lean into the tranquil mornings, serene sunsets, and show-stopper skies full of stars. Here, peace and quiet aren’t luxuries; they’re a way of life.

Four Seasons of Beauty:

Up North, each season brings unique beauty and opportunities for adventure. From vibrant fall foliage to the crisp crunch of snow underfoot, from the surge of new life in spring to lazy summer days spent by the lake, there’s never a dull moment. No matter the season, there’s always something to love about life in Northern Minnesota.

So, whether you’re drawn to the lake life, the serenity of nature, or the warmth of small-town charm, Northern Minnesota offers a lifestyle that’s as unique as its landscape. Come for the scenery, stay for the sense of belonging—you might just find yourself never wanting to leave.

A Regional Romantic Getaway: A Valentine’s Visit Full of Favorites

The heart of Northern Minnesota, with its tranquil wilderness and small-town charm, offers the perfect setting for a romantic getaway. Whether you’re seeking savory sweets and enchanting experiences, or simply basking in each other’s company, this region is the perfect place for couples to reconnect. From extravagant to intimate, we’ve collected several local gems to consider for your romantic escape.

Dining Delights:

The best dates start with good food and ambiance, and Walker offers some cozy options to choose from. The charming 502 Restaurant boasts beautiful lakeside views to accompany its classic menu options. If you’re looking for fine dining, The Boulders is where you want to be. Nestled in a picturesque setting, this restaurant is known for its high level of service, upscale atmosphere, and the best food in Walker. For an after-dinner drink or treat head to Portage Brewing Company, WineDown Wine Bar, or Village Square Ice Cream Parlor, all located within a block of one another, downtown.

Activities & Attractions:

Explore enchanting attractions hand in hand, immersing yourselves in the natural beauty of the region. Take in the picturesque views and breathtaking scenery of the countryside while strolling the Heartland State Trail or Paul Bunyan State Forest. Cross-country ski the Chippewa National Forest or drive along the Lake Country Scenic Byway. For couples seeking a more vibrant and thrilling atmosphere, catch a show or try your luck at the Northern Lights Casino.

Exceptional Accommodations:

Looking for special accommodations for your romantic trip? Consider the Historic Chase on the Lake Resort in Walker, which offers lakeside suites and luxurious spa services. Alternatively, a rustic cabin rental, guest favorite Pine House AirBnB, or the Leech Lake Resort Bed and Breakfast will offer warm and charming arrangements for a special visit.

A Night In at the Cabin:

After a day of exploration, retreat to the comfort of your cabin for a cozy and intimate evening in. Create a romantic ambiance with candles, music, and a special cocktail or dessert. Spend quality time together snuggled up by the fireplace with board games or a movie marathon, and soak in the peace and privacy of the snowy surroundings.

For couples hoping to spark romance this winter, the beauty of Northern Minnesota is unmatched. The peaceful community, charming towns, and pristine landscape come together for the perfect backdrop. Here, amidst the beloved lakes and lush forests, couples can indulge in a weekend of love, adventure, and intimate moments together.

An Up-North Winter Survival Guide with Tips Only Locals Know

Winter in Northern Minnesota is no ordinary season—it’s a legendary test of resilience, an annual battle against the bone-chilling cold that shapes the character of the people who live here. In this frozen tundra, temperatures fall far below freezing and snow piles up in high drifts. Locals have survived winter here for hundreds of years and many have cultivated a unique set of behaviors and habits to not just endure, but embrace the dark, frigid months.

The Culture of Cold: Minnesota’s Rich History

Northern Minnesota’s winters are more than just a meteorological phenomenon; they are deeply embedded in the region’s culture and history. Generations have faced the challenge of surviving in this Arctic-like climate, and have passed down time-tested traditions. Ice fishing, for instance, isn’t just a hobby; it’s a cultural ritual that binds communities together. The frozen lakes become social hubs, dotted with colorful ice houses, proving that lake life applies well beyond the summer months.

The Courage of Cold: Outdoor Events

Minnesotans also gather to celebrate and showcase the beauty of winter. These gatherings, carnivals, and festivals not only defy the bitter cold but boast the resilience and creativity of residents. Family skating, bonfires, and elaborate ice sculptures bring the streets to life, in a one-of-a-kind display of our unique culture. The warm embrace of community, whether in the warming house or out on the lake, becomes a lifeline during the long, dark nights.

The Comfort of Cold: Candle-lit, Cozy, and Calm

While northern residents are skilled at making the most of the outdoors, we also spend more time in our homes during the deep freeze. The Danish concept of hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”) helps inside. The idea represents a feeling of coziness, comfort, and contentment, and is embraced by creating warm, inviting spaces that foster a sense of well-being. Whether it’s building a fire, enjoying a cup of tea, or hosting a game night with friends, hygge adds an extra layer of warmth to the winter experience, making it not just about surviving but truly savoring the season.

Surviving a Northern Minnesota winter isn’t just about enduring the cold; it’s about thriving in it. The deep freeze fosters a sense of camaraderie, resilience, and appreciation for the unique beauty that can only be found in the heart of winter. If you’d like to become a resident of this beloved region, Bill Hansen Realty is ready to help!

Say Goodbye to Summer with Live Music, Family Fun, and Breathtaking Scenery

Fall is a time when the Northland’s natural beauty takes center stage, and our communities come alive for one last hoorah before winter settles in. In this blog, we’ll take you on a tour through the heart of Northern Minnesota, to explore some local fall festivals and celebrations. Join us as we uncover the essence of autumn in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Harvest Moon Beer & Wine Tasting Festival – September 16th (Walker, MN)

As highlighted previously, the Harvest Moon Festival is a local favorite, offering craft beverage tastings from over 150 local vendors. This event has camping, lodging, and transportation options for attendees over the span of the weekend. Activities include games, contests, guided DIY art with the Traveling Art Pub, live music and dancing!

Nisswa Fall Festival – September 16th (Nisswa, MN)

If you’re looking for something a little further south, the 18th annual Smokin’ Hot BBQ Challenge is happening on the same day. There will be tons of food including a pancake breakfast from the Nisswa Fire Department and competition ribs for tasting after judging. The festival will also have a medallion hunt, bean bag tournament, Kidzone, craft market, music and more!

Longville Oktoberfest – September 16th (Longville, MN)

Believe it or not, a third local festival is happening on Saturday, September 16th over in Longville. Come on by Oktoberfest for a celebration of German heritage consisting of beer, crafts, antiques, book sale, scavenger hunt, music, and tons of food!

Carters’ Fall Festival – September 23 through October 29 (Park Rapids, MN)

Come experience fall at the farm, starting September 23rd and running through all of October. Visit Carters’ Farm’s giant Folklore & Fairy Tales corn maze, as well as wagon rides, live music and magic performances, and loads of games and activities. They offer season passes  and discounted tickets on their website.

Crosslake Days – September 28th, 29th, 30th (Crosslake, MN)

The weekend of Thursday September 28th through Saturday September 30th is full of family fun in Crosslake. Come experience a chili cook off, arts & craft fair, scavenger hunt, corn-hole tournament, trivia, live music, meat raffle, and loads of kids activities and inflatables.

These gatherings not only celebrate the changing of the seasons but also the rich community, culture, and tradition of our picturesque region. As the air begins to chill and the smell of bonfires surrounds us, join us in saying goodbye to summer with lively music, craft beverages, and family fun, all backed by the breathtaking scenery of this spectacular season.

Preserve and Protect: How to Winterize your Home for Vacancy

When leaving your home for the long and bitter winter months, it’s critical to thoroughly prepare. The winter cold presents some unique challenges and in a long-vacant home, small problems can quickly escalate. Here is a brief guide for winterizing your home before leaving it behind until spring.

Utilities, Fireplaces, and Plumbing: Reduce Your Risk

One of the largest risks to a home during the winter is a burst pipe, so be sure to shut off the water supply before leaving. Open all faucets and drain all pipes (including toilets, dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters.) This will ensure there is no freezing or burst pipes while you’re away.

Unplug all major appliances and turn the thermostat down, though you’ll want to keep the internal temperature above freezing. If there is a fireplace, clean it thoroughly, removing any ash, coals, or other debris. Sweep or vacuum the fireplace and be sure to close any flues or dampers.

The Kitchen: Remove All Food

Another risk of vacating your home for the winter is animals. Removing all food from your kitchen will help to avoid attracting unwanted critters. Clean out the fridge and freezer completely; drain any water lines, empty the ice maker, clean and sanitize all surfaces. Leave the doors of your fridge and freezer propped open or consider using activated charcoal or baking soda to help avoid musty smells in the spring.

Remove all food from the pantry. Anything left behind should be secured in hard, sealed containers. Wash all dishes, clean your trash and recycling containers, and sanitize your sink when finished. Remove anything that should not freeze (like cans of carbonated beverages) and take out the trash.

Other Basics: Tidy, Clean, and Seal

You will want to do a basic clean of all other areas of the home including bedrooms, bathrooms, and common rooms. Wash, dry, and put away all linens. Vacuum carpets, sweep and mop floors, wipe down all surfaces. You may also consider additional weather proofing such as weather strips for doors and windows, plastic sheeting for windows, and caulking in any exterior gaps.

Outdoor Items: Secure and Store

Clean out gutters and be sure your roof is clear of debris. Arrange to have outdoor maintenance managed while you are away, such as shoveling snow or removing ice dams. Be sure to secure and store any outdoor items such as grills, fire pits, and furniture.

Overall Security: Locking Up

When leaving for an extended time, you want to ensure as much security as possible. Lock all doors and windows and remove any valuables before leaving your home for the winter. Consider purchasing automatic timers for a few lights. You may also want to arrange to have someone check on the house occasionally, throughout the winter.

Your home is a financial and emotional investment and it’s imperative that you protect it, even when you are away. By following this guide, you will limit the risks of leaving your home for the winter. From securing utilities to tending to your kitchen, these steps will help preserve your sanctuary while you are away. Remember, a well-prepared home not only shields against the cold but also grants you peace of mind throughout your winter hiatus.

Celebrate the Changing Seasons with These Can’t-Miss Gatherings and Community Events

Fall is a beautiful season here in Northern, MN, famous for its display of changing colors. Folks flock to visit our vibrant region as the cool weather settles in, for camping, bonfires, beer, and special events. There are plenty of celebrations throughout this change of seasons, and this post will overview some of our favorites here at Bill Hansen Realty.

Ethnic Fest

Since winter can start at any time here in the Great North, we start celebrating autumn early. This year, Ethnic Fest is September 9th. This event is a celebration of the diverse culture of not only the Leech Lake area, but all of Minnesota! The weekend is overflowing with amazing foods, arts and crafts, and dozens of unique performances. Join us for a weekend full of family fun, amazing music and a rich celebration of our unique culture.

Muskie Tournament

Another popular local activity for the fall is muskie fishing. Muskie’s, Inc. will host its longest-running tournament, The Frank Schneider Memorial Muskie Tournament, this September 8th through the 10th. This event is held across 20+ lakes in the Bemidji/Cass Lake, Walker/Leech Lake area of northern Minnesota. Everyone who registers is entered to win one of several grand prizes, awarded at the end of the weekend.

Harvest Moon Festival

The Moondance Harvest Moon Festival is scheduled for September 16th, 2023. The festival is a huge beer and wine tasting festival, with over 150 craft beers, wines, and spirits to try. There’s also tons of food, entertainment, and activities including yard games, axe throwing, karaoke, music, and dancing. Over 3,000 people attended last year so make your plans early and consider booking a hotel or camping reservation in advance!

Oktoberfest & Fall Fest

Last on the list for this fall are two of our favorite local breweries: Portage Brewing and Rendezvous Brewing. Both have hosted special fall events in the past and we’re looking forward to celebrating with them again this year. Portage Brewing’s Seasons Change Oktoberfest Celebration is set for September 23rd and in the past, they’ve hosted live music and have launched their fall beer releases and food menu. Rendezvous Brewing hosts a Fall Fest that’s scheduled for October 7th this year. Last year they had tons of local food and special beer releases, as well as sales and specials from some favorite local shops! Keep an eye on these two and their social media accounts for information about this year’s celebration, as we head into fall!

The change of the seasons is a special time here in the Walker/Hackensack area. We know that winter is coming, and we are determined to soak up every second we can before that time comes. It’s an especially important moment to celebrate our wonderful region, our local and family businesses, and all that this great community has to offer. We hope to see you doing the same!

Capture Minnesota’s Unique Summer Experience with These Adventure Ideas

Most residents of Minnesota know – it’s the summers that make the winters worth living through. With all the nature and water that surrounds us, even in the cities, there is no limit on recreation options once the weather warms up. Bill Hansen Realty’s guide to outdoor recreation includes many of the classics and a few new ideas for you to try this summer.

Up-North Camping

Two of the most popular summer activity options are camping and hiking. We’re surrounded by state parks, beautiful hiking trails, and camping options of various accessibility. Some popular camping locations are:

  • Along the Superior Hiking Trail, commonly known as the North Shore.
  • Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) is a one-of-a-kind wilderness area consisting of a huge network of freshwater lakes, streams, islands, and forests.
  • Voyageurs National Park, MN’s only national park. Campsites are accessible by boat only.
  • George Crosby Manitou State Park, a great spot for backpacking and hike-in camping.

Our favorite spot a bit closer to home is: Chippewa National Forest. Located just 15 miles from Walker, Chippewa offers campsites at Stony Point, as well as boat access, a swimming beach, and picnic areas.

Favorite Hiking Spots

Favorite hiking spots in northern MN include the previously mentioned Superior Hiking Trail and Chippewa National Forest. Itasca State Park is another option near home, which famously houses the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Finally, if you’re up for a small journey, or heading to the North Shore, check out Gooseberry Falls. Known for its namesake, the park offers multiple waterfalls, camping, hiking, and biking trails.

Local Community Festivals

Here in Northern MN, we celebrate any excuse to get together with community. Over the next few months, both Walker and Detroit Lakes are hosting music festivals – Walker’s Rock Music Festival is 7/20-22 and Detroit Lakes’ Country Music Festival is 8/3-5. Bemidji is also hosting its Annual Water Carnival 6/29-7/4 and Grand Rapids boasts the World’s Largest Wild Rice Festival 7/7-7/9.

Other Local Activities:

Some other popular activities occurring throughout the summer are:

  • Farmer’s markets and flea markets – filled with antiques, knick-knacks, food, music, and more, farmer’s and flea markets are an easy way to spend a weekend morning with family and friends.
  • Wineries and breweries – check out some local favorites like Forestedge Winery, Winedown, Portage Brewing Company, and Rendezvous Brewing.
  • Boating, Fishing & Swimming – find a public access beach near you and spend a day in or on the water!

Places to Visit

While many of the options mentioned in this blog are relatively local to North-Central Minnesota, there are several spots we love that are a bit farther away. If you’re looking to plan a getaway this summer, may we recommend the following destinations:

  • North Shore / Superior Hiking Trail
  • Duluth / Two Harbors
  • Lutsen / Grand Marais
  • BWCA
  • Twin Cities

We love Minnesota – the landscape, residents, and recreation. There are so many unique and special places here and we want everyone to have an amazing summer experience. If we missed your favorite place, let us know! We love hearing from and celebrating our up-north community.

Celebrate Summer with the 6 Best Beaches the Region Has to Offer

Our beloved home of Minnesota is known for its abundant lakes, and there’s no shortage of beautiful beaches in the state. Here are six of our favorite area resorts with amazing beaches. Some offer public access while others are for guests only, but each provides unique features, activities, and lodging options.

Blue Water Resort | Hackensack | Private Beach Access for Guests Only

Located in the charming town of Hackensack, Blue Water Resort provides guests with private access to the clear and clean waters of Birch Lake. Boaters will also enjoy easy access to Birch Lake from the resort’s private boat launch, and anglers will find plenty of opportunities to catch walleye, northern pike, and bass. The resort offers cabin rentals and RV sites with hookups throughout the summer.

Pine Ridge Resort | Longville | Public Beach Access

Pine Ridge Resort is located on the shores of Boy Lake, known for its pristine water and excellent fishing. The resort features a sandy beach with a gradual slope, making it perfect for swimming and water activities. The beach is open to the public, and day visitors can access the beach for a fee. Pine Ridge Resort is also great for kayaking and canoeing, as the lake is relatively calm with many bays and inlets to explore. This resort offers cabin rentals and camping sites.

Wildwood Beach Resort | Hackensack | Public Beach Access

Wildwood Beach Resort features a wide beachfront on the sandy shores of Little Boy Lake. The beach is open to the public, and day visitors can access the beach for a fee. The beach is great for swimming and sunbathing, and the water is perfect for water activities like paddleboarding and kayaking. The resort offers cabin rentals and camping sites and also features a playground for kids and a fire pit for roasting marshmallows.

Shores of Leech Lake | Walker | Private Beach Access for Guests Only

Located in the town of Walker, Shores of Leech Lake offers a large beach area with soft sand and crystal clear water. The resort is situated on a bay, making it a great spot for fishing and boating. The beach is private and exclusive to resort guests. Shores of Leech Lake also features a sauna and a hot tub, perfect for relaxing after a long day on the water. The resort offers cabin rentals and RV sites.

Tri Birches Resort | Hackensack | Public Beach Access

Tri Birches Resort offers not one, not two, but three beautiful beaches on Woman Lake. Each of the beaches at Tri Birches Resort features translucent waters and soft sand. The beaches are open to the public, and day visitors can access the beach for a fee. Boaters can access Woman Lake from the resort’s private boat launch, and anglers will have the chance to catch walleye, northern pike, and musky. The resort offers cabin rentals and camping sites.

Hiawatha Beach Resort | Walker | Private Beach Access for Guests Only

Hiawatha Beach Resort is located on the southern shore of Leech Lake and boasts a sandy beach with crystal-clear water. The resort offers private and exclusive beach access to resort guests only. The resort offers easy access to Leech Lake, one of Minnesota’s largest and most popular lakes. Boaters will enjoy easy access to the lake from the resort’s private boat launch, and anglers will find plenty of opportunities to catch walleye, northern pike, and musky. The resort offers cabin rentals and RV sites.

We love our region, and we wait all winter to watch it come alive in the sun. Walker, Hackensack and Longville have some of the best lakes and beaches the state has to offer and they are perfect for summer vacation. Whether you are looking for calm waters, sandy beaches, great fishing, or family fun and activities, you’ll find it all in North-Central Minnesota.

A Fun History of Walker, Minnesota You May Not Have Known

The Early Days of Walker, MN

Like much of the United States, the land known today as Walker, MN was originally inhabited by indigenous people. The Dakota tribe settled there for a long time before they were eventually pushed out by the Ojibwe people, moving west from the Great Lakes. European American settlers encroached on these Native American territories as they followed the fur trade in the late 1800’s.

Walker, Minnesota’s Founder

Patrick McGarry founded the town of Walker in 1896, following the construction of the Minnesota & International Railroad, which ended in Walker. The town started out as a hot spot for fur trading but with the construction of the rail line, the business expanded. McGarry named the town after the successful logging tycoon Thomas B. Walker, in hopes of driving a new kind of business to the area.

Thomas Walker wound up founding the neighboring town of Akeley, due to his wife’s sensitivity to Walker’s rough, frontier nature. The town of Walker did benefit from these nearby operations and many other businesses, jobs, and services were generated as a result.

Changing Industries Over the Years

Throughout the 1900s, tourism took over as the primary industry of Walker, as it became a destination town of Northern Minnesota. People from surrounding cities began to pursue and prioritize recreation, and the lake provided abundant opportunities. At one time, Leech Lake had over 100 resorts located on it! In 1950, Walker hit its highest population of 1,175 residents. These days, it’s back below the 1,000 thresholds.

Walker, Minnesota Today

Today, Walker is best known for being a quaint town “up north.” The downtown area has many unique businesses including family restaurants and boutique shops. Leech Lake is still the main attraction and the town revolves around the seasons. Boating, swimming, and fishing rule over the summer while winter brings opportunities to snowmobile, ice fish, shop, and keep warm inside the cabin!

If you’re interested in becoming one of the 1,000 people that call this area their seasonal or year-round home, just take a look at our current Leech Lake listings!

Three Activities to Keep You Entertained at the Cabin this Winter

While most of us Minnesotans are used to the cold and snow, there are just some days when you feel like cozying in and having an indoor activity day. These three activities are fun for all ages and will help you pass the time as you stay warm and dry.

Create an Indoor Obstacle Course

Gather the pillow, blankets, chairs, and anything else you can find – it’s time to start an obstacle course! For days when it’s too cold, or you just don’t feel like getting wet outside, this is a great activity for all ages. From building the course to racing through it, this will account for hours of fun for everyone. Don’t forget to remove anything breakable and make sure you’re making safe decisions! 

Host an Indoor Scavenger Hunt

This is another great option for people of every age to enjoy the day. Hide clues around the cabin and form teams, or make it a group effort to solve riddles and find a prize! You could also take turns creating scavenger hunts for each other so that the fun lasts even longer!

Get Baking

Whether it’s bread or cake or cookies, this is an activity everyone can get behind. Even if some of your group doesn’t want to participate in the baking, you can be sure that they’ll join in when it comes time for the tasting.
However you choose to spend your time this winter, the team at Bill Hansen Realty hopes that you stay warm and safe! As always, reach out to us at any time with all of your vacation property needs!