Monday, August 29, 2016

Family Travel Review ~ Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, Minnesota

For our family vacation this year we decided to take a road trip.  The destination needed to be new to us and an easy drive from Des Moines with a toddler. I remember reading about the Brainerd Lakes Area of Minnesota in a Midwest Living magazine a while ago so I decided to start my research there last winter.  Once Grand View Lodge in Nisswa caught my eye we stopped looking for anywhere else.

The resort is beautiful and has a large number of cabins to accommodate many sizes of groups.  You really should go check out their website because my pictures don't do it justice.  We chose a 2 bedroom cabin in Bay Colony on the East side of the resort.  We honestly had no idea what to expect other than the pictures online showed a full kitchen, TVs and separate beds for our kiddos.

The kitchen was complete with pretty much everything you need if you want to bring groceries and cook your own meals.  There was even a muffin tin if we had gotten the urge to bake.

The kids were more excited about the TV in their bedroom than the bigger one in the Living Room.  They know they will never get a TV in their room at home.

I honestly didn't know that there was going to be two bathrooms so that was a pleasant surprise.  I also didn't know that the essential toiletries would be supplied.  They also supply all the bath towels so all you need to worry about bringing is your beach towels.  Housekeeping also comes in every day to refresh your towels and may even load your dishwasher!  The cabins also have a washer and dryer if you need to do laundry during your visit.

The only thing I really didn't like about the cabin was the fact that the toilet seats didn't have lids on them.  I'm big on closing the lid when flushing.  I also worry about things falling in the toilet especially when there is a toddler around.  Otherwise we were very comfortable during our stay there.

Grand View Lodge has a number of activities that you can sign up for that are offered for free to all guests.  You just need to sign up in advance thru the GVL Fun site and they will send you that info prior to your stay.  One of the activities offered is a pontoon fishing excursion.  We don't own a boat so this was a nice way for us to get out on the lake and let the kids fish.  They know right where to take you because the fish were definitely biting.  We went through a lot of worms!

We had a banana boat ride scheduled for later that day so we enjoyed lunch at Looney's Grand View Lodge's beach hut that is set in between the indoor pool and the lake.  It was great being able to just enjoy a casual lunch without worry about getting changed or dragging the kids too far away from the fun.

The kids had a lot of favorites during the trip, but banana boating has to top the list.  You can sign up for a 30 minute banana boat ride once a day during your stay so we signed up for a ride every day.  The kids loved it and when the adults weren't riding we still got to go on the boat with our little guy so everyone could enjoy the boat ride together.  The banana boats hold up to 10 people at a time.  We had a different boat driver each day so each ride was different which just added to the fun.

Other free activities we took advantage of during our stay included S'mores on the beach and beach yoga.  Since I just started practicing yoga this summer I was thrilled that I could attend a session by the water in such a beautiful setting.  

"Beach" yoga is really yoga on the grass but it was still an amazing way to start the morning listening to the waves crashing in and the sound of the gulls.  

The kids had a ton of fun in the indoor pool area even though they didn't use it as much as I thought they would.  They each had fun doing their own thing.  P loved playing with the water guns, T stuck with the basketball hoops and Little Miss went down the slide too many times to count.  I loved that it was open to the outside so I could still get a little sun while watching them.

The reason we didn't get to the indoor pool as much as we would have liked is because we were loving the beach on the East side.  There were a couple of kayaks available to take out for a little while so we did that a couple of times and the kids had so much fun just jumping off of that dock.  They made some friends so they were having a great time horsing around, swimming in the lake and playing in the sand.

We absolutely loved staying at Bay Colony because the beach there is semi-private to the guests staying the six cabins located there.  It was definitely less crazy than the beach at the main lodge.  We had it to ourselves several times during our trip.  There are a few fire pits and firewood available too so you can roast your own marshmallows.  

There are definitely some down sides to staying on the East side.  You share a parking lot and depending on how many families are in each cabin the lot can and did get full.  It wasn't really an issue, but don't expect to pull up to your cabin to park.  They do offer wheelbarrows for hauling things to and from your vehicle though.  You're also a few miles down the road from the main lodge so that means any time you want to go to yoga, the pool, banana boating, etc. we had to drive to the lodge.  You also have to cross the a fairly high speed highway in order to do so it's not like it's a scenic little drive to get there. There was a decent amount of traffic, but nothing overwhelming.  

Also staying at Bay Colony meant we had to drive over any time we wanted to go to the Chocolate Ox.  I eat ice cream pretty much every night at home and I don't like to change up my routine too much on vacation so of course we made a few trips.  Be sure to visit on Wednesday nights for BOGO cones!

If you're in Nisswa during the summer be sure to check out the turtle races on Wednesdays too!   We also really enjoyed our time blueberry picking at Wallin Farms.

This is the face of a kid who did not want to leave the beach and I don't blame him at all!

We had a great visit and have already talked about going back to Grand View Lodge.  We've decided the lake life is one we want a little more of.  If you have any questions or comments about Grand View be sure to leave them below and  I'll do my best to answer them.  There are so many things available at Grand View Lodge that we didn't take advantage of like their golf course, children's programs and spa so definitely check out to learn more.


  1. My youngest woulda loved the turtle races. I'm thinking I would have had to been on that indoor water slide myself! Looks like y'all had fun.

  2. This looks like a lovely place to stay with so many things to do! What a fun vacation!

  3. What a nice place. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Beautiful pics. So much fun and happiness! The resort looks big and updated. Very comfy, too. Although, I'm with you, and would want lids on the toilets.

  5. That looks like an amazing place for a trip!

  6. What a great place to stay for a vacation. Looks like everyone had fun.

    slehan at juno dot com

  7. Seems like you had a great vacation!

  8. What a great place to vacation. With s0 much to do there I would probably need to rest after that!

  9. Now that looks like a good time! Great photos. Wishing for a nice vacation like this!

  10. The photos look so great, it looks like a lot of fun. I would definitely love to visit Minnesota on a vacation.