The North Woods' laid-back pace gives kids (and parents) a break from jam-packed schedules and rushing around. Though older kids might protest at leaving behind their Nintendos for a rustic vacation, chances are the simple pleasures of fishing on one of the region's many lakes, biking or hiking trails abundant with wildlife and vegetation, or simply sitting around a campfire toasting marshmallows will soon win them over.
Since northern Minnesota enjoys a wide range of temperatures throughout its very distinct four seasons, there's really no one best time to go. Resorts often host more kid-friendly activities during the summer months, and that's when you'll be able to take advantage of warm-weather activities like swimming. Fall offers cool -- sometimes downright cold -- temperatures with far fewer mosquitoes than in summer. There won't be as much for kids to do, but you may enjoy a reduced off-season rate on accommodations, and of course you'll be able to view firsthand the area's gorgeous fall colors. For cold-lovers, winter months offer opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and sleigh rides. Spring, however, probably isn't your best bet for a vacation -- it comes slowly to the region and can be muddy, slushy, and downright cold.
In September, the average low drops to about 42 degrees, while the upper average holds warm at 69 degrees. By October, the average lows are as cold as 31 degrees, while the average high is still only 56 degrees. From November through April, you're likely to encounter very cold or freezing temperatures (-54 degrees is the lowest temperature on record). Even summer evenings can be cool. There are four very distinct seasons, and what kind of weather you may experience in any given season ranges widely from year to year. Get more weather info.
While Northwest Airlines offers service into the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport (BRD), it'll cost you quite a bit more than a flight into Minneapolis-St Paul (MSP) -- and the planes are propellers, not jets. The Minneapolis airport offers shuttles, but your best bet for a family is probably either driving (if you live in a neighboring state) or flying to Minneapolis and then renting a car, especially since you'll need one to get around while you're there. Greyhound buses will also take you up to Brainerd.
Unless you plan on staying walking-distance to your accommodations, plan on doing some driving. The north region is made up of small communities that can be quite a distance from one another, and within the towns and cities you won't find much in the way of public transportation. Parking is abundant and easy, so driving isn't difficult.
ExploreBrainerdLakes.com offers tourism and travel information about the greater Brainerd area. The website for the Itasca County Resort & Tourism Association covers Grand Rapids and the surrounding region, as does the offical tourism site for Grand Rapids.