What a wonderful experience when your summer vacation plans coincide with amazing local events in your destination location! The ever-popular resort area of Gull Lake in Central Minnesota has no shortage of exciting and nostalgic festivities planned for summer.

After a hiatus for many events last summer (and most of 2020!), the region is yearning to welcome guests back with a bang. Beyond the obvious nature-centric and lake-focused activities, the summer season is jam-packed with Gull Lake activities and events sure to satisfy a wide variety of interests.


For an experience that epitomizes the best of small-town America, Nisswa’s weekly Turtle Races should be on everyone’s bucket list. Dating back to 1963, the races are a favorite summer tradition for locals and visitors alike. Facilitated by the Nisswa Chamber of Commerce, the races are held each Wednesday of summer at 2 p.m. on the official track by the Chamber office.

Local turtle wranglers harvest the turtles from the wild after they’ve laid their eggs in the spring and release them back following race season in the fall. Racers choose their turtle from the racing pool, pay a nominal entry fee, and cheer their turtle to the finish line. There are no age limitations on who may enter, and the event promises great fun for both racers and spectators.


More than a music festival, Lakes Jam is an annual event that unites rock and country music fans from all walks of life and brings them together in the Brainerd Lakes area. Held this year from June 24 to 26, the musical spectacular features acts including Ratt, Tracy Lawrence, Lita Ford, The Crown Jewels, Slaughter, Jon Pardi, Carly Pearce, Kip Winger, Autograph, and many more. Tickets can be purchased at LakesJam.com.

During the three-day event, which is held at the Brainerd International Raceway, festivalgoers can enjoy so much more than just the music. Meet-and-greets with the artists, as well as backstage tours, can be won during social media contests and at Pre Jam Parties. A bean bag tournament (and simultaneous – but optional – costume contest!) crowns the best cornhole duo, while card players will enjoy the poker tournaments hosted by the Brainerd Lakes Area Poker League. Attendees can also take in watercross, drift car, and lawnmower races onsite!


Speaking of the raceway, Brainerd International is the largest racetrack in the Upper Midwest, offering the most diverse motorsports schedule anywhere – and all events are back for the 2021 season! With a world-class drag strip and two road courses, the venue hosts drag racing, road racing, endurance racing, Superbike racing, drifting and autocross competitions, cruising events, and car shows. The small lake on property even hosts watercross competitions, where snowmobiles race on open water.

Perhaps the main draw to the raceway is the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, which makes its stop in Brainerd in August each year. The world’s best drag racers pilot the fastest dragsters in front of 100,000 onlookers. And the facility’s Performance Driving School holds classes May through September for any skill level driver. Tickets for any event can be purchased at BIRMN.com.


Celebrate America’s birthday with Nisswa’s Freedom Days Celebration & Parade on Saturday, July 3 with a full schedule of fun! Activities throughout the day include a special edition Turtle Races, Water Wars (socially distant water balloon launches), live music, food vendors, and more.

The Freedom Days parade starts at 7 p.m. as spectators line both sides of Main Street to watch the parade that includes various floats, marching veterans’ groups, high school marching bands, clowns, area royalty, fire trucks, car clubs, and horse-riding groups, among others.

Over in Pequot Lakes, check out Stars & Stripes Days, named one of the Best Small Town 4th of July Celebrations by Life in Minnesota. Trailside Park will be buzzing with music, games, crafts, and food vendors over the weekend of July 3-4. Fireworks will light up the Saturday night sky, with a celebratory parade to follow on Sunday at high noon.


If you’re looking for a fun, family-friendly place to make unforgettable summer vacation memories, Gull Lake Beach Resorts is situated in the heart of the Brainerd Lakes region. Located right on Gull Lake’s best beaches, and just a short drive from all the local action, our perfectly appointed properties will be an amazing home base for your next summer vacation.

As the pandemic situation continues to be fluid, don’t forget to contact each venue directly to ensure there’s no immediate threat of cancellation or postponement. And contact us today to book your lakeside cabin and begin planning all your Gull Lake area events and activities. Let the good times roll!