Nestled deep in the Northern Minnesota wilderness along scenic State Highway 65 rests a rustic, picturesque lakefront resort: Big Sandy Lodge & Resort. Not only is our lakeside haven consistently ranked as one of the premier Northern Minnesota resorts, but we’re just minutes away from a wide variety of state parks, wildlife refuges, interconnected ATV trails, and, of course, can’t-miss hidden gems. We’re located on the northern edge of peaceful McGregor, Minnesota, a quintessential small town that’s loaded with charm and history. When you’re not pontooning with friends, fishing for a trophy walleye, or paddling on Big Sandy Lake, we recommend taking a short drive (or boat trip) to one of these staples.

Big Sandy Fire Tower

Many travelers, including returning guests, don’t realize that a 94-foot-tall fire tower looms in-between Big Sandy Lake and Lake Minnewawa near the Sandy Lake DNR Forestry Department. The Big Sandy Fire Tower was constructed in 1933 by the Forestry Department, and it remains one of the only active lookouts in the state. From atop the fire tower, visitors obtain jaw-dropping views of the region’s azure blue lakes, dense forestry, and soaring birdlife. And the fire tower is less than two miles from Big Sandy Lodge, one of the top-rated four-season Northern Minnesota resorts. Thankfully, the tower was restored in 1992 to account for the occasional foot traffic.

The School House Cafe

McGregor’s School House Cafe is a quirky restaurant, historic landmark, and roadside attraction all rolled into one. This aptly-named schoolhouse sits on a 100-year-old homestead that’s been in the Nistler family since 1981. Nistler’s family-owned business has worn many hats, including that of an ice cream shop, tea room, antique shop, and now quaint, unquestionably kitschy cafe. The fine folks behind the counter brew Alakef Coffee, scoop Kemps ice cream, and craft a variety of homemade breakfast or lunch delicacies. Before or after devouring a plate of Gramma’s country-style French toast, don’t forget to observe the memorabilia, purchase a knickknack, and take a short walk on this serene homestead.

Northern Minnesota Resorts

Raspberry Island Folk School

Big Sandy Lodge is one of the only Northern Minnesota resorts that provide easy access to a sprawling 6,500-acre lake. As you might expect, Big Sandy Lake has several picturesque islands that are only a short boat ride or paddling trip from our beach. This scenic, still lake is home to 25 islands, most notably Raspberry Island. If you were to dock on this secluded isle, you’d discover a husband-and-wife duo that leads fine craft workshops. Janet and Gary Hill conduct absorbing summertime workshops at the wonderous Raspberry Island Folk School. It’s a relatively new venture for this couple. But the end result is a master class of hospitality, craftsmanship, and tranquility. We highly recommend signing up for one of their pottery, blacksmithing, or knife-making sessions next summer!

Classic Northern Minnesota Resorts

After visiting a couple of McGregor’s hidden gems, return to one of the top-rated Northern Minnesota resorts: Big Sandy Lodge & Resort. While we’re widely known as a fishing lodge, Minnesotans also flock to our lakeside haven in the wintertime for snowmobiling excursions, snowshoeing adventures, and even “Golf On Ice.” We remain one of the best romantic getaways in the state thanks to our Whirlpool tubs, wood-burning fireplaces, sauna, hot tub, and those heartwarming sunsets. Give us a call today at 218-426-5040 to learn more about our classic Northern Minnesota cabin rentals (or check availability online).