With 11,842 lakes in Minnesota, how do you decide which one to explore? I’m extremely grateful for my friends, Craig and Cindy, as I didn’t have to make that tough decision. They recently invited me to join them at their cabin during their annual family getaway on Lake Osakis – a place they’ve returned to every year for the past two decades. This hidden gem is one of Minnesota’s top lakes to get away from it all.

And I can see why they return to Lake Osakis, Minnesota every year. It’s not crowded, it’s quiet, relaxing, and offers a lot of fun recreational activities. One of Minnesota’s top hidden gems of a lake, Lake Osakis, is also conveniently located a relatively short drive northeast of the Twin Cities (a little over two hours).

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Beautiful sunset over Lake Osakis

I only stayed overnight, but absolutely fell in love with the charming small town and the beautiful Lake Osakis. 

Kayaking on Lake Osakis, Minnesota

My friends’ daughter kayaking on Little Lake Osakis. Lauren and her mom offered some great tips as it was my first time kayaking and paddleboarding.

Where is Lake Osakis?

Located nine miles east of Alexandria, small-town Osakis has a population of 1,740, which does not include visitors who come to fish, boat, paddleboard, kayak and jet ski on the 6,269-acre Lake Osakis.

Things to do in Lake Osakis

Woman holding a fish
My friend Cindy and one of her catches of the night.

Young man fishing off the back of a boat
My friends’ son fishing off the boat. Jayson went fishing with his dad early the next morning also, and followed up with a bike ride around the lake. I believe he said it was ~20 miles roundtrip.

Woman birdwatching through binoculars on a boat on a lake
Birdwatching: The Lake Osakis Important Bird Areas (IBA) has the largest breeding population of the Western Grebes in Minnesota as well as several other nongame bird species not well represented elsewhere in the state, according to the Audubon Society.


I believe 99% of all Minnesota cabins include at least one Moose motif.

Lake shoreline clear water with rocky shore
Little Lake Osakis

Man watching kids on a lake dock
My friend Craig watching the lake do its thing.

Shop the newest Minnesota Vikings fan gear at Fanatics!
Boats on a lake

Pelican on a lake

Pelican on a lake

Downtown Osakis, Minnesota

Small town storefront
Antique and consignment shops in small-town Osakis, Minnesota

Jacobs Lefse Bakeri & Gifts | Osakis, Minn.


Absolutely loved this charming bakery and gift shop in small-town Osakis, where their specialty is lefse – a Norwegian potato bread with cinnamon and sugar. 

When I heard their lefse was the best in the state, I had to check it out. It’s quite possibly the best lefse in the world. Check out my recent blog post on the top 9 places to get your sugar fix in Minnesota.

The bakery also features a cute gift shop where they sell lefse to make at home, Nordic sweets, jewelry, handbags, crafts and more. 

Tip Top Dairy Bar

Ice cream building

For more than 60 years, the iconic Tip Top Dairy Bar has served the lakes region in Osakis. They must be doing something right.

It’s been voted the best ice cream of Minnesota so I had to check it out, of course. Such a quaint place where tourists and locals alike go not only for the desserts, but also for a meal (I had a vanilla shake and chili cheese dog – something I haven’t indulged in for years…very tasty!). And friendly and fast service!

Lovepop x Star Wars

Top things to do in Osakis, Minnesota: Bike and hiking trails

In downtown Osakis, near the lake, you can find the Central Lakes State Trail, a former Burlington Northern Railroad line. It’s 55 miles and runs through 3 counties and 10 communities. And if you’re a Garrison Keillor fan, you can bike or hike the 65-mile Lake Wobegon Regional Trail. It’s also open for snowmobiles in the winter.

Top things to do in Osakis, Minnesota: Panther Distillery

Osakis is also home to the Panther Distillery, where they give tours daily. Check their website for hours and more details.

Big Ole, Alexander, Minnesota – a short road trip from Lake Osakis

Big Ole Alexandria Minn statue
Big Ole is actually in Alexandria, a short drive (about 9 miles east), so I took a quick trip over there to check it out. Residents claim the town was visited by Norsemen in 1362; therefore, the birthplace of America. Big Ole stands 28 feet tall and weighs four tons.

My visit to Osakis was much too short so am looking forward to returning soon. If you plan to stay at one of the Lake Osakis resorts (or anywhere in Minnesota), make your reservations early. Sometimes they book a year in advance.

Minnesota Golden Gophers gear at Fanatics.com

Pin it for later

Pelicans flying over and floating on lake
Pelicans flying over Lake Osakis

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Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller


    1. I was a little surprised also and learned that the Lake Osakis area is the home of many water birds including the American White Pelican. It was so cool to watch them.

  1. This looks like a beautiful destination. I love that your friends made the suggestion and you enjoyed it so much. Thanks for sharing ❤️

  2. Good to know! There’s so many amazing places in Minnesota we have yet to visit, and we’ve been here a few years. This place looks great and private.

    1. Full disclosure: I actually live in a city with four of the 11,842 lakes…and only been to one. But it’s a really big one.

  3. I love small towns! The photos are great. I just saw freshwater pelicans in New England. I was surprised. Looks like a wonderful time!

  4. The area looks really pretty. If my husband and I ever head towards that way we’ll have to stop here!

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