17 Best Things to Do in Pelican Rapids, MN

Pelican Rapids, MN
Stephen a wegscheid / shutterstock.com

Pelican Rapids is a vibrant city in gorgeous Otter Tail County, Minnesota.

It's a popular summer and winter vacation destination as it is the gateway to the stunning Maplewood State Park.

The "World's Largest Pelican" can also be seen in Pelican Rapids.

The city lies in a county with more than a thousand lakes, so the water is never too far away.

Lake activities, such as swimming, fishing, boating, and just lounging on the shore, are commonplace.

The city's cultural diversity is evident in its many artistic offerings.

For instance, you can spot the "flock" of pelican sculptures throughout the city and other historical monuments that help bring our local history to life.

The city's parks and recreation department offers year-round fun and relaxation.

Read on to discover more about the best things to do in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota!

Enjoy Various Outdoor Activities at Maplewood State Park

The waters of Maplewood State Park
Stephen a wegscheid / Shutterstock.com

There's always something fun to do at Maplewood State Park, located on Park Entrance Road.

It spans 9,250 acres and features eight large lakes, perfect for anglers.

The park drive is a great site to spot the wildlife or enjoy the changing seasons, thanks to the park's undulating hills and hardwood woods.

A trail at Maplewood State Park
Barbarajo / Shutterstock.com

Maplewood State Park is home to 21 miles of snowmobile paths, five miles of groomed classical cross-country ski routes, and five miles of rugged back-country cross-country ski trails.

Have a picnic with your group, and then stroll along the shoreline of South Lida Lake.

Check Out Pelican Pete

Downtown Pelican Rapids is home to Pelican Pete, dubbed the "World's Largest Pelican," which you can spot at the Mill Pond Dam on the Pelican River.

It was constructed in 1957 and stands 15.5 feet tall.

The constant flow of water from the dam gives this statue a sense of motion that is lacking in similar Minnesota monuments.

The area surrounding Pelican Pete's foot and the opposite coast teems with anglers casting for sunfish, bluefish, and Northerns.

Views from the viewing platform at the base of the monument, across the river at Pelican Drug, and on Main Street between Riverview Place and Bell Bank are among the best.

Take Pictures with Friends of Pete

Aside from Pelican Pete, did you know that Pelican Rapids also has other smaller pelican monuments?

Locals call them "Friends of Pete," which you may spot throughout the city.

Local businesses made a "flock of pelican sculptures" in 2007 to celebrate the Pelican Pete sculpture's 50th birthday.

The four-foot birds, Pelican Pete's lesser "friends," found their way to local establishments to spread the word about the attraction.

They also hand-painted costumes and accessories onto each pelican sculpture, following specific themes.

A few examples of Friends of Pete are the construction pelican, the dalmatian fire dog pelican, and the pharmacy pelican.

Paddle along the Pelican River

Paddling the Pelican River is a favorite among the many water sports available in the region.

The river is an-85.3 mile tributary of the Otter Tail.

Experience a fantastic early evening paddle under clear skies, surrounded by colorful fall foliage and tranquil waterways.

If you want to travel north on the Pelican River, you can put your kayaks at E.L. Peterson Park and paddle beneath the suspension bridge.

In addition, if the water level is high enough at Prairie Lake, you can launch a kayak there and paddle into town, where there is a dam.

The Pelican Paddle Company hires kayaks, and you can choose from a few different paddling routes or any lake nearby.

Visit the Minnesota Woman

Along the road that hugs the eastern coast of Prairie Lake, you will come upon a monument indicating that prehistoric people formerly lived in this area of North America.

Pelican Rapids' Minnesota Woman (c. 5947-5931 BC), or simply Minnesota Woman, is the name given to a set of skeletal remains discovered in Minnesota.

On June 16, 1931, workers constructing U.S. Route 59 in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, uncovered the skeleton.

University of Minnesota anthropologist Albert Jenks confirmed that the remains belonged to a young lady, perhaps 15 or 16 years old, who had never given birth.

The Minnesota Woman wore jewelry crafted from a conch shell and a dagger fashioned from an elk horn.

Previously, experts found Sinistrofulgur perversum, the whelk species from which the conch shell originated, in Florida.

Learn about the City's History at the Pelican Rapids Village Historical Marker

In the northern part of Pelican Rapids, you can find the Pelican Rapids Village Historical Marker, a triangular-shaped landmark on T.H. 59's western side.

In 1946, the city of Pelican Rapids, the eight surrounding townships, and the Otter Tail County Historical Society collaborated with the Minnesota Highway Department to construct the bridge.

There were concrete seats and a Millstone Marker at the site, but neither survived the years.

The Pelican Rapids Village Historical Marker features a flat central panel and two side panels oriented to the south.

Read the brief history of the early settlers of the Pelican Rapids region on each panel.

The main panel features a flagpole in its middle.

Bond with Your Dogs at E.L. Peterson Park

If you want to take your pets for a walk, you should go to E.L. Peterson Park, located on North Broadway.

The best thing about it is the abundance of shade.

The park has a fenced area for toy-sized pups and another one for big dogs.

There are several amenities, including a miniature obstacle course.

A fishing pier overlooks the Mill Pond Dam in E.L. Peterson Park.

You can also enjoy a meal at the covered picnic area with barbeque pits and a nearby playground for younger children.

Take a Stroll at Sherin Memorial Park

Sherin Memorial Park comprises one electrically-unconnected tent site, 10 R.V. hookups with water, and a dump station.

The covered pavilion and concrete walkways are quite pleasant additions.

From the riverbed, you can access more fishing spots.

There's also a tiny playground here.

Not far between Sherin Memorial Park and E.L. Peterson Park lies the historic Rotary Club Suspension Bridge, which spans the Pelican River.

Sherin Memorial Park is lovely and conveniently positioned among dining and drinking establishments.

Have a Family Retreat at Solinger's Resort

Several families of the Solinger clan have owned and operated this resort for decades.

Solinger's Resort lies on Lake Lida, four miles east of Pelican Rapids.

The rustic cottages at the resort are spotless and charming, and the grounds are extensive and carefully maintained.

A week of fishing and relaxing in the Minnesota summer is perfect here.

The sandy play and swimming areas, boats, fishing, and quiet atmosphere make Solinger's Resort ideal for families.

It also has beds, a kitchen, and hot running water.

Go Fishing at Pelican Lake

The waters of Pelican Lake
Dilated Time from United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pelican Lake is a lake about seven miles north of Pelican Rapids.

However, fishing isn't as good as it once was.

Pelican Lake is now a heavily constructed lake used chiefly for pleasure.

A total of 3,963 acres make up the area of this lake.

The deepest part of it is around 55 feet down.

Black bullhead, brown bullhead, bluegill, green sunfish, muskie, largemouth bass, northern pike, smallmouth bass, rock bass, and walleye are fish that anglers can anticipate capturing when they go out on the water.

You may also catch yellow perch, yellow bullhead, and pumpkinseed.

Zebra mussels have recently been detected in the lake, posing a threat to Pelican Lake and all of the lakes linked by the Pelican River.

Bring Your Kids to Thea's Pumpkin Patch

Thea's Pumpkin Patch's owners only had one acre of pumpkins when they opened in the fall of 2010.

It has expanded to seven or eight acres, producing more than 30 kinds of gourds.

This business grew in 2016 when the owners installed a corn maze.

The small town pumpkin patch has attracted customers across the Midwest and even California.

Take the kids to stroll around this pumpkin farm on Appaloosa Road, where you can pick out the ideal gourd.

On the weekends, Thea's Pumpkin Patch offers a complete menu of concessions,  in addition to face painting, pumpkin painting, and crazy hair.

Grab Organic Produce at Lida Farm

Certified organic and family-run, Lida Farm supplies the communities of Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Vargas, Pelican Rapids, and Cormorant with fresh vegetables.

Ryan and Maree Pesch owns and operates the farm on 275th Avenue.

It has been adapting its methods to meet the demands of the modern agricultural industry since 2004.

Local food is something that Ryan and Maree Pesch are passionate about, and it's not only something they've focused on with their farm.

They've been doing their part for the Manna Food Co-op, and the cooperative's efforts to partner with local farmers have resulted in higher-quality food for sale.

When you buy fresh produce from Lida Farm, you're also supporting the local farmers.

Practice Your Swing at Birchwood Golf Course

At Birchwood Golf Course, you'll find a nine-hole course suitable for golfers of all ages and skill levels.

It opened its doors to pro and leisure golfers in 1930.

It's the perfect place to spend time with friends and family or to challenge yourself with a round of golf.

You may play the par-34, 2,448-yard Birchwood Golf Course from the longest tees.

With a view of beautiful Prairie Lake, the clubhouse is the place to go for refreshments, golf equipment, and even a round of golf.

The owner, Terry Sjostrom, also serves as the course manager.

The staff is friendly and accommodating, and the rates are reasonable.

Meet Locals and Enjoy a Drink at The Cormorant Pub

The Cormorant Pub, located on County Highway 5, is a popular meeting spot for locals.

There is no better spot to grab a fantastic meal or drink in Pelican Rapids or Detroit Lakes region than at this restaurant, which serves delicious home-style food.

Its service staff aims to make your experience memorable and pleasurable.

The pub has served as a Lakes Area institution for many years.

The Cormorant Pub serves BBQ ribs, walleye, pub chicken, burgers, and more.

Whether you're "bellied-up" to the bar or lounging in the restaurant seating, you can enjoy the bar's fantastic assortment of drinks, bottled beer, tap beer, and wine.

Gift Your Special Someone Something from Brown Eyed Susans Floral

If you're celebrating something special during a vacation in Pelican Rapids, stop by Brown Eyed Susans Floral, a reliable local florist.

No matter the event, its skilled designers can create a stunning floral arrangement for you, whether fresh or silk flowers.

This florist offers classic and modern flower arrangements for any occasion: anniversaries, birthdays, get-well wishes, new babies, funerals, and holidays.

Aside from flowers, Brown Eyed Susans Floral offers plush stuffed animals, balloon arrangements, sweets and chocolate, and silk flowers.

Baby products, home accents, scented candles, and more are other gift options available at this shop on South Broadway.

Bring Home Souvenirs from Mercantile on Main

Mercantile on Main is a community-run shop that sells unique goods.

It is the consolidated effort of 14 women coming together to show their skills, passion, creativity, and dedication.

In June 2011, Mercantile on Main originally opened for business.

It moved to its current location on North Broadway in June 2012.

If you're at a loss for what to buy for your home or your loved ones, look no further than Mercantile on Main; it has just what you need.

The things you can shop for here include one-of-a-kind presents, knitting materials, and books written by local authors.

Stop by Lakeland General Store

Located on Old 59 Road, Lakeland General Store has almost everything you need, from rentals to ice cream to power tools.

It has served the community since it opened in 1976.

This store has your back if you have forgotten something on your way to the lakes.

Hungry after hours of traveling?

Stop by and dine!

Lakeland General Store also has a gas station.

Final Thoughts

Plan your next travel to Pelican Rapids, a gorgeous, thriving community in Otter Tail County.

With its proximity to the lakes, you can indulge in various activities, such as swimming, fishing, boating, and lounging on the shore.

Thanks to the welcoming locals and fascinating attractions, you're sure to have an enjoyable time here.

Don't forget to bookmark this list of things to do in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota!