Day Trip from Fargo: Things to Do in Detroit Lakes

things to do in detroit lakes

The weather is warm and the sun is shining. What are you going to do with the kids today?

Go to Detroit Lakes! 

A fun day waiting for you, just a short (less than one hour!) drive away.

When you think of going to Detroit Lakes, you may think, “That’s only for people with a lake place.”


You can easily spend a day here, be on the lake, and enjoy everything it has to offer.

Here are some of my favorite family-friendly things to do in Detroit Lakes, MN.


Detroit Lakes has many different local restaurants that are family-friendly!


The classic on the lake spot for lunch or supper. They offer amazing pizza and Mexican food options. And for a quick snack, they have some awesome chips and salsa/queso along with a variety of beer choices. It does get busy, but this is probably our kiddos favorite place to eat in town.

Main Street Restaurant

This is a good spot to hit up for breakfast. It has that classic small town diner feel with tasty homemade options.


A great option for supper if you are looking for more of a fine dining experience. I have been here a few times — even once with a group of 20 for a girls trip! Their steak is top-notch and their desserts are incredible. 

Lakeside Tavern

The Lakeside Tavern is another fun lunch spot if you want to sit out on a patio and have a view of the lake. Their menu includes mainly sandwiches and burgers along with excellent beer choices. Also, it’s not too far from Zorbaz, so you can always stop at both! 


This local West Fargo restaurant is now in Detroit Lakes, too. Spitfire offers everything from sandwiches, to pasta and steak. They even have a great kid’s menu

Like many lakeside towns, there are also popular chains such as Burger King, Subway and Domino’s to name a few. 


Detroit Lakes offers many great shopping opportunities, especially in their downtown area! 

The Nines

This shop is one of my favorites for clothes. They offer many cute boutique-type clothes and shoes. My husband knows any time we are in Detroit Lakes, I need to stop by to, “Just browse.”

Beck Pet & Garden and The Candy Shop

things to do in detroit lakes

This store isn’t only for your garden or pet needs. They also have a fabulous selection of candy! Offering incredible fudge, chocolates, classics like saltwater taffy, Nerds, and giant lollipops. Our kids always know we’ll make a quick stop to pick up a few treats for the road. 
Washington Square Mall

The mall is a great place to go shop and look around. It’s a good option on a rainy or cool day. You might even find time to go to a movie at the theater inside the mall, Washington Square 7


Detroit Lakes Public Beach

Catch some sun and play in the sand and water. This large beach extends from the City Park all the way to the front of Zorbaz. 

We usually bring with our kids’ sand toys so they can play with them on the beach. 

City Park

There is also a fun park to bring the kids! They have playground equipment along with a bunch of big shady trees. And public bathrooms are available.

Also, if you are into frisbee golf, they have a great course here that my husband and I have played on a few times! 

Detroit Mountain Natural Playground & Biking

Nearby Detroit Mountain has an awesome, FREE natural play area for the kids to check out! And if you have older kids that are into biking, you can rent bicycles (or bring your own) for a fun mountain biking experience. 

J and K Marine

Rent a pontoon for a day to get the full lake experience with the family! They have rentals available just west of City Park, along the lake.

Other Tips

Detroit Lakes is always busy during lake season. However, a helpful tip for this if you want to just do a day trip is to go on a Sunday. Leave Fargo about 9:30-10:00 a.m. and you can get to your favorite lunch spot right when they open up. The beach won’t be as busy during this time either. It will feel as if you are getting the full experience without having to fight the crowds. 

The next time the sun is shining, and you feel the urge to “get out and do something” with the family — take a drive to Detroit Lakes! You won’t be sorry!

For more day trip ideas this summer, check out 10 Summer Day Trips from Fargo with Kids. 

Looking for more family-friendly activities to do this summer? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Summer!

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Danielle grew up in a small, rural North Dakota town before attending university in Fargo. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences and has an associate's degree in Sign Language Interpreting. She and her husband, Andrew, have been married for six years and have three beautiful kids together. Danielle decided before she had her second child to be a stay-at-home mom. While life gets insane at times, she's happy to have other stay-at-home mom friends she can share the ups and downs of parenting with. She loves to find a good deal, bake, and spend time with her family.


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