Madden's on Gull Lake Review

TripAdvisor Rating: TripAdvisor Owl
100 Family Reviews
11266 Pine Beach Peninsula, Brainerd MN 56401
89%
Families Recommend

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Families Rating
89%
Families Recommend
Editor's Rating
4/5
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Editor’s Review of Madden's on Gull Lake

Sprawling across 1,500 acres on Gull Lake's Pine Beach Peninsula, Madden's offers one of Minnesota's most old-fashioned resort experiences, and is an all-inclusive resort. Expect typical Brainerd Lakes' area amenities -- fishing, boating, swimming beaches and great water toys, along with some of Minnesota's most lauded golfing and a lengthy list of recreational activities from newer paddleboarding to lawn games that evoke an era when families had a full week or more to kick back and relax at the lake. For harried modern families, meal, lodging and recreation packages add to this resort's appeal.

Madden's has been around since 1929, making it one of Minnesota's oldest resorts as well as one of the largest on Brainerd's Gull Lake -- the
... more epicenter of "Up North" vacations. The "Social Season" (peak family season) runs from late June through mid-August, when the lake buzzes with shrieks, laughter, the hum of boat motors and the plunk of bobbers hitting the water.

Lawn bowling, tennis, badminton and horseshoes, plus the historic lodging and an all-inclusive feel have led some guests to say it reminds them of classic mid-century resorts such as the one in the movie, "Dirty Dancing." This place is pure Minnesota, though. Walleye and wild rice works its way onto several menus. There are daily lessons in fishing and water-skiing. Loons offer sunset serenades, and the legend of Paul Bunyan looms large throughout the area.

The size and variety of Madden's lodging, plus the breadth of activities, make it especially popular for large family gatherings. Madden's offers more than 280 rooms throughout the property, which is open spring through fall. Lodging choices encompass historic hotel rooms, more modern hotel rooms, vintage cabins at the water's edge, townhomes, luxury suites and two reunion homes that can sleep 12 to 20 people.

Madden's isn't the area's most affordable place to stay, but it's a solid choice for families who don't want to cook meals, adore golfing, can take advantage of kids' programming (built-in babysitting), or seek an annual or biennial summer escape that holds kids' interest as they grow older. Unless you have weeks of vacation, at Madden's, you'll run out of time before you run out of things to do. less
Our Editor Loves
  • Beaches, five swimming pools and a playground
  • Kids' Adventure Cove and excursions
  • Tons of family land and water activities
Family Interests
  • All Inclusive
  • Beach
  • Bicycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Water Sports
  • Sailing
  • Horseback Riding
Family Amenities
  • Babysitting
  • Children's Program
  • Cribs
  • Family Room 5+
  • Meal Plan
  • Onsite Dining
  • Pool
Our Member Reviews 100 Reviews

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Choices of lodging vary, so it's best to talk with a reservation specialist who knows the ins and outs of each location on the sprawling property. Two- or three-day stays may be required on peak weekends.

Villas
A popular option for families is the 24 Sunrise Villas, which sit above Steamboat Bay with views of the sunrise. It's an easy stroll to both a beach and marina, as well as to the Madden's Inn pool. There are 40 newer villas built in 1998, but these golf villas overlook the Pine Beach Golf Course rather than the water.

Voyageur Hotel & Wilson Bay
Voyageur's 40 hotel units look dated on the outside but have been updated inside and have the caveat of facing Wilson Bay where you'll enjoy viewing the nightly sunsets. They're also close to Spalon Montage as well as a pool (close to Wilson Bay cabins and the outdoor cooking area), beach and dock in front of the cabins.

Historic Hotel Rooms
While much of the resort is newer, Madden's belongs to Historic Hotels of America with 30 vintage rooms in its 1929 hotel, along with 10 historic rooms in Madden Lodge near the waterfront. It's a nice option for a truly old-fashioned experience.

Cabins
There are several cabins for families who want their own space away from other guests, but they book early -- especially older ones that were built on the lakefront before building codes required setbacks from the water.

Reunion houses
Families craving a reunion destination have plenty of options in the Brainerd Lakes area. Madden's has some larger units as well, including the Strawberry Hill Reunion House, which sleeps up to 16 people.

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