With slot machines, bingo, poker, blackjack, and pull tabs, Minnesota casinos have some of the best gaming opportunities in the Midwest—but that’s not all they offer.

Poker chips and playing cards
Photo by Caitlin Abrams

Fortune Bay Resort Casino

1430 Bois Forte Rd., Tower, 800-992-7529, fortunebay.com

The Wilderness Golf at Fortune Bay

Come for the golf...
Both avid players and beginners frequently name The Wilderness at Fortune Bay golf course one of their favorite amenities at the casino—and for good reason. Located on scenic Lake Vermilion, about three and a half hours from the Twin Cities, the course boasts a full-service pro shop, practice facilities, and The Wilderness Grill, where you can nosh on a burger or walleye before or after tee time. It consistently steals the number one slot on Golfweek’s state-by-state listing of best courses to play in Minnesota, and it also ranked 59 in Golf Digest’s 2013 roundup of America’s 100 greatest public golf courses.

...stay for the water sports!
Being located on Lake Vermilion has its perks, as there are tons of water activities to take advantage of. Looking to hook some trout? Stroll down to the onsite marina, rent a fishing boat, and hit the waves. Hoping to catch a tan? Soak up the sun on one of Fortune Bay’s rentable pontoons. For more adventurous individuals, canoes and hydro bikes are also available for cruising around the lake. “We have so many amenities here at Fortune Bay that guests can tailor their getaway to their liking,” says public relations manager Brian Anderson. “It really depends on what type of experience they are looking for.”

Treasure Island Resort & Casino

5734 Sturgeon Lake Rd., Welch, 800-222-7077, ticasino.com


Come for the games...
Games are the holy grail for Treasure Island and its guests. With more than 2,200 slot machines, 50-plus table games, pull tabs, and bingo, it’s no surprise the southeastern destination is consistently chosen as Minnesota’s favorite casino (12 years running) by the readers of Midwest Gaming & Travel magazine. In 2013, Treasure Island was recognized for best video poker, best high-limit area, best overall bingo hall, best bingo jackpots, best bingo packages, best early-bird bingo, best bingo/casino combination, and most comfortable poker room, among others. “People enjoy the wide variety of gaming options and the fact that we try to bring in new games on a regular basis,” says public relations manager Cindy Taube. Bonus: Treasure Island offers the largest non-smoking casino area in the Midwest.

...stay for the hotel!
After a day of ruling the gaming floor, settle into one of Treasure Island’s 480 standard or luxury rooms, lauded for their amenities and ambiance (celebrities and VIPs who perform at the Island Event Center often spend the night in the Presidential Suite). As a hotel guest, you have access to the indoor swimming pool, two hot tubs, and other onsite amenities like the fitness center, bowling center, arcade, and golf course. Book a package—such as the Stay & Play, Golf & Stay, Bowl & Stay, Staycation, or Romance—to get the most bang for your buck.

Canterbury Park

1100 Canterbury Rd., Shakopee, 952-445-7223, canterburypark.com

Cantebury Park horse racing

Come for the live horseracing...
It’s time to dust off your best Kentucky Derby duds. From May through September, Canterbury Park comes to life as the only venue in Minnesota where you can view live thoroughbred horseracing. Racing schedules vary from month to month, but on Thursdays and Fridays the first race typically begins at 6:30 pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays it typically starts at 12:45 pm. If horses aren’t your thing, Canterbury also races camels, ostriches, zebras, and wiener dogs.

...stay for the poker tables!
Canterbury is so well known for its live horseracing that you might be surprised to hear it also boasts one of the best poker rooms in the region. Avid poker players will love the variety of offerings, including 2/4 limit, 2-100 spread, 50/100 limit, 3-card poker, Mississippi stud, and Texas hold’em. But if that all sounds like gibberish, don’t fret. Beginners are welcome as well. “Our dealers just might be the friendliest group ever assembled in a single casino,” says director of card casino operations Michael Hochman. “If you haven’t been out or have been intimidated by live poker, come on out, talk to the staff, and sit down and play. They’ll make you comfortable with the game. Playing poker with real people is a fantastic social activity, and we have limits where even a beginner can feel comfortable.”

Mystic Lake Casino Hotel

2400 Mystic Lake Blvd., Prior Lake, 952-445-9000, mysticlake.com

Patti LaBelle

Come for the entertainment...
With four entertainment venues scattered throughout the casino, Mystic Lake consistently books some of the best bands, solo artists, and comedians in the business. Guests can enjoy live music in the hotel lobby every Friday and Saturday evening or take in a free performance (usually by a local group) on the Promenade Stage smack-dab in the middle of the gaming floor—you don’t even have to leave your slot machine or blackjack table. Those looking for a good laugh should check out the all-new comedy club. The dim lighting and guests’ proximity to the stage give the space a very intimate vibe, reminiscent of New York City comedy clubs, and it attracts the big names to boot: Lisa Landry of Comedy Central fame was one of its first performers. The Mystic Showroom, however, is the main attraction. With seating capabilities of up to 2,100 guests and incredible acoustics, it frequently hosts A-listers and sells out shows. This summer, Kathy Griffin, John Legend (sold out), and American Idol Live! are on the docket.

...stay for the good eats!
There are 10—yes, we said 10—eating and drinking facilities at Mystic Lake, making it incredibly easy (or incredibly hard, depending on how you look at it) to find something to suit your palate. The introduction of alcohol at the casino in fall 2012 was followed by the addition of three bars: Drinx, The Lobby Lounge, and the Promenade, featuring six Minnesota craft beers on tap. There’s also a noodle bar, steak house, two grills, a café, and a deli. But if you’re only there for one night, the award-winning buffet is the way to go. It serves global eats every night of the week, and specials include the Friday fish fry, Wednesday seafood night, and Sunday champagne brunch, where you can—gasp!—build your own bloody mary.

Grand Casino Hinckley

777 Lady Luck Dr., Hinckley, 800-472-6321, grandcasinomn.com

Come for the steak house...
Whether you plan to gamble or not (and with more than 2,400 slot machines, poker and blackjack tables, pull tabs, and bingo, we think you should), The Winds Steakhouse at Grand Casino Hinckley alone is worth the 75-minute drive north from the Twin Cities. Described as “elegant dining in a casual atmosphere,” The Winds offers a comprehensive menu of seafood, steaks, and cocktails—the perfect combination of delicious eats on which to spend all that money you just won. The appetizer menu boasts items both savory and sweet—like the parmesan-encrusted asparagus or the cranberry and Anaheim cream cheese wontons—and for dinner we recommend a surf and turf platter (the eight-ounce tenderloin and king crab are excellent). If you’re feeling adventurous, try the chef’s tour, which features a different four-course combination every month.

Grand Casino Hinckley

...stay for the spa!
Don’t just pamper your wallet with winnings—pamper your body, too. Open to both hotel guests and day visitors of the casino, Grand Harmony Spa is a full-service facility, ready to de-stress customers with massage, slimming body wraps, age-defying masques, deep-cleansing facials, and manicures and pedicures. There’s even a detoxifying chocolate wrap (yes, you read that right) to remove dead skin and moisturize. Before and after your treatment, relax in the co-ed lounge’s Jacuzzi, take a steam, or nibble on the complimentary snacks and beverages. If you really enjoy your service, you can even take a little piece of it home with you with the spa’s products for sale in the lobby.

Grand Casino Mille Lacs

777 Grand Ave., Onamia, 800-626-5825, grandcasinomn.com

Grand Casino is unique in that it offers two locations: Hinckley and Mille Lacs—both of which have been recognized as having the best players club (Grand Rewards Players Club) in Minnesota for more than 10 consecutive years. Located just shy of 90 miles from the Twin Cities, Grand Casino Mille Lacs is slightly smaller than Grand Casino Hinckley in number of games, but it offers some great amenities, such as the Grand Northern Grill and Grand Buffet, Grand Arcade, and next-door Grand Makwa Cinema.

Minnesota Casinos

We’ve got them in spades. Here’s some more.

Black Bear Casino Resort
1785 Hwy. 210, Carlton, 218-878-2327, blackbearcasinoresort.com

Fond-du-Luth Casino
129 E. Superior St., Duluth, 218-720-5100, fondduluthcasino.com

Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel
39375 Co. Hwy. 24, Morton, 507-697-8000, jackpotjunction.com

Little Six Casino
2450 Sioux Tr. NW, Prior Lake, 952-445-6000, littlesixcasino.com

Northern Lights Casino
6800 Y Frontage Rd. NW, Walker, 218-547-2744, northernlightscasino.com

Prairie’s Edge Casino Resort
5616 Prairies Edge Ln., Granite Falls, 320-564-2121, prairiesedgecasino.com

Running Aces Harness Park
15201 Running Aces Blvd., Columbus, 651-925-4600, runningacesharness.com

Seven Clans Casinos
10200 Hwy. 89, Red Lake, 888-679-2501; 1012 NE Lake St., Warroad, 800-815-8293; 20595 E. Center St., Thief River Falls, 800-881-0712, sevenclanscasino.com

Shooting Star Casino
777 Casino Rd. S., Mahnomen, 800-453-7827, starcasino.com

White Oak Casino
45830 Hwy. 2, Deer River, 218-246-9600, whiteoakcasino.com