Mille Lacs Area Communities


Although the Lake Mille Lacs area is famous for great Minnesota walleye fishing and its tourism, there is more substance and depth to the area than that. There are eight established communities surrounding the massive lake. Wahkon was the earliest settlement in the Mille Lacs area, beginning its town history in 1885. The communities around the lake exemplify small town living at its best. They have rich histories. Today, our unique communities have fostered a unique lifestyle. The Lake Mille Lacs area is a real community–a good, decent place to live, which makes it a wonderful place to visit.

Garrison, on the northwest shore of Lake Mille Lacs, has been known for fishing since 1899. Garrison is the world’s smallest city to have a McDonald’s restaurant. Today, anglers find the port of Garrison delightful. Summer or winter, the town and nearby resorts welcome fishing families and cater to their Minnesota family vacation needs. Harbor facilities, guide service and launch trips, originating in Garrison are among the finest. Tourist accommodations include motels, Minnesota campgrounds and resorts. Many cafes and supper clubs and a McDonald’s and Taco Bell offer a variety of menu choices and dining styles. Garrison sports a retail district that includes curio and antique shops, grocery and hardware stores, sporting goods outlets, realtors, a lawyer, a veterinary clinic, gas stations and an automotive repair shop. For more information on the City of Garrison and all it has to offer, visit

Located on the south shore of Lake Mille Lacs, originally, Isle was called “Ethel’s Island,” named by Charles Malone after his daughter. Today, Isle offers a complete shopping district, resorts and light industry. Each summer the population swells to more than double its 707 year-round residents. During ice fishing, the winter population increases as well. The city serves vacationers and tourists with its easy access to resorts, motels, shopping, recreation and the lake. Video outlets and bait shops pair with a brand new grocery store, a drug store, variety shops and gift and antique stores to provide a complete vacation package. Restaurants, a library, full service banks, museum, bakery, hardware store, a beauty salon, two laundromats, a feed store, service stations, auto repair shops, realtors, a food co-op, a medical clinic and a dentist’s office round out the services available in Isle. Isle City Park offers picnic facilities, beach and playground equipment. For more information on the City of Isle and all it has to offer, visit

According to oral traditions, the Ojibwe first lived on the Atlantic coast of North America. About 500 years ago, the ancestors of the Mille Lacs Band began migrating west. By the mid-1700s, the Ojibwe had established themselves in the region around Lake Mille Lacs in what is today Central Minnesota. But it wasn’t long before the Mille Lacs Ojibwe’s self-sufficient way of life was affected by a new presence in their homeland. Because of diseases and federal policies, by the end of the nineteenth century, only a few hundred Ojibwe remained on the Mille Lacs Reservation. Over the next century, the Mille Lacs Band struggled with poverty and despair. Today, the Mille Lacs Band becomes the first Indian tribe in the country to use casino revenues to back a development bond issue, which raises more than $20 million. The Band uses the money to begin rebuilding its reservation and strengthening its culture. Community improvements to date include 2 new schools, a new medical clinic, 2 new ceremonial buildings, 2 new community centers, water treatment facilities, improved roads and new homes.

The modern town of Onamia is situated south of Mille Lacs, just off Highway 169 on the shore of Lake Onamia. The gateway to Mille Lacs received its name from Lake Onamia, which in Ojibwe means, “dancing ground.” The City dates back to 1908, when lumbering was a major industry in the Mille Lacs area and the first trains reached the town. Today, Onamia is the area’s largest city, housing the Mille Lacs Health System and light industry. Offering over 50 businesses, including many retail stores, Onamia is a favorite Minnesota shopping stop for visitors. The shopping area offers restaurants, a florist, drug store, hardware store, grocery stores, beauty salon, video shop, liquor stores, and craft and gift shops. Two city parks and tennis courts provide in-town recreation. Onamia has a well-staffed hospital, a newly expanded medical and physical therapy clinic and a dental office to meet your emergency needs. Mapped Fitness Trails to help keep you in shape. For more information on the City of Onamia and all it has to offer, visit

Tucked along Lake Mille Lacs’ south shore, Wahkon has the earliest settlement in the Lake Mille Lacs area, having its beginning in 1885. The word “Wahkon” is the Dakotah Indian name for “spirit” and the railroad company adopted the name because the Indians knew Lake Mille Lacs as “Spirit Lake.” Wahkon was a typical “boom town” of the early days. The town became a rail terminal and the docking point for large logging company steamers that transported logs from all points around the lake. The community today is booming again with a revitalized Main Street, which includes a post office, convenience store, two bars, restaurants, craft and gift shops. Several resorts are located in town and nearby. Wahkon has a City Park and boat launch facilities to serve tourists and visitors. For more information on the City of Wahkon and all it has to offer, visit

The village of Malmo on the northeast shore of Lake Mille Lacs was named after Malmo, Sweden, in honor of the Swedish immigrants who settled there. Like all lake communities, Malmo prides itself on serving seasonal visitors. Two churches, gas stations, cafe, convenience store, a flower shop, a new upholstery facility, a recreational vehicle repair outlet, liquor store, laundromat, boat storage and repair service and nearby resorts and supper clubs are among the facilities available. Malmo Memorial Park offers picnic tables, sand-bottom swimming and a well-maintained public access site.

Cove, is east of Onamia on Highway 27 amid tamarack trees. Watch for maple syrup and public water access.

Wealthwood lies to the northwest, rich in natural beauty, services, and vacation alternatives, including a long curve of sandy beach, the Wealthwood State Forest, a rod and gun club, camping, Minnesota resorts, restaurants, groceries, nightclubs and various cottage industries.