Filed in Destinations by on February 3, 2015


Photos & Story By Heidi Kratzke


On the surface, the small city of Ottertail may seem like just another quiet lakeside community. Look deeper, and you’ll discover a vibrant arts scene, a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and year-round entertainment options that rival towns much, much larger in size.


For example, how many towns with a population hovering just under 600 have a resort and an indoor waterpark nestled among 250 acres of pine trees? Ottertail’s Thumper Pond Resort draws visitors to the area throughout the year. In the summer, the resort’s 18-hole championship golf course is a popular destination.


The Northwoods-themed indoor waterpark is open throughout the year, providing hours of fun for all ages. The 12,000 square foot Northern Hideaway Indoor Waterpark includes two slides that descend from a three-story tower, a lazy river, activity pool, and an 18-person whirlpool. There’s also a separate kids area equipped with water geysers, a toddler slide, and a bucket that dumps water from high up in the air. After working up an appetite, grab some pizza or a beverage at the snack bar.


Thumper Pond Resort guests receive waterpark admission passes with their stay. Passes are also sold to the general public. Waterpark hours are 4 – 9 p.m. Thursday, 4 – 10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sunday.


If shopping is more your style, be sure to pay a visit to The Williams Company Store on Ottertail’s Main Street. The home décor and gourmet food shop has been drawing customers for years. Last year, Dan and Marnie Whitehead took over ownership of the store and have turned its operation into a family affair, with the couple’s two children also taking an active role in running the popular shop.


“I love being here and I love the people,” comments Marnie Whitehead. “My favorite part is that every day is different. It’s really fun to hear everybody’s stories.” In addition to offering nostalgic cottage and lake décor, The Williams Company carries gourmet foods, bath and body products, clothing, baby and kid items, and more. While you shop, order your favorite drink at the espresso bar or try one of the store’s delicious wraps, sandwiches, or a cup of soup. Ice cream, malts, and an impressive old-fashioned soda selection provide the perfect treat after a day at (or on) the lake.


Just a few buildings west of The Williams Company is another must-visit shop, Red Brick Boutique. Owner Paula Thiel operates the women’s clothing, accessories, and home décor boutique on the first floor of the historic Ottertail Creamery building.


Thiel is also the creator of the Rust & Luster jewelry line, which is sold at Red Brick Boutique, on Etsy, and at art and junk shows throughout the region. “Rust & Luster began because I had all of these creative ideas for wearable art that I wanted to make. The pieces started off simple and as my skill level increased, the jewelry and accessories got more elaborate,” Thiel explains. “I love the satisfaction I feel from turning a design idea into reality.”


Her vintage and industrial inspired pieces are made from both found and new elements. Some of the most popular items are pendants made out of old spoons that Thiel hand stamps with inspirational quotes. Other popular sellers are multilayered collage necklaces and one-of-a-kind pieces featuring vintage hardware or skeleton keys.


Both The Williams Company and Red Brick Boutique close for a few months during the winter and re-open in spring. Opening day for both shops is April 1, 2015.


Those looking to spend some time outside should make sure to check out Ottertail’s abundant lakes and beautiful scenery. At 21 square miles, Otter Tail Lake is the largest in the county and the tenth largest in the state of Minnesota. The lake is a popular destination for fishing, boating, and swimming. Its large size allows enough wind to pick up in the center of the lake to provide some fairly challenging sailing. In the winter, the lake is the preferred ice fishing spot for many anglers.


A recently constructed walking and bike path serves as an excellent way to get from one end of town to the other. The paved path begins at the intersection of Maple Street and Highway 108 and ends 1.7 miles later at the intersection of Willow Road and Highway 78. Walkers, runners, and bicyclists are a common sight on the path, which was constructed to help promote a healthy, active lifestyle for area residents and visitors.


Whether you’re looking to spend a relaxing day at the lake, a fun day shopping, or are up for some adventure at the waterpark, the city of Ottertail is a great fit. With five lakes within the city limits and a forward-thinking business community, this small town has plenty to offer year-round.


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