Tag Archives: recreation

5 Family Fun “Field Trips” at Madden’s

Not that we expect you to get bored at Madden’s, but in case you want to explore further around the area, I thought I’d share a few ideas for field trips while you visit Madden’s. Here are the top 5 in no particular order.

Pirate’s Cove

A weekly adventure the staff at Adventure Cove have in store for the kids is mini golf. Pirate’s Cove mini golf course in Brainerd, MN can be an entertaining attraction for the kid’s to enjoy while at Adventure Cove or can make for a nice outing with the family. Their beautiful landscaping sets the scene for an great family outing with fantastic decoration bringing the “pirates cove” to life. Pirate’s Cove also offers go-cart rides so be ready for some nail-biting fun!

To learn more visit Sign up the kid’s up to attend by visiting Adventure Cove.

Outback Trail Rides:

Each week during social season, our Tennis & Croquet Club schedules tours and provides rides to and from Outback Trail Rides. Kid’s can also attend through our Adventure Cove children’s program.

You’ll be able to go for a 1 hour trail ride through the beautiful Pillsbury State Forest. They accept riders of all ages and all experience levels. If you want to set something up on your own you can do that as well. The company offers private or extended trail rides, hand-led pony rides, group rides, birthday parties, and a picnic area.

To learn more visit Sign up at the Tennis & Croquet Club or Adventure Cove.

Paul Bunyan Waterpark

Adventure Cove Children’s Program takes weekly trips to the Paul Bunyan waterpark in Baxter, MN. The 30,000 square feet of waterpark are sure to entertain anyone! There are two large waterslides; one of which is a halographic waterslide. You can select a theme of images and music to surround you as you make your trip down the tube slide!

To learn more visit  Sign up the kid’s up to attend by visiting Adventure Cove.

Sunup Ranch Tour

Feeding a horse a treat for the first time

The Sunup Ranch tour is another activity scheduled weekly by both our Tennis & Croquet Club and Adventure Cove. The tour lasts one and a half hours and consists of a wide range of activities including exploring traditional barns, seeing horses, bird and wild life watching, a hayride, riding demonstrations, and if available meeting a “baby” horse (foal) and/or baby cow (calf). My favorite was seeing the herd of horses in the pasture with their baby foals. Be sure to bring along your camera, bug spray, and binoculars.

To learn more visit Sign up at the Tennis & Croquet Club or Adventure Cove.

To try to get the kids to practice roping a calf, I had them take a photo of me doing it! Sadly, they did not reciprocate.

Jack’s Family bowling

The last of Adventure Cove’s weekly field trips is a visit to Jack’s House, Family Entertainment Center for bowling. Bowling is always a classic family activity. At Jack’s House you can bowl until your heart’s content at surprisingly low rates.

To learn more visit Sign up the kid’s to attend by visiting Adventure Cove.


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Lawn Sports: The Games, History, & Local Facilities

Alice plays croquet for the first time with a flamingo mallet and hedgehog ball in the classic movie "Alice in Wonderland"

When I used to think of croquet, I pictured the movie Alice in Wonderland. But now that I’ve been at Madden’s, I realized how great croquet and other lawn sports can be: they’re not just for kings and queens. At Madden’s we’re proud to share that we have our own USCA sanctioned regulation croquet lawns with the finest bent grass. We also have a lawn bowling pitch on the same putting green quality turf. Because lawn sports are close to our hearts, I wanted to write a post about lawn bowling and croquet including the basic premise of the games, history of the games, and where you can play locally.

Lawn Bowling

The Game: First a participant rolls a small ball, called a “jack” or a “kitty,” down the “pitch” (kind of like the lane in traditional bowling). Then participants take turns rolling larger asymmetrically weighted balls toward the smaller ball. Points are earned based on who is the closest to the small ball.

The History: Lawn bowling has several names all depending on where you are at. Many refer to it as “bowling on the green,” “bowls” or “lawn bowls.” Others have called it “bocce.” Bocce, however, can be translated into a different game in the lawn sport family. You may have heard it called bocce ball. I remember playing this game with family when I was younger–just out in the middle of a public park. Pétanque is another sport in the lawn bowling family. It is a similar to lawn bowling, but is usually played on dirt or gravel with a few twists in the rules.

The game of lawn bowling was invented long before you and me. Some suggest it dates back to the ancient Egyptians and variations of lawn bowling have been reported as early as 13th century in Europe. Here are a few good articles that provide a more detailed history of lawn bowling:,  New York Lawn Bowling Club, and St. Petersburg Lawn Bowling Club.

Lawn Bowling at Madden's

Locally: According to LawnbowlsCENTRAL, there are only 3 locations in Minnesota to enjoy lawn bowling!

Central Lakes Park in Edina
Brit’s Pub in Minneapolis
Madden’s on Gull Lake


History: Croquet is a sport that is not just played in Alice in Wonderland! Actually, it is estimated that croquet was brought from Ireland to Britain around 1850. The sport seems to be younger than lawn bowling, but it definitely took off in the last 250 years.

For a more detailed history I suggest visiting one of these pages: Houston Croquet, Oxford Croquet, and Wikipedia.

The Game: The objective of the game is for each player to get his or her ball through each hoop. The hoops are set up in a standard pattern that participants must follow as they complete them game. Each person gets one stroke per turn (with some exceptions). The winner is the first person to complete the sequence of hoops and then hit the center peg.

Locally: Want to enjoy the sport of croquet? By browsing the internet, I only found one official croquet lawn in Minnesota–at Madden’s. If you know of any other locations with croquet lawns please let me know. I will fix my error! I can say I did find many leagues and/or tournaments around the state. People play croquet everywhere! So whether you want to try it out in your backyard or if you want to join us at Madden’s, I say give it a try. They say it has many of the same principles as billiards in that you are judging the angles and distance of your shot.

Croquet at Madden's on USCA sanctioned regulation turf

For the First-timers

Interested in learning more? Visit a few of these websites of renowned lawn sport clubs and organizations:

England’s Lawn Bowling Organization
Scotland’s Lawn Bowling Organization
New York Lawn Bowling Club
Santa Anita Bowling Green Club
United States Croquet Association
The National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach, FL

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Posted by on July 20, 2011 in Lawn Sports, Recreation


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51 Things To Do At Madden’s & The Brainerd Lakes Area

If you read straight from our brochure you’d find that “Madden’s is the Midwest’s undisputed leader in recreational amenities.” After staying here a while and exploring, I certainly cannot disagree! Madden’s has seemingly unending recreation opportunities–enough to keep any child, teenager, or adult busy! We were even mentioned in the July 2011 issue of Parents magazine as one of the top 4 vacation destinations in the nation for good old fashioned family fun. So where should I begin… Let me give you a count down of the 51 reasons for choosing Madden’s recreation.

Four guests enjoy an afternoon of golfing at Madden's Classic course

1. Golf (63 holes to be exact)
2. Tennis (with lessons if you like)
3. Croquet
4. Lawn bowling
5. Volleyball
6. Horseshoes
7. Shuffleboard
8. Trap shooting
9. Bicycles (with miles of bike paths)
10. Pontoons
11. Motor boats
12. Fishing boats
13. Fishing poles
14. Fishing guide service
15. Water Ski School (for skiing, wakeboarding, & tubing)
16. Adventure Cove Children’s Activity Program (blog posts: 43 Fill Adv Cove, Children’s Vaca Paradise)
17. Marina’s Natural Sand Beach

Madden's guests enjoying the natural sand beach at the Lodge including water toys at our water park.

18. Lodge’s Natural Sand Beach
19. Wilson Bay’s Natural Sand Beach
20. Spalon Montage
21. Outback Trail Ride (on horseback)
22. Sunup Ranch Tour
23. Mini Golf at Pirates Cove
24. Fitness Classes
25. Yoga
26. Zumba
27. Gull Lake Water Expeditions
28. Happy Hour Cruises
29. Golf Lessons
30. Customized Golf Tournaments for your group
31. Cook-outs
32. Madden’s Water park
33. Paint your own wine glass at our Stable Gallery
34. Welcome Receptions
35. Special Events (such as Madden’s Food & Wine Event, Murder Mystery Weekend, & Labor Day Weekend Dance)
36. Nightly O’Madden Pub entertainment including D.J., bands, & karaoke

A minnow race at a weekly welcome reception

37. Craft Classes
38. Bingo Nights
39. Movie Nights
40. Kayaks
41. Canoes
42. Paddleboats
43. Rowboats
44. Sailboats
45. Waterbikes
46. Badminton
47. Basketball
48. Fishing Guide Service
49. 5 pools (3 indoor, 2 outdoor)
50. 3 hot tubs (2 indoor, 1 outdoor)
51. Minnow Races

This week we will feature some of our favorite activities. I would love to hear back from you about your favorites! Tell us about your favorite activity at Madden’s and why and we’ll feature your quote in an upcoming post. Email me at or comment below.

Until next time, Elizabeth

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Posted by on July 18, 2011 in Family Time, Recreation


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Madden’s Marina: Fun in the Sun

What a great time to be on the waterfront here at Madden’s! The sun has finally decided to show its gorgeous rays, the water is warming up nicely, and the air is filled with the smooth sound of summer and relaxing hum of boat motors breezing by! Madden’s Marina has been buzzing with fun seeking guests enthusiastic to get out on the water.

Lucky for us, our Social Season calendar is officially in full swing with Pontoon Rides, Happy Hour Cruises, and our Gull Lake Water Expedition, all week long! There is something for all ages.

Our Pontoon Rides take you through a relaxing tour of beautiful Steamboat Bay, home of Madden’s Marina, departing at 9am and 10am Tuesday’s, Thursday’s, and Friday’s. If you thrive on the serene moments of locating a bald eagles nest, or spotting baby Loons just learning the ways of the wild, you will absolutely love our Gull Lake Water Expedition with a naturalist, on Monday’s and Friday’s.

Happy Hour Pontoon Ride

If you just can’t wait to sit back relax and crack open a cold one, then check out our Happy Hour Cruises, on Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

As for all of you that want to create your own everlasting-lake-memories, we have plenty of non-motorized equipment including, the ever popular water bikes, along with canoes, kayaks, and our classic paddle boats. So come join us on the waterfront.

We look forward to making your experience at the Marina simply unforgettable! Nicole, Marina Manager


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43 Fill Adventure Cove

Adventure Cove at Madden’s on Gull Lake was extremely entertaining the last couple days. 43 children had the opportunity to play and compete in different games and activities, splash around and swim, and even enjoy a pizza party and bonfire with s’mores! The children were able to run around and expel all sorts of their little body’s energy while laughing and screaming for joy. Face painting and balloon animals also made an appearance for the children to enjoy. The experience the children had at Adventure Cove the last couple days will in no doubt be engraved in their little minds for a very long time.

Tim, Social Activities Coordinator


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Lawn Bowling League

Whether you’re a lawn bowling expert or if you’ve never hear of such a thing, I have an idea for you: a Lawn Bowling League!

Madden’s is just starting the season for our 2nd annual lawn bowling league. The league is open to anyone who wants to play. Play begins this week and will take place each Wednesday through August 17 (with a few exceptions). The games begin at 6 pm. The fee is $25 per person and last minute teams are still being accepted. Each tem will play every other team at least once and possibly twice. Regular season play will be eight weeks long with playoffs to follow. Email to register.

For more details check out our webpage or Facebook page.

I hope you will join us, Adam, Madden’s Recreation Director


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