Minnesota is in the heart of the Upper Midwest, and for generations the state has been a magnet for outdoor recreation, especially around its numerous lakes. (Numerous as in more than 14,000!) But the lakes are just the start: Minnesota offers amazing opportunities for outdoor activities on and off the water in all four seasons. From hiking to fishing to cross-country skiing and more, there’s something for everyone here—and renting a cabin on Airbnb or VRBO is one of the best ways to experience all the state has to offer.
Located on the ancestral lands of the Dakota and Ojibwe peoples, Minnesota (a name derived from the Dakota language) is sandwiched between Wisconsin to the east and North and South Dakota to the west. Canada stretches across its northern border, and in the northeast, the state has a sizable chunk of Lake Superior shoreline bordering the three million-acre Superior National Forest. Minneapolis and its close neighbor St. Paul form the state's largest city, located roughly in the middle of the state along the banks of the Mississippi River (which has its headwaters in Minnesota’s northern reaches).
If you like spending time outside, you’ll have no shortage of options in Minnesota. From the sprawling Boundary Waters wilderness in the north to the thousands of lakes (and rivers) spread across the rest of the state, Minnesota is a paddler’s paradise. The state has 35 dedicated water trails offering 4,500 route miles for canoeists and kayakers.
Prefer solid ground? Minnesota is also home to world-class mountain biking. Sites like Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area boast excellent trail systems, and there are plenty of rail trails and other paths, too. There’s also great hiking—check out the Superior Hiking Trail for a real challenge—as well as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and more in the winter. So forget about the Mall of America—no matter what season you visit, you're guaranteed to find adventure in Minnesota.
10 Best MN Cabin Rentals to Bookmark
Vibe: Pedaler’s & Paddler’s Paradise
This handsome wood-paneled cabin is part of Cuyuna Cove, a collection of tiny one-bedroom cabins nestled in the woods near the town of Crosby. This forest retreat includes everything you need for a relaxing weekend, including a deck, kitchenette, grill, and sauna. While there, you’ll have access to complimentary snowshoes and inflatable paddleboards, and the cabin is located within biking distance of the nationally recognized mountain bike trails in Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. It's pet friendly, and while there aren't any lake views, there is a pond on site.
Vibe: Town and Country A-frame
Also located near Crosby and just under two hours from Duluth, this spacious, newly built A-frame makes a great home base for a couples’ weekend or small family gathering. Cook a big meal in the fully appointed kitchen, kick back in the cozy living room, get a blaze going in the fire pit, or hang out on the large back deck—just don’t forget to explore the nearby town and recreation area, too (there's even a golf course nearby at Cuyuna Rolling Hills if a scenic 18 is in the cards). This vacation cabin is secluded, but wifi is available
Vibe: Elevated Forest Experience
Love tree house rentals but need more space? Check-in to this cabin set in a region that's scattered with lakes and lake towns (Pequot Lakes, Breezy Point, Lake Hubert, to name a few, plus the larger town of Brainerd). It features two bedrooms, three beds, a full kitchen, and a generous living/dining area, but it’s also elevated on stilts, so you’ll still get a unique up-in-the-canopy feel (especially when you step out on the cabin’s porch). Plus, it comes with a hammock, fire pit, and grill, so you can spend plenty of time outside, too.
Vibe: Family-style A-frame
This cozy, light-filled A-frame lake cabin offers lots of space for families and groups: four bedrooms and two full baths. Plus, it’s located on an acre of land and boasts 200 feet of lakeshore frontage along Lake Ethel, a picturesque lake in west-central Minnesota near Glendalough State Park (bring your boat if you have one; there’s a boat launch nearby). Once you’ve had your fill of swimming, fishing, and wakeboarding, you can explore the area’s quaint towns and sample hard cider at 1910 Sip House, located just down the road.
Vibe: North Country Rustic
This cabin is definitely bare bones—there’s no indoor plumbing—but the location is hard to beat: It’s perched in the forest above Lake Superior's North Shore, and you can catch glimpses of the waves through the cabin’s windows. Constructed in 2019 using traditional Norwegian cabin-building techniques, it offers a slice of Scandinavian hospitality (there’s a sauna) and plenty of opportunities for backcountry adventure—the Superior Hiking Trail passes nearby).
Vibe: Designer Cabin
According to the listing, this chic, modern cabin was remodeled by “an award-winning Twin Cities interior designer,” and from the monochrome paint scheme to the tasteful decor, it definitely stands out from the crowd of nearby vacation homes. The surrounding area is just as stunning, too: This lakeside cabin is tucked into a wooded three-acre property and has 300 feet of frontage on Barrow Lake. Explore the water with the included canoe, kayaks, or paddleboards, or if you’re visiting in the winter, use the cabin’s snowshoes to wander the woods.
Vibe: Lakeside Living
Vintage A-frames are great, but living inside a dated lake home isn’t everyone’s idea of a perfect weekend getaway. Set just west of the town of Detroit Lakes, this cabin combines the best of old and new. The current owners thoroughly restored it, preserving its charming ‘60s architecture and updating it with a modern kitchen and new surfaces throughout. The result? A bright, inviting living space—plus a dock, fire pit, grill, pedal boat, and paddleboard for enjoying the outdoors.
Vibe: A-frame Escape
A newly built A-frame, the Mysa House is a great pick for a group adventure in far northeastern Minnesota. It’s set on a five-acre wooded property that offers cross-country ski and snowmobile trails and views of Lake Superior, and there’s public access to the lake nearby. Head out for a hike on the Superior Hiking Trail or ski the Pincushion Mountain Trail System, or relax and take in the view from one of the house’s multiple balconies.
Vibe: Lighthouse in the Woods
There’s nothing nautical about this lighthouse—the closest body of water is a small lake—but it does offer impressive views of the surrounding forest and makes for the one of the most unique Minnesota vacation rentals you'll find. It’s perched above a sprawling 50-acre property adjacent to state-owned land (read: it’s very secluded), and it makes an ideal launch pad for a weekend in the woods. Take the included kayaks out to explore the lake, go for a hike, or break out your snowshoes and tramp through the quiet, snow-filled forest in winter. The best part? You won’t have to worry about falling into the ocean.
Vibe: Scandi Vibes
This sparkling Nordic-inspired cabin has to be one of the nicest rentals in the state. It’s parked on an 8.5-acre parcel overlooking the Pine River and features a light-filled, blonde-wood-paneled interior, two bedrooms, and a full kitchen with stainless steel appliances. Better yet, the owners just installed a new wood-fired sauna, and the cabin includes kayaks and snow shoes for outdoor exploring, too.