Brainerd Minnesota Lakes area is a regional shopping, industrial, and tourism center. There are many nearby resorts that take advantage of the many nearby lakes including Gull Lake. The Mississippi River flows right through Brainerd the crossing for five road/highway bridges and one railroad bridge. There is also a bowling alley in Brainerd, Movie theater in Baxter, mini golf north of Brainerd, Paul Bunyan/this old farm east of Brainerd towards garrison. Brainerd is also home to one of the Central Lakes college's campuses.
Brainerd was first built around the bridge and was a railroad and logging town. It is not too far away from an earlier establishment called Crow Wing also called the crossing, where people crossed before the bridge, at where the Mississippi River and Crow Wing river meet where there is an island in the shape of a crow wing and where the Crow Wing State Park now is.
MN Highways 210, 371, 25, 18 intersect in Brainerd.
For bicycling, walking, (snowmobiling for some trails) Paul Bunyan trail, Mississippi river trail MRT, and Cuyuna Lakes state trail come through Brainerd. There are also city bicycle and walking trails in both Brainerd and Baxter.
Brainerd has locally owned businesses as well as chain stores and restaurants.
Transportation options include walking, biking, driving, taxi (call in), public transit (dial a ride, and limited regular route), Jefferson Lines, and regional airport.
The old industries of paper mill, railroad yard, and state hospital facility have mostly left the town.