Central Minnesota is known for its abundance of over 70 scenic golf courses and Lake Mille Lacs, the state's second largest inland lake. With more than 1,000 lakes and thousands of acres of pine, this area offers the quintessential Minnesota experience. No wonder this area is oftentimes called the Minnesota Heartland! Opportunities for fishing, boating, sailing, swimming, water skiing, hiking, biking, golfing, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing abound. Many Minnesota locals have cabins in this area, and Lake Mille Lacs is renowned during ice fishing season. West central Minnesota also provides an excellent variety of local wines and vineyards, like the Glacial Ridge Winery in Spicer. A variety of public and private colleges are located in central Minnesota, including University of Minnesota Morris campus. Central Minnesota has a very high concentration of bald eagles - unique in the continental United States. Bird-watching is a common hobby in this area.
Central and West-central Minnesota encompass 23 counties and over 90 cities, with a regional population of over 960,000 people. It divides the North Country from the prairie-lands and metro area to the north and south, and borders North Dakota and Wisconsin to the west and east.