Lake of the Woods igloo bar offers food, drink, and indoor ice fishing

Igloo Bar on Zippel Bay

About 15 kilometres south of the Canadian border sits an igloo-shaped bar where you can fish straight from your seat—can you imagine the stories that get told in that place?

The winter watering hole is located on the sprawling, 4000-square-kilometre Lake of the Woods, which stretches across parts of Northern Ontario, Manitoba, and Minnesota. The bar can be found offshore of Minnesota’s Zippel Bay Resort, and is accessed by guests via a large ice road.

The bar’s clientele is made up of anglers, snowmobilers, and even a few cross-country skiers, which are drawn to the bar—and its heated outhouses—from both sides of the border.

“People come from Canada by ski and snowmobile on groomed trail,” resort owner Nick Painovich told CBC News. “So it’s a popular spot on weekends. We have a lot of friends in Canada.”

The 18-metre-long structure was designed to look like an igloo, but it’s not made from snow and ice. It has a steel floor and sprayed foam insulation to keep it toasty, and the wooden seating and bar make it feel like an average neighbourhood pub. It even has satellite TV—not bad for a place that sits on frozen waters three kilometres from shore.

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What really sets it apart, though, are the sections of floor that can be removed so that customers can take part in some indoor ice fishing. It costs five dollars per hour, but where else will you get the chance to jig for walleye from your bar seat? It also adds some real excitement to the place.

“It gets a little crazy in here when someone catches a big one,” Painovich told the Star Tribune.

But he says it’s worse when the rattle reel goes off and someone misses a fish. “They probably have to buy everyone a round or two because of it,” he told CBC.

The bar is approved by the Minnesota health department, though it did require a lot of permits to get it open. It also cost $100,000 U.S. to build, which is definitely more than your average ice shack. Luckily, it’s been a huge success.

“It’s a vacation that people from other areas have not experienced, and it keeps growing,” Painovich told the Star Tribune.

The igloo bar serves soups, sandwiches, and pizza alongside bottled beer and mixed drinks six nights a week—at least until the ice starts to soften in late March. That’s when the tractors come out and haul it back to shore until next season.