Vacation Destination: Alexandria, MN

The phrase, “easy to get to – hard to leave,” isn’t just a Chamber of Commerce pitch line for the Alexandria lakes area. It’s true. People are having a hard time leaving because they’re having so much fun. Alexandria is conveniently located on Interstate 94 – 110 miles from Fargo, 68 miles from St. Cloud, 131 miles from Minneapolis and 142 miles from St. Paul.

Nestled in scenic rolling hills and trees where the prairie meets the forest, the Alexandria area is brimming with 375 glacier-formed, pristine lakes. That makes it the perfect playground for swimmers, boaters, anglers, golfers, bicyclists, hikers, bird watchers, ice skaters, skiers, snowmobilers and anyone who enjoys the great outdoors.

Even if you don’t consider yourself an outdoorsman or outdoorswoman, there’s still plenty of fun to enjoy while on vacation in the Alexandria lakes area:

• Browse for antiques.

• Take in an arts production.

• Shop historic downtown Alexandria or visit the Viking Plaza Mall.

• Explore the area’s fascinating – and controversial – history.

• See a movie – there’s a nine-screen movie theater near the mall.

• Get a workout at the Alexandria Area YMCA.

• Tour a winery – the award winning Carlos Creek Winery is just three miles north of Alexandria.

• Catch an entertaining, college-level baseball or hockey game.

In addition, Alexandria lists several golf courses on its website (www.alexandriamn.org), an amusement park, go-cart racing, horseback riding, three museums, public swimming beaches, a water park, a winter ski hill, three marinas and much more — all in the Alexandria lakes area.

There is also a trail of antique, curio and specialty shops (many of them downtown) that collectors, browsers and shoppers love to follow, and Alexandria has a very active downtown restaurant and shopping area.

The Alexandria website lists numerous resorts, motels, and many B&Bs. There are also campgrounds, RV Parks and other lodging accommodations.

 

 

CENTRAL LAKES TRAIL

If you like biking, walking, in-line skating or snowmobiling, you’ll love the Central Lakes Trail. The 14-foot-wide, 55-mile paved trail begins in Fergus Falls and crosses Douglas County to connect to the Lake Wobegon Trail in Osakis. Together, they make the longest paved trail in Minnesota. In Douglas County, the trail connects Alexandria with six other cities, many of which have trailside parking, restrooms and shelters.  In Alexandria, the trail also connects to a paved trail that travels along the shore of Lake Agnes to Alexandria City Park.  In the winter, the Central Lakes Trail is also a popular snowmobiling route.

Visit www.centrallakestrail.com.

EXPLORE HISTORIC DOWNTOWN

There’s more to downtown Alexandria than storefronts. Visitors can discover enchanting shops and beautiful boutiques. They can stroll through timeless antique stores to find unexpected treasures and nostalgic memorabilia. They can take a break and try out one of the many cozy eateries.

For information on upcoming events, visit www.downtownalexandria.com.

VIKING PLAZA MALL

The Viking Plaza Mall in Alexandria has more than 30 stores for customers to shop in comfort.

Many updates and improvements have been completed and more are on the horizon. The Viking Plaza is often described as “tomorrow’s mall” and management takes pride in offering customers a clean, relaxing and fun environment that makes the mall not just a place to shop but a destination to visit. It’s the largest shopping mall in Douglas County.

Recent upgrades were made inside and out, including comfortable new furniture, a creative playscape for children, a new entrance off South Broadway, new signs and free Wi-Fi access for shoppers.

There are events happening all year round at the Viking Plaza. It’s also a popular spot for walkers to get in some exercise, seven days a week.

MARITIME MUSEUM

The Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum offers visitors a chance to experience the history of boating and resorts in the Alexandria lakes area and the entire state. The museum, located on 3rd Avenue West in Alexandria, houses an extensive classic boat collection as well as resorting, fishing, hunting and other maritime memorabilia.

An exciting new addition to the museum is also taking shape – Maritime Gardens. It will feature a grand design of gazebos, park benches, lush flower gardens, ornamental grasses, streams and waterfalls, and an event stage with seating.

The museum also provides educational programs in the summer, such as sailing lessons, water safety and youth boat operation. For more information, visit its website at www.mnlakesmaritime.org or call (320) 759-1114.

RUNESTONE MUSEUM

Located near the “Big Ole” Viking statue at the north end of Broadway, it’s home to the controversial, world famous Kensington Runestone. It tells of early explorers to this area from Norway. Some people believe they discovered America long before Christopher Columbus. There are also Native American exhibits, exhibits on early immigrants and the history of Alexandria, a memorial/gun exhibit, a Minnesota wildlife exhibit, and a hands-on children’s area.

The museum is located in Fort Alexandria, a nearly exact replica of the stockade constructed in 1862 by order of the governor of Minnesota. It’s located at 206 Broadway.

CARLOS CREEK WINERY

No matter the season, there’s always something happening at Carlos Creek Winery.

Founded in 1997, the winery officially opened in July of 1999. It’s located on 160 acres with 13 acres devoted to vines and 15 dedicated to apples.

Visitors can sample a wide-range of the winery’s award-winning wines. Grape varieties include Frontenac, Sabrevois, Valiant, King of the North, Brianna, Marquette, Petite Pearl and Edelweiss. Apple varieties include Cortland, Fireside, Haralson, McIntosh, Regent, and its largest planting, Honeycrisp, the state apple of Minnesota.

The winery is owned and operated by the Bredeson family.

Winter hours are from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday and noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Summer hours are from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Complimentary tours are offered daily, year-round at 1 and 3 p.m. plus 5 p.m. on Saturdays. (No reservations are needed for groups fewer than 20.)

Yearly events include the extremely popular “Grape Stomp” (September 13-15 this year); “Apple Fest” (October 19), featuring a pumpkin-throwing catapult; and “Awake the Grapes,” which includes 1K, 5K and 10K runs through the vineyards (May 26).

The winery is also a favorite spot for destination weddings. It hosts more than 40 weddings each year, plus a number of corporate events. It was recently nominated a “top three non-metro venue” by Minnesota Meetings and Events and was given the “Bride’s Choice Award” by Wedding Wire.

There is also a full venue of musical entertainment, mystery dinner theater and other fun activities. Go to www.carloscreekwinery.com for more information or call (320) 846-5443.

BIG SPLASH

Big Splash is a wet, wild waterpark wonder. One of the biggest indoor waterparks in the nation is at the Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center, located about four miles north of Alexandria on Lake Darling.

The 38,000-square-foot water park offers a wide variety of water activities, including four-story waterslides, a “Lazy River” floating inner tube ride, a lily pad water walk and a tropical whirlpool spa and waterfall. There’s also a children’s play fort in a zero-inch-entry pool.

For more information, call (320) 762-1124 or visit the Big Splash website at www.arrowwoodresort.com.

 VIKINGLAND BAND FESTIVAL

Every year, on the last Sunday in June, the streets of Alexandria come alive with the sound of music.

The 29th annual Vikingland Band Festival is set for June 30, featuring the Midwest’s finest high school marching bands in a fun but intense competition. Summer parade bands are at their peak in June and pull out all the stops as they perform on the city’s extra-wide main street.

The Vikingland Band Festival parade begins early afternoon Sunday and proceeds along Broadway from 4th Avenue to 15th Avenue.

For more information about the band festival, visit the website www.marching.com/events/vbf.

 FOURTH OF JULY – WATCH FOR A STORM!

Although there are several fireworks displays around the area on the Fourth of July, one of the most spectacular is Star Storm.

Those who go to Lake Darling near Alexandria on July 4 will enjoy a spectacular 20-minute fireworks display set to music. The annual display, which is designed to be enjoyed either from land or from the lake, is organized by Arrowwood Resort. Folks can watch the show from the front lawn of Arrowwood, which overlooks the lake, or they can boat over to see the display. Watchers are encouraged to tune into KXRA-FM, 92.3, for the show.

ALEXANDRIA AREA ARTS ASSOCIATION

The Alexandria Area Arts Association (AAAA) was founded more than 30 years ago as a way to bring theater to the community. The theater offers music performances, shows and events. The “Quad-A” theater is located at 618 Broadway in downtown Alexandria.

For information about the latest productions, go to the webtite www.alexandriaareaarts.org or call the box office at (320) 762-8300.

 THEATRE L’HOMME DIEU

Theatre L’Homme Dieu has been offering professional summer-stock theater to the Alexandria area since 1961. This year, the theater is partnering with Minnesota’s professional theaters to offer five high-caliber, family-friendly, often-comic musicals.

This year’s line-up includes When a Man Loves a Diva (June 25-30); Lombardi (July 9-14); Legacy – A Tribute to the King of Pop (July 16-21); Sisters (July 23-28); Sunset Boulevard (August 6-11); and Almost Maine (August 13-18).

Theatre L’Homme Dieu’ is located at 1875 County Road 120 NE. For more information, call (320) 846-3150 or visit the website www.tlhd.org.

 ICE SKATING AT NOONAN PARK

Noonan Park in Alexandria is the site of the city’s outdoor public skating rink. The rink is regularly maintained, has a warming house, and is well lit for night skating. The park is generally open for skating around December 20, or whenever there is eight inches of ice.

Hours for the rink and warming house are Monday through Friday from 3 to 9:30 p.m. and weekends and vacation days from 1 to 9:30 p.m. The rink is closed daily from 5 to 6 p.m. During school vacations the rink opens at 1 p.m. There is no charge to skate at the park. The rink is located on the east side of Alexandria off of Nokomis Street and between 9th and 10th avenues.

SNOWMOBILING THE CENTRAL LAKES TRAIL

Minnesota has more than 20,000 miles of snowmobile trails that criss-cross its forests, prairies, hills and lakes. Here in Douglas County, it’s just as wonderful for snowmobilers. There are breathtaking scenes on 400 miles of trails that wind throughout the county, connecting every community in the area.

Snowmobile trails also connect with the 55-mile Central Lakes Trail, a four-season recreational trail that spans the county.

A free trail map and additional trail information are available at the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce at 206 Broadway.

 ICE FISHING CHALLENGE COMES TO ALEXANDRIA

The annual Ice Fishing Challenge brings several thousand anglers to the area each winter to compete for prizes.

Featuring more than $60,000 worth of prizes, the Ice Fishing Challenge is held each February. For more information, visit www.icefishingchallenge.org or call (320) 808-5096.

 SKI AT ANDES TOWER HILLS 

Think you have to go to the mountains to have winter fun? If so, you haven’t been to Andes Tower Hills.

Located just 15 miles west of Alexandria, Andes Tower Hills has 16 downhill ski runs ranging from beginner to expert, as well as facilities for tubing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Ski and snowboard lessons, a racing program, lodging, a restaurant, equipment rentals and a pro shop are also available. The facility recently expanded and improvements were added including new expert terrain, new lighting and new banquet rooms. For more information call 1-877-542-6337 (1-87-ski-andes), or visit www.andestowerhills.com.

 ALEXANDRIA CITY PARKS

Alexandria City Park – north end of town, one block west of County Road 42 (North Nokomis). Playground, picnic area, tennis courts, swimming beach, fishing pier. The point between Lakes Agnes and Henry offers a great view of the two lakes and city skyline.

Big Ole Central Park – north end of Broadway in Alexandria, next to Lake Agnes. Gazebo, parking area for the Central Lakes Trail.

Dean Melton Fillmore Park – Fillmore Street and 15th Avenue West in Alexandria.  Includes skateboarding with ramps and rails.

Fred Foslien Park – Victoria Heights, two blocks south of Highway 27 off Knut Street in Alexandria.

Geneva Crest Park – west side of Lake Geneva in Alexandria (take Highway 27 East to Birch Avenue, then go east on Basswood two blocks and east on Geneva Drive).

Goose Park – three blocks west of Broadway on 5th Avenue West, Alexandria.

Lake Agnes Park – south shore of Lake Agnes along County Road 37, Alexandria.

Lake Connie Park – 7th Avenue East between Roosevelt and Spruce streets, Alexandria.

Lakeview Park – Highway 27 East and Birch Avenue in Alexandria (take Highway 27 East to Birch Avenue, turn west on Runestone Place and then west on Lake Park Avenue).

Legion Park – Broadway and 8th Avenue West, Alexandria.

Manor Hills Park – Take Highway 29 North to Manor Drive and go two blocks to the right on Springdale in Alexandria.

Martin’s Hope Park – 2nd Avenue, across the street from Big Ole Central Park in Alexandria

Noonan Park – this city park is located at Nokomis Street and 10th Avenue in Alexandria. Be sure to pack your picnic lunch and include some bread for the ducks! From the playground to scenic pond, this park is a favorite all year round. The frozen pond, hockey rink and warming house are a great place to spend a winter’s day.

Oak Knoll Park – northeast side of Alexandria near McKay Avenue. Take Highway 29 North, turn right on McKay Ave. and left on Oak Knoll Dr.

Osagi Park – Lake Street in Osakis. Picnic tables and shelter, restrooms, playground and lakeshore (no swimming area).

Pooch Playland – a new dog park with a fenced-in area. Located at the south end of Victor Street on the east side of Alexandria.

Runestone Park – about one mile east of Broadway in Alexandria on 6th Avenue East.

VISIT SAUK CENTRE MN

If you’re in the Alexandria area, take a half-hour drive on Interstate 94 to the historic town of Sauk Centre and its original “Main Street.”

It’s the home of Nobel Prize winner and author Sinclair Lewis.

Some suggestions: Visit Lewis’ Interpretive Museum and boyhood home; hike/bike Lake Wobegon Trail; visit quaint shops and restaurants, including a ghost tours; enjoy Sauk Lake with fishing and canoe trips; go on garden tours; visit a winery, zoo, distillery and farmers’ markets.

The Glacial Lakes Trail is also nearby.

For more visitors’ information, call 855-444-SAUK (7285) or go to the website, www.visitsaukcentre.com.

Park Rapids Area State Forests

Butterly and DuckThe Minnesota Department of Natural Resources manages state forestlands for all types of outdoor recreation, including camping, mountain biking, off-highway vehicle riding, hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, horseback riding and picking berries and mushrooms.

The DNR is only one of many landowners in these forested areas. Please be aware of private property boundaries while enjoying the scenic beauty of state forestlands.

Paul Bunyan State Forest
Divided into two units, one north and one south, the Paul Bunyan State Forest offers miles of hiking trails and trails for off-road vehicles, as well as areas for snowmobiling, horseback riding and mountain biking.

Hiking trails include a segment of the North Country Trail, part of the national North Country Scenic Trail, begun in the 1960s to connect the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails. Through efforts of the Itasca Moraine Chapter of the North Country Trail Association, the trail has been extended from the Chippewa National Forest to Steamboat Pass, near Spur Lake in the Paul Bunyan State Forest, a total of 21.4 miles from state Hwy 64.

The DNR manages two outdoor recreational facilities in Paul Bunyan State Forest.
Mantrap Campground has 38 campsites, a picnic area, swimming beach, playground and boat landing. Mantrap Lake is a designated muskie lake. To reach the campground from Park Rapids, take CSAH 4 north to Emmaville and turn right onto CSAH 24. Travel east 1.5 miles until you reach Co. Rd. 104, turn left and follow the signs. A daily camping fee is required. A one-mile nature trail can be enjoyed at the campground. Contact Itasca State Park at 218-266-2100 for further information.

Gulch Lakes Campground provides camping and picnic sites, a boat launch and hiking trails. Glacial activity thousands of years ago created the gulch lakes area, distinguished by steep hillsides surrounding small lakes. The campground may be reached via the Halverson Forest Road (east from CSAH 4) or on the Gulch Lake Forest Road (west from Highway 64). Contact Lake Bemidji State Park at 218-755-3843 for additional information about this campsite.

Boy and EgretHuntersville State Forest
Huntersville State Forest boasts approximately 150 miles of logging trails, which are open for motorized and non-motorized use. The forest is located in northern Wadena County, roughly 12 miles southeast of Park Rapids.

Five campsites are found in Huntersville State Forest. All offer picnic tables, fire rings, firewood, toilets and well water. Most have nice swimming areas adjacent to the campground and canoe landing.

A 22-mile horse trail, featuring two loops and a river crossing, starts at the Shell City Horse Campground.

Two Inlets State Forest
The Two Inlets State Forest is located in Becker County. From Park Rapids, take Highway 71 north 10 miles to CSAH 41. Turn left, travel 1.5 miles and then turn right. The Richard A. Gartner Memorial Hungryman Forest Campground and Day Use Area is one mile north on Co. Rd. 88.

Boat accesses are provided on Hungryman and Cedar lakes. Pack a lunch and head to the Cedar Lake Picnic Area.
The South Two Inlets Forest Road traverses the forest from east to west. It is open to public travel. Two Inlets Lake provides very good fishing for all warm water species.

Chippewa National Forest Trails
Forest TrailsThe total Chippewa National Forest acreage is 1.6 million acres, with 660,000 acres managed by the Chippewa National Forest. The Chippewa, the first ever National Forest, is over half water and its terrain is a result of the glaciers that blanketed northern Minnesota 10,000 years ago. There are over 700 lakes, 920 miles of streams and 150,000 acres of wetlands. The Forest is home to the largest breeding population of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. It has been inhabited by peoples for thousands of years and is home to logging history and Civilian Conservation Corps sites.

The western portion of the Chippewa National Forest near Walker and Leech Lake adjoins the Byway. Some of this area’s highlights include:

  • Stony Point On Leech Lake: The campground is surrounded by old growth forests, some over 200 years old.
  • Lake Erin: Includes a picnic area and one-mile interpretive wetland trail around the lake. Adjacent to the North Country Trail.
  • Woodtick Auto Tour: Observe natural, interpretive and historic sites on this auto tour though the Chippewa.
  • The Leech Lake Reservation inhabits a large part of the Chippewa Forest.
  • Shingobee Recreation Area: This section of the Forest has trails and a toboggan slide and sledding area. The Civilian Conservation Corps developed the site in the early 1930s.
  • Chippewa National Forest Multi-Use Trails-Walker Area: There are many biking, hiking, interpretive, hunter, walking and auto trails in the Walker District of the Chippewa National Forest. Some are close to the trail and others just a short side trip away. For more information on location and trail conditions, contact the Walker Ranger District: 218-547-1044.

Two Inlets State Forest Trails
Over 26,000 acres set in a landscape that’s gently rolling to hilly, with scattered lowlands. Two Inlets Trail provides over 27 miles of snowmobile trail that connects to other area trails. Two Inlets Lake provides good fishing. This state forest is known for excellent hunting of deer, ruffed grouse and small game. Indian Creek Water Impoundment provides habitat for waterfowl. Located about 10 miles north of Park Rapids west of Highway 71.

Smoky Hills State Forest Trails
Rolling-to-moderately steep slopes characterize this nearly 24,000-acre forest. Smoky Hills offers 30 miles of snowmobile trails and exceptional hunting for deer and grouse. South half of the forest is good for fall foliage viewing. Pick fruit and mushrooms. Located 10 miles west of Park Rapids off Hwy 34.

FlowersHuntersville State Forest Trails
This 16,448-acre forest has rolling-to-flat land, famed for its jack and Norway pine mixed with aspen, spruce, tamarack and northern hardwoods and clear streams.
The major attraction is the beauty of the Shell and Crow Wing Rivers that flow through the forest. The excellent boating and canoeing route traverses 80 miles of river. There are two canoe outfitters in the area. Wilderness campsites occur at three-to seven-mile intervals. Located south of Park Rapids, off Hwy 87 on CR 25.

Paul Bunyan State Forest Trails
Over 72,000 acres of terrain that’s rough and hilly, with many tiny ponds and bogs. Paul Bunyan State Forest has 50 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and 15 miles of ungroomed trails. The hiking and cross-country ski trail located near Mantrap Lake is two miles in length. Located just north of Akeley on Hwy. 64.

White Earth State Forest
About 160,502 acres of the forest is rolling hills and lakes, 4/5th of which is variegated forest and 1/5th is lowland brush and marsh. Almost all of this forest is within the boundaries of the White Earth Reservation.

The Shuttlebug Nature Trail is popular for summer hiking. It has 70 miles of marked and groomed snowmobile trails. Here are several routes into the White Earth State Forest: 20 miles north of Park Rapids on Hwy 71, then west on Hwy 113; 14 miles east of Detroit lakes on Hwy 34 then about 15 miles north on Becker 37; six or seven miles east of Waubun on Hwy 113; and 20 miles east of Mahnomen on Hwy 200.

Smoky Hills State Forest
Located 10 miles west of Park Rapids, the Smoky Hills State Forest was established in 1935 to perpetuate forest management and fire protection. Presently there are almost 24,000 acres of land within the boundaries of the state forest.
The southern portion of Smoky Hills offers an excellent opportunity to view fall colors on its rolling, forested slopes.

While there is no designated campground, camping is permitted with some conditions. Contact the DNR for complete rules.

Badoura State Forest
The Badoura State Forest is located 10 miles south of Akeley on Highway 64. It is located around the Badoura State Tree Nursery, the state’s oldest tree nursery, founded in 1931. The location is very visible to travelers, as the Badoura Fire Tower stands tall at the intersection of state Highways 64 and 87. The tower is on the National Registry of Historical Fire Towers.

The forested portion of the State Forest is comprised mostly of conifers, and a large portion of the area contains the Badoura Bog. This is a very unique and historical area.

Chippewa National Forest
Six miles of trails wind through a variety of upland habitats, including mature jack pine, young red pine, cedar swamp and oak-birch forest. Called the Shingobee Recreational Area Trail system, it is located five miles southwest of Walker.
The six-mile trail loops through mixed aspen, birch and pine forest along two small lakes and Shingobee River valley of Chippewa National Forest.

It intersects with the North Country National Scenic Trail, a premier footpath that stretches for about 4,600 miles, which when complete will connect the Appalachian Trail in New York to the Lewis and Clark Trail in North Dakota. Minnesota’s portion provides one of the state’s longest backpacking opportunities.
The North Country National Scenic Trail threads through numerous lakes and wetlands in a pine and hardwood forest. The terrain is relatively level terrain on the eastern portion, while the western end becomes rolling.

The Chippewa National Forest boundary encompasses 1.6 million acres, of the USDA Forest Service manages 666,325 acres. Aspen, birch, pines, balsam fir and maples blanket the uplands. Water is abundant, with over 1,300 lakes, 923 miles of rivers and streams, and 400,000 acres of wetlands.

Visitors will find family campgrounds, located across the forest, offering everything from protected boat harbors to hot showers. Many of the campgrounds have access to hiking or biking trails, fishing piers, scenic byways, and of course, some of the best fishing lakes in the state.

To find a detailed listing of addresses and phone numbers go to mndestinations.com.

Park Rapids

Park Rapids

Park Rapids is the ultimate tourist destination with its endless recreational opportunities and lakes, friendly people and outdoors activities. It is known as the Gateway to Itasca State Park because of its proximity to the park, located 19 miles north on Highway 71.
Park Rapids swells in the summertime as visitors return to the area for its unique features, including more than 500 clean, clear lakes that surround the area and invite all types of water sports from fishing to water skiing. Visitors return each year to stay at resorts and cabins during the summer. The area also boasts more than 3.5 million forest acres to explore during a visit to Park Rapids.

Fall is also a popular time to visit the Park Rapids area, with plenty of places to hike, canoe, fish and bike. Driving around for a look at colorful trees in the fall is also a popular activity.

Lake Fishing2013 Governor’s Fishing Opener
The 66th Annual Governor’s Fishing Opener will be held in the Park Rapids Lakes Area Friday and Saturday, May 10-11. Governor Mark Dayton, his staff and Explore Minnesota chose the Park Rapids Lakes Area to host the 2013 Governor’s Fishing Opener. Park Rapids last hosted the GFO in 1979.

The event will spotlight not only the area’s pristine lakes, with fish of all species, but the hiking and biking trails, resorts, golf courses, Itasca State Park, restaurants, unique businesses and all the other amenities that make residents proud to call this area home.
The Fish Hook chain of lakes was chosen because the Fish Hook River is the focal point of Park Rapids. Highway 71 provides access to the four lakes and it heads up to Itasca State Park. The opener will serve as a kick-off to the 2013 summer tourism season.
More information is available at www.mngovernorsopener.com and www.parkrapids.com.

Downtown Park RapidsMain street
The old-fashioned Main street, with center parking, is a draw for tourists each summer. Downtown Park Rapids offers a variety of unique stores, restaurants and shops that are filled with fun items.

Main street recently received a makeover with customized granite inlays on street corners depicting area lakes, decorative light poles, along with unique benches, trash cans and bicycle racks. Many businesses also completed renovations to coincide with the project. Pioneer Park along Main street is having landscaping completed this year to make it more inviting. Visitors are encouraged to check out the revitalized downtown that has maintained its old-fashioned charm.

Art CenterArts Downtown PR and 2nd Street Stage
Downtown features music and other entertainment every third Thursday of the month for Arts Downtown Park Rapids. Audiences are invited to see and hear visual artists, musicians and writers at several locations in downtown. The public is invited to attend and encouraged to make a free will donation to the artists. This activity is funded in whole or in part by a Region 2 Arts Council Grant through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund passed by Minnesota voters on Nov. 4, 2008.
During the summer, 2nd Street Stage performances will take place Thursday evenings from June 20-Aug. 22. The Park Rapids Downtown Business Association sponsors the celebration that fills 2nd Street, between Main Avenue and Highway 71, with music each week. Everyone is invited to the free concerts that include a beer garden with snacks and other activities. For more information on these and other events, go to www.parkrapidsdowntown.com.

Downtown historyHistory
Located at the intersection of Highways 71 and 34, Park Rapids was established in 1879 when C.O. Todd filed the original town site. The railroad arrived in 1884 and the city was named as the county seat of Hubbard County in 1887. The local economy is based on tourism, agriculture, logging and light manufacturing with a strong service sector.
Tourism in the area was a thriving industry starting in the late 1880s. Most came to the area via the railroad with the resorters picking up their guests at the train depot and transporting them to their respective resorts. The resorters would use roadways as well as waterways to the resorts.

In 1920 there were 11 resorts in the area and within two years that number had doubled providing accommodations for 1,500 visitors. The number jumped to 47 in 1928 and topped 200 in the early 1970s. The number of facilities is fewer at this time, but there are plenty of quality resorts, motels, private campgrounds and bed and breakfasts to provide a quality stay in the area.

Hubbard County Fair RidesHubbard County Fair
The annual Hubbard County Fair, put on by the Shell Prairie Ag Association, is a draw each July in Park Rapids. This year will be the 118th annual fair and be from July 17-21 at the fairgrounds.

In the past the demolition derby has been a big draw. The fair also has a carnival, tractor pull, 4-H exhibits and talent shows. The 4-H exhibit hall will be home to chickens, bunnies, horses, pigs, sheep, goats and cattle throughout the week. And don’t forget the classic fair food. Stop on over this July for cheese curds, ice cream and other delicacies.

Tractor at Field DaysField Days
The Park Rapids Antique Tractor and Engine Club will have its 21st annual Field Days show Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 3 and 4. Field Days activities bring visitors back to the old days with demonstrations of what life was like on a farm.

Demonstrations of combining, threshing, tractor plowing, shingle making, a hay press, gas engines, lath making, snow fence machine and sawmill are done on the grounds.
Horse-related machinery is on display as well. For the kids there is a petting zoo, miniature railroad train rides and collectibles. Square dancing, gospel music and a church service Sunday morning are part of the events. Breakfast and lunch are served both days and a light supper is available Saturday evening. Ice cream is plentiful and available all weekend. A tractor parade is each day and Saturday has a tractor pull.

The Antique Tractor and Engine Club grounds are located on County Road 6 about a half mile south of Highway 34 on the east side of Park Rapids.

PBR BullridePBR Bull Ride
The 35th annual Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Challenger Tour Bull Ride will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday, July 4-6 in Park Rapids. Jokela ProWest produces Minnesota’s largest sanctioned bull ride in the nation over the Fourth of July.

Fans who follow the PBR on television will recognize the same top cowboys and bulls at the Challenger Tour Bull Ride. Park Rapids has become legendary for its hospitality, all-American holiday atmosphere and energized crowds. The nation’s top bull riders mark this event down each year as a must-attend event. It’s a retreat from the heat of venues in states like Texas and Arkansas. The bulls are second to none. Many of the bulls come from Chad Berger in Mandan, N.D., along with other contractors. Many of the bulls used in Park Rapids qualify for the bull riding finals in Las Vegas.

In addition to seeing live, heart-stopping action as cowboys go after that eight-second, scoring ride, audiences return year after year to enjoy the pageantry of the opening ceremonies, kids amateur sheep riding events, Moto X freestyle aerial shows and nightly dances.

The gates open at 5 p.m. with shows beginning at 6:30 p.m. Go to www.parkrapidsbullride.com for tickets and information.

Legends and Logging DaysLegends and Logging Days
Park Rapids Legends and Logging Days continues to grow at its new venue at the East 40, Park Rapids Antique Tractor & Engine Club grounds.

This year’s event will be held Friday and Saturday, Aug. 9-10 at the East 40. Legends & Logging Days celebrates the area’s logging heritage, bringing world champion lumberjacks and lumberjills to compete in wood chopping, sawing, ax throwing and other contests, reminiscent of the days when pioneers came to the north woods to make a living and stayed to build our towns.

Visitors will find many activities during the two-day event including: a pre-1840 encampment with tomahawk and archery demonstrations and costumed historical interpreters who will demonstrate and discuss what it was like to live centuries ago, master chainsaw sculptors and a sculpture auction, loon calling competition, a marketplace of artists, crafters and demonstrations, Dutch oven cooking, chili contest and a variety of music. For more information go to www.parkrapids.com.

Food at Bite at the ParkBite of Park Rapids
The third annual Bite of Park Rapids is July 14 in downtown Park Rapids. Second Street west of Main Avenue is blocked off for people to gather and sample a variety of food from area restaurants. Musicians entertain during the event and organizers are working on an art show to coincide with the event. The event has grown each year and continues to be a hit with tourists and locals alike.

Art Leap
Art Leap 2013 is slated for Sept. 28-29. The two-day event, sponsored by the Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council, invites visitors on a driving tour of artists’ studios and other culturally rich destinations. Highlights of Art Leap include outdoor music, hors d’oeuvres and seeing fall colors at their peak while driving from studio to studio.

Music at Art LeapArtists utilize this event to educate people about their art. Downloadable brochures with maps will be available closer to the dates at www.parkrapids.com or www.prlaac.org.

Fourth of July
Park Rapids is a destination for Fourth of July each year. Events include a large parade through town and a famous fireworks display over the beautiful Fish Hook River. In between these events, be sure to check out the shops and restaurants that are open for visitors to enjoy during the day.

Fireworks on Fourth of JulyMuseums
Entertainment and fine arts possibilities abound in the Park Rapids area. The Nemeth Art Center and Hubbard County Historical Museum are both located in the original Hubbard County Courthouse at 3rd and Court in Park Rapids.

Theatre
The Northern Light Opera Company stages musical productions in the Area High School auditorium. The Long Lake Theater presents heartwarming drama and sidesplitting comedy and is located in Hubbard on the south end of Long Lake.

Jasper’s Jubilee Theater on Highway 34 east of Park Rapids provides comedy and musical theater for area residents and visitors alike. And the Heartland Concert series, Community Band and Classic Chorale provide entertainment throughout the year.

Christmas Tree LightingYuletide Sampler/Christmas tree lighting
Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, the community comes together to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season and partake in the true meaning of giving. The Yuletide Sampler and Community Christmas Tree Lighting is held the day after Thanksgiving on Main street in Park Rapids. This year, the event is Friday, Nov. 29. Each year, a tree is donated by someone in the area and the night is filled with Christmas carols and an appearance by Santa Claus.

For more event listings and contact information go to the full publication at www.mndestinations.com.

Nevis, Dorset, Lake George

Nevis

Nevis Largest LutefiskNevis is often celebrated as the gateway to the Paul Bunyan Forest, where hikers and campers can enjoy more than 40,000 acres of woodland. Nevis is 10 miles east of Park Rapids and five miles west of Akeley. It claims to be home of the world’s largest tiger muskie – a statue of such can be found if you drive up the main street to the park. The town is located along the east end of Lake Belle Taine. A bison ranch, an emu ranch and golf courses are not too far from Nevis.

State forest trails are signed for off-highway vehicle travel, and the famous 27-mile Heartland Trail runs through Nevis. It is kind of the midpoint of the Walker to Park Rapids portion of that trail. The community offers several public recreational facilities, such as a public beach, park, dock, boat ramp and public access to Lake Belle Taine. The quaint village is home to several restaurants, small shops, a grocery and of course the trademark – the muskie in the center of town that reigns and watches over all festivities and activity.
Nevis will celebrate its annual Muskie Days celebration July 19-20. Geared to young and old, the event features parades, food, games and music. A Music Festival also coincides with Muskie Days and will feature a variety of bands.

Nevis Pig Races
The Nevis Pig Races are becoming a destination for many and the event continues to grow. Thousands flood to Nevis for the event that features young piglets heading out with the bell to gain fame – or infamy – for their sponsors. The pigs are trained by Gary and Glenda Dauer, of Leader. This year is sure to bring squeals of joy once again to those who attend. So make sure to mark July 7 on your calendar and plan a trip to Nevis to see the pigs.

Northwoods Triathlon
Nevis’ Northwoods Triathlon sets off across north woods lakes and trails Saturday, Aug. 10. The event sends contestants into the waters of Lake Belle Taine for a quarter-mile swim, over 14 miles of scenic countryside aboard a bike and down the Heartland Trail on a 5k run.

Uff Da Days
Nevis will be celebrating the annual Uff Da Days, a Scandinavian celebration, held annually on the last Friday and Saturday of August, this year the 30th and 31st. As always, there will be lots of family fun, food, and entertainment. Activities include bingo, a horseshoe tournament, a lutefisk, Swedish meatball, and homemade lefse dinner, kids games, contests, prizes, a flea market, vendors, a beer garden, a parade, lots of local music and entertainment for the entire family and the “Continuing Saga of Ole & Lena,” the fifth in a series, performed by the very unprofessional Uff Da Day players. Ya, sure … you betcha!

Parks
City Beach & Park, Highway 34 to Nevis, north on CSAH 2 and west on Beach Road. Playground equipment, picnic tables, swimming beach and restrooms.
Muskie Park, Highway 34 to Nevis, north three blocks on CSAH 2. Picnic tables, pavilion and playground as well as a Veterans Memorial with a lighted flagpole, flowerbed, honorarium benches and walkway.

Dorset

Taste of DorsetDorset, a town with just a handful of people, boasts being “The Restaurant Capitol” of the world. It is located about six miles east of Park Rapids or six miles west of Nevis on Hwy 34 and about a mile north on state Hwy 226.

Many travelers bicycle to Dorset by starting on the Heartland Trail in Park Rapids, Nevis, Akeley or Walker. Some start out at the trailhead in Dorset. There is plenty of blacktopped parking, a playground to keep the kids amused while parents can relax at the rest area, which includes a bench, toilets, picnic tables and water from a hand pump. Plus, the trailhead is right next to downtown Dorset for easy access to restaurants and shopping.
Streets are lined with boardwalks, casual porch swings and flower baskets. The shops are filled with special items, from books to unique decor and antiques – the kind of stuff that turns houses into homes.

Festival of Authors
A Festival of Authors will be June 22 in Dorset. The event features signings by local authors and many other special events by the shops. Enjoy many authors from the area who have published material locally as well as nationally. The event continues to grow and attracts people interested in meeting regional authors to chat or have a book signed. Others, from painters to carvers, are also part of the event and share their talents.

Taste of Dorset
The annual “Taste of Dorset” feeding frenzy is held the first Sunday of August – Aug. 4 this year from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Folks walk the main street of Dorset while nibbling all kinds of tasty cuisine from outdoor vendors.

Mayor of Dorset
Check the website for how to become the Mayor of Dorset at www.dorsetmn.com. This “cashroots” political process involves an annual drawing and names can be thrown into the hopper for a buck-a-pop.

Lake George

The community of Lake George is perhaps known best for its blueberry festival and the lake is known for great fishing. It is located six miles east of Itasca State Park on 71/200 towards the Kabekona Corner.

The lake itself is a spring fed lake and a great place to catch pan fish, walleye, northern pike and bass. The water is clear, clean and inviting. The Jack Weinmann Family Memorial Guest Quarters at St. Francis Lodge on Lake George opened in 2010. The retreat center for nuns started out as a vision and prayer of Sal Di Leo, a man raised by Catholic nuns in the 1960s.

Each summer, the small town hosts a three-day festival that is focused on blueberries. This year it’s scheduled for July 26-28. The festival includes a blueberry pancake breakfast, a blueberry ball and a blueberry square dance. There is an educational booth on blueberries. A pie sale, a pig roast and the Firemen’s Bean Feed are also great fun. There is a quilt show, an arts and crafts show and a flea market.

The Lake George Community Park is on Payne Lake. Swimming beach, baseball field, picnic tables, picnic shelter, playground, toilets and public access.

Find full event listings and more at mndestinations.com.

Walker, Longville, Akeley

Walker

Eelpout FestWalker, located on the shores of Leech Lake and the Chippewa National Forest, is busy throughout the year with celebrations, music events and unique shopping opportunities. It is located on the Lake Country Scenic Byway at the junction of Highways 371 and 200. Highway 34 East ends at Walker. The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe operates Northern Lights Casino near Walker. Tourists can learn more about the area by visiting the Cass County Museum. And a new community center holds a fitness center, meeting rooms and space for community events, such as flea markets.

Yikes! Bikes! Bike Tour

Enjoy a beautiful July morning biking among our plush forests while taking part in a valued charitable event for Habitat for Humanity. Join in on the YIKES! BIKES! Bike Tour July 13. Come to the Walker area and participate in this wonderful opportunity to take in the scenery and help the Habitat for Humanity in their fundraising efforts.

Moondance

Moondance Jam is a classic rock festival held annually on the Moondance Events grounds in the Leech Lake/Chippewa National Forest Area near Walker. This year, it’s scheduled for July 18-20. Moondance Jam is Minnesota’s largest rock festival and is recognized as the premier classic rock festival in the United States. The Moondance Jam festival site is about six miles south and east of Walker on U.S. Highway 200. It’s about two miles past the Northern Lights Casino. Highway 371 goes south at the casino junction, you want to keep going east of 200 to get to Moondance.

Walker Bay Days

A celebration of family values, community pride and commitment to the preservation of the Leech Lake area culminates with Walker Bay Days, Aug. 3. Activities and entertainment are held at Walker City Park.

Minnesota Folklore Theater

Minnesota Folklore Theater is located at 507 Minnesota Ave. in Walker. The mission is to create, develop and present professional musical and dramatic productions that will further the knowledge and appreciation of the culture and heritage of the United States. The Children’s Theater Company creates extraordinary theater experiences as a means of educating, challenging and inspiring young people.

Ethnic Fest

On Sept. 14, the Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce will host the annual Ethnic Fest in Walker. Ancestors brought to America numerous heritages when they made that ultimate decision to leave their homelands. It is those cultures that are celebrated at Ethnic Fest. The air is filled with the aroma of many various ethnic cuisines to savor and the streets are lined with booths featuring crafts from different countries. The weekend also includes a parade with participants from far and near.

Eelpout Fest

The International Eelpout Festival is each February. Be sure to plan on attending in 2014. The activities during the Eelpout Festival are plentiful. The celebration begins with the opening ceremony at high noon in the Walker City Park on Friday. The rest of the day is spent out on the lake fishing for the perfect Eelpout. Saturday is the Eelpout Peelout 5K run. The Best Eelpout Encampment judging is also on Saturday. See the creativity these Eelpouters put to use when creating their custom-made fish houses. The Polar Plunge is a highlight, held on Saturday on Leech Lake.

Festival of Lights

The Annual Festival of Lights is held the day after Thanksgiving in Walker, this year Nov. 29. Spend the day shopping. Santa and his wife, Mrs. Claus, will visit Village Square during the day. They are available to hear the children’s holiday wishes and to take pictures. Make sure to stay in town for the Festival of Lights Parade. The town will be lit up by the array of holiday floats.

Leech Lake Regatta Children with Fish

The 41st annual Leech Lake Regatta is Aug. 10-12. The Leech Lake Regatta is run by a volunteer committee of the Shores of Leech Lake Yacht Club. Racing, sailing, campfires, music and camaraderie are part of the weekend. Boats race in two fleets: mono-hulls and multi-hulls, and within each fleet there are several divisions.

Longville

It’s official … Longville is the Turtle Race Capital of the World! Races are held every Wednesday in June, July and August in downtown Longville – a 40-year tradition. Longville holds four seasons of fun for the entire family. Surrounded by lakes and forests, Longville is a popular vacation destination. It has some of the best fishing, boating, water sports, hiking and biking in the summer and fall, along with cross-country skiing, ice fishing and snowmobiling in the winter and spring. Join in the fun at the “Run Around Woman” Plus – a 30k and 5k run/walk and bike ride around Woman Lake Saturday, May 4.

Akeley

Akeley offers many outdoor activities and attractions for tourists. It is located right on the corridor of the Lake Country Scenic Byway, 10 miles west of Walker and five miles east of Nevis. Highway 64 also goes south toward Motley. Besides being a good place to enjoy the outdoors, the small town offers plenty of other attractions with two theaters. Many artists also make their home in Akeley. Among them is a chainsaw carver, just west of town on Highway 34. The former school now includes a public library, archery range and a used clothing and furniture shop. A community garden is established near the former school. Several organized events throughout the summer lead ATV riders through the managed network of trails in the Paul Bunyan State Forest. The many resorts around the lake-rich area offer amenities and shopping for a vacation to remember. Paul bunyan

Big Paul Bunyan

Akeley’s Paul Bunyan statue in the center of town can’t be missed. He is shown down on one knee with his huge hand held out to comfort kids of all ages. The 31-foot tall statue has welcomed visitors to Akeley for more than 25 years. There is a picnic area, covered pavilion and park close to Paul’s statue. Also, the Heartland Trail routes behind the pavilion and during warmer weather, you might find music, barbecues, parties and all kinds of activities going on around the town’s favorite icon.

Woodtick Theatre

Woodtick Theatre’s summer season kicks off in mid-June and runs through mid-September. When Frank Haas and his wife, Gail, made several trips to Branson, Mo., it was decided that northern Minnesota could use a similar type of entertainment. Together Frank and Bill Proudfoot joined forces and began the task of creating a theatre. Cindy and Mike Chase purchased the Woodtick Theatre in 1997 from the original owner, Frank Haas. The building is a former dry goods and grocery store that has been converted into this theater with the down home living room atmosphere.

Parks

Akeley is also home to two parks that provide an excellent area to spend time outdoors and have a picnic. City Park, Highway 34, Akeley. Picnic tables, shelter, Paul Bunyan Historical Society Museum, Paul Bunyan’s statue and Paul’s Cradle. City Beach & Campground, Highway 34 to Akeley, then follow signs. Public access to 11th Crow Wing Lake, shelter, picnic tables, fishing, boat landing and campground.

To see full event listing times and dates go to mndestinations.com.

Itasca State Park

Itasca State ParkPark Rapids is the undisputed Gateway to Itasca State Park and the south entrance is a 19-mile drive from Park Rapids north on Highway 71. The east entrance is only a couple miles farther north of the south entrance, and then another mile or so west on Hwy 200 – you’ll find it easily at the junction of Highway 71 and Hwy 200.

On the drive north from Park Rapids on Highway 71 visitors can find several quaint shops and recreation areas to stop at along the way. Also, some fabulous restaurants are located just off of Highway 71 that are sure to satisfy any appetite.

Itasca State Park encompasses Lake Itasca, the official source of the Mississippi River, and a scenic area of northern Minnesota that has remained relatively unchanged from its natural state.

Established in 1891, Itasca is Minnesota’s oldest state park. Today, the park totals more than 32,000 acres and includes more than 100 lakes. Stand under towering pines at Preacher’s Grove. Visit the Itasca Indian Cemetery or Wegmann’s Cabin, landmarks of centuries gone by. Camp under the stars, or stay the night at the historic Douglas Lodge or cabins. Explore Wilderness Drive past the 2,000-acre Wilderness Sanctuary, one of Minnesota’s seven National Natural Landmarks.

Itasca leaf rubbingBut the main attraction will continue to be walking across the headwaters of the Mississippi River on stones at the mouth of Lake Itasca. But there are plenty of other activities to do at the park. Other outdoor activities include taking an excursion boat on Lake Itasca, exploring along Wilderness Drive, biking or hiking along more that 30 miles of designated trails, fishing in one of the many lakes, observing the wild flowers in season as well as birding. Like the entire Park Rapids area, wildlife can be seen throughout the park.
For more information about the park events and schedules, call Itasca State Park headquarters at 218-699-7251 or go to ww.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/itasca/index.html.

Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center
The Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center affords a “river of stories” for guests. The visitor center is named after the brave young park commissioner, Mary Gibbs.
The “Rivers of the World” sculpture is the focal point, interpretive signs identify the earth’s waterways and the Centennial Plaque, Time Capsule and International Peace Pole also engage visitors.

Outdoor exhibits in a portico allow the center to be open 365 days a year and as visitors enter the portico, they are greeted by quotes from the park’s premier explorers – Ozawindib, Henry Schoolcraft, Jacob V. Brower and Jean Nicollet.
Visitors get acquainted with the Headwaters’ natural history and gain an understanding of the area’s attraction for thousands of years. The changes in transportation are documented through the eras – from Native American travel and trade, to US settlement and expansion to logging.

Along the trail to the Headwaters, kiosks draw guests to learn the river’s story with a natural history angle. Park visitors become attuned to its aquatic species, birds, animals, exotic species and plants.

Itasca Douglas LodgeDouglas Lodge
One historic landmark that has welcomed visitors to the park since the beginning of the 20th century is Douglas Lodge. The lodge, a two-story pine log building at the south end of Lake Itasca, has been serving guests since 1905. Few changes have been made to the original lodge, which was built with green, newly cut pine logs harvested in the park.

Jacob V. Brower
Visitor Center
The Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center is the largest visitor center in any of Minnesota’s state parks. The 13,000-square-foot facility has exhibits on the Ojibwe, explorer and pioneer history of the area around Itasca. Land surveyor Jacob Brower lobbied hard to designate this area as a state park in 1891 to protect the pines from logging.

To find out full event listings and more go to mndestinations.com.

Destination Bemidji

Bemidji Dragon BoatsBemidji is the first city on the Mississippi River. The name of the city is an Ojibwe term meaning “waters crossing waters,” which refers to the Mississippi crossing Lake Bemidji and flowing north and east before turning south.

There are many reasons to enjoy the natural lifestyle of the area.Bemidji is located north of Park Rapids on two major U.S.  ighways: Highway 71 running north and south, and Highway 2 running east and west. About 13,000 people live in this city, situated on Lake Bemidji and Lake Irving, which are both fed by the Mississippi River. Many first-time Bemidji Art in the Parkvisitors comment that the town feels much larger, and indeed, if you include highly populated townships surrounding it, the number rises to more than 35,000.

Bemidji has a large movie theater and a professional theater that presents musical performances as well as variety shows. Other area amusements include biking, boating, golf, bowling, bingo, miniature golf, horseback riding, racquetball and high school and university sports. It is a hotbed for hunting and fishing enthusiasts.Bemidji Parade

Winter recreation is provided by a curling arena, two municipal skating rinks and Buena Vista Ski Area. There are 11 area parks to enjoy, and public beaches are maintained at Diamond Point, Nymore and Cameron parks. Shopping opportunities abound in the quaint downtown district and newer stores on Paul Bunyan Drive.

Tall tales and tall timber

Bemidji Paul Bunyan PlayhouseBemidji claims the birth of Paul Bunyan, which makes sense since Bemidji is the First City on the Mississippi - the river that legends claim Paul created!

The legend of Paul and his mighty Blue Ox Babe goes on and on and the stories of his super powers just get bigger. There are giant statues of both Paul and Babe built right on the shores of Lake Bemidji to mark the spot where Paul was born. Descendants of old-time loggers say that this is the exact spot where the five giant storks delivered Paul to his
parents. The huge statue of Paul (18 feet tall and 2.5 tons) stands next to a fiveton
statue of Babe. They are thought to be the second most photographed icons in the nation,
behind only Mount Rushmore.

Festival City

Bemidji Sculpture WalkThe Bemidji area is bustling with festivals and special weekends, most of which focus on the great outdoors. Polar Daze in January starts the year off. Buena Vista Logging Days in February takes visitors to the Lumberjack Village into the world of draft horse teams and old-time timber harvest.

The Lake Bemidji Pond Hockey Classic 4-on-4 tournament in February attracts players
from throughout the region. Summer brings the Bemidji Youth Advisory Council Youth
Rally every June 7, plus new additions to the Bemidji Sculpture Walk, Take a Kid Fishing, Fishing Has No Boundaries and Let’s Go Fishing, the Jaycees Water Carnival, Fourth of July celebrations, the Birchmont Golf Tournament, the Bemidji RodeoLake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival and Art in the Park are summer highlights. Throughout the year, the First Friday Art Walk features many gallery openings and receptions. The First City of Arts Studio Cruise features artists working in their studios. See calendar for all
event dates.

Monsters lurk in area waters

The city of Bemidji lies in the epicenter of some of the most productive muskellunge
waters in the country. Every year numerous muskies over 48 inches are caught, photographed and released. Closely related to the northern pike, the mighty muskies that
terrorize most all other fish in northern Minnesota lakes grow to be larger and are generally
more aggressive than their northern pike cousins. The battle gear required to take on
these denizens of the deep is highly specialized and an experienced guide can provide
Bemidji Parade1tackle, rods and reels and of course inside knowledge.

Local guides take pride in giving their clients a top-notch experience. Typically all you need is a fishing license and rain gear. The guide will provide everything else, including great fishing tales! Several fish over 50 inches have been taken, close to the coveted state record of 60 pounds plus. Again, most are photographed and released back to become fatter fish for next season.

Trails for all

The city and surrounding area also boasts an extensive trail network year round. There
are nine cross country ski trail systems in the vicinity for all skill levels and Cross Country Skier magazine named Bemidji as “one of the most attractive areas to ski in the United States.” The city also serves as a hub for two major paved trail systems with the 100-mile Paul Bunyan Trail connecting Bemidji to Brainerd and the Blue Ox Trail, which extends 110 miles from Bemidji to International Falls. During the summer, bicyclists, runners and walkers frequent the trails, while snowmobilers enjoy the trails once the snow flies.

Curling

Bemidji claims to be the nation’s curling capitol. Over at Eveleth, about 150 miles due east of Bemidji is a huge-hockey- stick-and-puck marking that city as home of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. There is no giant curling-broom-and-rock erected in Bemidji, yet, but don’t be surprised if it happens. Bemidji has long been a spawning ground for champion curlers. It is also fast becoming one for U.S. Olympic curlers.

Fourth of July

Speaking of “rockets red glare,” the Bemidji Fourth of July celebration lasts for about five days based on what day July 4th falls on. Bemidji Jaycees Water Carnival serves up fireworks, a grand summer parade, carnival, kids events, and more. It’s also a great time to enjoy hundreds of lakes and picnic spots. Bemidji State University The campus is important to the aesthetics of Bemidji and BSU plays a central role in providing cultural opportunities for area residents, visitors and students. The university emphasizes the arts in its academic offerings and programming, and presents special events as well.

Beltrami County History Center

The Beltrami County History Center is located in the Great Northern Depot in downtown Bemidji. The historical collection includes more than 105,000 pieces of American Indian and settlement artifacts, old maps, newspapers and photos.

Headwaters Science Center

Located in downtown Bemidji, the Science Center’s mission is to provide intellectual stimulation and enjoyment for children and adults via scientific and technological interactive displays, exhibits and programs.

Art, music, theater

Bemidji’s longstanding reputation for fine art, music and theater can be attributed to a unique and creative combination of talent. The Bemidji Community Arts Center is located in the Carnegie Library on the shores of Lake Bemidji. It serves as a resource for the artist, art enthusiast, art buyer and community. The Main Gallery displays national, regional, group and solo shows, while Gallery X2 shows small exhibits and works of emerging artists. Each gallery features a new exhibit each month from February to December. Organizations in the area include the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra, Bemidji Community Theater, Paul Bunyan Playhouse, Headwaters School of Music & the Arts and Headwaters Science Center. The community also hosts the Bemidji Library Book Festival each summer and the First City of Arts Studio Cruise each fall.

To to see a list of all events go to mndestinations.com.