Bemidji 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 visitors 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.
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
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.
The 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 Lake 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
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
tackle, 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.
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.