23 Best Things to Do in Bemidji, Minnesota

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Bemidji

If you love to travel, especially taking to the waters, lakes, or bays or hiking through nature trails, Bemidji is a place you’d want to visit again and again. It’s a charming town nestled along the start of the meandering Mississippi River in northern Minnesota. A unique city with ten lakes within its limits, it’s known as the place “Where winter adventures begin!” 

In short, Bemidji is a haven for adventurers seeking winter snowboarding, things like summer fishing, and everything in between! If this is your first time visiting Bemidji, figuring out where to start and what to do can be challenging. 

To help make your trip a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in Bemidji, Minnesota. 

Things to Do in Bemidji, Minnesota

1. Visit The Iconic Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox Statues

Statues of Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox
Itasca State Park by Chris857 is marked with CC 3.0

Address: 300 Bemidji Ave N, Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

No trip to Bemidji is complete without a stop by the giant Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues that are now synonymous with the city. The nation’s most famous lumberjack, Paul Bunyan, and his trusty blue ox, Babe, have greeted visitors to the Lake Bemidji waterfront since 1937. 

Paul Bunyan is a folk hero of several stories about a giant lumberjack. The statue stands 18 feet tall and weighs a couple of tons. See these larger-than-life characters by visiting Paul and Babe Park in downtown Bemidji.  And make sure to snap a photo or two for Instagram!

See Related: Things to Do in Minneapolis, Minnesota

2. Explore Nature at Itasca State Park

Itasca State Park Scenery

Address: 36750 Main Pk Dr, Park Rapids, MN 56470, United States

Bemidji’s Itasca State Park offers a rewarding and stimulating escape into the heart of the Northwoods. The park is over 32,000 acres of remarkable beauty and tranquility. The source of the mighty Mississippi River lies within the park.

The park also features over 100 lakes, including Lake Itasca and Lake Bemidji, which are famous for their excellent fishing. One of the most popular activities at Itasca State Park is hiking along one of its many trails.

Rent a canoe or kayak and explore some of the park’s secluded lakes. Or enjoy hiking trails that wind along rivers and past towering pines and hardwoods. Itasca State Park and the nearby Park Rapids offer options to suit various interests, from nature lovers to families looking for an easy day trip.

See Related: Best Indoor Activities in Minnesota

3. Go Hiking at Preacher’s Grove

If you make it to Itasca State Park, be sure to take a look at Preacher’s Groove. Preacher’s Groove is a short, dirt path behind the Douglas Lodge. It’s so short you’re unlikely to notice it as you pass, but it’s worth taking a moment to look for. 

The path winds through the woods, with pine trees towering above. A few picnic tables are beside the path to eat and relax, enjoying the natural setting. A group of preachers camped on the present site of Preacher’s Grove in the 1920s, giving the grove its name.

If you visit Preacher’s Grove, don’t forget to bring your camera! There are plenty of great photo opportunities here!

4. Go Fishing or Boating on Lake Bemidji State Park

Lake Bemidji State Park Scenery

Address: 3401 State Park Rd NE, Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

Lake Bemidji State Park is a great place to spend a day or an entire weekend, offering dozens of fun activities. You can hike through the tamarack bog and see pitcher plants, dragon’s mouth, sundews, and other native plants used by Native Americans centuries ago for healing. 

You can also swim, boat, fish, bird watch, hike, go camping, bike, or relax at Lake Bemidji State Park. In short, this lake is a beautiful place to picnic and enjoy the beautiful sights with friends and family. 

Come to Lake Bemidji State Park for an experience you’ll never forget! Take a 360° virtual park tour from the Minnesota DNR website.

5. Explore Headwaters Science Center

Address: 413 Beltrami Ave NW, Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

Stopping at Headwaters Science Center is necessary for those traveling with their families. Headwaters Science Center is a warm and welcoming place. The sciences come alive through hands-on learning, an interactive exhibit floor, and fun activities.

The center sits on the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The center is open year-round and provides all ages with drop-in, interactive fun. It is an excellent place for families to spend quality time together while learning about the natural world and science.

6. Take a Stroll Through Bemidji’s Public Sculpture Walk

Sculpture at Bemidji Sculpture Walk
image by Carol Monfrooe is licensed under CC 2.0

Every public space tells a story about what’s important, and Bemidji is home to more than 35+ unique sculptures created by talented regional artists. Stroll through downtown Bemidji while viewing these remarkable works.

Bemidji Sculpture Walk is a large collection of sculptures installed all over the city. Local artists created these sculptures representing various themes such as wildlife, cultural heritage, local history, etc. 

Some of these sculptures are interactive, making them even more interesting for tourists. Thus, the Sculpture Walk is a popular draw for tourists and residents of Bemidji alike.

The walk is constantly changing, so there’s always something new to enjoy on your next visit to Bemidji — even if you’ve visited it once.

7. A Day at Bemidji City Park

Bemidji City Park
Image by Pinterest

Address: 1330 23rd St NW, Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

Bemidji City Park also offers a lot of recreational activities. Many walking and biking trails cover almost all areas of the park. The trails are mostly flat, making them accessible to people with disabilities, children, and older people. 

In addition, multiple playgrounds are located in different areas of the park where children can play safely while parents relax nearby on benches or picnic tables.

More active visitors can test their skills on an 18-hole disc golf course or hike along one of the park’s many trails. Bemidji City Park has something for everyone! Stop by sometime and see it for yourself.

See Related: Things to Do in Ely, Minnesota

8. Go ice skating at Neilson Reise Arena

Address: 1115 23rd St NW, Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

If you like ice skating, Bemidji City Park has a rink just for you. Neilson Reise Arena is open for ice skating year-round. It features two indoor ice sheets, First National Rink and Sanford Power Rink. 

The arena is at 3000 Division Street W. and adjacent to the Bemidji High School. The two rinks are open for both recreational and competitive ice skating. At Neilson Reise Arena, visitors will find an inviting, fun atmosphere with years of tradition and a sense of community.

9. Enjoy Skating With Friends at Bemidji Skatepark

Bemidji Skatepark

Address: 1504 23rd St NW #1334, Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

If you or any of your friends have skateboards, Bemidji Skatepark is a great place to practice some new tricks. Bemidji Skatepark is an outdoor skatepark located in Bemidji, Minnesota. The park has a variety of ramps, ledges, and rails that allow riders to do any tricks they want.

It is a great place to learn to skateboard because it’s not too big and has no giant vertical ramps or death pipes. It’s open to the public, and it’s free! You need to bring your skateboard, though.

Bemidji’s skatepark is a great place to ride if you want fresh air with your friends while learning new tricks on your board! 

See Related: Best State Parks in Minnesota

10. Relax at Diamond Point Park

Relax at Diamond Point Park

Address: 1710 Birchmont Dr NE, Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

Bemidji is home to many parks, each with its own distinct appeal. Diamond Point Park is the perfect picnic point for those who want more than just the beach.

Nestled along the shore of Lake Bemidji, it’s the perfect place to have a meal and enjoy the beauty of the lake. If you’re looking for more than just relaxation, there’s a playground, plenty of trails, and even a small beach for swimming!

For other outdoor adventures, visitors to Bemidji can try golf, boating, or snowmobiling at Paul Bunyan Park, hiking at Cameron Park, or camping in Nymore Park.

11. Shop at Bemidji Woolen Mills

Address: 301 Irvine Ave NW, Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

Bemidji Woolen Mills is a family-owned company founded in 1920. The company began manufacturing wool apparel for the outdoor industry and continues manufacturing wool items for men and women.

A large store is located in downtown Bemidji, and their manufacturing plant is located south of town in the industrial park. Bemidji Woolen Mills is the best place to buy if you want high-quality, warm woolen clothing for any outdoor activity. 

They are especially well known as the supplier of 2012 Republican primary candidate Rick Santorum’s sweater vests. In short, you’ll have fun learning about the mill’s history and seeing how they make their products. This is also a great place to find gifts from Minnesota for your loved ones back home.

12. Soak Up Local History at The Beltrami County Historical Society & Museum

Beltrami County Historical Society & Museum Building
Myotus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 130 Minnesota Ave SW, Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

Whether you’re a history buff or not, the Beltrami County Historical Society & Museum is an excellent place to learn about the area’s rich and fascinating history. The Beltrami County Historical Society & Museum highlights the history of Minnesota, with plenty of information about local Native American tribes and the European settlers who first came to the area.

The museum has many permanent exhibits highlighting the area’s history, including exhibitions devoted to Ojibwe culture and early European settlement. Rotating exhibits also feature more contemporary topics and themes related to life in northern Minnesota.

In addition to its various exhibits, the museum includes a research library where you can learn more about local history or genealogy topics. This is a great way to get insight into your family’s past if they’ve lived in northern Minnesota for generations!

13. Kayak the Mississippi River Headwaters

Mississippi River Headwaters Scenery

Address: Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

If you love adventures, fun, and water, how about exploring Mississippi River Headwaters in Bemidji? Bemidji is home to the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi, and there is no better way to see this beautiful waterway than from a kayak or canoe. 

The great river headwaters originate from Lake Itasca State Park, about a few miles north of Bemidji. Kayaking is one of the most popular activities for visitors in Bemidji at the Headwaters area of the Mississippi River. 

You can paddle down along the river from Lake Bemidji to Lake Irving or vice versa. If you are not an experienced paddler, it would be wise to hire the services of a guide.

14. Camp at Mississippi Headwaters State Forest

Mississippi Headwaters State Forest

If you’re tired of kayaking, camping in the forest of Mississippi Headwaters State Park offers a new perspective on the outdoors.

The Mississippi Headwaters State Forest covers over 45,000 acres of pristine wilderness. There aren’t any towering mountains to climb, but you’ll find many rolling hills, hidden lakes, and flat expanses that house lakes, streams, and ponds.

Adventurers can find dispersed campsites in the Mississippi Headwaters State Forest, where campsites have no amenities like water, showers, or hookups. These campsites are available all year at the Wanagan, Coffee Pot, Iron Bridge, Fox Trap, Silver Maple, La Salle Bluffs, and Pine Point sites along the Mississippi River.

15. Book a Show at The Paul Bunyan Playhouse/Historic Chief Theater

Address: Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

There’s no better way to experience Bemidji than through a live performance. The Historic Chief Theater is an Art Deco movie theater built in 1937 in downtown Bemidji. It’s currently home to the Paul Bunyan Playhouse summer stock theater. Luckily, it’s available for a show throughout the year. 

So, you can book a show any time of the year. The Chief Theater has a seating capacity of 300+ people. The Paul Bunyan Playhouse is a few blocks from the Headwaters Science Center, 413 Beltrami Avenue NW, Bemidji.

You can choose from various shows each year at this venue. Shows range from comedies and musicals to children’s shows and murder mysteries! The Paul Bunyan Playhouse or Chief Theater are the perfect places to spend a night out.

16. Enjoy a Game at The Sanford Center

Hockey Game at Sanford Center
DominicHennig, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 1111 Event Center Dr NE, Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

The Sanford Center is the premier event center in northern Minnesota. It’s also the region’s hub for a variety of entertainment and sporting events. Sanford Center is a destination for those searching for year-round outdoor sports and fun. 

It opened its doors in 2010 and has been bringing events to Bemidji ever since! Sanford Center is also the home of Bemidji State University’s men’s and women’s hockey teams. The building is also attached to the spacious George W. Neilson Convention Center.

The Center has over 4,000 seats in the main arena. It has 25 luxury suites and over 19,000 square feet of conference/banquet space. Thanks to this, it has become a leading tourist attraction in northwest Minnesota.

Many events happen between Sanford and George W. Neilson Convention Center facilities—for instance, hockey games, concerts, wedding receptions, meetings, etc.

See Related: Best Museums in Minnesota

17. Visit The Beautiful Idlewood Resort

The Beautiful Idlewood Resort

Address: 2515 N Plantagenet Rd SW, Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

The next best thing to do in Bemidji is to spend a day in the beautiful Idlewood Resort with friends or family members. Camp Idlewood Resort is known throughout Bemidji as the best family resort. They offer nine cabins, an authentic finish sauna, and a natural sand beach, all with views of Canada. 

The resort offers many activities for people of all ages. You can enjoy paintball, canoeing, kayaking, golf, and biking. Each year, visitors enjoy the unsurpassed beauty and access to many hiking trails at the resort. 

If you don’t want to stay overnight, you can even rent boats to fish in the lake. Plus, Voyageurs National Park is a short walk from the campground. So, don’t pass up the chance. Spend a day there, walking through the serene woods or swimming at nearby lakes.

See related: Most Beautiful Running Trails in America

18. Movil Maze Recreation Area

Address: 11449-, 12285 Wildwood Rd NE, Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

If spending a day at a resort ain’t your thing to do, visit a Movil Maze Recreation Area. The Movil Maze Recreation Area is an excellent place for some outdoor fun. It’s a year-round spot for outdoor adventures located north of Bemidji.

The Movil Maze Recreation Area features nearly nine miles of multi-use trails. Each year, tourists experience a variety of scenery as they make their way through its 913-acre area. In short, Movil Maze Recreation Area offers excellent hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing trails perfect for an afternoon or weekend getaway.

That’s why many visitors call it a hidden gem of northern Minnesota.

19. Check Out Local Art at Watermark Art Center

Address: 505 Bemidji Ave N, Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

Watermark Art Center in Bemidji, Minnesota, is a unique art center. It houses the works of local artists and traveling exhibits from other parts of the country and the world. If you want to view some terrific art, Watermark Art Center is a must-see for visitors and locals alike.

You’ll find many different art forms here, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, and more! The Watermark also offers a variety of educational programs.

You may take classes in painting or ceramics, for example. They also offer tours that provide an inside look at how artists create their works of art.

Also, Watermark Art Center has a great gift shop. Here, they sell jewelry, pottery, and other handmade crafts made by local artists!

20. Visit Paul Bunyan Animal Land

Paul Bunyan Animal Land
Image by Facebook.com

Address: 3857 Animal Land Dr SE, Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

If you’re looking for a great place to take the kids on your family vacation, visit Paul Bunyan Animal Land. It’s the largest petting zoo and wildlife park open to the public in Bemidji, Minnesota.

The facility provides hands-on educational programs for school groups and birthday parties. Your children can also learn how to feed and care for animals. Paul Bunyan Animal Land is a haven for nearly 100 animals from different continents. 

The zoo has cows, camels, goats, deer, monkeys, raccoons, donkeys, lemurs, kangaroos, and birds. They even have lions, cougars, bears, leopards, tigers, foxes, exotic birds, and many more. 

All Paul Bunyan Animal land animals are very friendly and fun to watch.

21. Golfing at the Bemidji Town & Country Club

Golfing at the Bemidji Town & Country Club
Image by Bemidji Golf

Address: 2425 Birchmont Beach Rd NE, Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

If you’re looking for the best things to do in Bemidji, this is the place to be. The Bemidji Town & Country Club (BTCC) is an excellent 18-hole golf course in Bemidji, Minnesota.

A course that has been around since the early 1900s, BTCC offers a great golf experience to its visitors. At Bemidji Town & Country Club, you will find majestic pines, rolling fairways, and natural greens. It’s a perfect place where wildlife naturally fills your surroundings.

Bemidji Town & Country Club has membership options and green fees for daily use. This course is suitable for golfers at all levels. The club also boasts an onsite pro shop, offering equipment and apparel to help improve your game. A nine-hole course is nearby if a full round of golf sounds too long.

See Related: Best Travel Bags for Golf Clubs

22. Hear The Cars Racing at Bemidji Speedway

Address: 1831 Sunnyside Rd SE, Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

If you’re the type who enjoys the thrill of racing, Bemidji Speedway is an exciting place to be. The Bemidji Speedway is a 1/4 mile dirt track located southeast of Bemidji. 

The track has a rich history in racing and is one of the oldest tracks still in operation in Minnesota. The track hosts weekly racing on nights from May to October. Other occasional special events happen on Friday nights. 

The Bemidji Speedway holds races for the WISSOTA Mod, WISSOTA Street Stocks, WISSOTA Super Stocks, WISSOTA Midwest Mod, Pure Stocks, and many more.

See Related: Best Family Vacations in Minnesota

23. Tour Buena Vista State Forest

Buena Vista State Forest in Minnesota

Address: Bemidji, MN 56601, United States

A day at Buena Vista State Forest is a great way to enjoy the outdoors in Bemidji. The forest offers outdoor recreation for visitors of all ages. The Buena Vista State Forest, measuring more than 122,000 acres, is a splendid example of natural beauty.

Visitors can hike, bike, or enjoy snowmobiling on the 21-mile trail throughout the forest. The forest also has beautiful picnic areas near Beltrami, Big Bass, and Sandy Lakeside. These campsites are perfect for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and swimming.

Places to Stay in Bemidji

1. Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Bemidji, MN Top Recommendation

The hotel is situated in the heart of Bemidji and within walking distance to numerous restaurants and shopping areas. Within a 10-minute drive, guests can visit Paul Bunyan Land, Bemidji State University and Sanford Medical Center, as well as access all of the area’s outdoor activities including hiking trails and lakes.

2. AmericInn by Wyndham Bemidji

AmericInn by Wyndham is the best place to stay in Bemidji. It offers modern guest rooms with free Wi-Fi and a flat-screen TV. A microwave, refrigerator and coffee machine are provided in each room at Americinn Bemidji. Guests can enjoy poolside views from their private patio or relax in the hot tub or sauna.

3. Super 8 by Wyndham Bemidji MN

If you're looking for a hotel in Bemidji, Minnesota, offering great amenities and services at affordable rates, then look no further than Super 8 by Wyndham Bemidji MN. Situated 18 km from Buena Vista Ski Area and featuring free Wi-Fi access throughout the property, this Bemidji hotel is an excellent choice for a vacation getaway or business trip.

Is Bemidjii Worth Visiting?

The friendly citizens of Bemidji welcome visitors year-round! During the summer season, there’re lots of fun things to do in Bemidji. You can enjoy boating on pristine waters, lounging on powdery white beach sand, or golfing at one of Bemidji’s many championship courses. 

Winter sports are also popular here as snow covers the land for several months. If snowboarding, skiing, or sledding are on your bucket list, you want to visit Bemidji! 

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Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

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