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10 Best Things to Do in Park Rapids, Minnesota

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If you have come here today wondering if Park Rapids is worth visiting, the answer is a resounding yes! About three hours north of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Park Rapids is a city in and the county seat of Hubbard County, Minnesota.

This northern town is near Itasca State Park, the source of the Mississippi River. It’s also where the Heartland State Trail begins.

If you are searching for some of the best things to do in Park Rapids, we have curated a list of places to visit. Fun awaits with attractions like the Character Challenge Adventure Park or Rapid River Logging Camp.

Plenty of beautiful hiking trails and parks take you into the wilderness. If sports and outdoor activities are your style, there are places for cross-country skiing and exploring the north woods, forests, and golf courses.

Want to stay a little more connected? Shopping and dining experiences await. Gift shops are plentiful, too. No matter what you are looking for, you can find something to do when visiting Park Rapids.


Category Our Pick
Most Significant Landmark Itasca State Park
Activitiy for Adults Character Challenge Course
Activity for Kids Aunt Belle’s Confectionary
Place to eat The Good Life Cafe
Best Nightlife A Better Place
Place to Stay Evergreen Bay Lakeside Resort

Things to Do in Park Rapids, Minnesota

1. Hike Itasca State Park

View of Itasca State Park in Minnesota
Artful Panoply / Adobe Stock

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

The Park Rapids area of Minnesota is known for its beauty and splendor, and this is perfectly captured in the beautiful Itasca State Park. This park features miles of trails stretching through beautiful wooded expanses just north of town. There are lakes and streams for fishing and plenty of flora and fauna to marvel at.

The biggest draw for nature lovers is that Itasca State Park is the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Every year, people visit to see the starting point of the 2,318-mile river – and some even drop in to try to paddle the entire waterway.

If you’d like to explore Itasca State Park, tours led by local nature and wildlife experts make the experience memorable. You can strike out and create your adventure for yourself or your crew. However you choose to experience it, Itasca State Park merits a stopover and is one place you won’t want to miss as you explore Park Rapids.

If you feel like spending the night, you can camp onsite or check into one of the onsite lodging options, such as Historic Douglas Lodge.

See Related: Best Minnesota State Parks

2. Visit Hubbard County Historical Museum

Front of Hubbard County Historical Museum
Hubbard County Historical Museum / Facebook

Address: 301 Court Ave, Park Rapids, MN 56470

Step back in time and relive history right before your eyes at the Hubbard County Historical Museum. With exhibits that cover everything from military history and technology to a tea room for guests to enjoy, a visit is a great way to spend a relaxing yet educational day with the family.

The building itself is something of a historical treasure. Guided tours, special events, and hands-on activities are also available. It’s a top destination to learn more about the area or a great rainy-day option.

See Related: Places to Visit in Minnesota

3. Test Your Bravery At the Character Challenge Course

Outdoor activity in Character Challenge Course
Character Challenge Course / Facebook

Address: 13218 County 40, Park Rapids, MN 56470

Do you feel like challenging yourself a little bit while on vacation? Want to get the blood pumping and the adrenaline flowing a little? See if you have what it takes to complete the Character Challenge Course.

Run the ropes course, and challenge yourself and your friends and family to some competition in the name of fun and adventure. Guided activities are safe and exciting for adults of just about any age. Check it out and see how fun the outdoors can be with ziplines, wall climbs, and nets.

Once you finish some friendly competition, it is time to kick back and relax. There are plenty of affordable places to stay nearby. The AmericInn by Wyndham Park Rapids is a great choice for comfort and value.

4. Enjoy A Meal At The Good Life Cafe

Front of The Good Life Cafe in Park Rapids, Minnesota
The Good Life Cafe / Facebook

Address: 220 Main Ave S, Park Rapids, MN 56470

No trip is complete without food to fuel the day’s activities or finish the night in style. Park Rapids has plenty of options for food and dining.

One of the most popular options for locals and visitors is The Good Life Café. American cuisine, comfort food, and hometown Minnesotan classics are staples here, and there are some truly good eats!

A comfortable setting, fun and relaxing ambiance, friendly staff, and delicious food make this the go-to place for some of the area’s best food. Whether it is the first day, last day, or any day of your trip, Good Life Café is worth at least one visit.

See Related: Things to Do in Lindstrom, Minnesota

5. Dance The Night Away At A Better Place

A Better Place bar interior
A Better Place / Facebook

Address: 212 3rd St W, Park Rapids, MN 56470

Thirsty? Hoping to throw some shapes? This fun and hopping cocktail bar and dance club offers 12 tap beers, pool tables, dart boards, and a large patio and stage that allow for karaoke and other performances.

Music tastes vary; DJs and bands cover everything from alternative rock to hard rock, R&B, rap, pop, hip hop, club music, and country. Refreshments keep the fun going all night long.

6. Have A Blast At Evergreen Fun Park

Playground in Evergreen Fun Parks
Evergreen Fun Park / Facebook

Address: 26468 U. S. Hwy 71, Park Rapids, MN 56470

Evergreen Fun Park is a great destination for a few hours of fun for the entire family. There is enough to keep busy for a full afternoon, as the park offers awesome outdoor fun!

Go-karts, laser tag and a laser maze, bumper boats, mineral mining, the Water Wars Zone, a climbing wall, and three escape rooms are all in one spot here. It is the easiest way to ensure everyone in the family isn’t bored.

Arcade games and dining options make this a well-rounded choice for a day trip to Park Rapids. Kids and adults will have fun participating in activities.

Why not make the stay the best possible with great accommodations at the Evergreen Bay Resort Lake Cabin Resort? Enjoy lakeside views and close access to all of the resort activities.

See Related: Best Resorts in Minnesota

7. Go Fish! Tours

Fishing experience in Go Fish! Guide Service
Chad O / TripAdvisor

Address: 508 N Central Ave, Park Rapids, MN 56470

Go Fish! Guide Service offers full-service fishing guide trips and can transport guests to over 75 lakes around Park Rapids and the surrounding areas. An expert Go Fish! Guide Service experts will make enjoying a day on the water easy.

Make some great memories and visit stunning lakes like Lake Itasca, Lake Belle Taine, Fishhook Lake, and Long Lake. Whether you are a novice or an expert, you will have a great time fishing with your crew.

Feeling lucky? Try reeling in pan fish, walleye, northern pike, and large and smallmouth bass. If you’re in the mood for fun, sun, and a good time on the water, don’t miss this opportunity!

Once you have had a fun day on the lake, crashing at a private lakefront cabin is a great way to end the day. Walters Resort on Lake Ida is our pick.

8. Catch a Show at Jasper’s Jubilee Theater

Jasper's Jubilee Theater in Park Rapids, Minnesota
Jasper’s Theater / Facebook

Address: 17339 MN-34, Park Rapids, MN 56470

Four generations of performers run Jasper’s Jubilee Theater, tucked away in the forest just east of town. You’ll feel at home in the log cabin-turned-theater that reflects the area’s culture and architecture.

Throughout their season, entertainers take to the stage for two-hour performances. Check the calendar and try to catch one of their shows – country songs, comedy, and plenty of live music take over the stage.

Most visitors would agree that watching a performance at Jasper’s Theater is one of the best things to do in Park Rapids. Whatever your day’s activities entail, kicking back and relaxing in this gorgeous lodge is a great way to end the day.

See Related: Lake Towns in Minnesota to Visit

9. Aunt Belle’s Confectionary

Candies in Aunt Belle's Confectionary
Aunt Belle’s Confectionary / Facebook

Address: 110 Main Ave S, Park Rapids, MN 56470

Small-town Minnesota has a thing for old-school, traditional candy stores. These kinds of nooks appear in story books, with jars of candies and sweeties on shelves, where you can watch these sweet treats being made.

You’ll find this at Aunt Belle’s Confectionary, where they have made some of the most delicious homemade sweets and candies for over 40 years.

Stop by this beloved candy store and grab caramels or heavenly fudge. I’m a huge fan of their banana taffy (and I HATE bananas), and they also have gourmet coffee and souvenirs.

Read Also: The Ultimate Minnesota Travel Guide

10. Play Golf!

Birdie's Mini Golf Park Rapids in Park Rapids, Minnesota
Birdie’s Mini Golf Park Rapids / Facebook

Minnesota is a genuine hidden gem when it comes to golf. Overshadowed by Flordia, Arizona, and the Carolinas, Minnesota has some of the best golf courses you’ve never heard of. You may not know it, but Park Rapids, a modest town of 4000 folks, is a haven for golfers.

There are four golf courses in the Park Rapids area—six if you count the newly opened Birdie’s Mini Golf and Heartland Trailside (you gotta practice your short game somehow), and seven if you count the 24-hour indoor golf at The Golf Cavern. And that’s just in Park Rapids—go further afield and find more.

Top Park Rapids golf courses include the 9-hole course at Brookside Resort. It’s immaculately kept and has a couple of surprises. Then there’s Headwaters Golf Club, home to a public 18-hole championship course, one of the most popular in the state. They also do some delicious burgers.

My personal favorite is Bear’s Den Golf Course at Timberlane Lodge. Whacking your way around this beautiful 9-hole course on the edge of Long Lake is like experiencing the best of Minnesota’s natural beauty.

See Related: The Very Best Golf Resorts In America


What are the best outdoor activities in Park Rapids?

If you enjoy spending time outdoors, Park Rapids is a great destination. Try fishing in one of the many lakes, hiking to see the headwaters of the Mississippi River, or playing golf.

What are some of the most popular restaurants and local dining options in Park Rapids?

The Good Life Cafe, Necces Italiano, and West Forty are the top restaurants in Park Rapids. You can’t go wrong at Aunt Belle’s Confectionary for snacks and sweets.

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