During a weekend in Bemidji, you’ll find there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Image by Todd Buchanan/Greenspring Media

Ask a Minnesotan what’s in Bemidji and they’re bound to say Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Smack dab in the center of town you will find these towering statues that make for a perfect, touristy photo-opp. However, the town of Bemidji is so much more than its most famous residents.

The four-hour drive northwest of the Twin Cities flies by in the summer and fall months when the landscape is lush. Even in the midst of winter, the trek is worth making for a true taste of the Northwoods. Bemidji is an ideal escape for the family, a group of friends or for a quiet weekend away with your spouse.

Book a room at Ruttger’s Birchmont Lodge on Lake Bemidji or Taber’s Historic Log Cabins for a rustic getaway. The area is teeming with campgrounds, namely in Lake Bemidji State Park and places like Oak Haven Resort & Campground.

If you’re looking to explore the area by bike, skates, snowmobile or on foot, Paul Bunyan State Trail is a beautiful, 115-mile path just north of Bemidji. It is Minnesota’s longest state trail and connects with the 49-mile-long Heartland State Trail, giving visitors plenty of options to get up close and personal with local nature. If you would rather explore nature from the comfort of your car, hop onto Lady Slipper Scenic Byway along the Mississippi River and through the woods of Chippewa National Forest.

Paul Bunyan Playhouse in Bemidji

In town there are plenty of chances to experience Bemidji’s vibrant arts and culture scene. Map out your route on the Sculpture Walk and then catch a play at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse or Wild Rose Theater. Check out the latest exhibits at Watermark Art Center or Gallery North Fine Art.

Public art in downtown Bemidji

Image by TJ Turner/Minnesota Monthly

For a bite to eat, Bar 209 is not your average pub fare. Time and time again, patrons rave about the restaurant’s burgers and walleye tacos—a must if you want to try one of Minnesota’s favorite fish. Turtle River Chop House is a prime choice for sirloin steak to sushi, while Tutto Bene should be your go-to if you’re craving pizza. Before you head out of town, grab an omelet and blueberry pancakes at Minnesota Nice Café, a moniker that rings true throughout the state.


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