Minnesota often gets a bad rap. But the saving grace of the state is Bemidji, the official home of two things: Paul Bunyan and adventures in the great outdoors. The folklore character of this city situated around a pretty lake in the Chippewa National Forest is what draws many people here each year, but the opportunity to dive head first into a myriad of nature-based activities is what keeps them coming. Camping, biking, fishing, or hiking are all well provided.
Often touted as the only reason visitors come to Bemidji, the statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox is one of the most photographed landmarks in the country.
If statues of animals are a bit too tame for you, head to the Paul Bunyan Animal Land. It’s the largest wildlife enclosure in Minnesota and a saving grace for visitors with children.
Bemidji is actually far more cultured than most people realize. A walking tour of the downtown area will have you stumbling upon several stellar murals, mosaics, and life-size sculptures. This is more formally known as the Art Walk.
Bemidji is a family-friendly town and most of the accommodation here caters to this niche. Here, travelers will find a whole host of accommodation options, but mainly large mansions which have been converted into cozy inns, traditional log cabins, and some bed-and-breakfasts.
That said, the city has its fair share of motels, hotels, and lodges for visitors in need of something a bit more refined. Almost all of them are family-friendly.
Lake Bemidji is a popular area, and unsurprisingly so. The view from across the lake is breathtaking, and many log cabins are dotted on the shore. Views here don’t come cheap, however.
Another option is to stay in downtown Bemidji, which is a great choice if you want to be at the heart of the action. You’ll still find inns, hotels, and bed-and-breakfasts, but at far more affordable rates than Lake Bemidji hotels.
Bemidji Airport is the regional gateway for upstate Minnesota and a convenient way of getting into the city since it’s seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
By road, the Interstate Highway 2 from Grand Rapids is the most common means of approaching; otherwise, it’s a cross-country scenic route from Minneapolis. The Jefferson Bus Line runs a route here daily.
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