The Essential Guide to Northwest Minnesota
Collected by Cinnamon Janzer , AFAR Local Expert
Though Northwest Minnesota is often considered the path less traveled, it has a lot to offer in the way of nature, culture, and even food. From lakes and rivers to a popular arts center and beloved pizza place, there’s something here for every type of traveler.
3684 54th Ave NW, Williams, MN 56686, USA
Lake of the Woods is a must-visit county for any traveler to Northwest Minnesota, especially for Zippel Bay State Park. With 3,000 acres of nature to explore, Zippel Bay boasts everything from pet-friendly campsites and a sandy beach to excellent...
2045 220th Avenue, Hallock, MN 56728, USA
Just 25 miles from the Canadian border in the tiny town of Hallock, Far North Spirits is the northernmost distillery in the contiguous United States. While you might think the distillery’s remote location holds it back, it’s...
63063 Fourtown Rd NW, Grygla, MN 56727, USA
Located 50 miles from the nearest stoplight, on the edge of a state forest, Fourtown Store & Tavern isn’t the kind of place you just stumble upon. Still, it’s worth the journey to reach this little oasis where you can enjoy...
300 Bemidji Ave N, Bemidji, MN 56601, USA
A towering lumberjack who traversed the wilderness with his blue ox named Babe, Paul Bunyan is a centerpiece of Minnesota folklore. Pay homage to the local legend in the northwestern town of Bemidji, where you can pose in front of an 18-foot-tall...
505 Bemidji Ave N, Bemidji, MN 56601, USA
A staple in Bemidji since 1982, the nonprofit, member-supported Watermark Art Center works to encourage the growth and development of visual art in northern Minnesota. Home to four galleries, it presents a variety of quality exhibitions and also...
36750 Main Park Drive, Park Rapids, MN 56470, USA
Named for its lake—which serves as the starting point for the Mississippi River—Itasca is the oldest state park in Minnesota and the second oldest in the U.S. behind Niagara Falls. During the summer, locals flock here for hiking,...
17339 MN-34, Park Rapids, MN 56470, USA
A log theater tucked into the pines of Park Rapids, Jasper’s is peak Northwest Minnesota. Here, audiences can enjoy two-hour music, magic, comedy, gospel, and tribute variety shows, performed by four generations of family and some of the...
33503 MN-34, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501, USA
If you’re in Northwest Minnesota and the weather is warm, you’re practically obligated to tube the Otter Tail River. For help with equipment and logistics, turn to Charlie’s Tubing. The friendly outfitter is open from late May...
111 Veterans Memorial Parkway, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501, USA
For a wide selection of food and drink done right, head to Brygge Taps & Tastes in Uptown Detroit Lakes. Here, you can pair well-made cocktails and craft beers with a range of salads, sandwiches, and burgers, plus classic Minnesota fare like...
402 W Lake Dr, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501, USA
Between the constant recommendations from locals and the ubiquitous fans wearing worn-out tees from the ’90s, there’s no way you’re making it through Northwest Minnesota without hearing about Zorbaz. Launched in 1969 in a...
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