15 Best Things to Do in Grand Rapids, MN

Grand Rapids, MN
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Welcome to Grand Rapids, Minnesota’s Outdoor Sports Capital!

Grand Rapids is Itasca County’s largest town, with more than 11,000 residents.

In Grand Rapids, you’d have a full productive day without a minute off.

You can go hiking, swimming, fishing, hunting, and more in this town.

Moreover, Grand Rapids is the hometown of Hollywood icon Judy Garland.

You can also visit her family home in Grand Rapids, which is now a museum that honors her memory.

Explore the best things to do in Grand Rapids, Minnesota!

Explore the Woods at Forest History Center

Fire lookout tower at Forest History Center
Tlkremer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on County Road 76, the Forest History Center is an odd museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, that allows you to do recreational activities.

In Forest History Center, you’ll learn about the history of the north woods and the loggers who once lived in the surrounding forest.

A logging camp in Forest History Center allows guests to recreate how the loggers worked and survived in the 1900s.

You can also go hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing on the forest trails and regularly maintained wetlands.

Join the staff as they lead you on a kayak during a water exploration of the rich history of the Mississippi River.

The kayak tour takes up to 90 minutes, open to everyone ten years old and above.

Admission to the Forest History Center is affordable and free for kids four years old and below.

Visit the Judy Garland Museum

The Judy Garland Museum is a museum showcasing artifacts related to Judy Garland and the Wizard of Oz.

Judy Garland was born on June 10, 1922, in Itasca Hospital, Grand Rapids.

Her real name is Frances Ethel Gumm.

In 1934, the comedian George Jessel recommended that she and her sisters change their last name to Garland to appeal to the audience.

Judy Garland started singing and dancing as early as two years old, proving her chops as a performer.

Judy rose to fame in late 1930 for her performance as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, which earned her an Academy Award.

In 1975, Jackie Dingmann founded  he museum to commemorate the iconic performer.

Since then, the Judy Garland Museum has inspired guests to learn about the other great artists of the 20th century through educational exhibits.

See a Show at Reif Performing Arts Center

If you’re someone who wants to see art, music, dance, and theater at the same time, check out the Reif Performing Arts Center.

The Reif Performing Arts Center is great for watching theatrical and musical performances.

Witness the talented locals of Grand Rapids their all in their performances.

As an outreach effort to nurture diversity and inclusion, the performing arts center also teaches theater performance to over 700 elementary students.

Drink a Beer at Klockow Brewing Company

Husband and wife Andy and Tasha Klockow own the Klockow Brewing Company, located on 10th Street.

Having worked in breweries before, the couple used their experience to start their business.

The Klockow Brewing Company serves various beers to customers.

Although the business doesn’t serve food, they let customers bring or deliver their food there.

The business is family-friendly and dog friendly, as well.

There are board games and giant Jenga to entertain you during your stay at Klockow Brewing Company.

Explore the Gilbert Mansion

Visitors to Grand Rapids have voted the Gilbert Mansion as the most popular attraction in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

Also serving as a museum, the Gilbert Mansion showcases the possessions of the Gilbert family.

These artifacts include a World War I uniform, spectacular glass windows, attic treasure, and more antiques.

You can also learn about the history of Grand Rapids in the Gilbert Museum.

Back then, the Gilberts, the richest family in Northern Minnesota, lived in the Gilbert Mansion.

Today, Tim and Christie Graupmann own the house.

Christie has always wanted to live in the enormous white house, so her husband bought it for her in 2000.

The family, with six children, lived in the house.

When it came time for their children to leave, the couple opened the home for tours in 2014.

Before opening the mansion to the public, they restored the period antiques of the house to remind guests of the Gilbert family.

Enjoy the Exhibits at Children’s Discovery Museum

In Grand Rapids, you can bring your kids to the Children’s Discovery Museum.

The Children’s Discovery Museum lets children learn things beyond school, thanks to the museum's interactive exhibits.

The museum works on helping kids get a passion for science, arts, and humanities.

Adult volunteers are welcome to help in the museum as well.

You can do so weekly or even yearly and help improve the quality of life of the children of Grand Rapids.

What are you waiting for?

Plan your visit to the Children’s Discovery Museum and let your kids enrich their minds through a fun, educational, and hands-on experience.

Set up Camp at Pokegama Dam Campground

The Pokegama Dam Campground offers recreational activities such as camping, boating, fishing, and more.

This site is an ideal place for families, especially during festivals and events in summers.

You can do picnics and play in the recreation area.

There’s also a spectacular view of the river in the Pokegama Dam Campground.

On hot summer days, you don’t have to walk long to the parking lot because it’s close enough to the campground.

Constructed between 1882 to 1885, the Pokegama Dam was the distributing reservoir for Winnibigoshish and Leech.

Visit Old Central School

Exterior of Old Central School
Anon a mouse Lee, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You’ll find the Old Central School in downtown Grand Rapids.

Built in 1895, the Old Central School was once an elementary school following  the Richardsonian Romanesque style.

From 1895 to 1972, the school welcomed pupils.

After it closed, the city restored and turned the schoolhouse into a venue for community and cultural events and commerce.

The National Register Historic Places also added it to the record.

Today, the Old Central School features well-preserved wooden floors, chalkboards, and rooms, reminiscent of the 1800s to 1900s.

You can also spot beautiful artworks and photos that depict the history of Grand Rapids.

Shop for Fresh Produce at Grand Rapids Farmers Market

Grocery shopping helps calm the mind, and by doing so, some people can become thrilled.

The Grand Rapids Farmers Market will give you a thrilling and satisfying shopping experience.

For instance, you’ll find locally grown, fresh fruits and vegetables and locally raised meats.

They also sell freshly baked goods and canned products.

There’s also honey, maple syrups, jams, and jellies for sweet tooths to satisfy your cravings.

Hike at Mesabi Trail

Hike the Mesabi Trail and get an experience like no other.

The Mesabi Trail is in the Mississippi River, near the Boundary Waters.

It has a paved trail less than 145 miles long.

During your hike, you’d pass through lakes, creeks, and ponds, so prepare to see by native wildlife on the road.

After completion of the longer 165-mile Mesabi trail of 165 miles, it will have become one of the longest paved trails in America.

Besides hiking, you can do other recreational activities on the Mesabi Trail during summer and the winter.

You can go biking or skiing. It’s all up to you.

Shop for Military Surplus at Glen’s Army and Navy Store

You might need to stock no supplies for hunting and camping in Grand Rapids.

Stock up on relevant camping items and more at Glen’s Army and Navy Store.

The business opened in 1946, when the demand for military surplus peaked after World War II.

Today, you can buy ammunition, black powder supplies, and gun maintenance equipment at Glen’s Army and Navy Store.

It also has items for fishing, clothing, bags, footwear, and more.

Glen’s Army and Navy Store is a longstanding business in Grand Rapids that takes pride in providing the best service to customers.

Play VR games at Barely Reality VR and Video Games

Located in Central Square Mall, the Barely Reality VR and Video Games will take you inside the virtual world.

Barely Reality offers a virtual reality arcade in a retro setting.

You’ll experience a hundred percent immersion and 360-degree access to the fun and exciting game during the game.

Whether alone or with friends, Barely Reality VR and Video Games will bring you so much joy.

You can play for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or even more than an hour in the game center.

The virtual reality arcade offers free drinks and snacks as well.

Play Bowling at Thunder Alley XL

The Thunder Alley XL is a family entertainment center in Grand Rapids.

They offer the family 20 bowling lanes, arcades, a golf course, and baseball games.

They also have a bar that serves a tasty selection of pizzas and other food.

You can also rent the place for significant events because Thunder Alley XL can cover over 60 guests.

Pamper Yourself at Center Spa

You should always take care of yourself from the outside and the inside.

In Center Spa, treat yourself to a day of relaxation as they give you a one-of-a-kind pampering experience.

They offer facials and other skin care treatments that make you feel clean and beautiful.

You can also have massages and manicures done in the spa.

Book an appointment at Center Spa now and feel new again.

Learn about the Itasca County Historical Society

Exterior of Itasca County Historical Society
Myotus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Itasca County Historical Society will give you a deeper understanding of the Itasca County people and their life.

Check out the artifacts that recount Itasca County’s history in the museum.

Take a step into the past in the museum as it exhibits county life at the turn of the century.

The Itasca Museum has plenty of exhibits.

For example, the newest one is the “River Room,” which lets you tour the Mississippi River and learn about its early years.

The Itasca County Historical Society opens Monday to Saturday, morning to afternoon.

Final Thoughts

Discover the charm of Itasca County’s largest town for yourself.

Feel electrified with this trip of a lifetime.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Grand Rapids, Minnesota!