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Drive the Great River Road Around Grand Rapids MN

Grand Rapids, Minnesota is a Mississippi River town that is located on the Great River Road. The Great River Road is a nationally designated route the travels across 10 states from the headwaters of the Mississippi at Itasca State Park to the Gulf of Mexico. Grand Rapids is a perfectly positioned drive destination that is located right in the middle between Lake Superior and North Shore and the Headwaters of the Mississippi River on Hwy 2 in Minnesota. The Mississippi River in Grand Rapids is very clear and clean. Grand Rapids is located on a couple of sections of the Great River Road Minnesota; the Northwoods and Crossings.

Up Close View

The Mississippi River runs right through Downtown Grand Rapids. Great locations to get an up close and personal view of the river is at the Pokegama Dam Recreation Area and at the Grand Rapids Area Public Library.  At the Pokegama Dam Recreation Area, there are camping spots, a covered pavilion to enjoy a picnic lunch, public restrooms, a fishing pier, boat access, and you can walk across the dam that leads to wooded walking trails. It is recommended to make reservations to ensure a camping spot. The Grand Rapids Area Library located in downtown Grand Rapids is a wonderful place to access the Mississippi to sit and enjoy a relaxing view of the Mississippi from a park bench, fish from the fishing pier and also cross over the new walking bridge (opening up in July 2019) that leads to safe walking paths and the Itasca YMCA.

Taste of the Great River Road

This summer the Great River Road is celebrating the food and beverages of Mississippi River towns throughout the 10 state region. Here in Grand Rapids, Minnesota we have a couple of dining options located not that far off of the Mississippi River. For the best cup of coffee and homemade gelato Brewed Awakenings is the best, and located just one block from the Mississippi. Newly opened is Unwined Up North, a wine bar that features Minnesota wines, Minnesota ciders, small plates, flatbread, and craft sodas. They are also located one block from the Mississippi River. Opening in July is a new brewery, Rapids Brewing Company, which is less than one block from the Mississippi River. They will brew their own craft beer, feature ciders, and wine, and feature wood-fired oven menu that will feature local farm to table style cuisine. Downtown is also located Forest Lake Restaurant that has been a staple dining place for locals for over 20 years. They have great bar burgers and chef-inspired steak and seafood in their downstairs steakhouse. Toivo’s is another favorite sports bar dining option located right on Hwy 2 that offers burger baskets and old fashioned tater tots. On the south end of town is world famous Sammy’s Pizza that offers the best thin crust pizza in Minnesota. Klockow Brewing Company has been brewing craft beer since 2017. They specialize in brewing craft beer that they distribute throughout Minnesota and some neighboring states. They do not serve food, but you can order in or bring your own in. 17th Street Grill offers an awesome salad, soup, and wings lunch buffet and a seasonal changing chef inspired menu that also pairs local food suppliers. Another new restaurant/bar is the Boulder Tap House which will open in July. They will feature over 30 taps of beer, including taps of Minnesota craft brewers, and upscale bar style cuisine.

Things To Do in Grand Rapids

At first glance, Grand Rapids may seem like a sleepy little town, but that is far from the truth. Grand Rapids offers a small-town charm that is surrounded by Minnesota’s nature, art and culture. While in town you will want to take a visit and picture at Paul Bunyan’s Red Chair downtown, walk over the yellow brick road at the Old Central School, and shop in the charming small boutique style shops that offer one-of-a-kind unique gifts, home decor, and Minnesota souvenirs. MacRostie Art Center showcases a free gallery that changes its exhibits each month; a great place to purchase local art as well. The Itasca County Historical Society, less than one block from the Mississippi River, offers a free museum, and a wonderful gift shop. They are also hosting Ghost Tours this summer on June 29, July 5, July 20, August 24. They will also do these tours for private groups. A great place to hike to the Mississippi River is the Forest History Center. This is an environmental learning center that has a forestry interpretive center and a reenacted 1900’s logging camp with costumed interpreters who will take you on a journey back in time. They have miles of hiking trails that lead to the Mississippi River. Another place to step back in time is the Judy Garland Museum (whose was born in Grand Rapids in 1922), and the Children’s Discovery Center. The Lake Life exhibit is new and offers children aged 2+ an opportunity to experience Minnesota’s nature inside; perfect for rainy days. If you are into bicycling, bike the Mesabi Trail that is over 100 miles of paved bike path that takes you through forests of tall pines and hardwoods, around tamarack bog areas, across the swing bridge and if you are up to it you can bike across the tallest bridge in Minnesota located in Eveleth. For more things to do while in town, check out our trip planning itinerary page HEAD NORTH.
Looking for lodging? Grand Rapids, MN offers a wide variety of lodging options from Hotels/Motels, Resorts, B&B, lake homes,  vacation rentals, and campgrounds. Want to get more information, download our Visitor Guide.