Head North To Grand Rapids MN For MEA Weekend
Grand Rapids, Minnesota is an easy drive destination that is conveniently close but far enough to provide a real escape over MEA Weekend. Each year Minnesota schools have an extended holiday called MEA (which stands for Minnesota Education Association); this is an annual conference held for educators in Minnesota. This gives Minnesota families an opportunity to take a long weekend fall vacation. Here is our Top 5 Reasons we think Grand Rapids, Minnesota is the perfect place for a MEA Family Weekend Vacation.
1. Hiking & Fall Colors
Around the Grand Rapids, Minnesota has hundreds of miles of hiking trails within a 50 mile radius of downtown. A couple of trails that we suggest are 1) Legion Trail (easy to intermediate)-10 minutes from downtown within the city limits of Grand Rapids(located at Reif Arts Council), 2) Suomi Hills (easy to intermediate)-30 miles north of Grand Rapids on Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway in the Chippewa National Forest, and 3) Simpson Creek (easy)- 45 miles northwest of Grand Rapids located on the Avenue of Pines Scenic Byway in the Chippewa National Forest).
2. Pumpkin Patch, Hayrides, Corn Maze, and Farm Animals
Cowhorn Crossing Farm and Pumpkin Patch is a wonderful place to take families of all ages to enjoy hayride to feed the cows in the field, got lost in a corn maze, play in the hay mound, pick out the perfect pumpkin to make this year’s Halloween jack-o-lantern, pet the farm animals, and get your picture taken at the many selfie stations. They are open extra hours over MEA (Thurs, Oct 17-Sunday, Oct 20: 10am-6pm). Admission is $7/person and groups of 10 and more are $6/person (includes a small pumpkin).
3. Judy Garland/Children’s Museum
The Judy Movie has brought Judy Garland’s story back to life. Best known as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland, was an American Idol from the late 1930’s to the late 1960’s. She was an actress, singer and dancer. Judy Garland was born in Grand Rapids as Frances Ethel Gumm in June 10, 1922. Grand Rapids, Minnesota has memorialized her life with the Judy Garland Museum that includes hundreds of Judy Garland and Wizard of Oz memorabilia. The house where she was raised while in Grand Rapids, Minnesota is attached to the museum, and was recreated and furnished as it would have been when Judy and her family lived here. The Judy Garland Museum is attached to the Children’s Discovery Museum. The Children’s Museum is a wonderful place for children ages toddlers to pre-teens. There are many interactive stations that feature math and science theories. The Lake Life exhibit recreates a wooded landscape like a theater cabin, bog walk, fishing pier, wooded bridge, tree fort, and more. This allows children to enjoy Minnesota’s nature indoors. Great for cold, rainy and snowy days. Admission is $10/person and includes access to both the Judy Garland Museum and the Children’s Discovery Museum.
4. Be Entertained
People assume that small towns don’t have things to do at night – night time entertainement. Well, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, that is NOT true! We do have night life and over MEA Weekend, we have a couple of note worthy events we thought we would mention. 1) Spooky Timbers – this is an annual event that takes place at the Forest History Center (FHC). The FHC is an environmental learning center that is located on the Mississippi River, and located right in town. The 300 acre facility hosts this historic mystery tour in the woods every year. This year’s theme is Curse of the White Pines. This event runs October 18-19 (5-8pm). The cost of admission is $6-$10/person, with under 5 and Minnesota Historical Society Members are FREE. 2) Reif Center is hosting two night performances over MEA Weekend: Mary Bue (a CenterStage MN monthly performance that features Minnesota musicians); and Queen Machine (a Queen band tribute concert). Both of these are family friendly performances. Pre-ordering your tickets to these is recommended.
5. Family Friendly Places to Eat & Drink
This year Grand Rapids, Minnesota has had three new restaurants open up. Rapids Brewing Company is a craft brewing company that serves scratch made food in wood-fire oven. They are a family friendly place that serves Northern Soda and Kobucha as non-alcoholic beverage options. Unwined Up North is the new Minnesota Wine bar that features flat bread pizza, salads and specialty sandwiches. They also serve Northern Soda and tea for their non-alcoholic beverages. Boulder Tap House is also a family friendly restaurant/bar that offers upscale American bar cuisine. Their open floor plan has televisions on all walls that allow for lots of entertainment options for the entire family. For a healthy option try Spartan Deli located in the Central Square Mall. They specialize in fresh, nutritious and delicious sandwiches made with healthy whole food ingredients. Great for picking up something quick on the go.
Check out Visit Grand Rapids for more information about the Grand Rapids, Minnesota area. And click HERE to downtown the Visitor Guide. To start your search for overnight lodging accomadations in the Grand Rapids, MN area click HERE. The amenities selector will help narrow your search. In Grand Rapids you will find Hotels/Motels, Resorts, a Bed & Breakfast, vacation rental homes, lake homes and campgrounds.