Grand Rapids, MN area attractions
This week’s blog highlights what to do on a rainy day in Grand Rapids, MN. We bet there is way more than you ever thought!
Itasca County Historical Society & Escape Room
The Itasca County Historical Society Museum is a great place to tour on a rainy day in downtown Grand Rapids, MN. The museum is FREE to tour; they do request a free will donation. Historic and educational exhibits that they feature right now is the River Room that highlights actifacts that have been found along the Mississippi River, Native American jingle dress display and cultural pieces on display, and a beautiful hand painted river mural that showcases life along the river. Additional exhibits that you can discover are: Itasca area Veterans, Itasca Train Club Trains Villages, Itasca County History panels, and a gift shop.
Judy Garland & Children's Discovery Museums
The Judy Garland Museum is an eclectic Judy Garland and Wizard of Oz collection. The Museum hosts thoughtfully curated exhibits and artifacts, including the original carriage featured in the Wizard of Oz (once owned by President Lincoln), a Dorothy Gale test dress from the Wizard of Oz, and many personal Judy Garland items collected over 40 years. The Children’s Discovery Museum is located in the same building and is a great place for children to run off some steam by interacting at the kid friendly exhibits. It is the only Children’s Museums located in a MN rural towns (fewer than 10,000 population). The Children’s Discovery Museum is perfect for children age 1-12 years of age. Highlight of some of the exhibits: river water table, dino play, Teresa the talking tree, Lake life, Rivertown, Tot Park, Wind tunnel, and much more.
Forest History Center
A hidden gem of Grand Rapids, Minnesota is the Forest History Center. This is a perfect place to tour on a rainy day in Grand Rapids, MN. Tour the interactive forestry and science interpretive center, climb the fire tower, walk the river trails to the Mississippi, tour the wanagan, and step back in time to life in the early 1800’s at the logging camp. The Forest History Center is open Wednesday-Saturday middle of June through Labor Day. A new feature is the kayak tours of the Mississippi River. There is an additional charge for this tour, but it is a bucket list for sure! A perfect Grand Rapids area attraction to enjoy the environmental learning center where all ages can connect and discover Minnesota’s history together.
Edge of the Wilderness Discovery Center
The Edge of the Wilderness Discovery Center is a great place to tour on a rainy day. The Discovery Center is located in Marcell, MN; and is worth the 40 minute drive north from Grand Rapids. This environmental learning center offers over 20 native Minnesota wildlife mounts and exhibits that highlight native species that can be found in Minnesota’s nature. The Discovery Center is one of fourteen discovery sites along the Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway that runs 47 miles from Grand Rapids to Effie, Minnesota. The Discovery Center also offers Naturalist Programs on several Saturdays in the summer. Their Facebook page highlights these program dates and subject themes. These are offered at no cost to everyone. For nicer days, you can rent a kayak or canoe to paddle at Lake Ranier (located right at the Discovery Center). You can also fish off of the floating pier. There are also walking trails that will take you around a portion of Lake Ranier. You can have a picnic lunch at one of the many picnic tables or under the covered pavilion that overlooks the lake. A wonderful place for all ages to learn about Minnesota’s wildlife and Edge of the Wilderness history.
Bowling, Movies and Live Music
Additional indoor things to do on a rainy day in Grand Rapids, Minnesota are, bowling, go to a matinee, and enjoy live music. Thunder Alley XL offers bowling, an kid/adult arcade area, limited bar/grille, and an outdoor batting case and mini golf center. Mann’s Grand Rapids Cinema 8 offers eight small theater recliner style seating that features the latest big screen movies. And then there is live music at the craft breweries, wine bar and local bars in the area. Check out the the greater Grand Rapids, MN Events Calendar for more details of who has nightly live music offerings.
Self-Guided Tours & Boutique Style Shops
Self Guided Historic Buildings & Public Art Tours
Between the rain drops, while you are already downtown, you should take a self-guided historic building and public art tour. Grand Rapids is a very historic community with many existing buildings, being built in the late 1800’s. You can take a self-guided Grand Rapids History and Public Art Tour where you can walk around downtown Grand Rapids and discover all of the historic buildings and public art that features Native American culture and heritage, the Mississippi River, the forestry and papermaking industries, and wildlife in Minnesota’s nature. Old Central School is one of the historic buildings on the self-guided tour that was built in1895. The three story building is the tallest building in Grand Rapids. This Romanesque style architecture is prominent throughout the building. The center staircase has hosted many events like community gatherings, events and even a few weddings. Even if you visit on a rainy day, make sure that you step outside to view the yellow brick road and the beautiful flower beds the wrap along it. The other famous yellow brick road can be viewed at the Judy Garland Museum (located on Hwy 169 S in Grand Rapids).
View More About: Itasca Area Attractions
There are many places to shop in the Grand Rapids, MN area. Downtown by walking the boutique style shops along 1st Avenue N (Bender’s, Stained Glass, Briers Clothing, Stoke(s, MacRostie Art Center, and then the shops inside Old Central School), shops on 3rd Street Shaw Florists, Evergreen, Mississippi Diamond, Wings & Willows, Lake + Co), and the shops on 1st Avenue S (Frame Up and North in Bloom) are all great places to start. Then swing into the Central Square Mall and shop the many retail and vintage shops including Clara’s Cupboard & Closet. And then there are the home décor and vintage shops that are located all across the greater Grand Rapids, MN area. To name a few: 218 Style (located just a few blocks east of downtown on 4th Street), Red Willow Co. (located south of downtown east of Target), The Antique Company in Coleraine and Annabella’s in Bovey.
unique and fun places to eat & drink
Craft Breweries & Wine Bar
Going out to eat is a wonderful part of being on vacation – not having to cook! On a rainy day there are great places to Eat & Drink. Grand Rapids, Minnesota is home to two craft breweries and one wine bar. Klockow Brewing Company was the first to open. They are a production brewery that distributes their craft beer throughout Minnesota liquor stores. They offer clean classics and complex experiments from the Northwoods of Minnesota! They also offer live music and events at the brewery. Each week they feature a variety of food trucks. You can bring food in or order food to be delivered to the brewery. They offer non-alcoholic beer and Northern Soda’s. Rapids Brewing Co. is located downtown in the historic Rialto Theater. They brew and sell only onsite. They specialize in locally sourced products for their beer and wood fired oven menu. Chef O’Brien and his team create a northern Minnesota curated menu that showcases the wood fired oven that pairs well with their craft beer and craft cocktails. They offer non-alcoholic Northern Soda options as well. You can enjoy live music and events every week. Then, Unwined Up North is a wine bar that features Minnesota craft beer (including Klockow Beer) and Minnesota wines. Their menu offers charcuterie boards, panini sandwiches, salads and other small plates. They offer live music and events each week as well.
Other Local Favorite Places To Eat & Drink
Restaurants on the Lake
Despite Grand Rapids being a small town, there are many fun places to eat & drink. Zorbaz on Pokegama Lake is one of them. A franchised restaurant specializes in pizza, spaghetti, tacos and burritos. The eclectic environment showcases going to the lake themes of boats, motors, water skis and more hanging from the walls and ceiling. Kids enjoy the free popcorn, kiddie cocktails and kiddie arcade area. Pickled Loon Saloon offers views of Pokegama Lake from their harbor location. Their large menu offers everything from italian nachos, burgers, nightly chef specials, and steak tips and shrimp. There is something special about boating to your restaurant. The Pokegama Grille is another great place to drive to or boat to restaurant in Grand Rapids. Pokegama Grill is located at the Pokegama Golf Course that offers a covered outdoor patio as well as indoor dining with stunning views of Pokegama Lake. Enjoy burger baskets, fresh handcrafted salads and more.
Places Where the Locals Eat & Drink
Every town has the favorite places where locals like to eat & drink. Boulder Tap House is one of those places. They offer over 20 different beers on tap, and are known for their burger, cheese curds and handmade ice cream shakes. If you are looking for local favorites then you will want to go to Forest Lake Restaurant and get a burger and a cup of their chicken wild rice soup. Timberlake Restaurant offers an endless fresh salad bar, soup, wings and breadstick lunch that is a fantastic deal. And they also offer chef inspired dinners like cedar plank salmon, Walleye Ala Ritz, and walleye cakes. And then there is the Italian favorite Sammy’s Pizza. They specialize in thin crust hand-tossed pizza’s where all of the ingredients are from fresh vegetables, meats and cheeses. Additional cultural experiences are: Fuji Japanese sushi and hibachi grill and El Potro authentic Mexican restaurant that are both great places to eat & drink.
Additional Places To Eat & Drink
There are places that are located just a little bit outside of downtown Grand Rapids that are all worth the drive. Heading to the east of Grand Rapids you will find several places to get a great bar burger like The Locker Room in downtown Coleraine, Wizards in downtown Nashwauk. Then there is authentic Mexican at Mucho Si in downtown Nashwauk. Florio’s Grill & Tavern is located in downtown Cohasset right on Hwy 2 that is known for their burger, shrimp and fish baskets and Saturday night prime rib. Then there is Cedar Creek Grille that offers American cuisine made from scratch recipes and hand-cut steaks. Blueberry Bowl is located north of Deer River where you can bowl and get awesome thin crust pizza made to order. Drive a little further north along the Avenue of the Pines Scenic Byway and you will find the Gosh Dam Place that will cook your freshly caught fish and include made from scratch tartar sauce and sides to make a meal. Fish Tales, Leino’s Pub, and Hoot N Holler Bar are located in Squaw Lake and Alvwood area. These are great options if you are interested in driving up for a hike at the Lost Forty (definitely a bucket list item). All of these establishments offer signature drinks and menu items.
There was probably way more than you thought there was to do on a rainy day in the Grand Rapids, MN area, right?! If you are still looking for MORE, check out the Visit Grand Rapids website that showcases all things to do and see in the greater Grand Rapids, MN area within 50 miles! www.visitgrandrapids.com. You can also view the interactive Grand Rapids Visitor Guide that will give you additional article features of our trails and lakes for bright sunny days.