The Best Things in Life Are Free Up North
Grand Rapids, Minnesota is a wonderful family leisure destination and outdoor sports recreation destination, but it is also a great place to hold corporate retreats, and other group gatherings like Family reunions, weddings, and conferences and conventions. Here is a list of several FREE Things To Do in the Grand Rapids, Minnesota Area:
Grand Rapids is the start of the oldest and first scenic byway in the state of Minnesota called the Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway. This is a curvy and windy 47 mile scenic drive where you will encounter wildlife, Chippewa National Forest woods, trails and recreation areas. There are many shops, gas stations, bait stores, sporting good stores and restaurants along the route. You will want to make sure to stop at the Edge of the Wilderness Discovery Center in Marcell. They have a staffed interpretive center that is home to several northern Minnesota native animal mounts and displays.
Chippewa National Forest can be accessed via the Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway aka Hwy 38. It has many outdoor recreation opportunities. There are many hiking and biking trails, camping and picnic areas, and preservation sites like the Laurentian Divide, Joyce Estate and the Lost Forty to explore.
There 25 City Parks in Grand Rapids maintains. The following are parks that have playground equipment at: Blandin Beach, Crystal Lake, Grand Rapids Sports Complex, Maplewood, McGowan, Oakland, Veterans, Willow and Wilcox. Blandin Beach offers a public beach on Forest Lake located right in downtown Grand Rapids. You can access the Mississippi River at Sylvan Bay and Steamboat Landing to fish, kayak, canoe or stand-up paddle.
Pokegama Dam Recreation Area is located just west of Grand Rapids. It is a federal dam that you can walk across that is maintained by the Corp of Engineers. Onsite you will find public restrooms, camp sites, pavilion picnic area, and playground area. You can fish from the shore and the fishing pier.
Portage Park in Cohasset has fields for football, soccer, softball and baseball, and offers trail access. There is a playgound on site as well as a covered pavilion. In the winter is hosts an outdoor ice skating rink, and access to cross country ski trails.
Tioga Recreation Area in Cohasset offers a beach on Pokegama Lake, a fishing pier, boat landing, playground, access to waking and biking trails, and access to Tioga Pit lake. It has covered pavilions that can be rented out, and portable restrooms.
MacRostie Art Center has a traveling art suitcase that you can check out while you are in town. They have an art gallery where you can view their monthly local artists exhibits. On the second Saturday of each month they host a Family Creates program with new activity each month. The third Wednesday of each month from 6-7pm they host mid-month artists talk in their gallery. Make sure to mark your calendar for the MacRostie Downtown Art Fair which is the second Saturday in July of each year.
The Reif Center has Independant Film Series, an 8 week airing of independent films viewed at the Reif Center in air conditioning comfort during the summer. The Reif Center partners with Grand Rapids Library for this. The Reif also hosts an art gallery in lobby, with changing exhibits each month (September-May). Make sure to check out their performance schedule for the student ticket with purchase of adult ticket offers on certain family friendly performances.
The Grand Rapids Arts hosts First Friday Art Walk every month. Area businesses and restaurants host local artists to allow them to showcase their art or perform in their business. These businesses typically offer complimentary appetizers and beverages as well. A map is created and posted on the Grand Rapids Arts website for each months route and listing of hosting businesses and featured artists.
Brewed Awakening is a great coffee house that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. They feature monthly art exhibits and host performing artists from time to time. They make their own bakery goods and gelato. They feature vegetarian items, and cook and bake with as much local and regional farm products as possible.
Every Wednesday night there is FREE Jazz bands at the Grand Rapids VFW; most of these will feature Sam Miltich and Friends, but from time to time, Sam brings in other Jazz performers from out-of-town to join is his jam. The VFW also offers open mic nights on Thursday nights. This is your opportunity to share your musical talents with an audience.
The Grand Rapids Fraternal Order of the Eagles hosts live bands every Friday and Saturday night. The Eagles is open to the public; they serve food until 9pm and the bar is open until 12 midnight.
The Locker Room in Coleraine hosts acoustic Sunday’s from 2-6pm.
Zorbaz on Pokegama is a great place to head for fun. Adults 18+ area allowed from 9pm-2am for DJ music every Friday and Saturday night.
Pickled Loon on Pokegama Lake has monthly live acoustical musicians, and seasonal outside bands.
Klockow Craft Brewing Company has live music every weekend. They do not serve food, but you can bring your own food in or have food delivered in. In addition to craft beer, they also offer craft soda pop, and cold tea.
The Itasca County Historical Society museum is located in the heart of downtown shops, and is perfect place to tour. It is both educational and historical and family friendly. It is open year round and Saturday’s too!
The Grand Rapids Public Library is a great place to sit, read, and offers a great view the Mississippi River. The library also offers check-out fishing poles and tackle at no cost. Each child 12 and under will receive their own tackle and box to take home with you as part of a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources program. In the summer they offer a summer reading program and a wide variety of events each month.