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    top winter things to do

    Winter Road Trip to Grand Rapids

    This blog includes Top Winter Things To Do In Grand Rapids, MN. Experience and abundance of outdoor recreation: snowmobiling, ice fishing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, downhill skiing, and tubing. Reconnect with loved one’s by relaxing by a fireplace, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life in northern Minnesota. Book your winter trip now to Grand Rapids to enjoy the top winter things to do today!

    Winter Outdoor Recreation

    Grand Rapids, MN is the outdoor mecca of the north. This is your opportunity to get an up close and personal experience and adventure in Minnesota’s nature. With over 1,400 lakes and over 2,000 miles of trails there is a lot of outdoor recreation opportunity! This is why outdoor recreation is first on our top winter things to do in Grand Rapids, MN:

    Downhill, Snowboarding & Snowtubing

    Mt. Itasca is a winter recreation sports facility that is perfect size ski hill for young or entry level families. Their Area 51 snowboard terrain park, snowtubing runs, and 10k of cross country ski trails. They also offer equipment rentals for downhill, snowboarding and cross country skiing.

    Cross Country Skiing

    The Northern Lights Nordic Ski Association has many volunteer members that work along with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to keep the 198 KM well groomed for the winter season. The Northern Lights Nordic Ski Association does a great job of keeping their Trail Reports up to date, and the easy to read PDF map helps guide for level, KM length, description of the trail, and directions. Located just north and west of Grand Rapids is the Chippewa National Forest that has hundreds of KM of cross country ski trails. This winter seek solitude in Minnesota’s nature on cross country skis. For trails and conditions click HERE. Trail conditions are updated weekly once there is enough of a snow base for clubs to start grooming.


    Grand Rapids has over 1,000 miles of well groomed snowmobile trails. There are 13 snowmobile clubs and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources who keep the Itasca County Snowmobile Trails well groomed. The snowmobile trails can open as early as December 1st, but the lakes and tamarack bogs need to freeze solid with 5-7 inches of good ice to cross safely in a snowmobile or four-wheeler. In order for the clubs and MN DNR to groom they need a 10 inch base. Once they get that good base, then maintaining the trails and a balance of continued snow totals, temperature, and trail use. Grand Rapids, MN has in-town trails that allow for safe travel from gas stations, places to eat, and places to stay. Grand Rapids is the start of the famous state Taconite Trail which is 165 miles that goes to Ely, MN. There are many spur trails off of the Taconite Trail that connect to places to eat, gas stations, and places to lodge. For trails and conditions click HERE. Trail conditions are updated weekly once there is enough of a snow base for clubs to start grooming.

    Ice Fishing

    There are over 1,400 area lakes in the greater Grand Rapids, Minnesota area that covers over 2,000 square miles. There are a lot of fish to catch here in northern Minnesota! The smaller lakes tend to freeze earlier than the large lakes like Pokegama, Bowstring and Lake Winnibigoshish. Safety should always be observed when traveling across ice at any point throughout the winter season. The MN DNR Ice Safety Guideline is a great resource for traveling across the ice, and what depths are standard for being able to withstand the weight of a person, four-wheeler, snowmobile or a vehicle. They call it fishing, not catching, so be patient, and enjoy the time on the ice as an escape from the everyday hurried schedules.


    Snowshoeing in the winter in Northern Minnesota has the advantage of outdoor activity with no ticks and no mosquitos. Unlike snowshoeing in the mountains, we have no danger of avalanche, either! We don’t have to worry about what trails are safe, or what beacons to purchase should we fall prey to a snow slide. A couple of places to try snowshoe are: Tioga Recreation, Legion Trail, Simpson Creek, and Sugar Hills. The links are those to the cross country ski trail, just remember to not walk on the groomed trails and cross the trail at a 90 degree angle. Snowshoeing can be done anywhere there is public access or land you have private access approval. The Chippewa National Forest has hundreds of thousands of acres to snowshoe on. Find a forest road that is not plowed and find your new snowshoe adventure. Just be mindful of the direction you are headed in. A compass is a great tool to have with you. If you snowshoe along a designated trail system, it will help you access back to where you parked.

    Ice Skating

    Grand Rapids, MN is a hockey town USA. There are many outdoor skating rinks that the surrounding city public works keep the ice cleaned off. Many have heated ice shacks for people to put on their skates and warm up between pick-up hockey games. These outdoor rinks are perfect for families on a 20 degree winter day. Grand Rapids hosts thousands of people to weekend hockey tournaments that take place at the IRA Civic Center and Hodgins-Berardo Arena. Both of these indoor rink facilities offer open skating hours and on site concessions. 

    Fat Tire Biking

    Located just outside Grand Rapids, Minnesota is a premiere world-class mountain bike trail that was professionally built to include multi-level trails for the beginner to the double black diamond rider. Tioga Recreation Area is a 25-mile single track trail system that is located on a reclaimed mine area that includes 500 acres. Situated between a beautifully clear Tioga and Pokegama Lakes. Both of these lakes provide great ice fishing opportunities. In addition to fat tire biking, Tioga is a great place to snowshoe. Just make sure to cross the trail at a 90 degree angle to not disrupt the grooming. Then in town, right next to The Reif Performing Arts Center is Legion Trail which is 7 miles of single track trail. There is also a lit cross country ski trail system that runs through the American Legion Park too.


     If you are looking for something to get you more into nature, stop at Ardent Bicycles where you can rent cross country skis, snowshoes or rent a fat tire bike and spend the day on the 25 miles of trails at Tioga Recreation. If you want more of an adrenaline rush call over to R&R Rentals to rent a snowmobile! In Itasca County we have over 600 miles of trails. We also have a variety of lodging that has access right to the trails. If you are taking a road trip to go fishing we have over 1,000 lakes in Itasca County. If you are looking for new gear or forgot something check out Thousand Lakes Sporting Goods. They have just about everything and more you would need for ice fishing.

    top winter things to do Fun Places to Eat & Drink

    Eating out is one of the best parts of being on vacation, so that is why fun places to eat & drink are next on the top winter things to do in Grand Rapids, MN. There are two locally owned craft breweries, Klockow Brewing Co, and Rapids Brewing Co. Then there are eclectic lake restaurants like Zorbaz and Pickled Loon Saloon located on Pokegama Lake. Unwined Up North is a MN wine bar that also serves Minnesota craft beer and tasty panini sandwiches, salads, flat breads and charcuterie boards. Timberlake Restaurant, Forest Lake Restaurant, Cedar Creek Grill and Florio’s are locally owned restaurants that offer northern specialties like prime rib, steaks, shrimp, wild rice soup, fish dinners, and great bar burgers. Fuji, El Potro and New China offer a cultural cuisine to Grand Rapids, MN. You will find many other options like fast-food and food chain franchise restaurants in Grand Rapids, MN as well.

    top winter things to do Public Art & Historic Attractions

    Downtown Grand Rapids offers beautiful public art. Most of this art was created by local and Minnesota artists. MacRostie Art Center is a free gallery and gift shop where you can purchase stunning works of art. The Reif Arts Center is another attraction where you can view monthly art exhibits in their lobby. Grand Rapids is also home to the famous Judy Garland Museum and Children’s Discovery Museums, and the Itasca County Historical Society. All of these locations are kid friendly.

    top winter things to do Events & Entertainment

    For a small town, Grand Rapids has a lot of events and weekly entertainment. The craft brewing companies are known for their weekly live music venues. The Reif Center brings Broadway style theater and performances to northern Minnesota in a two-stage theater venue where you can get an up close and personal view to the performers. Check out the Events Calendar to view the current and upcoming events and entertainment in the greater Grand Rapids, MN area.

    top winter things to do Cozy Lodging

    And of course we cannot forget about a place to stay, so that is the final top winter things to do in Grand Rapids, MN. Check out the STAY PAGE to find lodging  for your winter road trip. On this page you will find Hotels that offer a wide array of amenities and economical and convenient Motels located in town.  A quaint Bed & Breakfast located on Pokegama Lake. Vacation rentals that are located both in town and also on Grand Rapids, area lakes. In addition, you will find year-round Resorts that offer cozy cabins with fireplaces and a short walk to the lake. Plan your winter road trip today. Take the time to reconnect up north and experience all of the fun outdoor recreation, fun places to eat & drink and cozy lodging that Grand Rapids, MN has to offer.