Things to Do with Kids in Bemidji, MN

things to do in bemidji
Photo Credit: Holly Osborn

Over the past 35 years, my family has enjoyed countless summer weekends spent in Bemidji, MN. We have gotten to know the area well and in my opinion, it’s a hidden gem in northern Minnesota.

It’s far enough away from the Fargo-Moorhead area to think you really are on a vacation, free from responsibilities of daily life, but close enough to drive up for a quick weekend.

Here are some of our favorite spots and things to do in Bemidji with kids. And hopefully you will make it your next family getaway!

Things to Do with Kids in Bemidji, MN

Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox

The most famous lumberjack and blue ox make the perfect picture spot, so don’t miss a chance to capture your time in Bemidji next to Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

While you’re there, check out the Visitors Center, where you will learn all about the history of Paul Bunyan and get to see a bunch of different artifacts — including Paul’s giant toothbrush!

Before heading to the nearby shops and restaurants, stop at the Paul Bunyan Playground, inclusive to all children!

things to do in bemidji

things to do in bemidji with kids

things to do in bemidji

Downtown Bemidji

As you walk toward downtown, you will notice sculptures along the way. Pick up a map at the Visitors Center to participate in the sculpture walk.

Downtown, you will find many cute and local shops, including 218 Gifts + Clothing, Morell’s Chippewa Trading Post, and Four Pines Bookstore. Downtown Bemidji is very walkable and offers more shopping options, tailored to meet the needs of different family members.

And on a rainy day, be sure to check out the Headwaters Science Center. This is a favorite in our family, with many opportunities to engage with live animals and explore more than 50 different exhibits.

things to do in bemidji

Food & Coffee

After all of those activities, you are sure to be hungry and in need of some caffeine, so don’t miss an opportunity to try some of the amazing restaurants and coffee shops Bemidji has to offer!

Cantabria Coffee House, TRC Bar & Grill, and Red Stu are a few of our favorites, but you also can’t go wrong with Fozzies Smokin BBQ, Bar 209, Lucky Dogs, Big River Scoop, and Raphael’s Bakery Cafe.

For outdoor options, Bemidji Brewing has a great outside space with lawn games and is very family friendly. Rutgers on the Lake is a wonderful option for eating outside (and is also a fun place to stay). Right next to the outdoor dining area is a beach space for the kids to play while you enjoy your meal and conversation!

Fun in Nature

If you are looking for something active and outdoors, bike rentals are available at Lake Bemidji State Park and there are many different trails to choose from. Another family favorite (but a few minutes away from Bemidji) is Paul Bunyan’s Animal Land.

If you have a boat and are wanting to spend a day on the water, some area lakes within 20 miles include: Lake Bemidji, Lake Movil, Big Turtle Lake, Cass Lake, and Grace Lake.

And the annual Dragon Boat Festival takes place on Lake Bemidji each summer and is a fun, family activity for all to enjoy. 

Photo Credit: Holly Osborn
Photo Credit: Holly Osborn

Just Outside Bemidji: Itasca State Park

Finally, on your way back home, take a detour to Itasca State Park to visit the Mississippi Headwaters.

Just a few miles south of that, you will also find Summerhill Adventures, a great opportunity to grab a quick lunch, do some shopping, and interact with farm animals at the petting zoo. 


Itasca state park

About the Author:

Holly Silewski Osborn

holly osbornHolly and her husband, Matthew, live in Fargo with their two children, ages six and four. She is a ND native who attended University of North Dakota and graduated with a degree in Occupational Therapy.

Holly moved to Seattle, WA shortly after graduating with plans to explore the PNW and move back after a couple of years. She met her husband on eHarmony and the plan of moving back after two years turned into 10.

After moving back to the FM area in 2016, Holly found work through Beyond Boundaries Therapy Services, where she leads the Pediatric Incontinence and Pelvic Floor program.

Her children are involved with soccer, swimming, and golf through local clubs and Holly volunteers at Gigi’s Playhouse during yearly events. Holly enjoys yoga, biking, baking, and traveling. During the summer months, Holly and her family spend most weekends at their cabin in northern MN. 

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