Great Summer Drives
A road trip is all about the journey.
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Great River Road National Scenic Byway (North)
Take the Great River Road National Scenic Byway (US 10 N) north to the junction of MN 371, travel on 371 to US 2W into Bemidji.
Leave the fast pace of the metro and travel through farmlands to the peaceful forest and lakes region. This route to Bemidji, the First City on the Mississippi, crosses the Mississippi River numerous times, threads between the vast Chippewa National Forest and Paul Bunyan State Forest, and skirts sparkling lakes and roadside attractions and trails.
Pass through quaint towns with good eats, treats and roadside attractions, like the Paul Bunyan statue and his sweetheart, Lucette. Bring bikes and/or blades (or rent in town) and explore a section of the Paul Bunyan or Heartland State trails. There is a reason, after all, that Bemidji was awarded “Bicycle Friendly Community” status. Shuttle service is also available.
Pick up the Great River Road National Scenic Byway again to visit the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Itasca State Park. Legend has it that those who cross the river at its source go on to live a long and prosperous life. For a new adventure, explore the route between Brainerd and Bemidji via geocaching by checking out “MN’s Paul Bunyan
See a performance at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse, located in the historic Chief Theatre, downtown Bemidji. This professional, nationally recognized live production theatre, the longest continually operating summer repertory in Minnesota, is host to a variety of music and drama performances throughout the warm months.
While visiting the area, stay at Ruttger’s Birchmont Lodge on the northwest shore of Lake Bemidji. Accommodations include lakefront rooms, suites, townhomes, a romantic whirlpool suite with a fireplace, and cottages with anywhere from one to four bedrooms, all spread out along 1,700 feet of natural sand beach.
Great River Road National Scenic Byway (South)
Take the Great River Road Highway 61 south from the metro to Winona.
Take in panoramic views of the Mississippi River on one side, and the towering bluffs on the other as you drive along the Great River Road, meandering through historic river towns, and by pastoral farms, scenic outlooks, parks, and unique attractions including the Red Wing Shoe Museum in Red Wing, the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, and Lark Toys & Carousel in Kellogg. Eagles are a common sight amidst tree-lined portions of Highway 61 as they dive for fish on the river, from Red Wing to Winona. You’ll find unique gifts (and great food) on the Wisconsin side of the river, in the lovely city of Pepin.