It only takes one look at the forests surrounding Grand Rapids to fall in love. From the red maples to the golden tamaracks, the stunning colors make up an autumnal stained-glass canopy. With an underrated city, forests and lakes at every side, and a location near the intersection of Highway 2 and Highway 169, Grand Rapids is both close enough to be convenient and far enough—special enough—to provide a true escape. Whatever you do with your time in Grand Rapids—and there are plenty of fall trip ideas—you’ll return refreshed and rejuvenated.
The forests surrounding Grand Rapids spawn endless trails for hiking, biking, and vehicle recreation. Hiking favorites include Chippewa National Forest’s Suomi Hills, Simpson Creek, and Lost Forty. Bicyclists can try the 100-plus paved miles along Mesabi Trail’s forests, bogs, and reclaimed mine pit areas or get more adventurous on the nearly 30 miles of mountain bike trails in the Tioga Recreation Area on the west side of Lake Pokegama in Cohasset. While these are some of the most popular trails, there are plenty of others biking and hiking trails near Grand Rapids if you want something off the beaten path.
If you’re on ATVs or OHVs, explore the 37-mile B&B Connection/Balsam Trail (which brings you to Big Fork or Balsam depending on which direction you’re heading) and the 21-mile UPM Blandin Trail (which ends near Hill City and two state forests). Whichever of the two ATV/OHV trails you pick, you’ll find restaurants to refuel at the end of the road.
Eateries and Entertainment
Grand Rapids may be a town of 11,000, but you might just find your new favorite brewery, wine bar, eatery, or entertainment spot here. Choose a local pint from Rapids Brewing Co. or Klockow Brewing Co., and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to sip your suds while enjoying live music. You can find other performances at places such as coffeehouse Brewed Awakenings, the Pickled Loon Saloon, and the Reif Center, whose event lineup includes theater, comedy, music, and dance. (Fall includes singer Chastity Brown (September 19), string trio Simply Three (October 10), tribute band Queen Machine (October 18), comedy act Triple Espresso (November 7), and the Autumn Market (November 9), but make sure to check out other Grand Rapids events.) As for food, many of Grand Rapids’ independently owned eateries like Forest Lake Restaurant and Florio’s Grill & Tavern pride themselves on local sourcing and North Woods-influenced cuisine.
Lodging with a View
In Grand Rapids, all lodging options are only minutes from the state’s beautiful forests, whether you choose a family-centered cabin or a bedroom with a double Jacuzzi tub. Pick from resorts, bed and breakfasts, or a lakehome rental in a serene spot. Hotel, motel, and vacation rental options in the city limits make it easy to walk to food, shopping, and nightlife as well. If you came to Grand Rapids for its nature and want to spend as much time outside as possible, check out the area campgrounds and camper spots located among the hardwoods and pine trees.