Spotlight On: Bemidji, MN
Renowned for its blazing snow storms and locals possessing over-the-top Scandavian accents and a love for tatertot hotdish, there's a lot more to this town than the somewhat negative stereotypes that prevail.
While the winter months can definitely be unforgiving with temparatures dipping to Siberian lows of -50F, the summer months are glorious, with temperatures soaring to the 80s-90s. Given the extreme influx of temperatures throughout the year, locals are a hearty bunch and take pride in their ability to withstand all seasons.
If you're planning a visit, June-August is the best time to go as you're most likely to enjoy favourable weather. During the height of the summer months, locals can be found enjoying the great outdoors and all it has to offer from fishing to water skiing or simply enjoying a cruise around one of many lakes in the area.
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox
No trip to Bemidji is complete without visiting the statue of folklore hero Paul Bunyan and his trusty companion Babe the Blue Ox. Every year thousands of visitors flock to have their photo taken with this plaid-clad lumberjack, who towers over visitors standing at 18ft tall. Totally kitsch, it needs to be seen to be believed.
The great outdoors
Other excursions worth embarking on include a visit to Itasca State Park, the headwaters of the Mississippi River, and Buena Vista State Forest, both of which offer traditional camping in the heart of the Northwoods. Just be careful that you don't leave any food out, as you may have some unwelcome company in the form of black bears or racoons, which are one of the many mammals that call Minnesota home!
Bemidji sporting excursions
Minnesotans love any excuse to enjoy the outdoors and with this comes a passion for outdoor sports of all varieties.
Fishing is an obsession for many, and anglers are spoilt for choice when it comes to great fishing spots. Lake Bemidji is often heralded as one of the best fishing lakes in Minnesota, with fishermen visiting in droves to catch Walleye, Northern Pike, Muskies, Bass and Sunnies.
Minnesota law dictates that both residents and visitors must apply for a fishing license before one can even think about their bountiful catch. Licenses can be purchased from a variety of shops and are available for as little as 24 hours or the entire fishing season.
For more information on fishing in Bemidji, visit http://www.visitbemidji.com/summer/fishing.html.
The Bemidji Town & Country Club is the best golf course in the area. Located on the North Shore of Lake Bemidji, majestic Norway pines surround the manicured greens, providing a picturesque and serene spot - perfect for a day of relaxing golf. After your game, unwind with cocktails in the North Shore Grill Bar and Restaurant.
Fish is fabulous and fresh in Minnesota given the abundance of lakes in the state. After all, they don't call it the Land of 10,000 Lakes without reason!
Sparkling Waters Restaurant
One of the more upmarket restaurants in town, Sparkling Waters offers a wealth of delicious entrees including Walleye Almondine or Top Sirloin and Quail. In the summer months, enjoy cocktails or entrees on the patio overlooking the lake, hence its namesake.
If it's Italian you're after, than look no further than Tuttobene. This delightfully chic Italian restaurant in downtown Bemidji serves up authentic Italian fare in a relaxed environment. Offerings include a variety of dishes such as Ricotta Cavatelli (fresh cavatelli, house-smoked cheddar, broccolini and mustard crumbs) and Wild Snowcrab Ravioli (fresh pasta, snow crab, chives, cherry tomato and smoked prosciutto).
Culture vultures will love the Paul Bunyan Playhouse, which regularly features a variety of plays.
For a schedule of what's on, visit http://www.thechieftheater.com.
Whatever you get up to in Bemidji, you're certain to feel relaxed as the laidback vibe and friendly attitude are contagious. Find out for yourself why it's the coolest little town in the Northwoods...
For more information on Bemidji, visit http://www.visitbemidji.com.