Spotlight on Bemidji
I admit that I don't know a whole lot about Bemidji, other than the fact that broad-shouldered Paul Bunyan lives their with his massive blue ox Babe, their curling club produces Olympic-worthy athletes, they have really good hockey teams, and their state college offers a nationally-recognized industrial model making and exhibit design program. (My friend went there.)
Bemidji, though, is definitely worth a second look. The city is so much more than ice and Bemidji state students.
When I visit, my agenda will include—first and foremost—exploring the Paul Bunyan or Heartland state trails on either bike or blades. (Maybe bike, since Bemidji was recently awarded “Bicycle Friendly Community” status by the League of American Bicyclists.) I like, too, that you can rent a bike if you need one and take a shuttle service to the trail. When life is simplified, I'm happy.
Other intriguing aspects of "The First City on the Mississippi" include trying the sport of geocaching (I've been wanting to try this adult treasure hunt game for awhile now), seeing a performance at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse downtown (the longest continually operating summer repertory in Minnesota), and of course taking photos next to the infamous statues of Paul and Babe. (It would just be wrong to be in Bemidji and not take advantage of this 'touristy' photo op.)
I know my kids will love the Putt-n-Go Amusement Park and Paul Bunyan's Animal Land, home to nearly 100 animals. If they were a little older, we could try the Character Challenge high ropes course, disc golf, or a game of paintball and laser tag. As for lodging, we're not picky. We'd be happy in a resort on Lake Bemidji, in a hotel in town, even in a tent at a campground. (My vote is for the resort. Camping with a 3 and 5-year-old sounds like a lot of work, and like I said earlier, I like it when my life is simplified.)
I'm not really sure why it's taken my whole life to get up to Bemidji, because it sounds like the perfect vacation destination. I can't wait to experience the fun.