7 Free Or Cheap Things To Do In Grand Rapids MN

During vacations up north it’s important to have things to do in the area that don’t break the bank, isn’t it? Especially when you’re in beautiful northern Minnesota. Whether you’re staying at our beautiful resort or a hotel in Grand Rapids, there will always come a time when you want a list of free or super cheap things to do in the Grand Rapids area. This area has something for everyone: families, hunters, athletes, and nature observers. Here’s a list of seven things you can check out in town without breaking the vacation budget.

1. Judy Garland Museum

Did you know that Judy Garland was born in Grand Rapids? For her first four years of life she grew up in a cute little house in town. Now the house is a museum filled with memorabilia, educational exhibits, and publications that honor her legacy. Her most famous role was as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, and your time here will bring back your memories of watching that classic film. This is a must see for kids and adults alike while you’re in Grand Rapids.

2. Mesabi Bike Trail

Brought your bike on your vacation up north? Perfect. Grand Rapids is home to the trailhead of one of the best bike trails in the region. The Mesabi Trail passed through 25 different communities on it’s 132 mile journey to Ely, MN. This trail is THE premier bike trail in Minnesota with an incredibly rugged landscape from generations of iron ore mining. Along the route you’ll go through amazing communities that offer great restaurants and historical monuments to soak in. This is truly a spectacle for bikers everywhere!

3. Forest History Center

This is a really fun one for the whole family. This center recreates a 1900’s logging camp. Experience the stories of the North Woods and the Lumberjacks that called the forest home. You’ll find nature trails, interactive exhibits, and real people! Actors dress up and play the roles of blacksmiths, cooks, and lumberjacks. Bring your family and explore the history of forestry in Minnesota.

4. Children’s Discovery Museum

Need a stop for the kids? This is the one. This museum has fun, educational, and hands-on learning experiences for children of all ages. Their exhibits are nothing short of amazing. They have a dino play area, a talking tree, river water table, lake life, a wild animal exhibit, river town, tot park (awesome), and more! It never hurt to have your kids learn something on vacation, did it? They’ll have fun too. 

5. Sylvan Point Trailhead

If you’re looking for a good hike that the entire family can handle, head to Sylvan Point. The trail is regarded for its beauty. You can find pine trees over 200 years old, wild raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and more! Not only is the hike free, but the snack will be if you go in the middle of the summer! This is also a fantastic place for cross country skiing in the winter. Check it out!

6. Old Central School

This historic school was built in 1895 and was an elementary school until 1972. It’s now included in the National Register of Historic Places. It now houses many retail shops and galleries. There is a cool artist loft on the third floor where you can speak with the artist in residency. With its unique architecture and historical charm, this place is worth a stop when you’re in town!

7. Itasca County Historical Society

This is a nonprofit organization focused on promoting and preserving the history of the area. The museum is home to over 50,000 artifacts and photographs from the past. Learn about Judy Garland in her youth, the story of “Grace”, and other local history that will be very eye-opening. The museum operates on a voluntary donation basis. Great family stop!


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