Photo by Til Jentzsch 

5 Wonderful Winter Experiences In Bemidji, Minnesota!

Bemidji, MN

As the winter season approaches and the snowfall ramps up into full swing, it’s time to start planning some outdoor winter recreational fun. If you’re looking to take a break from your local winter plans, a great option is to plan a day or weekend trip out to a great winter town. 

While Colorado, Utah, and Montana offer a lot of opportunities for winter recreation, typically these trips come with a hefty cost. Fortunately, there are many other options to get into the winter spirit and enjoy the great outdoors. A fantastic one is Bemidji, Minnesota located near the headwaters of the great Mississippi River. With inexpensive prices and great options for endless recreation, sporting events, and winter festivals, here is a list of great winter experiences that you can only have in the Northwoods of Bemidji.

Longwood Historical Home

Photo by Spencer Davis

Snowmobile trails across northern Minnesota meet in Bemidji, making it a hub for snowmobilers from near and far. When the trails are covered with snow each winter, they become a frozen playground for snowmobile enthusiasts, which is why Bemidji holds the title of Snowmobile Capital of the North. You can take in the sights as you ride along the well-groomed trails that span 400 miles for a memorable ride you won’t soon forget. 

The trails are maintained by the North Country Snowmobile Club and allow you to ride on various terrain in the woods, open country, and swampy brushy areas throughout northern Minnesota. Ride through the homeland of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, or head to Itasca State Park and see the starting point of the Mississippi River. Whatever trails you chose, the snow-covered landscape and forested areas provide scenic views for miles, and an enjoyable experience for all ages.

Auburn Mansion

Photo by fiske58KL

Lake Bemidji is well known for its excellent fishing throughout all seasons, and the cold doesn’t stop most fishermen from setting up on the ice for a pleasant day of ice fishing. Considered a jewel among the string of seven lakes on the Mississippi River in Beltrami County, this 6,000 acre lake is a hotspot for gamefish of all species and one of the best waters in Minnesota for late-season action. 

With many options for guide services and equipment and fish house rentals around the area, ice fishing on Lake Bemidji is available for fishermen of all levels and ages. The lake provides for a great fishing experience filled with community, fun, and good times. You can enjoy the small village that pops up on the ice and take part in a tradition that has taken place over generations, one that may turn into one of the best and most memorable fishing experiences you’ll ever have.

Lansdowne Plantation

Photo by Markus Spiske 

Hockey is big in Minnesota and you can latch onto some of that excitement by catching a Bemidji State University hockey game at the Sanford Center. Going on sixty-three years of hockey excellence, the Bemidji Beavers always give their fans a performance to remember and are a team to watch if you’re interested in seeing some good hockey, 

Whether you’re a hockey fan or not, you can grab tickets to a home game to make your trip to Bemidji much more memorable as hockey is a huge part of the community. While you can’t beat the experience of watching the game in person and taking it all in – the crowd, the players, and the incredible atmosphere, the local taverns and bars provide a fun and exciting alternative that still lets you experience the game and the overbearing support from the community.

f you can’t get enough of the snow and the outdoor fun, another option for taking in the winter wonderland is skiing or snowboarding at Buena Vista Village. Buena Vista is the area’s premier spot for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels and ages. You can enjoy the groomed runs and winter weather as you ski, snowboard, tube, or cross country ski down the slopes. There is rental equipment and pricing for day passes that makes easy planning for one day of hitting the slopes or several. 

The ski area features four chair lifts, a tow for beginners, and sixteen different downhill runs, plus two terrain parks. Bundle up and prepare for a whole day or more, as you cruise the slopes, including a run that stretches for 2,000 feet with a 230 feet drop at one point. If you’re not an avid skier, the tubing park may be a better option for you to get out and enjoy the snow. After a long day of snow, the cold, and a lot of fun, you can head to Buena Vista’s three-story chalet to warm up at the fireplace and recharge with some food from the cafe.

Magnolia Hall

Photo by Toni Cuenca 

At the end of every November, Bemidji hosts the Night We Light Festival to ring in the holiday season. Over the course of the two-day festival, the entire downtown area of Bemidji is decorated in holiday decorations and over 300,000 lights. If you visit during late November, you will be able to participate in a whole two days of Night We Light festivities leading up to the main light parade and ceremony. 

The festivities kick off on a Friday with Santa’s Workshop events at Paul Bunyan Park for kids followed by the First City of Lights Parade and the waterfront and downtown tree lighting ceremonies, including fireworks over the lake. You can also vote for the best downtown window display and check out the homes in the area with the best Christmas light by following the tour map. Also, if you’re looking for the perfect Christmas presents for loved ones, there are two pop-up Christmas Marketplaces downtown to hunt for gifts. The festival is a great time for people of all ages and is not one to miss this holiday season. 


Content Writer and Social Media Coordinator. I paint, listen to music, and play with my dogs a lot. When I’m not doing all that, I love to read and try new things.

Maeve Miller

Writer, River Travel Magazine