Bemidji is known as the First City on the Mississippi because of its proximity to the Mississippi River's headwaters 40 miles away at Itasca State Park. The city gets its name from Lake Bemidji, whose Ojibwe name of Bay-me-di-ga-maug translates to "lake with cross waters" (the Mississippi flows through the lake).
Early settlers got to know Shaynowishkung, a Leech Lake man who was affectionately called Chief Bemidji, although he was neither a chief nor was his name related to Bemidji; the mistake occurred when he was asked his name, and he thought he was being asked for the name of the lake.
Bemidji's Native American connections continue to this day, with educational, cultural, and historical programs. Many local businesses and agencies display Ojibwe versions of words like "welcome" and "thank you" on doors and windows.
Bemidji is a beautiful city that has much to offer travelers, from boating, fishing, camping, and hunting to the arts, shopping, and dining. There's something for everyone in this northern Minnesota city that's much bigger than its estimated (in 2016) population of 14,942.
When to Visit Bemidji, MN
Northern Minnesota is a great winter destination if you're coming for the snowmobiling or snowshoeing or planning a winter camping excursion. However, most people would probably most enjoy Bemidji as a summer draw, in late spring when the flowers have bloomed, or in early fall as the colors start to change on the tree's leaves. Lake Bemidji State Park is a gorgeous place to watch the autumn colors.
Plan your summer trips to Bemidji around much-anticipated events. July is a good month for these activities, from the annual Bemidji Jaycees Carnival that's planned around the Fourth of July, to the Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival and the Beltrami County Fair. These are both late in July, but you can, of course, visit this city anytime.
The problem with summer fun is that prices will be higher and rooms could be scarce, but you can get around that by booking your room early and enjoying the discount as well as the peace of mind that you've already secured a hotel room.
Bemidji offers many opportunities for exploring all the city has to offer. Try to stay at a hotel that is close to the majority of activities you'd like to partake in.
Below is a chart of the current pricing seasonality of hotels and motels in Bemidji, MN:
Averate Rates by Star Rating
Below are 3 charts displaying average price trends by star rating class in Bemidji, MN. Analyze these line graphs to determine the most cost effective time to stay in Bemidji for your upcoming travels.
Luxury Bemidji, MN Hotels
Candlewood Suites Bemidji - Paul Bunyan is a place that keeps you close to home. The hotel has 71 rooms with fridges and microwaves, free wireless access, a 24-hour fitness center and more. The Lending Locker Service offers common household items to borrow during your stay, and pets lighter than 60 pounds can stay with their families.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Bemidji offers AAA premium bath products by Crabtree & Evelyn. That makes the fresh-baked cookies in the lobby even sweeter. You'll also enjoy the Eforea Spa, which offers three customized spa experiences for true pampering.
Affordable Hotel Options in Bemidji, MN
3 Star Average Prices: $108.08
Super 8 is always a great choice when looking for a basic room with important amenities and a comfortable bed, whether you're passing through or staying longer but don't need anything fancy. The hotel has 121 rooms, free Wi-Fi, and a fitness center. If you're traveling along U.S. Highway 2, Super 8 is just a mile or two off the highway amid shopping and dining destinations.
Country Inn & Suites is another affordable choice that offers an indoor pool, free hot breakfast, and free newspapers. The hotel opened in 2014 and has complimentary Wi-Fi. A lending library is a highlight of this place.
2 Star Average Prices: $118.65
Where are the real discounts in Bemidji
The Holiday Inn Express offers AAA, senior, military and government, and business discounts and has an average group discount of 3.3 percent. The hotel, remodeled in 2000, offers 70 rooms, as well as three meeting rooms for those needing to conduct business activities, and is within walking distance of the Paul Bunyan Mall.
At Best Western Bemidji, you'll also see discounts for AAA members, seniors, military and government personnel, and business travelers. The hotel was recently remodeled and has 60 rooms.
Best Value Options in Bemidji, MN
The top value isn't necessarily the least expensive. It depends on what you're looking for. Your best deal in Bemidji for the money may be one of several hotels near the Lake Bemidji South Shore area, where the Sanford Center offers Division I hockey as well as celebrated performers.
If you're flying into Bemidji, perhaps your best value is a hotel practically in the Bemidji Regional Airport's backyard. Quality Inn has 61 rooms, including 12 suites, and all rooms have fridges and microwaves. If your family loves board games, this is the place to be, as the hotel offers a games room.
For some of the best value for your dollar in a vacation package geared around nearby activity, go for AmericInn, located next to City Park and its many active opportunities, such as a skate park and disc golf. You'll also find a curling rink and indoor and outdoor ice rinks, which is a great value for families with kids who are competing in tournaments in Bemidji.
Top Places to Go in Bemidji, MN
Bemidji has much to offer travelers of all ages, both indoors and outdoors. Lake Bemidji State Park offers rustic beauty on the north shores of Lake Bemidji, and Bemidji boasts gorgeous city parks. Diamond Point Park is the city's flagship park. Bordering the beautiful Bemidji State University on Lake Bemidji, Diamond Point Park has a swimming beach, trails, playground facilities, and rentals of boats, kayaks, and paddleboards. An open-air pavilion and a building with seating for 80 make this a great spot for weddings, family reunions, and other large gatherings.
See Paul and Babe and more at Paul Bunyan Park on the Lake Bemidji waterfront downtown. Enjoy events such as Art in the Park at the adjoining Library Park, and go swimming, boating, and picnicking at Cameron Park. If you're up for loads of activities, visit City Park, which has a skate park, facilities for softball and disc golf in summer and skiing, and outdoor hockey in winter. It's next to curling and ice rinks in case you need something else to do.
Algoma Park offers softball, half-court basketball, and even pickleball courts. Nymore Park is a huge neighborhood park with year-round activities, highlighted by the Nymore Dog Park, which has agility equipment, a water fountain, and benches.
Winter enthusiasts will enjoy downhill skiing and cross-country skiing at Buena Vista Ski Area and several other local spots. The city has a cross-country ski club. And don't forget ice fishing! The lakes are freckled with ice houses all winter. You can try your hand at curling and experience the home ice that quite a few Bemidji Olympians trained on.
In the warmer months, consider paintball or disc golf, or head to the opposite edges of town for Paul Bunyan Animal Land, featuring zoo animals as well as deer and other animals native to the area.
You can spend an entire day at Headwaters Science Center in the center of downtown if you have kids who like to learn and explore. The facility features live animal exhibits, a saltwater aquarium, shadow "photographs," a fascinating kinetic sculpture, and so much more. Adults will find the place tantalizing as well.
For other indoor fun, check out the nearby Beltrami County History Center, located in the historic Great Northern Depot, featuring many permanent and revolving displays. You can also bowl a few lanes, catch a movie, visit the library, or try out gaming stores to see if there's a competition going on.
Bemidji has an amazing art connection for such an ostensibly small city. In addition to the impressive Bemidji Community Theatre and several small theater companies, the city is home to Paul Bunyan Playhouse, a summer stock professional theater company housed in the historic Chief Theater. Art galleries dot the city, and businesses take part in art showings as well.
Bemidji has a number of local authors, including Will Weaver, Roy C. Booth, and Kent Nerburn. One of the city's artistic highlights is the Bemidji Sculpture Walk, which features primarily temporary sculptures that are newly placed each year.
Bemidji offers so much to do, you'll want to come back again and again, perhaps for events like the Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival, Winterfest, or the Beltrami County Fair. Many who visit here, perhaps as kids to get that photo with Paul Bunyan, return for jobs or to spend their retirements. It's a beautiful city, and the attractions, events, and accommodations will leave you with happy memories.