bugsy running on lone rock beach with the airstream and f-150 in the background

One night in Grand Rapids, MN–Big Trip #4

We were in Grand Rapids in August 2022, as part of Big Trip #4. Don’t confuse Grand Rapids, MN with Grand Rapids, MI, which we visited in 2016 while on Big Trip #1!

Bugsy dancing around the Airstream

Where to break up the drive from Duluth to Fargo? We chose Grand Rapids, based on the presence of breweries (for J) and a Judy Garland museum at her childhood home (for both of us, of course)!


Bugsy and the Airstream at the campsite

We spent the night at the Itasca County Fairgrounds, a peaceful (when nothing’s going on at the fairgrounds–we only had a few neighbors), if mosquitoey campground. The campsites are power only, but they’re getting renovated this fall to full hookup. Downtown was a short drive away.


Judy Garland's childhood home
Judy Garland’s childhood home
inside Judy's house
inside Judy’s house
display on Toto at the Judy Garland museum
display about Toto at the museum

Who knew? Judy Garland, or Frances “Baby” Gumm, was born in Grand Rapids, MN, and her childhood home is now a museum full of memorabilia. It was a fun stop even for J! Also, her name was Frances and she went by Baby? What does that make you think of?

Itasca County Fairgrounds has a trailhead for the Mesabi Trail, the premier bike trail in Minnesota. It’s a 145-mile-long paved trail through 28 communities, from the Mississippi River to the Boundary Waters. We wished we’d brought our bikes!

Instead of biking, we went for a hike. The trail description touted Mississippi River views, but the Sylvan Point Trail is just sort of a nice walk in the woods. Oh well, it was pleasant enough.

Bugsy walking the yellow brick road
walking the Yellow Brick Road outside the Historic Central School
Bugsy on a bridge over the Mississippi River
Bugsy crossing the Mississippi River

The two sites in town (other than Judy’s house) I wanted to see were the Historic Central School, and the Mississippi River (since we didn’t really see it from Sylvan Point). While J had a work meeting, B and I walked around downtown, admiring the river and the neat old buildings, but none of them really seemed to house interesting stores or restaurants or anywhere we’d like to patronize.


Here’s J:

One of the attractions to staying a night in Grand Rapids – aside from the Judy Garland Museum, of course – was the presence of two breweries, Klockow and Rapids. 

beers at Klockow Brewing
the taproom at Klockow Brewing

Klockow Brewing Company is in a large steel-framed building just south of town off a busy road. The most memorable thing about the place is a massive mural on one wall of the proprietor and his wife and daughter – and two miniature dachshunds – walking through a trail in the woods along the water. They had 16 beers on tap when we were there in almost every traditional style imaginable, including two sours and three IPAs (including one hazy and one session). They also have a narrow walled patio, but it wasn’t shaded enough when we were there; the proprietor told us all of the built-in patio seating was new and that the shades were the next phase of the project. Anyway, it was a pleasant enough visit and L was pretty positive on her beer, so much so that we left with a four-pack of their raspberry lactose sours. We didn’t have Bugsy as we stopped by after the Judy Garland museum, but noted that dogs were allowed in the tap room. 

beers on the patio at Rapids Brewing
the patio at Rapids Brewing

Rapids Brewing Company has a large, open air patio at its downtown Grand Rapids tasting room, where we sat after picking up Bugsy. Of their 14 taps, J was a bit afraid of their hazy triple IPA (10%), but they thankfully also had a regular hazy IPA (7%) to go alongside L’s berry gose kettle sour. Neither of us liked the beers as much as we did Klockow’s, but we did enjoy the patio / tap room ambiance more. And, if you are in the mood for pizza, theirs seemed really interesting, with atypical toppings such as bacon fat potatoes, wild rice and crème fresh (separate pizzas). Rapids Brewing also had guest taps (including Guinness) and cocktails and, not thrilled with the beer, L’s second drink was a tasty Tom Collins made with local cantaloupe, perfect for a hot day. 

We’re not ready to rave about either of the breweries in Grand Rapids, but both are worth a visit if you are in town. 

Next up: alll the beers in Fargo!


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