Midwest Living Review
Like few other places in Minnesota, the Iron Range feels infused with multiple cultures even several generations after immigrants came from across Europe with hopes for a fresh start working in its mines during the late 1800s. The blend of heritage shows in towns as small as Biwabik (BYE-wah-bick), population less than 1,000. Downtown architecture looks Bavarian, its name is derived from the Ojibwa word for "iron," and the statue in the town square celebrates a famous children's story about a Finnish boy and his friend who help a starving moose. As mining faded away, tourism stepped in with the region's biggest attraction, Giant's Ridge Resort, which draws year-round visitors to its wooded 500-foot hills. In the winter, skiers, snowboarders and tubers zip along the ridge, while warm weather draws hikers, mountain bikers and golfers who want to play the 36 holes sculpted around natural lakes, mine lakes and quarry pits. Because Iron Range towns are relatively close together, Biwabik also makes a good base camp for exploring regional attractions. It's less than half an hour to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth; to eating pasties, potica (poh-TEE-sa) and homemade candy in Virginia; and the chance to go deep into the earth at Soudan Underground Mine State Park.