Top Things to Do in Park Rapids, Minnesota | Midwest Living

Top Things to Do in Park Rapids, Minnesota

Visits to Park Rapids (190 miles northwest of the Twin Cities) aren’t complete without a walk across the headwaters of the Mississippi River, but that’s just the start of a weekend adventure here.


Amish Oak and Americana Furnishings Downtown’s largest store glows with the warm tones of maple, hickory and cherry furniture, plus bright home accents.

Aunt Belle’s Confectionary Watch employees stir buttery caramel in copper-bottom pots, and then check out the impressive selection of fudge, turtles, truffles and nut brittles.

Character Challenge Adventure Park A 370-foot zipline ride, trapeze-style balancing bar and free-fall experience draw thrill-seekers.

Itasca State Park After the ritual walk across the headwaters of the Mississippi River, look for wildlife—even the occasional black bear—at Minnesota’s oldest state park, which contains 100 lakes, 250-plus campsites, cabins and a swimming beach.

Itasca State Park

Itasca State Park

Summerhill Farm Specialty stores with apparel and home decor draw shoppers just north of town. Enjoy sandwiches in a gazebo surrounded by flowers at the Sun Porch restaurant.

Trading Post Visitors have purchased their Park Rapids souvenir swag here since the 1920s. The obligatory selection of T-shirts pairs with more unique merchandise like loon whistles and moccasins.


The Good Life Cafe Local ingredients star at this Main Street hangout. Try the walleye BLT with homemade tartar sauce.

La Pasta Italian Eatery In nearby Dorset, the self-proclaimed Restaurant Capital of the World, this eatery serves authentic Italian dishes like chicken Genovese atop linguini.

Minnesoda Fountain A sprinkling of malt powder tops the big-enough-to-share Dusty Road sundae at this ‘50s-style favorite downtown. Subs and soups (we love the homemade chicken and dumpling) round out the menu. Minnesoda Fountain on Facebook

Minnesoda Fountain

Minnesoda Fountain

Rapid River Logging Camp Established in 1954, the modest property still serves breakfasts and dinners fit for loggers’ appetites.


Mantrap Lodge Renovated cabins, cottages and vacation homes appeal to groups eager to ditch the TV in favor of the beach. The owners emphasize family fun by staging activities like bingo, minnow races and hayrides.

Royal Starr Resort Settle into one of 13 cabins with full kitchens in nearby Nevis. Use kayaks and canoes, rent boats and pontoons, or simply enjoy the peaceful lake view from an Adirondack chair. Kids love the playground and their own fishing pier.

More information about Park Rapids:

Day trip

Moorhead A replica Viking ship and Norwegian stave church impress visitors to the Historical and Cultural Society, which celebrates the history of Clay County and its immigrants in The Hjemkomst Center (84 miles west of Park Rapids). The Rourke Art Museum houses pop art by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Usher’s House restaurant serves a daily seafood special that’s shipped fresh and never frozen.

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