Dog Friendly Bemidji: An All-Season Getaway
It's fun to say and fun to visit - Bemidji is a great destination for you and your pup to explore the outdoors and enjoy all that Northern Minnesota has to offer. Bemidji is about 4 hours north and a bit west of the Twin Cities metro area, near some of the largest lakes in the state (and plenty of smaller ones too). This dog friendly destination has plenty to do, making it ideal for a weekend or even a weeklong trip.
JUMP TO: Stay | Play | Eat & Drink | When to Go
Kohl's Resort - Big Turtle Lake (10 mins from downtown Bemidji)
We were #hosted at Kohl's Resort on our Bemidji trip and recommend this family-owned resort for anyone traveling with their dog. Kohl's has been in operation since 1952 and offers several room and cabin rental options for groups of all sizes. Bring your own boat or rent one by the day or week to enjoy 1,600 acre Big Turtle Lake or any of the 4 others connected in Turtle River chain. And good news - dogs are allowed on rental boats too!
There's no weight limit on pups and plenty of space to walk your dog around the property. Dogs aren't allowed on furniture or beds, so be sure to bring a dog bed or someplace cozy that your dog can snuggle up. For more on how to prepare for a hotel, resort, or Airbnb stay with your pet, see this post: Our Tips for a Dog Friendly Hotel Stay.
There are all sorts of activities and amenities available whatever time of year you visit. Summer brings tons of water toys and lake fun along with on-site mini golf and disc golf, and in wintertime, there's access to snowmobile and cross country ski trails as well as excellent ice fishing. All year long you can check out the indoor pool (no pups here) or on-site bar Liar's Lounge for a drink & bite. Full list of amenities and activities here. No matter the season, there's plenty to keep you busy at Kohl's and in the surrounding area.
Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox
If you’re visiting Bemidji, you simply MUST stop for a picture with the famous Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox statues! These Minnesota icons are said to be from Bemidji, and you’ve surely seen them on tourism materials for the state. While you’re at it, stop at the other big Paul Bunyan in Akeley (on the way to Bemidji depending on which route you take from the Twin Cities) and compare the two for yourself! Bemidji’s Paul is older (1937) but Akeley’s Paul is taller - if he weren’t kneeling down with a friendly hand out for you to take a seat on!
Hiking & Outdoor Activities
There are so many great spots to get outside in this area of the Northwoods of Minnesota. Here are just a couple of nearby places to explore!
Distance from Bemidji
Take a bog walk dog walk! The 1.25 mile boardwalk Hiking Club trail has great interpretive signage through a unique landscape and can be combined with several other mowed grass trails for a longer loop hike.
Cross country ski trails are open to non-motorized sports (including hiking with dogs) in the off-season. Several loop options - keep an eye out for mountain bikers.
The headwaters of the Mississippi River are a must-see! Tack on the nearby Schoolcraft Trail for a quick jaunt, or head south to the Dr. Roberts Trail (Hiking Club). Be sure to take the Wilderness Drive (cars/bikes only) to see some XXL pines!
Here's your spot for truly XXL pines - including some that are nearly 300 years old! One mile scenic loop through peaceful, remote old growth pine forest. Download maps ahead of time - cell service is spotty.
Eat & Drink
Here's the spot in town for craft beer!
Dogs are welcome on the patio. We enjoyed the Espresso Porter, the Lemondrop Blonde (shandy vibes), and the Non-Alcoholic German Blonde. Fun merch, including some stuff for the pooches, and cans, 6-packs, and crowlers are available for purchase. There's a food truck on site, but you're also able to bring in takeout to eat if the free popcorn isn't hearty enough for you.
This hot dog spot is only 1,350 hot dogs away from the big statues of Paul & Babe, and offers more than 30 types of jazzed-up hot dogs. Pups welcome on the patio - maybe you're feeling generous and willing to share your dog with your dog?
This institution has been slinging pizzas in Bemidji for more than 6 decades. Your dog can join you on the patio, or grab easy takeout to bring back to the resort. We like a square cut slice - Dave's has some topping-heavy specialty pizzas, or you can create your own.
When to Go
You can have a great time with your dog in Bemidji all year long - just be sure to bring warm clothes if you head north in the winter! There are a few big events that you may want to be aware of as you plan your travels:
Bike Bemidji's Loop the Lake Festival - Mid June
Bemidji is situated on the shores of Lake Bemidji (as is Lake Bemidji State Park), and every June, the Loop the Lake Festival provides a supported bike ride around the lake's 17 mile shoreline. Riders pass through the state park and along the Paul Bunyan State Trail on the course.
Bemidji State University Homecoming - Late Sept/Early Oct
BSU has a fun homecoming tradition. If the Beavers win their homecoming football game, the team runs to Lake Bemidji for a celebratory swim. The lake jump or "victory dip" tradition was started back in 1995.
Bemidji Marathon - Mid Oct
This race offers full, half, 10K, and 5K distance options for adult runners along with 1/2K and 1K fun run options for kids. The course circles Lake Bemidji and travels through the downtown area, about half on paved roads and half on bike trails. This is a great smaller marathon that is generally guaranteed to be in cooler temps as fall settles on the Northwoods!
For more information and tips on how to plan a trip with your dog, see this post.
We hope you have a fabulous trip to Bemidji, whatever season you decide to visit!