Once Upon a Byway

1-3 Day Tour Connecting Three Beautiful Byways
OTTER TAIL SCENIC BYWAY takes you through 1,000 lakes and wildlife-filled wetlands with cultural stops along the way. LAKE COUNTRY SCENIC BYWAY visitors see remarkable changes in vegetation in a relatively short distance driving through prairie grasslands, deciduous forests and coniferous forests. GREAT RIVER ROAD NATIONAL SCENIC BYWAY winds with the river through charming, quaint river towns, dense woods and majestic bluffs.

Featured stops include…

Day One
9:00amDepart Minneapolis
1:30pmArrive Fergus Falls
OPTION 1Agricultural Tour
OPTION 2Art Center
OPTION 3Historic Phelps Mill
5:00pmLodging Check-in
Day Two
8:00amDepart Fergus Falls
9:00amDetroit Lakes Sculpture Walk
10:30amDepart for Itasca State Park
OPTION 1Lunch at historic Douglas Lodge
OPTION 2Catered picnic lunch at shelter
OPTION 3Headwaters Cafe
OPTION 1Mississippi Headwaters
OPTION 2Step-on Naturalist Tour
OPTION 3Lake Itasca Boat Tour
2:30pmDepart for Bemidji
2:30pmTour Bemidji Woolen Mills Factory & Outlet Store
5:00pmLodging Check-in
Day Three
8:00amDepart for Grand Rapids
OPTION 1Forest History Center
OPTION 2Judy Garland Museum
OPTION 1Itasca Heritage Center
OPTION 2Tour Blandin Paper Mill
OPTION 3Visit Hill Annex Mine State Park
8:30pmMississippi Showboat

A Center For the Arts • FERGUS FALLS

Originally The Fergus Theatre, the building was built as a vaudeville house and now home to the performing arts with year-round music, dance, theatre, and visual arts programs.

Phelps Mill  • FERGUS FALLS

Tour a flour mill built in 1888, now an Otter Tail County Park and on the National Register of Historic Places.

Prairie Wetlands Learning Center  • FERGUS FALLS

The Center includes 330 acres of native and restored prairie, 28 wetlands and 3.5 miles of trails. An 1/8-mile interpretive trail is accessible for all visitors. The Visitor Center houses a 2,500-square-foot exhibit area, the Bluestem Store, classrooms and a multipurpose meeting room. providing environmental education and interpretation for learners of all ages.


Sunfish Sculpture Walk  • DETROIT LAKES

Pick up an official sunny map for a tour of nearly 50 sunfish designed by area artists.


Bemidji Woolen Mills & Outlet Store • Bemidji

Part of a long and rich tradition, Bemidji Woolen Mills & Outlet Store is a 5 generation operation home to the Bemidji Paul Bunyan Plaid. Individually made, high-quality woolen clothing, garments and blankets have been made here in Bemidji for nearly 100 years. Originallly producing outdoor apparel for the early logging era, the company continues to produce garments for outdoor enthusiasts. See the products being made, and learn the history behind the original processing machines while you shop a host of Bemidji’s famous Paul Bunyan Plaid items.

Itasca State Park • Bemidji

Stop at the Visitors Center to see interpretive displays and exhibits on the history of the forest and wildlife. “Step on” tour with the park naturalist along Wilderness Drive with a stop at the Headwaters area. Board the “Chester Charles” for a narrated tour of Lake Itasca, where the Mississippi River springs from. Restroom equipped and lunch cruise available. Other dining options include the historic Douglas Lodge with dining room or catered picnic lunch at one of the picnic shelters. The Headwaters Café is a cafeteria-style restaurant located in the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center.

Bemidji Evening Entertainment Options

Paul Bunyan Playhouse Live theatre productions June through Mid-August.
Native American Flute Performance and narrative on the history of flutes.
Native Flute & Classical Guitar Duo that blends the Native American flute and acoustic guitar in ethnic and contemporary music.
Local Muscians Folk, country, classical. Dinner performances or evening entertainment.


Judy Garland Museum • Grand Rapids

Visit the famed birthplace of Judy Garland and home of the world’s largest Wizard of Oz collection. The museum features educational exhibits, lectures, performances, seminars and film screenings.

Blandin Paper Mill • Grand Rapids

Tour a paper mill on the banks of the Mississippi beginning with a production overview video that follows the process from cutting down the tree to the finished paper.

Forest History Center • Grand Rapids

Discover the past, present and future of Minnesota’s forests through guided tours of a 1900s era logging camp with hands-on environmental learning programs. Lumberjacks, cooks and other men and women of the Northwoods entertain with stories, tall tales and music as they share the history of the forest. Board the moored river “wanigan,” a floating cook shack, take a seat on the porch of a 1930s Minnesota Forest Service patrolman’s cabin, climb a 100-foot fire tower and explore the site’s self-guided trails.

Itasca Heritage Center Museum • Grand Rapids

Explore the people, places and resources from the turn of the century that shaped this region. Exhibits display the woolly mammoth tusk discovered in the area and details the resourcefulness of the Ojibwe along with the variety of cultures represented by the immigrants who came to this new country. Discover how the Mississippi allowed access to provide the nation with lumber and iron ore.

Hill Annex Mine State Park • Grand Rapids

Choose from a fossil hunt or board a bus and trace the route miners took to get to work at once the sixth largest producer of iron ore in the state. Historic clubhouse, interpretive displays, and displayed historic equipment.