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New book details what you can do ‘up north’

To whet your appetite for “up north,” see if you can answer five questions posed by the author.

There’s a self-guided trail throughout the Lost 40, which visitors can follow. AmberBeth VanNingen says the trail tends to be easy enough for visitors with mobility devices. (Bria Barton | Bemidji Pioneer)
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ST. PAUL -- Can’t afford to hop on a plane to Mexico or Europe? Julie Larson offers places to visit closer to home in “100 Things to do in Minnesota Northwoods Before You Die.”

Admitting to a deep sense of wanderlust, the author leaves her home in rural Brainerd to explore with her “motley crew of women” called the MsStorians, who “traverse the Minnesota Northwoods in search of history, fun, and flavorful beverages.”

This handy paperback is divided by topics — food and drink, music and entertainment, sports and recreation, culture and history and shopping and fashion. There are suggested itineraries and activities by season.

Did you know about the jams and jellies at Butkiewicz Family Farm near Kettle River? Everybody’s heard of Betty’s Pies in Two Harbors, but did you know there are wineries in Lutsen, Alexandria, Laporte and Brainerd? Would you like to watch hawks at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth? How about viewing a wild ricing demonstration at Mille Lacs Indian Museum?

Larson includes telephone numbers and web addresses for all venues, so you can check on what’s open in these days of shifting COVID restrictions.


There are lots of Minnesota travel guides around, but if you are headed north for a weekend getaway, you must have this easy-to-use little gem.

Take this ‘up north’ quiz

To whet your appetite for “up north,” see if you can answer these five questions posed by Larson.

  • What is Minnesota’s most visited historic mansion?

  • What is “the Lost 40” among Minnesota’s 17.4 million acres of forest land?

  • What city was listed as one of the 2018 Best Places to Live and Smartest Towns by Outdoor Magazine?

  • When you dine at the Palmer House Hotel & Restaurant in Sauk Centre, what author’s famous street is located feet from your table?

  • Name the longest ship on the Great Lakes.


  • Glensheen in Duluth.

  • A surveying error in 1882 is credited to the Lost 40 Scientific and Natural Area near Northome, which now has a trail loop that leads visitors past white and red pines more than 230 years old.

  • Crosby, Minn.

  • Sinclair Lewis‘ Main Street.

  • The Paul R. Tregurtha, at 1,013.5 feet, often can be seen from the outside deck of the Lake Superior Marine Museum in Duluth. Visitors can listen to her “talk” with the Aerial Lift Bridge.

“100 Things to do in Minnesota Northwoods Before You Die” is published by Reedy Press, $17.

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