The Northeastern region of Minnesota marked by countless rivers, lakes, and the shore of one Great Lake. It includes Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Isanti, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, Mille Lacs, Pine, and St. Louis counties.
The economy of this region seems to be almost perpetually on a down cycle, and while there is considerable pessimism due to that, locals also have much pride about their homeland. Northeastern Minnesotans are unfailingly helpful and honest, if occasionally gruff. There is a harmony between the people and the land here, and many citizens hold hunting and fishing at least on par with god and country. Visitors would be wise to recognize this fact.
Despite its rural nature, most Minnesotans are actually quite progressive politically and environmentally. The area is socially more conservative, and less tolerant of diverse views than Minneapolis. Honesty and integrity are always appreciated here, and good deeds never go unnoticed.
Finnish is still spoken by some residents in the far Northeast. Many locals speak with a pronounced Scandinavian accent, and quite rapidly! However they are usually happy to oblige and speak slower if asked, nicely.
When ordering food in a restaurant, some tips: a Pasty is a meat and vegetable pie common in this region. Pop is served here, there is no soda available. A glass of beer is referred to as a 'tap' or a 'glass' but usually not a 'draw' or a 'draft'. Polish, or 'Polacker', will get you a spicy sausage, and 'Smelt' a fried fish. And even the locals will usually avoid 'Lutefisk', no matter what you may have heard elsewhere.
Going to the 'show' means seeing a movie at the cinema. A 'snow machine' is a snowmobile, and a 'block heater' is a device to warm car engines on cold winter nights (marked by the tiny plug-ins dangling from the grills of many local cars and trucks. 'The Cities' always refers to Minneapolis-Saint Paul. A "sow-na" is in reality a steam bath (sauna), but a 'sarma' is a stuffed cabbage roll.
Acceptable affirmative responses to questions here include, 'oh yah', 'you betcha', and 'no doubt'. 'No way' is a common negatory. Derision is not advised.
Flights are available into Duluth International Airport and Hibbing Municipal Airport via Delta Air Lines. Greyhound Bus Lines serve Duluth. Major highways serving the area are Interstate 35 from Minneapolis, US 53 from Eau Claire and northwestern Wisconsin, US 2 from the upper peninsula of Michigan, and MN 61 from Ontario, Canada.
Most regional highways are well-maintained if aged. Summer brings road construction, winter brings snow, and spring may bring road weight limits as the ground thaws. MN-DOT provides helpful information about conditions and road work.
Almost all of the local communities use some version of the grid system for their streets, with extensive use of numbered (2nd, 3rd, 4th Avenues West) streets for easy direction-finding. Inquire locally, most residents are happy to help provide directions.
The Iron Range Interpetive Center in Chisholm, describing the lives of the first miners in NE Minnesota.
The Greyhound Bus Museum in Hibbing, exhibiting early coaches and telling the story of how Greyhound got its start.
Bob Dylan's boyhood home in Hibbing.
The Paulucci Planetarium in Hibbing, on US 169.
Tour Hibbing High School on 21st Street and 8th Avenue East.
The International Wolf Center in Ely, educating outdoor enthusiasts about the timber wolf.
Judy Garland's Birthplace, in Grand Rapids.
Black Bear Casino in Cloquet, Fond-du-Luth gaming Casino in Duluth, Fortune Bay Casino near Tower, and Grand Casino Hinckley, in Hinckley.
The underground mine tour in Soudan, where the temperature is a constant 52 degrees year round.
Ice Fish. Enjoy a ride pulled by sled dogs in Ely. View the fall leaves as the colors change in late September and early October. Take in the many local high school sporting events, but especially IRC hockey games in the wintertime to fully appreciate the love locals have for this sport. Canoe the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) in the summer months. Enjoying the outdoors is almost a necessity to enjoy Northeastern Minnesota.
Sammy's Pizza in Hibbing is a staple and has been for decades. Grandma's in Duluth's Canal Park is also highly regarded. Some of the national chains you will find across the region are Dairy Queen, Subway, Hardee's, and Pizza Hut.
There is more beer drinking per capita in the Iron Range than in the Twin Cities. Liquor stores are plentiful, as are local taverns. Drinking and driving, however, has serious consequences.
Beer and whiskey ('rye' is Canadian whiskey) are more likely to be enjoyed virtually everywhere than wine and drinks with umbrellas. Do not expect to be surprised!
Property crime is far more likely in this region than violent crime. Use common sense regarding valuables left in vehicles. Most locals are very approachable and helpful to out-of-towners, and will go out of their ways to provide assistance.
Mosquitoes can be problematic during the summer months, up until the time of the first killing frost in August or September. Do not underestimate the effect of the wintertime cold on yourself or your vehicle!
The Minnesota State Patrol has a considerable presence on local highways, and drivers would do well to obey posted speed limits.
Flights depart Duluth International Airport for Minneapolis and Detroit daily.