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15 Awesome Things to do in Ely Minnesota

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Ely Minnesota may be a small town population wise but it’s a gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and has an incredible amount of activities to offer! From nature based exploring to a great food, museum and shopping scene, Ely is the perfect weekend destination. We spent 3 Days / 2 Nights there and hit the highlights but would happily have stayed longer. It’s about four hours by car from Minneapolis – definitely doable for a weekend trip. Read on for the top things to do in Ely including where to stay!

Top Things to do in Ely

Where To Stay in Ely: Ely Log Cabin

If you’re open to a luxury off the grid experience, put Ely Log Cabin (use PLANET10 to save 10% on your visit) on your list! It’s solar powered so you’ll have to be conscious of using lights, outlets and shower times but it’s very doable. The details are incredible – owners Addie and Ben have put in exercise equipment, stretch bars, lavender mist spray for your pillow, Public Goods shampoo and conditioner, created their own branded coffee, a screened in fairy lit tent to dine in at night mosquito-free, and more! We loved making s’mores over the campfire in their custom made chairs. There’s also a beautiful kitchen where you can prepare your own meals too. The cabin feels more remote but is just 15 minutes from the main area of Ely. We loved our stay and hope to check it out in another season!

Note – Ely Log Cabin hosted our visit. All opinions are my own.

1. Pick up Coffee at Log Cabin Coffee Drive-Thru

One of the best coffee and tea shops is town is the Log Cabin Coffee Drive-Thru. While you can drive through, there’s also a cute little seating area beneath the towering trees where we enjoyed our blended chai and coffee.

2. Enjoy Iced Tea and Wraps on the Porch at Front Porch Coffee & Tea Co

The Front Porch Coffee & Tea Co is a beautiful space where you can enjoy iced tea, sandwiches, smoothies and other treats while relaxing on the big wraparound porch.

3. Sample Root Beer and learn about the creator at the Dorothy Molter Museum

If you love root beer, or if you enjoy learning about strong local leaders, you must stop at the Dorothy Molter Museum. You can take a tour and learn more about Dorothy and her incredible legacy or if you’re short on time like we were you can just grab a famous root beer and look around the gift shop. This is definitely one of the most unique things to do in Ely. There are also classes to learn how to make root beer if you’re there during the week!

Dorothy Molter

4. Visit Wolves at The International Wolf Center

The International Wolf Center in Ely is a great place to learn about the history of wolves and how they’ve continued to evolve as humans have coexisted in their living areas. I enjoyed learning about the incredible animals and seeing two of the resident brothers.

5. Paddleboard at Bear Head Lake State Park

Bear Head Lake State Park is one of the most peaceful state parks I’ve visited. We enjoyed bringing our paddleboards out on the lake and even got to see a family of loons that were calling to more distant loons. The state park has paddleboard rentals if you need.

6. Hike to Kawishiwi Falls

One of the best trails in Ely leads to Kawishiwi Falls. It’s a shorter well-marked trail that takes about 15 minutes to arrive at the impressive falls. There is a bench you can sit on near the falls to soak in the beauty of the area.

7. Try a Blueberry Blonde Beer at Boathouse Brew Pub

One of the most unique beers in Ely is the Blueberry Blonde available at the Boathouse Brepub. Also try a classic burger and fries – they were delicious!

8. Enjoy a Delicious Meal at Insula

Hands down the number one recommendation I received for Ely was a meal at Insula. My expectations were super high and Insula definitely delivered! We loved the wonton tacos and the forager burger (a great vegetarian option).

9. Treat Yourself at Northern Expressions

Grab an ice cream from Northern Expressions – their waffle cones are even made fresh every day!

10. Have Breakfast at The Chocolate Moose

The Chocolate Moose is a great breakfast stop with a nice outdoor patio space. Both the breakfast burrito and the blueberry pancakes were tasty and filling – the best start for an active day!

11. Shop at Piragis Northwoods Company, Pebble Spa and Ely Folk School

There are some really unique and fun storefronts in the main area of Ely. Don’t miss Piragis Northwoods Shop with outdoor and art items and is also a great outfitter for the Boundary Waters, Pebble Spa which has fun clothes and self-care items in addition to a spa and the Ely Folk School which has super fun craft classes.

12. Grab Coffee / Blended Chai from Northern Grounds

One of the most popular spots to grab coffee is from Northern Grounds. I loved their blended chai as well. There’s a great space indoors to work or meet with friends. Plus they serve wine and craft beers later in the day.

13. Cool Off Under a Waterfall While Hiking Bass Lake

One of the most unique spots in Ely is definitely Dry Falls which can be found by hiking the Bass Lake Trail. There’s an option to go all the way around Bass Lake or you can take the more direct path to Dry Falls without going all the way around. You can cool off in the falls so bring a fast drying towel to dry off afterwards.

14. Tour a Mine at Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park

One of the most unique state parks in Minnesota is the Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park. You can walk around the historic mine area above ground on a self guided tour or sign up on their website for a 90 minute below ground tour.

15. Pick up Thai Food at Thai Cuisine by Paan

A new food truck in town, Thai Cuisine by Paan, is a wonderful addition to the food scene! They have a great menu full of delicious options. We loved the green curry dish.

Are you ready to plan your trip with all of these things to do with Ely?!

Check out more Minnesota travel ideas here.

Happy Planning!

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