What to Do in Ely, MN
Voted one of the coolest small towns in America, Ely, MN boasts a rich history, unmatched wilderness experience, unique locally made shopping opportunities, great dining, and ample wildlife viewing.
Ely Area Attractions:
International Wolf Center: The International Wolf Center is a research and educational organization based in Ely that, in its own words, "advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future." Meet wild wolves at their live wolf exhibit.
North American Bear Center: The North American Bear Center is the only black bear and wildlife educational facility of its kind. Dedicated to replacing old myths with facts, it lets people learn from the bears themselves about bear behavior, ecology, and their relations with humans. Meet real bears at the live bear exhibit.
Dorothy Molter Museum: Dorothy Molter lived for 56 years on Knife Lake in the Boundary Waters. She was known as "Knife Lake Dorothy" or as the "Root Beer Lady", as she made root beer and sold it to thousands of passing canoeists in the BWCAW. The museum (located on the edge of town) offers tours of her original cabins.
Ely Folk School: From ethnic cooking classes to basket weaving, jewelry making, furniture building, photography, fabric arts, writing, painting and other arts, stained glass making, gardening, sustainable living, herbs and health, foraging, canoeing and canoe building, dances and music, there are classes for most every interest at Ely Folk School, conveniently located at the top of the hill in downtown Ely, Minnesota.
Sudan Underground Mine Tours: The Soudan Underground Mine State Park is a Minnesota state park at the site of the Soudan Underground Mine, on the south shore of Lake Vermilion, in the Vermilion Range. The mine is known as Minnesota's oldest, deepest, and richest iron mine, and now hosts the Soudan Underground Laboratory. Go 1/2 mile underground and experience the history of the mine.
Ely's Pioneer Mine Tour: Immerse yourself in Ely's rich history of Iron Ore mining at the Pioneer Mine with local tour guides who were related to or who were themselves miners. A very memorable and highly recommended experience!
Ely Winton Historical Society Museum: The Ely-Winton Historical Society is located within the Vermilion Community College in Ely, Minnesota. It has been in operation since 1962 and moved to a museum especially designed for them in 1982. The purpose of the Society is to collect and preserve items from the history of the region and then to enlighten visitors through displays and programs. The museum walks the visitor through the history of the area beginning with the prehistoric peoples who populated places along lakes and rivers. Their Native American display exhibits beautiful examples of beadwork and basketry. As logging and iron ore mining were two major industries during the first half of the 20th Century, extensive displays of both are on view.
Ely Area Shopping:
Pebble Spa: The pebble spa company is currently made up of two cozy spas in the heart of northern Minnesota. Experience the best of the spa world but with the excellent service of the small town!
Piragis Northwood Co.: A local business that sells canoe camping equipment, books, gifts, canoes, kayaks as well as men's and women's clothing. They specialize in custom knives and hand crafted axes and wooden paddles. Their bookstore has thousands of titles and is one of the most outstanding bookstores in Minnesota.
Ely's Old-Fashioned Candy Company: Featuring candy from as early as the 1800’s up to favorites of today and a touch of history. Select from over 100 bulk candies and Salt Water Taffy to create a personal mix.
Ely Dining Options
Insula Restaurant: A local favorite since 2015, Insula serves what it calls “fusion American dining.” Dishes, drawing on local ingredients, range from a French onion grilled cheese and classic cobb salad to flatbread pizza.
Gator's Grilled Cheese Emporium: One of our favorite lunch spots. Check out their turkey avocado club melt with their homemade soup of the day!
Ely Steak House: Ely's "go to" location for a cold beer and a steak.
Rockwood Bar & Grill: Enjoy their outdoor patio while listening to live music. Excellent burgers!
Northern Grounds Coffee + Wine Bar: Single Origin Coffee Roaster, 50 Fine Wines By-the-Glass, Craft Beer and Cocktails On-Tap in Renovated Historic Ely Building.
Ely Front Porch Coffee & Tea Company: Offers local coffee brews and teas with home baked goods.
Ely Boathouse Brewpub and Restaurant: The Boathouse Brewpub is a place to gather with friends and enjoy great food and drinks. They brew a variety of beers in our in-house brewery and offer "to-go" beer growlers in glass and plastic (BWCA Approved)
Stony Ridge Cafe: Known to have one of the best burgers in town!
Wintergreen Northern Wear: High quality outdoor apparel handcrafted on the brick and mortar store on the main street of Ely, MN since 1986. Ask for a tour of the production area!
Crapola: Cranberries, Apples and Granola = Crapola! Made in Ely, Minnesota. Made with premium, natural ingredients.
Steger Mukluks: Bright shop carrying locally made winter boots & moccasins, plus outdoor apparel & accessories.