I’m arguably the biggest fan of car rides on this pawesome planet – so my tail was a’waggin’ with the speed of a thousand Spaniels when I jumped in for what I thought was a spin around the block, only to end up in scenic International Falls, Minnesota!
International Falls is the “last city” before crossing the border into Canada. It’s so much more than a last stop before a new country, and is known as the “Icebox of the Nation” during winter months (hear that, Akita and Malamute friends?).
It’s a great place for all travelin’ dogs: ones that accompany their fishing-loving humans, ones that simply want to enjoy the leisurely life (like me) and ones that enjoy everything in between – including water. Lots and lots of water. And here’s why I give it two paws up and a Basenji-tail wag:
1. Smokey Bear Park – A city icon, Smokey Bear stands approximately 26 feet tall and weighs 82 tons. That’s a lot of bear – and as such, a must-stop backdrop for even the most immense of Irish Wolfhounds. Smokey Bear Park is a clean, sit-and-shake kind of place, for dogs can stretch their legs, enjoy a picnic on the grounds, and roll around in the grass (maybe your human wants to join you?) And if you’re looking for even more grass to romp in, a quick stop at nearby Riverside Park (off 3rd Street and 9th Avenue) where the city provides your poop bags is a barking good idea too.
2. Sha Sha Resort Bar and Grill – With a must-experience, dog-friendly patio, this is the place for well-behaved, leashed pups to enjoy dinner – err, to accompany humans while you eat. The patio is large, unique, diverse, and overlooks beautiful Rainy Lake – you simply have to sniff it to believe it. I hear the pickle fries are great, too. (Note: Sha Sha provides a unique opportunity for humans to feed wild, friendly chipmunks – if the temptation is too strong for your leashed canine companion, please keep them away from that area).
3. America’s Best Value Inn & Suites – You know when you’ve been on a whirlwind adventure, and you’re looking forward to relaxing in a comfy room, with a comfy bed, surrounded by all things…comfy? That’s what you get when you stay at America’s Best Value Inn & Suites in International Falls. The hotel boasts a great value, no extra pet fee, an expansive sea of green (read: potty central!), resident Cocker Spaniel “Quincy,” and a continental breakfast for humans each morning. My bed was so soft, I slept for ten hours until my humans woke me up. (Note: dogs shouldn’t be left unattended in rooms, and we can eat dinner with our humans outside thanks to two eating areas near the front door! Dog treats are available if you roll over nicely at the front desk.)
4. Voyageurs National Park – This park is simply pup-adise. I passed by inquisitive deer as we drove in, marveled at the 1.7-mile long recreation trail, and yipped happily at the muttnificent view of Rainy Lake. Our kind is welcome at all Frontcountry campsites, the paved trail, immediate visitor center areas, picnic/beach areas, and visitor destination sites. Dogs interested in a longer, more remote stay at the park should also encourage their humans to look into the Kettle Falls Hotel.
5. Border Bob’s – Enjoy shopping with your human? Then Border Bob’s is the place to go. It’s the last retail shop before Canada – and dogs are welcome everywhere inside except the food area. In fact, the owner (yep, Bob) has two Golden Doodles that visit quite often. The store sells all kinds of souvenirs, gifts, food items – and of course, dog books.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention stopping by the city of Ranier when visiting International Falls. When you do, tell Big Vic that Kramer says hello. You can’t miss him.