(BPT) - When you think about the north woods, what comes to mind? Like most people, you probably think about birch trees, walleye, granite cliffs, canoes and, of course, thousands of beautiful lakes with crystalline water.
But did berries come to mind?
They might have, and if not, give us a moment to explain why wild berries are such a highlight of any adventure to the Ely area.
Well, for starters, blueberries are delicious. That’s the most important part, and the wild ones you pluck from the forest taste a lot different — and a lot better — than any you buy at the store.
Second, they’re ridiculously nutritious. Think about how big and strong bears are, and they love berries! Think of what berries could do for you!
In all seriousness, blueberries are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. There’s a lot of nutrients packed in those little guys, and you should be eating more of them.
Berry picking up north
Sure, you want blueberries. But where do you find them? Visitors don't always know the best spots. One great way to begin is to ask the employees of the resort where you're staying. Camping or renting a solo cabin? Talk to people in town, servers in the restaurants, employees in the shops or the Visitors Center. In short, ask a local.
Once you get the skinny on the best places to find your blue treasure, hike up your socks, tuck your pants into them and stroll around the edge of town or the trails searching for the berry patches.
Or you can head into the woods on a berry adventure. This might sound a little silly, but berry hunting, like searching for morel mushrooms, is as great an excuse as any to head out into the woods. It’s also a lot more adventurous than going to a grocery store.
If you have kids, this is an especially great idea. It turns your outing into a mini-adventure.
However you choose to find your berries, don’t forget your basket. There are a lot of berries in the Ely area, probably more than you can eat so take some home with you.
Blueberry Art Festival
With more than 40,000 visitors coming to Ely each year, it’s safe to say the Blueberry Art Festival is our signature celebration.
You might be thinking: ”How can a blueberry festival attract that many people?”
Well, there’s more to the show than just blueberries.
With over 250 artists and craftspeople and 30 food vendors, the city takes on a whole lot of energy during this celebration.
Of course, there are plenty of blueberry pies for sale, as well as a blueberry pancake breakfast and blueberry ice cream to be had around town!
The celebration takes place each year during the last weekend of July. Resorts and lodges tend to get fully booked early. If you can’t make it this year, rest assured there are plenty of other weekends this summer and fall when you can come up to Ely and get your berry fix!
One word to the wise about berry hunting: There are some Northwoods residents who love them just as much as you do. Bears. As always when you're headed out into the wilderness, be alert of your surroundings, and give our furry neighbors a wide berth