20 Best Places to Visit in Minnesota: Your Ultimate Guide

Best Places to Visit in Minnesota

Minnesota is a state that’s home to some of the most beautiful and underrated travel destinations in the country. From stunning national parks to charming towns, Minnesota has it all. In this post, we have compiled a list of twenty must-visit places in Minnesota that you shouldn’t miss out on! Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or looking for a relaxing weekend getaway, our guide has something for everyone.

We will take you through some of the most fascinating national parks, historic landmarks, scenic rivers, and picturesque harbor villages that Minnesota has to offer. So pack your bags and join us on this journey to explore the best of Minnesota!

1. The Allure of Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs National Park

Nestled near the Canadian border, Voyageurs National Park beckons with its interconnected waterways and rugged wilderness. Visitors can indulge in boating, fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing amidst the park’s natural splendor.

This historic site holds great significance for fur traders and Native American tribes, offering accommodations ranging from campsites to lodges. Travelers should plan their visit during late spring to experience the best of this northern gem and pack accordingly for a memorable adventure.

2. Discovering the Charm of Stillwater

the Charm of Stillwater
the Charm of Stillwater

Stillwater, situated on the St. Croix River, offers breathtaking views and outdoor activities like hiking and fishing. The downtown area boasts 1800s architecture, unique shops, and restaurants. Visitors can explore its history through walking tours, and annual events like the Fall Colors Fine Art & Music Festival are not to be missed. Stillwater State Park, nearby, is perfect for camping and more outdoor adventures.

3. The Grandeur of Grand Portage

The Grandeur of Grand Portage
The Grandeur of Grand Portage

Grand Portage, steeped in history, beckons history enthusiasts with its National Monument showcasing the fur trade era. The area’s hiking trails offer breathtaking vistas of Lake Superior and the surrounding wilderness. Visitors can dine, stay, and enjoy entertainment at the Grand Portage Lodge and Casino.

Don’t miss the annual Rendezvous Days and Powwow celebrating Native American heritage. Guided tours are available for a deeper immersion into the area’s history and natural beauty.

4. Itasca State Park: Where Mississippi Begins

Itasca State Park
Itasca State Park

Nestled in the heart of Minnesota, Itasca State Park spans over 32,000 acres and is the oldest state park in the region. Home to more than 100 picturesque lakes and the headwaters of the grand Mississippi River, the park offers a myriad of activities.

From hiking along its scenic trails to boating on serene lakes and camping under the starry skies, visitors can immerse themselves in the beauty of nature. Itasca State Park truly is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

5. A Glimpse of the Past in Mankato

the Past in Mankato
the Past in Mankato

Explore Mankato’s rich history at the Blue Earth County Historical Society Museum. Stroll through the historic Old Town district and uncover its unique shops and restaurants. Be captivated by Minneopa State Park’s stunning waterfall and historic stone bridge.

Immerse yourself in Mankato’s heritage at the annual History Fest, featuring live performances and exhibits. Step back in time with a guided tour of the beautifully preserved Hubbard House, offering insight into late 1800s life.

6. Brainerd: A Living Museum

Brainerd: A Living Museum
Brainerd: A Living Museum

Experience Brainerd’s unique living history museum, showcasing life in a 19th-century logging town. Discover the iconic Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues in Bemidji. Delve into maritime history at the historic Split Rock Lighthouse. Ride the famous North Shore Scenic Railroad in Duluth. Explore the stunning North Shore of Lake Superior for scenic hikes and breathtaking views. Visit the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN, one of the largest malls globally.

7. The Historic Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

The Historic Mississippi National River
The Historic Mississippi National River

Nestled along the 72-mile stretch of the Mississippi River in Minnesota, the Historic Mississippi National River and Recreation Area beckons with its rich history and natural beauty. Visitors can delve into the past at historic sites like Fort Snelling, St. Anthony Falls, and the iconic Stone Arch Bridge while enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and boating. This vital waterway for commerce also offers educational programs and tours, providing insights into the river’s ecology and vibrant wildlife, including bald eagles and river otters.

8. Saint Paul: The State Capital

Saint Paul: The State Capital
Saint Paul: The State Capital

Saint Paul, as the state capital of Minnesota, boasts a rich history and culture. The iconic Minnesota State Capitol Building offers insights into the state’s government and politics. While walking along Summit Avenue, visitors can admire the stunning architecture, and the Cathedral of Saint Paul stands as a beautiful historic landmark.

The Minnesota History Center brings the state’s history to life with interactive exhibits, and the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is home to a variety of animals and beautiful botanical gardens.

9. The Vibrant Life of Minneapolis

The Vibrant Life of Minneapolis
The Vibrant Life of Minneapolis

Nestled in the vibrant twin cities, Minneapolis offers an array of attractions. Explore the arts and cultural scene at the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Institute of Art. The iconic Mall of America beckons for shopping, dining, and entertainment.

Take a stroll through the picturesque Minnehaha Park to marvel at the stunning Minnehaha Falls. Catch an exhilarating game at the Target Field or U.S. Bank Stadium, and delve into history at the Mill City Museum. Don’t miss a captivating show at the famous Guthrie Theater.

10. Rochester: A City of Innovation

Rochester: A City of Innovation
Rochester: A City of Innovation

Rochester, the city of innovation, is famous for the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, attracting patients globally. It boasts a vibrant arts scene with events like Rochester Art Center’s Art in the City and Thursdays on First & 3rd.

Outdoor enthusiasts can explore Quarry Hill Nature Center’s hiking trails and bike along the Zumbro River. The city offers unique dining experiences at Canadian Honker Restaurant and Forager Brewery. History buffs can visit the Mayowood Mansion and the History Center of Olmsted County.

11. The Tranquil Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Wilderness

The Tranquil Boundary Waters Canoe Area
The Tranquil Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Nestled in northern Minnesota, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Wilderness is an expansive expanse of unspoiled lakes and forests. With over 1,000 miles of canoe routes and more than 2,000 designated campsites, it’s a haven for canoeing and camping enthusiasts.

The area teems with diverse wildlife, including moose, wolves, bears, and bald eagles. Visitors can partake in fishing, hiking, bird watching, and stargazing under the clear night skies. Additionally, it holds significant cultural and spiritual importance for the Ojibwe people, who have inhabited the region for millennia.

12. Pipestone National Monument: A Sacred Site

Pipestone National Monument
Pipestone National Monument

Located in southern Minnesota, Pipestone National Monument holds great cultural significance for Native American tribes. The site features quarries where the soft, red stone was mined for ceremonial pipes and offers a visitor center with informative exhibits and a film.

Surrounding trails provide breathtaking views of the prairie landscape, and visitors can learn about traditional pipe carving methods. This sacred site offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in Native American history and culture.

13. Bloomington: Home to the Mall of America

Bloomington: Home to the Mall of America
Bloomington: Home to the Mall of America

Nestled in Bloomington, the largest city in Minnesota, is the renowned Mall of America, the largest mall in the United States. Home to an indoor amusement park, aquarium, and mini-golf course, the Mall offers a diverse range of entertainment options.

Bloomington also boasts attractions such as the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge and the Water Park of America. Conveniently located near the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Bloomington provides easy access for visitors.

14. The Picturesque Taylor Falls

The Picturesque Taylor Falls

Nestled along the St. Croix River, Taylors Falls is a quaint town celebrated for its natural allure, encompassing scenic bluffs, and the picturesque Interstate State Park. Visitors revel in outdoor pursuits like hiking, fishing, and rock climbing. Noteworthy attractions include the Folsom House Museum and the charming Drive-In theater.

The town also boasts diverse dining and shopping options, offering an idyllic retreat or thrilling escapades. Taylors Falls beckons travelers seeking both relaxation and adventure.

15. Banning State Park: An Outdoor Enthusiast’s Paradise

Banning State Park
Banning State Park

Nestled in Sandstone, Minnesota, Banning State Park beckons outdoor enthusiasts with its picturesque hiking trails meandering alongside the Kettle River and through historic sandstone quarries. The park offers diverse activities including rock climbing, fishing, and kayaking, catering to families, couples, and solo adventurers.

With a convenient location just a short drive from Minneapolis/St. Paul, the park is an ideal spot for a day trip or weekend getaway. Rustic cabins and a campground provide comfortable accommodation options amidst the park’s natural splendor.

16. The Coastal Town of Two Harbors

The Coastal Town of Two Harbors
The Coastal Town of Two Harbors

Nestled on the north shore of Lake Superior, Two Harbors is a delightful coastal town offering a range of attractions. Visitors can delve into history at the Split Rock Lighthouse and the Two Harbors Light Station.

Outdoor enthusiasts can relish hiking, mountain biking, and skiing in the nearby state parks. The town also boasts an array of local shops, restaurants, and breweries to explore, making it a captivating destination for travelers seeking both relaxation and adventure.

17. Grand Marais: A Harbor Village

Grand Marais: A Harbor Village
Grand Marais: A Harbor Village

Nestled on the north shore of Lake Superior, Grand Marais is a picturesque harbor village offering a plethora of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and kayaking. The town boasts a thriving art scene with numerous galleries and exhibitions showcasing local talent.

Visitors can also immerse themselves in traditional crafts and skills at the North House Folk School. Additionally, don’t miss the opportunity to savor delectable seafood and local cuisine at the town’s many restaurants and cafes.

18. The Scenic Beauty of St. Croix River

The Scenic Beauty of St. Croix River
The Scenic Beauty of St. Croix River

Exploring the St. Croix River unveils mesmerizing natural beauty and diverse wildlife. Boating, fishing, and hiking are popular activities along the river, while the St. Croix River Valley boasts charming towns and villages, each with its allure. This historically rich area features museums and heritage sites, offering insight into the region’s past. Whether seeking a tranquil escape or an adventure-filled vacation, the St. Croix River promises an unforgettable experience in Minnesota.

19. Silver Bay

Silver Bay
Silver Bay

Nestled on the north shore of Lake Superior, Silver Bay presents awe-inspiring vistas for outdoor enthusiasts. The city’s state parks and breathtaking natural surroundings draw visitors seeking adventure and tranquility alike.

Exploring the pristine waters of Lake Superior and partaking in various outdoor activities are must-dos in Silver Bay. Its proximity to the boundary waters further enhances the appeal for outdoor enthusiasts, making it a prime destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

20. The Temperance River

The Temperance River
The Temperance River

Tucked away on the north shore of Lake Superior, the Temperance River is truly a hidden gem. With its breathtaking waterfalls and stunning views, it’s a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking along the river allows visitors to immerse themselves in the scenic beauty of the area, while outdoor activities like hiking and canoeing are abundant. Nature lovers will find the river’s awe-inspiring views irresistible, making it a must-visit destination in Minnesota.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some must-see attractions in Minnesota?

The best places to visit in Minnesota, Some must-see attractions in Minnesota include the Mall of America, a shopper’s paradise; Split Rock Lighthouse, offering breathtaking views of Lake Superior; Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts; and the Minnesota State Capitol, showcasing stunning architecture and historical significance.

What is the best time of year to visit Minnesota?

The best places to visit in Minnesota, The best time to visit Minnesota is during the summer months when the weather is warmer, perfect for outdoor activities. Fall is also popular with beautiful foliage and seasonal activities like apple picking. Winter is great for snow sports, while spring offers milder temperatures and blooming flowers for outdoor exploration.

Are there any hidden gems or underrated destinations in Minnesota?

The best places to visit in Minnesota, Minnesota is full of hidden gems and underrated destinations. One such gem is Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, a beautiful and historic destination often overlooked. Another underrated spot is the Soudan Underground Mine State Park, offering fascinating underground tours and unique geological experiences. For a peaceful getaway, consider visiting the charming town of Lanesboro or the serene Lake Itasca.

How can I plan a trip to visit multiple destinations on the list?

To plan a trip to visit multiple destinations on the list, create a rough itinerary based on your preferred locations. Consider the distance between each destination and plan your route accordingly. Research accommodation options in each location and book in advance. Make sure to look into any seasonal events or activities happening in each destination for an unforgettable trip.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the best places to visit in Minnesota offer a diverse range of attractions and natural wonders that are sure to captivate any traveler. From the breathtaking beauty of Voyageurs National Park to the historic charm of Stillwater, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in exploring the rich history of Mankato or immersing yourself in the outdoor paradise of Banning State Park, Minnesota has it all.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the picturesque towns of Two Harbors and Grand Marais, or experience the serenity of the St. Croix River. With so many incredible places to explore, Minnesota truly is a must-visit destination.

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