10 Best Places to Visit in Minnesota
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If you’re planning a trip to Minnesota, you won’t want to miss the top 10 must-see attractions the state has to offer. From natural wonders to urban jungles, Minnesota has it all. Discover the best places to visit in Minnesota and explore the gems that make the state a unique and unforgettable destination.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or a city lover, Minnesota won’t disappoint. Explore Minnesota’s diverse attractions, including the vibrant Twin Cities, stunning North Shore, and serene state parks. This guide will provide you with all you need to know about the top Minnesota vacation ideas. You will learn about the most popular tourist spots in Minnesota and must-see attractions in the state.

If you’re ready to embark on your next adventure, let’s dive into the top 10 must-see attractions in Minnesota.

Twin Cities: Minneapolis and St. Paul

Minnesota travel destinations don’t get much better than the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul. These vibrant urban centers offer a mix of modern amenities and cultural landmarks that make them must-visit destinations.

Urban Attractions

When you’re in the Twin Cities, there are plenty of urban attractions to explore. Check out the renowned Mall of America, one of the largest malls in the United States and a shopper’s paradise. For sports fans, visit the state-of-the-art U.S. Bank Stadium, home to the Minnesota Vikings and host to major sporting events. And for a unique outdoor experience, head to the iconic sculpture garden at the Walker Art Center, featuring more than 60 works of art.

Top tourist spots in Minnesota

Cultural Landmarks

The Twin Cities are also home to a wealth of cultural landmarks. Visit the impressive Cathedral of Saint Paul, modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, or explore the historic James J. Hill House, the former home of the railroad magnate, now open for tours. For a taste of contemporary art, head to the Weisman Art Museum, located on the University of Minnesota campus.

Thriving Arts Scene

As the cultural hub of the state, the Twin Cities have a thriving arts scene. Attend a performance at the renowned Guthrie Theater, known for its world-class productions, or check out a live show at the famous First Avenue nightclub, featured in the movie Purple Rain. The Twin Cities are also home to a variety of museums, including the Minnesota History Center and the Science Museum of Minnesota, both of which offer fun and educational exhibits for all ages.

North Shore: Lake Superior’s Magnificent Coastline

If you’re looking for a picturesque destination, look no further than the North Shore of Lake Superior. This stunning coastline has gained a reputation as one of the most beautiful places in Minnesota, attracting visitors from all over the world. Whether you want to hike, bike, or simply relax and take in the scenery, the North Shore has it all.

Minnesota vacation ideas

Charming Towns

Exploring the charming towns on the North Shore is a must-do. From Grand Marais to Two Harbors, there’s an array of quaint spots to explore. Each town has its own unique character, boasting local shops, restaurants, and attractions that showcase Minnesota’s charm. Take a walk along the beach in Lutsen or explore the historic Split Rock Lighthouse near Silver Bay.

Outdoor Recreation

Outdoor enthusiasts will be in paradise on the North Shore. With over 300 miles of hiking trails, there’s a path for everyone. Take a leisurely walk along the Superior Hiking Trail or hike to the top of Eagle Mountain, the highest peak in Minnesota. The area is also known for its world-class fishing and is home to countless lakes and streams to cast your line.

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Scenic Drives

Enjoy a scenic drive along the North Shore, taking in the breathtaking views of Lake Superior. Be sure to stop at Gooseberry Falls State Park, where you can view the stunning waterfalls and hike along the river. Along the drive, keep an eye out for wildlife such as moose, bear, and bald eagles.

Make sure to add the North Shore to your list of must-see attractions in Minnesota.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Looking for an immersive outdoor experience that will recharge your batteries? Look no further than the breathtaking Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Located in the heart of Minnesota’s Superior National Forest, this remote and pristine wilderness area offers endless opportunities for adventure and relaxation. With over a million acres of pristine forests, cascading waterfalls, and crystal-clear lakes, you’ll soon see why it’s one of the top Minnesota vacation ideas.

Whether you’re a novice paddler or an experienced outdoor enthusiast, the Boundary Waters offers an unmatched opportunity to connect with nature. Canoe or kayak through the glimmering waters and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the natural world. You can also set up camp and spend your days exploring the area, hiking through the woodlands, and watching the local wildlife in their natural habitats.

If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the elusive gray wolf, an animal that has made a remarkable comeback in the area after nearly disappearing from Minnesota’s landscape.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness presents an ideal opportunity to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and rediscover the peace and serenity of nature. Plan your trip now and explore one of Minnesota’s most iconic tourist attractions.

Minnesota tourist attractions

Voyageurs National Park

Are you a nature lover seeking a perfect vacation spot in Minnesota? Voyageurs National Park is an ultimate destination that should be part of your vacation itinerary. Traverse the scenic lakes, lush forests, and embrace the abundant wildlife that the water-based park offers. If you love unique adventure experiences, take a boat tour or go fishing in the park while gazing at the beautiful scenery of this Minnesota treasure.

Explore Minnesota vacation ideas with Voyageurs National Park

The Wilderness of Voyageurs National Park

Spread over 218,054 acres, Voyageurs National Park is named after the French-Canadian fur traders or voyageurs who were the first to explore the area in canoes. The park is located in northern Minnesota, near the border of Canada, providing a wilderness experience like no other. The park consists of four large lakes, Kabetogama, Namakan, Sand Point, and Crane, with more than 900 islands and more than 655 miles of shoreline for adventurous explorers.

Activities in Voyageurs National ParkHighlights of the Park
  • Boat tours
  • Kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding
  • Hiking, Bird watching
  • Fishing, Angling
  • Camping
  • Abundant Wildlife
  • Stunning Natural Beauty
  • Unforgettable Sunrises and Sunsets
  • Rare Plant Species
  • Historic and Cultural Significance

“Voyageurs National Park is an exceptional place where history, environment, and culture come together. It is a place of both tranquility and excitement. It cannot be fully understood until you experience it for yourself.” – National Park Service

Add Voyageurs National Park to your bucket list of Minnesota vacation ideas and indulge in the beauty of the largest water-based park in the state.

Duluth: A Hidden Gem on Lake Superior

When it comes to exploring hidden gems in Minnesota, Duluth is a must-visit destination. Located on the shores of Lake Superior, this charming city offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.

Start your visit with a stroll along the historic waterfront, lined with unique shops and restaurants. Indulge in local cuisine while admiring the stunning views of the lake. Don’t miss the chance to explore the famous Aerial Lift Bridge and watch as massive freighters pass underneath.

If you’re a nature lover, Duluth offers plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy. The city is surrounded by miles of hiking and biking trails, perfect for exploring the lush forests and scenic coastline. Take a scenic drive along the North Shore Scenic Drive and witness the beauty of Lake Superior up close.

Hidden gems in Minnesota

Top Things to Do in Duluth

ActivityDescription
Visit Canal ParkExplore unique shops and restaurants, and enjoy stunning views of Lake Superior.
Take a Boat TourExperience the beauty of Lake Superior on a scenic boat tour.
Explore Park PointStroll along the world’s longest freshwater beach and enjoy outdoor activities like swimming and kayaking.
Visit Enger TowerClimb to the top of this historic tower for panoramic views of the city and the lake.
Explore Historic Glensheen MansionTour this magnificent mansion and learn about the history of the Congdon family.

Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures or cultural experiences, Duluth has something for everyone. It’s no wonder this hidden gem is considered one of the top Minnesota travel destinations. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore all that Duluth has to offer.

Mississippi River Valley: Scenic Beauty and Historic Sites

Embark on a journey to the Mississippi River Valley, one of the must-see attractions in Minnesota. This region boasts breathtaking scenery, picturesque river towns, and a rich history that offers a glimpse into Minnesota’s past.

Start your exploration by visiting the charming town of Red Wing, famous for its pottery and majestic bluffs overlooking the river. Check out the award-winning Red Wing Shoe Company, which has been crafting quality footwear for more than 100 years.

Next, head to the historic town of Winona, filled with architectural treasures such as the Sugar Loaf and Watkins buildings. Drive along the Great River Road, one of the most scenic drives in the country, and enjoy stunning views of the Mississippi River and its surrounding countryside.

Minnesota tourist attractions

Stop at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, where you can observe eagles in their natural habitat and learn about these majestic birds of prey. Alternatively, make your way to the Birthplace of Waterskiing in Lake City and be amazed by the history of this thrilling sport.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the charming town of Lanesboro, known for its scenic bike trails and live theater performances. Walk around the charming streets, dine at one of the many local restaurants, or take a bike tour along the Root River Trail.

Scenic Landmarks in Mississippi River ValleyHistoric Sites in Mississippi River Valley
Lake Pepin: Enjoy the natural beauty of the largest lake on the Mississippi River.Fort Snelling: Once a military post, now museum that tells the story of Minnesota’s past and present.
Minnehaha Falls: Visit this iconic waterfall in the Minneapolis area.Jeffers Petroglyphs: Admire the ancient Native American carvings on the rocks.
John A. Latsch State Park: Take in the stunning views of the river valley from this vantage point.Winona County Historical Society: Delve into the rich history of the region and its people.

Your trip to the Mississippi River Valley will be incomplete without a visit to the Charles A. Lindbergh State Park, named after the famous aviator. Learn about his life and accomplishments while taking a peaceful walk through the park’s woods and river shoreline.

Overall, the Mississippi River Valley is one of the top Minnesota tourist attractions, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty, history, and culture.

Lake Minnetonka: A Playground for Water Enthusiasts

Looking for a fun-filled day on the water? Head to Lake Minnetonka, one of the most popular destinations in Minnesota for boating, fishing, and water sports. Located just 15 miles west of Minneapolis, Lake Minnetonka offers a variety of lakeside communities, stunning scenery, and excellent dining options.

With 14,000 acres and 100 miles of shoreline, Lake Minnetonka is a paradise for water enthusiasts. Rent a pontoon boat and cruise around the lake, taking in the beautiful homes and estates that line the shore. If fishing is your passion, you’ll find plenty of walleyes, bass, and northern pike in the clear waters of the lake. For the adventurous, try your hand at water sports like wakeboarding, water skiing, or tubing. And if you prefer a more relaxed pace, just sit back, bask in the sun, and enjoy the serenity of the lake.

Lake Minnetonka Facts 
Total Area14,000 acres
Shoreline Length100 miles
Maximum Depth113 feet
CommunitiesWayzata, Excelsior, Minnetonka Beach, Deephaven, Tonka Bay, Orono, Mound, Spring Park, Shorewood

After a day on the water, explore the charming lakeside communities surrounding Lake Minnetonka. Each community has its unique attractions, from boutique shopping and art galleries to delicious restaurants and cafes. And don’t forget to snap a photo of the picturesque waterfronts!

Whether you’re planning a family vacation or a weekend getaway with friends, Lake Minnetonka is a must-visit destination for water enthusiasts. So come and soak up the sun, enjoy the cool breeze, and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Image alt text: Lake Minnetonka, a popular destination for boating, fishing, and water sports.

Itasca State Park: Source of the Mighty Mississippi River

Embark on an adventure to Itasca State Park, one of the most breathtakingly scenic state parks in Minnesota. As the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River, Itasca State Park is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts, families, and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Explore the park’s old-growth forests by foot or bike along the scenic trails. Experience the feeling of standing in two states at once on the unique bridge across the Mississippi River, which marks the beginning of the mighty river’s 2,552-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico.

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The Perfect Way to Experience Nature in Minnesota

Itasca State Park offers something for everyone, from scenic drives and wildlife viewing to boating and fishing. Don’t miss a visit to the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center, where you can learn about local history and the park’s diverse range of plant and animal life. Plus, there are plenty of picnic areas, campgrounds, and cabins available for those wanting to stay overnight and experience the tranquility of the park.

Itasca State Park is a breathtakingly scenic park that offers something for everyone, from scenic drives and wildlife viewing to boating and fishing.

With its stunning natural beauty and endless outdoor recreational opportunities, Itasca State Park is truly one of the must-see attractions in Minnesota. Plan your visit today and experience the awe-inspiring beauty of the mighty Mississippi River’s beginning.

Split Rock Lighthouse: Iconic North Shore Landmark

With its stunning location on a rocky cliff overlooking Lake Superior’s North Shore, Split Rock Lighthouse is one of Minnesota’s must-see attractions. Built in 1910, this iconic lighthouse has been guiding ships for more than a century and is now a beacon for tourists seeking breathtaking views and a glimpse into the past.

The lighthouse and surrounding area offer various activities for visitors. You can explore the lighthouse museum, which features exhibits on its history and restoration. Learn about the brave lighthouse keepers who worked tirelessly to keep the light shining bright, and their families who lived with them on the isolated cliffs.

Minnesota sightseeing spots

Take a guided tour of the lighthouse and marvel at the stunning panoramic view of Lake Superior from the top. Enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the North Shore as you hike the trails surrounding the lighthouse, or take a picnic and relax by the lake.

If you come during November, the Split Rock Lighthouse offers the annual beacon lighting event, where visitors are invited to the beacon house to watch the lighthouse shine bright over the dark waters of Lake Superior.

Don’t forget your camera as you will want to capture the stunning views and capture a piece of Minnesota’s history at this must-visit tourist attraction.

Mall of America: Retail Therapy and Entertainment

Are you looking for a one-stop-shop for all your shopping and entertainment needs? Look no further than the Mall of America, a popular tourist destination situated in Bloomington, Minnesota. Boasting more than 500 stores offering everything from luxury brands to bargain deals, this megamall is sure to satisfy any shopping craving.

In addition to shopping, the Mall of America offers a variety of entertainment options, making it a must-see attraction in Minnesota. Catch a movie at the onsite movie theater, enjoy a round of miniature golf at the mini-golf course, or experience thrilling rides at the indoor amusement park. You can also attend events and concerts that take place throughout the year.

Minnesota travel destinations

“I loved the Mall of America! It has everything you could ever want under one roof. Shopping, dining, and fun for the whole family.” – Sarah, from Chicago

Pipestone National Monument: Sacred Land of Native Americans

Experience the centuries-long significance of the Pipestone National Monument, one of the most sacred sites for Native American tribes. The park is overseen by the National Park Service and gives visitors access to the pipestone quarries, which are significant both culturally and historically.

The quarries are the origin of the red stone that has been hand-carved and used for centuries by Native American tribes, such as the Lakota, for the creation of items like peace pipes. Explore the park’s peaceful beauty, take in the rich history of the site, and admire the meticulous craftsmanship of the native people.

Minnesota vacation ideas

The Visitor Center

Start your visit at the park’s visitor center, which provides a wealth of information about the site’s history and significance through exhibits and multimedia presentations. Admire the stunning architecture of the building, which was designed by Native American architect Johnpaul Jones.

Walking Tour

Take a self-guided walking tour to explore the park at your own pace. Follow the paved pathways to see the unique landscape of the quarries, marvel at the waterfall, and witness the spiritual significance of the area firsthand.

Getting There

The park is situated in southwestern Minnesota, around 3 hours by car from the Twin Cities. It’s recommended that visitors bring comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, and plenty of water, as the park’s outdoor elements can get quite warm and dusty in the summer months.

Plan your visit to the Pipestone National Monument and explore the significant cultural and historical sites of Minnesota’s Native Americans.

Grand Marais: Artistic Haven on the North Shore

If you want to discover a hidden gem in Minnesota, put Grand Marais on your travel list. This charming town, located on Lake Superior’s North Shore, is a haven for artists and bohemians.

Grand Marais offers a range of art galleries, where you can discover local artworks, crafts, and unique souvenirs. Among them, Betsy Bowen Studio stands out for its woodcut prints and children’s books. The Sivertson Gallery is a must-visit for those who love landscapes, seascapes, and contemporary art.

Food enthusiasts will adore Grand Marais’ local cuisine, with delicious eateries such as The Crooked Spoon and My Sister’s Place . The town also boasts numerous bakeries and coffee shops for a quick bite or a relaxing afternoon.

But the crown jewel of Grand Marais is undoubtedly the beautiful beach, where you can swim, sunbathe, and enjoy the open views of Lake Superior. Whether you take a stroll on the beach or a hike along the Superior Hiking Trail, Grand Marais provides an idyllic backdrop for your vacation.

Hidden gems in Minnesota

A Table of Grand Marais’ Must-See Attractions

NameDescription
Betsy Bowen StudioWoodcut prints and children’s books
Sivertson GalleryLandscapes, seascapes, and contemporary art
The Crooked SpoonLocal cuisine
My Sister’s PlaceLocal cuisine
Grand Marais BeachSwimming, sunbathing, and stunning views of Lake Superior

Grand Marais is undoubtedly one of the best-hidden gems in Minnesota. Its artistic atmosphere, culinary delights, and beautiful scenery make it a must-see destination for anyone exploring Minnesota.

Minnesota State Parks: Nature’s Playground

If you love the great outdoors, Minnesota’s state parks are a must-visit destination. With over 70 state parks and recreation areas, there’s no shortage of places to explore in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

From hiking trails to camping sites, these parks offer a variety of outdoor activities that are perfect for individuals, couples, and families alike. So grab your hiking boots and prepare to discover the natural beauty of Minnesota.

Fort Snelling State Park

Located in the heart of the Twin Cities, Fort Snelling State Park combines history with natural beauty. Explore the park’s trails, picnic areas, and swimming beach, or take a guided tour of the historic fort and learn about its role in American history.

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Itasca State Park

Visit Itasca State Park and walk across the Mississippi River at its headwaters. With over 32,000 acres of pristine wilderness, this park is perfect for camping, swimming, and hiking. Take a scenic drive through the park and explore the beautiful old-growth forests and serene lakes.

Gooseberry Falls State Park

Located on Lake Superior’s North Shore, Gooseberry Falls State Park offers some of the most spectacular waterfalls and scenic views in Minnesota. Hike the trails along the river or relax on the rocky shore, listening to the sound of the rushing water.

Tettegouche State Park

For a more rugged outdoor adventure, head to Tettegouche State Park. Hike the rocky trails, camp under the stars, or marvel at the breathtaking views of Lake Superior from atop the Palisade Head cliff.

Whitewater State Park

With its limestone bluffs, clear streams, and hardwood forests, Whitewater State Park is a hidden gem in southeastern Minnesota. Rent a canoe or kayak and paddle down the Whitewater River, or hike the park’s trails and discover the beauty of the area’s karst topography.

From hiking and camping to wildlife watching and fishing, Minnesota’s state parks offer a diverse range of outdoor activities that are perfect for all ages and skill levels. So pack your gear and get ready to explore Minnesota’s natural playground.

Conclusion

Minnesota is a perfect vacation spot for tourists looking for an unforgettable experience. From the gorgeous Twin Cities to the natural beauty of state parks, the Land of 10,000 Lakes offers a wide range of attractions and destinations.

If you are looking for a city adventure, Minneapolis and St. Paul have got you covered with their cultural landmarks and thriving arts scene. For a more serene escape, head to Lake Superior’s North Shore, where you can enjoy charming towns and the stunning coastline.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll find no shortage of adventure in Minnesota, with destinations like Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Itasca State Park. And, of course, one cannot forget the iconic Mall of America, where you can immerse yourself in retail therapy and entertainment.

Whether you’re planning a family trip or a solo adventure, Minnesota has everything you need to make your vacation unforgettable. So pack your bags, plan your itinerary, and get ready for an extraordinary time in one of the most beautiful states in America!

So, these were our top picks for must-see attractions in Minnesota. We hope this has given you some inspiration for your Minnesota vacation ideas and the places to visit in Minnesota for tourists.

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