The Best Minnesota Attractions – Things To Do
Be it the State Capitol in St. Paul or the North Country full of lakes, the state of Minnesota is full to the brim with cultural and natural beauty. If you plan to explore the state’s wilderness, you can make your way towards Lake Superior on the North Shore of Superior National Forest. If it’s a culture shock you’re after, you can visit the Minneapolis Art Institute or the aesthetically-pleasing Clemens Garden.
Whether you’re paddling across the refreshing waterways, hiking up ravishing trails, gliding down a ski hill, or replenishing your soul with retail therapy at the Mall of America – Minnesota is bound to keep you entertained. It’s a state that has more than 10,000 lakes, and listing all of its amazing things to do is borderline impossible.
Best Minnesota Attractions and Activities
Things To Do in Minnesota by City
To ensure you experience the top things to do in the state, we will walk you through the best Minnesota attractions in this article.
Boundary Waters Attraction
Think of the perfect campsite. You’re probably going to want a lake, some rolling hills, and a dense forest. You’re going to find all of that at Boundary Waters. This carefully preserved area is one of the best attractions in Duluth. This gorgeous area in northern Minnesota has over 1,000,000 acres full of wilderness. It’s one-half of the Superior National Forest, and over 100,000 people visit it every year.
This park, often considered a camper’s dream destination, has over 1,200 miles of opportunities for canoeing, several campsites, and serene hiking trails. You’re also going to find many vacant islands that you can visit via boat.
The best part is that you can visit it any time of the year. This spot is a treasure-trove for ice fishing and some long-distance skiing even during winter.
Saint Paul’s Cathedral Attraction
This spot is often considered one of the highlights of the skyline in St. Paul. Some people also think of it as one of the most attractive cathedrals in America. You’re going to find this landmark church on top of Cathedral Hill overlooking Downtown. This church is an active element of society since several people visit it every day. It was built in the early 1900s, which is why the church’s exterior stands out from the buildings surrounding it.
The towers of the massive dome are approximately 175 feet above the ground. You can admire the beautiful architecture of the structure even before you’ve entered the building. Once you’re done adoring the structure, you can step inside since it’s open to the public. When inside, you’re going to see a breathtaking interior that is decorated with marble columns, massive statues, and colored windows that show a pictorial representation of the life of Jesus Christ. Make sure you look up at the roof. You may hear the sounds of the organ pipes.
The Scenic Drive in North Shore Attraction
If you feel like disconnecting from society, consider taking a drive on the North Shore, it’s perhaps one of the best ways to refresh yourself. You’re going to find this drive on State Highway 61. It’s going to start at Duluth, and it will span approximately 154 miles on the coast of Lake Superior before it finally reaches the border of Canada. This drive is perhaps one of the best activities in Minnesota, mostly because of the beautiful scenery.
But that’s not all!
You’re also going to visit some of the best attractions in the state altogether through this route. While you’re on this route, you’re going to have amazing views of Lake Superior, and it’s also going to take you through the Superior Forest. If you feel like taking a break, you can stop off at several points in the forest and go for a hike as well. Some of these spots are the Lighthouse of Split Rock and Gooseberry Falls.
If you’re hungry, you can also visit the restaurants in the towns that you’ll find along your route. All in all, this drive will help remind you how doing nothing and simply observing Mother Nature from a distance can be a serene experience altogether. It’s not going to cost you anything, and it may very well be one of the most encapsulating drives of your life.
Split Rock, State Park Attraction
Split Rock is often considered one of the most popular state parks inside Minnesota; it’s also one of the most popular attractions in Lake County. Found inside State Park, this lighthouse is considered one of the most photographed locations in America. It’s perched on the edge of a cliff, and it overlooks Lake Superior majestically like an argyle sitting on top of a skyscraper.
You can visit this iconic landmark to catch a view of the lighthouse or enjoy the several outdoor activities inside the park. The park is inside Two Harbors, which was built in 1945. The location in the park that has the highest footfall is Split Rock, which was created in 1910. If you’re willing to take the trip, you can climb atop the lighthouse to see what few before you may have seen: unparalleled beauty.
Inside the structure, you’re also going to have the opportunity to learn about the lighthouse’s history since there’s a lighthouse museum inside the building, too. Trust us; it’s one of the best spots for photography inside Minnesota. Moreover, this location also has ample biking and hiking trails. If you’re more interested in the foliage, we’d recommend visiting the park in the fall.
Clemens Gardens Attraction
This park lets you escape the city’s busy life to witness a tranquil garden setting unlike any other. The Clemens Gardens and Munsinger Gardens are two attractive spots inside the state of Minnesota and are undoubtedly one of the best attractions in St. Cloud. Once you’re here, you’ll get to explore two gardens that have different themes. They’re full of decorations, colorful flowers, and of course, trees. Both are free for the public, but make sure that you don’t litter and stay respective of your surroundings once you’re here.
The parks are next to each other, so wandering around both of them within the space of an hour shouldn’t be a hassle. One interesting detail is that these parks are located on a sawmill, which was a prominent element of the Mississippi river’s shoreline. In the 1930s, this park was decorated in a European style, but its decorative theme has changed over time.
As you walk the park’s paved path, you’re going to see its colorful trees and beautiful flowerbeds. You’re also going to find many different fountains across the garden and several places to sit down and have a breather. The atmosphere is amazing since the air quality is top-notch. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a few peacocks!
You can visit this spot during fall and spring, so plan your trip accordingly.
Itasca Park Attraction
Looking for the best attractions in Park Rapids? Consider visiting Itasca Park. It was established in 1891, and as of today, it is the oldest state park inside Minnesota. This park takes over a large area and houses more than 100 lakes. You’re also going to find several historical sites that make it a deserving entry in every tourist’s itinerary. The park got its name from Lake Itasca. This lake was formed from different glaciers, and it’s also where the river of Mississippi begins.
Several other points interest people who are visiting this location for the first time. One of those stops is the Wilderness Sanctuary, considered a Natural Landmark. You’re also going to find Native American mounds, old cabins, and many other sites that are worth your attention.
Every year, the park welcomes almost half a million people. Several of these individuals come to see the landmarks, while others witness the outdoor recreational activities. The park has several hiking trails that have been marked efficiently and are ideal for trekkers of all ages. Another popular activity in the park is kayaking. However, you should remember that camping inside the park isn’t allowed.
Valleyfair Park Attraction
If you’re yearning for a thrilling experience, you can visit Valleyfairpark for the rides. The park spans over 125 acres, making it the biggest amusement park in Minnesota. It’s open between May and October, so you’ll have ample time to visit the park and have a great time. The park was created in 1976 and had been running strong since then. When the park first became operational, it had only 20 rides. As it became increasingly popular amongst the people in Minnesota, it expanded its management to more than 75 attractions and rides. Several of the park’s original rides are still operational.
If you want, you can enjoy your time by riding on any one of the eight roller coasters in the park or cool off in the water park, which is also a part of this attraction. In the park, you’re going to find rides for all ages (even small children). There are several other attractions in the park that are worth exploring. If you need a break from all the rides in the park, you can also grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants inside the park.
The Voyageurs Park Attraction
Water is abundant around this location, making it one of Minnesota’s prime locations for boating and perhaps the most prominent attractions in International Falls. The park was created in 1975 in the northern region of the state. It’s around the Kabetogama Peninsula, and it’s one of the most revered locations amongst fishing enthusiasts. The park has several natural landmarks like Kettle Falls, Kabetogama Lake, Rainy Lake, and Ellsworth Gardens.
Around the year, the park maintains its reputation as a popular spot for tourists and recreational activities. During those warmer seasons, it’s also one of the best spots for boating. Be it a houseboat, canoe, or kayaking; you’ll find all kinds of options in the park. You’ll also find guide tours inside the park, which will let you explore several of the park’s features. The park is also a famous location for camping, fishing, and hiking trails.
In the winter, several of the park’s trails are used by snowmobiles. Moreover, in the park, you’re also going to find several visitor centers. All in all, this spot is a location unlike several others you’re going to find on this list, primarily because it’s only accessible by boat.
Fredrick R. Museum of Art Attraction
The building that houses the several art pieces that blow everyone away isn’t even the first thing you will notice when you reach this location. The first thing you’ll notice will be the building while looks somewhat like an abstract art piece worthy of an explanation. To visit one of the most impressive art museums in the country, you’ll have to visit the campus of the University of Minnesota.
This museum was named after a famous art collector who decided to publicize his collection by opening it to the public. The museum holds a collection of over 25,000 art pieces that are often displayed in rotating exhibitions while some of them are permanent. The collection features furniture, fine art, pottery, and several other contemporary pieces of art that’ll make you tantalizingly reminisce history.
Moreover, let’s not forget the fact that the building of the museum is an impressive artwork itself. Renowned architect Frank Gehry designed the building and gave it a contemporary look. This is also why it has become one of the most attractive structures inside the university. Several visitors take their time to look at the architecture’s exterior before they step inside to look at art pieces. Most of the people working inside the museum are students at the university.
Gooseberry State Park Attraction
Gooseberry Park has the Gooseberry waterfall, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Minnesota. The park is a fun destination for outdoor recreational activities and if you’re trying to enjoy picturesque views from nature. The waterfall is divided into upper, middle, and lower sections. The waterfall flows from the Gooseberry River and ends up in Lake Superior. It’s tucked inside the forested area, but several travel enthusiasts still make their way into the forest to follow its trail.
Some visitors also consider enjoying the scenic looks of the waterfall. If you’re lucky, you may also catch a few rare glimpses of the nearby wildlife such as deer, bears, lynx, and wolves. However, before you consider exploring the park, we advise you to visit the park’s visitor center. Over here, you’re going to several nature-related events that are open to the public. Some tourists come for these events alone since they’re quite a sight to behold as well.
However, if you feel like watching the waterfall, you’ll only have to take a short walk from the visitor center to the waterfall. When the water flow is low, visitors can also swim to the bottom of the waterfall to see the natural pool. However, we recommend that you only do this when low water flow. Attempting the same while it’s high can be dangerous.
Devil’s Kettle Attraction
The name sounds mysterious, right? Well, that’s for a good reason. Located inside Magney State Park, you’re going to find Devil’s Kettle. The water inside the park seemingly disappears, which caused a lot of speculation around this infamous waterfall. To make your guess, visit the park to see conspiracy theory yourself, or you can also go there to have a good time.
This spot is essentially a waterfall that was formed through the Brule River. Upon approaching the drop, the river splits into two. The first of these two streams goes over the edge for a 50-feet plunge. The second stream, however, goes into a pothole and disappears. The water does not exit to form another stream, and the land above the pothole is also barren, proving that the land is not absorbing the water either.
Speculating where the water ends up can be fun. Several people tossed random objects into the second stream and have never found them again. However, scientists have concluded that some way or the other, the water ends up going downstream, too. The path it takes, however, is still a mystery. If you want to see the falls, you can take a two-mile hike to show you the falls. Near the downstream, you’re also going to find a swimming spot.
Recap on Things to do in Minnesota
Whether you’re considering options for your itinerary that keep you active indoors and outdoors or going through the history of cultural institutions, several Minnesota attractions can keep you on your toes. There are several state parks (as you might’ve read), camping destinations, shopping malls, and waterfalls for days.
No matter what you include in your itinerary or how you plan your trip, you’re going to have fun. It’s a great state to spend time with friends and family, and no matter what draws you towards The Gopher State, we promise you you’re going to find something that you like.