Minnesota visitors can experience the nation’s biggest shopping mall, museums, aquariums, major sports franchises, riverboat cruises on the Mississippi River, and more. There are so many places to visit in Minnesota. You will find below the top things to do in Minnesota!
What’s Minnesota known for?
Do you know what Minnesota is know for?
- Minnesota is known for its forests and thousands of lakes.
- Minnesota is called the “North Star State.”
- The Mall of America, located in Bloomington, Minnesota, is the largest shopping mall in the US.
- Saint-Paul’s and Minneapolis make up the largest metropolitan area of Minnesota.
- Minnesota has 10 000 lakes and is known for some of the best fishing spots in the US.
Let’s look at just a small sampling of fun things to do in Minnesota with the family:
1. Fergus Falls, Minnesota
The city of Fergus Falls is a community with a surprising amount of tourist attractions for its size and definitely on the list of places to visit in Minnesota. Those interested in sports and recreation, and those interested in the arts, will have plenty of reasons to want to spend some time in this western Minnesota town, located 60 miles southeast of Fargo in Otter Tail County, right off of Interstate 94.
The rolling hills, prairie, and forests of the area make Fergus Falls a place of striking scenic beauty. For recreation opportunities, there are 1,048 lakes in Otter Tail County, a large and diverse bird population for birding enthusiasts, a 55-mile paved Central Lakes State Trail that connects to the 46-mile Lake Wobegon Trail in Osakis, golf, and multiple city parks. There’s also the the BMX Track.
A Center for the Arts features concerts, theater, film, and more. In the summer, they offer Outdoor Concert Series
For history and education, there is the Otter Tail County Historical Society Museum, as well as the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center to promote understanding of the natural environment.
Fergus Falls is right on the 150-mile Otter Trail Scenic Byway, one of Minnesota’s 20 byways. The Otter Trail Scenic Byway is a loop that takes you to 23 sites, including Perham with its specialty shops and doll museum, Maplewood State Park, and Pelican Rapids. There are plenty of places to stop along the way with hiking trails, picnic facilities, and opportunities to view wildlife.
2. First Avenue, Minneapolis
One of the favourite top things to do in Minnesota is arguably the centre of nightlife in Minneapolis, the hip art deco music venue known as First Avenue that started as a Greyhound Bus depot in 1937. In 1970 it was converted to a nightclub known as the Depot, then Uncle Sam’s, then Sam’s, and finally First Avenue.
First Avenue has hosted international headliners from the popular music world such as the Allman Brothers Band, U2, and Frank Zappa, but it is especially well known as the breeding ground for pretty much every band out of Minnesota that’s made a name for itself in the last several decades. Most notably, Prince was long a regular act at First Avenue, and filmed his movie Purple Rain there.
First Avenue narrowly dodged bankruptcy in 2004, but survived and remains an integral part of the Midwest music scene.
As a kind of annex to First Avenue (it used to be the restaurant and coat room for the bus station), the 7th Street Entry is a smaller venue for mostly local bands trying to establish themselves. The First Avenue neighbourhood itself is an area of shopping, bars, and restaurants that draws plenty of people during both the day and evening, in some ways the main drag of Minneapolis.
3. Mall of America, Bloomington
One of the top things to do in Minnesota is definitely stopping at the Mall of America! Normally you wouldn’t think of a mall as a tourist attraction, since they’re everywhere, but the Mall of America is different. Roughly 40% of its over 40 million visitors each year are from out of the area.
Why do so many millions of people from other cities, states, and even countries flock to the Mall of America?
Perhaps because it has four floors, 4 million square feet (making it the largest mall in the country), 520 retail outlets, 50 restaurants, multiple movie theatres, an entire miniature golf course, 25 amusement park rides and attractions, a 1.2 million gallon aquarium, SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, Nickelodeon Universe®, and the Crayola Experience.
Bloomington is a southern suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul. There are many large hotels and motels close enough to the Mall of America to provide shuttle service to the Mall, including Mystic Lake, the largest hotel-casino in the midwest.
4. Minnesota State Capitol, St. Paul
Designed by famous architect Cass Gilbert, the Minnesota State Capitol was modelled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Completed in 1905, it is topped by an unsupported marble dome, the second largest in the world surpassed only by St. Peter’s.
Visitors may observe Minnesota House and Senate sessions. There are 45 minute guided tours of the building available, featuring paintings, statues, flags, portraits of the governors, the lavish rathskellar café, and the gold-leafed quadriga (a chariot drawn by four horses) on the roof.
5. Voyageurs National Park, International Falls
One thing that makes the Voyageurs National Park in the extreme north of Minnesota unusual is that the bulk of it is water, or only accessible by water. It includes four large lakes, smaller lakes, swamps, bogs, beaver ponds, islands, peninsulas, woods, and hilly terrain.
Enjoy boating, fishing, hiking, ice fishing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing and more. Certainly wildlife watching, as Voyageurs has 240 bird species, 53 fish species, 10 amphibian and reptile species, and 42 mammal species, including black bears, wolves, deer, and moose.
The closest town of any size is International Falls 11 miles west on the Canadian border. If you’ve heard of International Falls at all, it’s probably because it so often is mentioned on weather reports as having the coldest temperature in the nation on a given day.
So, yes, this is a very, very cold area of the state. Camping is a common activity at Voyageurs, but if you’re going to try it during the colder months you better know what you’re doing and be prepared. It’s a wonderful adventure, but only for hearty souls.
However, there are other lodging options besides roughing it in a tent, ranging from rental cabins, to the 1912 Kettle Falls Hotel, to chain motels in International Falls such as Days Inn and Holiday Inn.
6. SPAM Museum
An entire museum in Austin, Minnesota, is dedicated to the culture and history that surrounds SPAM, a pop culture icon first introduced in the 1930s. The interactive museum promises fun for all ages and charges no admission. According to SPAM’s website, visitors to the museum can view vintage advertising, can their own SPAM, learn new recipes, play games and shop for collectibles.
7. Paul Bunyon Land
A 26 foot tall statue of Paul Bunyon is the first to greet visitors to Paul Bunyon Land in Brainerd, Minnesota. This theme park, complete with 27 rides and attractions, includes a ghost mine, roller coaster, swings and bumper cars. A ticket to Paul Bunyon land also grants guests access to Paul’s Petting Barn and This Old Farm Pioneer Village. Pioneer Village is a mock pioneer town, complete with a log house, fire station, blacksmith, doctor’s office and more.
8. The World’s Largest Ball of Twine
The world’s largest ball of twine, which had been rolled by a single man mind you, is one of the more interesting attractions that you can find in Minnesota. It had been mentioned in popular songs as well as hinted at to have at in major films. The man behind this offbeat roadside attraction that is located in Darwin, Minnesota is Francis Johnson. He started to create this ball of twine in the 1950’s and eventually constructed a shed to protect it. This amazing ball of twine weighs over nine tons and even has its own souvenir stand beside it.
9. Ed’s Museum
Ed’s Museum, located in Wyckoff, Minnesota, is a celebration of the pack rat in all of us. Ed Krieger was the owner and operator of grocery store where he showed old movies and different types of memorabilia. These days the museum displays a variety of the collections that were kept in storage. Many of the pieces that are on display in the museum are from the 1930s and relate to either film or the town of Wyckoff. Some of the most unusual things that are displayed in the museum include Ed’s gall stones as well as the preserved remains of a banana spider.
10. The Runestone Museum
In Alexandria Minnesota will find the Runestone Museum. This interesting building is home to a lot of local legend as well as a lot of controversy. Many people believe that the Runestone that was found in Kensington Minnesota is an indication of evidence of a Viking settlement. Other people believe that the stone is simply nothing more than a hoax. Whether you think that the stone is real or whether it is a hoax, the museum has a lot to offer those that visit it. For example, an old replica of a stockyard created by the museum is available to be explored by those that visit.
Minnesota is rightly known as a winter wonderland of cross country skiing across a snowy expanse, ice fishing on a frozen lake, and cuddling up by a fire in a cabin in the woods while the winds howls outside, but of course it’s not always winter in Minnesota, and there’s far more to do and see. There are also many things to do in Minnesota in the summer!