Living up to its moniker of being the land of 10,000 lakes, Minnesota is a paradise for outdoorspeople. Being home to where the Mississippi River begins in its humble initial form, and occupying choice frontage on Lake Superior, as well as the labryinthic Lake of the Woods, there is a body of water within the state just waiting for your canoe/kayak and fishing pole.
If the idea of clouds of mosquitoes and being out in the middle of a pristine wilderness doesn’t exactly resonate with you, the urban center of Minneapolis/St. Paul awaits with no shortage of museums, art galleries, unique cultural festivals and some of the best shopping in the USA outside of its top urban centers.
Combine all this with a local population that is friendly, welcoming and accepting of many ethnic and cultural differences, and you have a destination that will rank among your favorite states in the Union.
What To Do – Culture & History
The culturally-inclined should begin their Minnesota travels by checking out the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. This off-beat, modern art inspired attraction is one of the largest sculpture gardens in the United States, with about 40 installations in total.
With wacky standouts like a big cherry on the edge of a giant spoon mixed with more classic statues of people in dramatic poses, visiting this place is an excellent way to satiate your wonder and get outdoors at the same time.
Just a quick walk down the street from the sculpture garden is the Walker Art Center. Considered as one of the Big 5 modern art museums in the United States, the futuristic design of this beloved institution is only a preview of the cutting edge pieces of art that lie within.
Inside, avant garde paintings and sculptures, poetry slams, dance performances, lectures on engaging and controversial topics are all part of their ongoing offerings, making the Walker amandatory stop for culture vultures.
If your visit to Minnesota has you in state during the month of June, celebrate the arrival of summer with the local descendants of Swedish immigrants by observing Svenskarnas Dag. Held in Minneapolis on the 4th Sunday in June, the holiday also known as Midsummer’s Eve offers lots of singing, dancing, as well as opportunities to purchase unique Scandinavian foods and products.
Outside the confines of Minneapolis/St. Paul, the one historical attraction that you shouldn’t miss on your travels through rural Minnesota is the Glensheen Historic Estate. Completed in 1908, Glensheen was the castle in which mining magnate Chester Adgate Congdon and his family lived in the Duluth area.
The English gardens, exterior fountains and its exclusive frontage on Lake Superior are the outdoor highlights, while the fine furnishings contained within the mansion’s 39 rooms will continually impress all that take the interior tour.
What To Do – Modern & Natural Attractions
Those that love to engage in retail therapy on a regular basis will not want to miss the Mall of America. Being the USA’s premiere temple of consumerism, the Mall of America is the largest commercial shopping center in the country, second only to West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for the title of being the largest mall in the Western Hemisphere.
In addition to having 520 stores to troll through at your leisure, there are also two major amusement parks (Nickelodeon Universe and Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium) that will entertain and educate you when the weather outside is less than hospitable.
If the weather outside is hospitable, then getting your adrenaline fix at Valleyfair will allow you to get your dose of Vitamin D while you scream your head off one of its many roller coasters. You will do plenty of that during your time here, as the same people behind the Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio also own and operate Valleyfair, yielding it many state-of-the-art coasters designed specifically to extract the maximum amount of goose bumps out of its riders.
Those looking to escape the city and get into the embrace of nature should start at Minnehaha Falls. Arguably one of Minnesota’s most spectacular waterfalls, it is unquestionably its tallest at 53 feet tall.
The non-descript Minnehaha Creek’s sudden drop off an escarpment has drawn visitor’s for years, and not just in summer: in winter, the falls freeze solid, making it a hot destination for ice climbers in the area.
Want to cast a line, or paddle away in your kayak from your put-in and get gloriously lost? The Lake of the Woods is the ultimate destination if this is your motivation to visit Minnesota. Here, it’s all about the walleye, as this fleshy fish will make a mighty fine meal once you get your hooks into one of the many that reside in this lake.
For paddlers, the rocky outcroppings that dot this massive body of water offer endless possibilities for those looking to escape the nonsense of their everyday existence.