23 Best Things To Do in Minnesota You Can’t Miss

Minnesota is a diverse state that offers a fun experience to visitors with its wide range of activities. From culture and art to its lakes and wildlife reserves, the Gopher State is dense and richly packed with fun attractions for everyone to enjoy.

Ready to plan your visit? Here are 23 of the best things to do in Minnesota that you just can’t miss.

23 Best Things To Do in Minnesota You Can’t Miss

VOYAGEURS NATIONAL PARK

Voyageurs National Park is a great place to experience the best of the state’s natural beauty. It features three massive lakes that offer fun paddling and boating, along with camping grounds just a small trek away.

The national park is also a great place to spot the state’s local wildlife like grizzly bears, woodchucks, elk, bobcats, and coyotes. Fun fact, the park gets its name for the role it played in the fur trade, where French-Canadian Voyageurs traveled here to collect rare animal pelts.

Make sure to make a stop at The Rainy Lake Visitor Center, located on the shore of the Black Bay. The center is open to the public year-round and offers views of the Kabetogama Peninsula. It also features exhibits, displays, and a park theater.

A visit here is one of the best things to do in Minnesota.

Read More: VOYAGEURS NATIONAL PARK – EPIC GUIDE

MINNEAPOLIS INSTITUTE OF ART

The Minneapolis Institute of Art, better known as MIA, houses over 89,000 pieces of timeless, local, and international artists. Founded in 1883, the museum recalls over 5,000 years of history through its exhibits. The sheer size of the compound and the pieces of art there makes it one of the biggest museums in the country.

The Doryphoros is a major attraction at the museum, an ancient Greek sculpture that has only four copies in the world. The institute also has exhibits dedicated to decorative textiles, as well as Korean and Japanese art. You can even catch a free public tour every day.

Read More: 23 THINGS TO DO IN MINNEAPOLIS YOU CAN’T MISS

MALL OF AMERICA

The Mall of America is a staple attraction in Minnesota for its sheer size. You can find over 500 shops from different international brands here, along with two Build-A-Bear Workshops. Hotel accommodations, theaters, a roller coaster (!) and various other amusements also exist there, making it a fun place to visit with the family.

I’ve visited the Mall of America, and even though you may not think of a mall as a place you have to visit — in this case, you really do! I think it has to be seen to be believed. You truly can find so much to do there!

The mall is also popular for the 400 events it hosts every year. It features everything you can imagine, such as dance parties and celebrations for the local football team, the Minnesota Vikings. But if you’re just looking to go on a shopping spree, this is the place to go.

Details: 60 E Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425 | Website

THE BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE AREA WILDERNESS

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is an excellent place for people looking to connect with nature. With the entire attraction spanning more than a million acres, the wilderness area is beautiful in its sheer scale. Hiking trails range from easy to difficult, taking visitors across various parts of the wilderness, looking at its many bodies of water and flora.

One of the more unique attractions is the campsites on the water, with upwards of 200 unique campsites to find and rest at.

Read More: 24 SUPER FUN THINGS TO DO IN DULUTH, MINNESOTA

MINNEHAHA FALLS

Minnehaha Falls is a 193-acre park that features plenty of fun hiking trails. However, the best attraction in the massive park is easily the Minnehaha Falls, which is a staggering waterfall at 53-feet tall. Native Americans considered these falls an important place where they could gather. From the top of the waterfall, guests can get a stunning view of the many species of trees.

Up to 850,000 visitors visit this beautiful waterfall every year, which is mainly because it is one of the oldest parks in the state. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, Minnehaha Falls is a great place to kick back and relax.

Read More: 23 THINGS TO DO IN MINNEAPOLIS YOU CAN’T MISS

NORTH SHORE SCENIC DRIVE

Looking to go on a road trip while in the Gopher State? The North Shore Scenic Drive can be an attraction for you. The drive stretches across the Lake Superior Shore, from Duluth to Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. The drive passes through three of the biggest parks in the state, and features beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding wilderness.

The parks in the area are especially fun, allowing for various activities during the summer and winter. You can go fishing and boating in the summers or snowshoe and snowboarding during winter. You should also watch out for High Falls. The 120-foot high waterfall is a spectacular attraction in Grand Portage Park.

Details: North Shore, MN 55804 | Website

COMO PARK ZOO & CONSERVATORY

The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is a fun place to take a family. It features animals, from the local grizzly bears to exotic polar bears, in unique enclosures. You can even go and feed the giraffe Romaine lettuce, which is a major attraction at the zoo.

The Como Harbor Exhibit is the newest expansion of the zoo, featuring octopuses, otters, and penguins. At the end of the trip, you can also make a quick visit to the gift shop to grab a fun souvenir or even go to the amusement park nearby. Entry to the zoo is free, but many encourage visitors to donate there.

Details: 1225 Estabrook Dr., St Paul, MN 55103 | Website

SPLIT ROCK LIGHTHOUSE

The Split Rock Lighthouse is a beautiful attraction to visit, especially if you want to learn more about the city’s unique history. The attraction is just 20 miles away from Two Harbors at the northern shore of Lake Superior. Construction for the lighthouse ended in 1910, making it instrumental in protecting shipping on Lake Superior.

You can visit the keeper’s house and the foghorn building, and the lighthouse there. Various tours show visitors the surrounding area of the lighthouse and many of its unique aspects.

If you’re looking for more lighthouses, an hour away you’ll find Grand Marais Lighthouse, the Au Sable Light Station, and the Crisp Point Lighthouse.

Details: 3713 Split Rock Lighthouse Rd, Two Harbors, MN 55616 | Website

PIPESTONE NATIONAL MONUMENT

Pipestone National Monument is a place where Native Americans have quarried red pipestone for generations. The grounds are considered sacred by many, because the pipestone found here is used for carving into pipes used for prayer.

The traditions of quarrying can still be found here, along with demonstrations, exhibits, hiking trails, special events, tours, and more.

Only members of federally-recognized tribes may apply for quarry permits.

Details: 36 Reservation Ave, Pipestone, MN 56164 | Website

INTERNATIONAL WOLF CENTER

The International Wolf Center is one of the top attractions in Minnesota, allowing people to get up close and personal with wolves. Instructors at the compound also explain various interesting facts about the wolves, like how they track prey and operate in packs. They also help with misunderstandings surrounding alphas in a pack.

Visitors can even get a chance to take fun pictures of or with the wolves in the enclosure.

Details: 1396 MN-169, Ely, MN 55731 | Website

MINNEAPOLIS SCULPTURE GARDEN

Minnesota is one of the biggest artistic landmarks in the U.S., especially thanks to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The 11-acre garden is a massive area featuring fun and interesting sculptures, perfect for someone looking to get in touch with their artsy side. Despite the incredible size of the venue, there are only 40 sculptures present.

The park features a nice, laid-back environment to relax in, with plenty of comfortable walkways and plazas to rest in.

Read More: 23 THINGS TO DO IN MINNEAPOLIS YOU CAN’T MISS

NATIONAL EAGLE CENTER

One of the most interesting things about Minnesota is its varied landscape and wildlife. The National Eagle Center teaches visitors about this unique wildlife. It is situated in Wabasha, Minnesota, where you can learn about the biology and unique traits of eagles, as well as the different types of eagles in the U.S.

Furthermore, the center also focuses on teaching individuals about the symbolism behind eagles and why the U.S. uses them. The center also rests near the Mississippi River Valley, which houses multiple bald eagles.

Details: 50 Pembroke Ave, Wabasha, MN 55981 | Website

TETTEGOUCHE STATE PARK

Tettegouche State Park is a massive park with a landmass spanning over 9,340 acres. While it is home to plenty of the state’s local wildlife, the park is especially popular for its sweeping vistas and beautiful views.

Instagram influencers will often take pictures in the area, and photographers will camp out for sunset and dawn. You can even find four distinct waterfalls in the area with different heights, making for a very fun place to be when visiting the state.

Details: 5702 MN-61, Silver Bay, MN 55614 | Website

BELL MUSEUM

The Bell Museum is at the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus, focusing on various aspects of natural history.

You can learn more about the human brain or explore space, and the many stars scientists have discovered in the cosmos. The compound also features exhibits that focus on unique wildlife in the state and fossils that are as old as 10,000 years.

Details: 2088 Larpenteur Ave W, St Paul, MN 55113 | Website

MINNESOTA MARINE ART MUSEUM

Unlike other art museums that you can find in Minnesota, The Marine Art Museum is home to some unique and ambitious art collections. Their collections of highlights include Winslow Homer, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent Van Gogh, along with many, many others.

You can find this museum and its incredible selection of art in Winona, better known as one of the most beautiful cities in Minnesota. It is also close to the Mississippi River.

Details: 800 Riverview Dr., Winona, MN 55987 | Website

LEIF ERICKSON PARK ROSE GARDEN

Leif Erickson Park happens to be one of the most breathtaking attractions in Minnesota, often for its sheer simplicity. The park is home to a collection of exotic and local flowers, with walking trails taking people across shrubs, bushes, and long fields.

The Rose Garden represents a 4.5-acre portion of the park, and features over 3,000 rose bushes and other plants.

Biking trails cut right through the park, creating beautiful scenery to accompany you on your journey.

Read More: 24 SUPER FUN THINGS TO DO IN DULUTH, MINNESOTA

GOOSEBERRY FALLS STATE PARK    

Gooseberry Falls State Park is one of the smaller attractions on Highway 61, but that does not take away from its incredible popularity. The over 1,680-acre park features plenty of hiking trails and various waterfalls, making for a picturesque walk down the trails.

However, easily the best attraction in this park is the Northern Lights, which have a chance of occurring every few days, regardless of the season.

Details: 3206 MN-61, Two Harbors, MN 55616 | Website

HISTORICAL & CULTURAL SOCIETY OF CLAY COUNTY

The Hjemkomst Center Museum is home to one of the largest institutes dedicated to understanding Viking Culture. It is home to the biggest replica of the Viking Ship Hjemkomst, that made its voyage to Norway.

It is also home to a replica of the Hopperstad Norwegian Stave Church. The church was originally built back in the 1100s.

Details: 202 1st Ave N, Moorhead, MN 56560 | Website

MUNSINGER CLEMENS GARDENS

While most people refer to these gardens together, they are two gardens close to each other. Both parks rest on the banks of the Mississippi River, and are an especially great place to have a relaxing stroll while surrounded by beautiful flowers.

The park is also a hot destination for photographers and Instagram influencers, who you can often find taking pictures there.

Details: 1515 Riverside Dr. SE, St Cloud, MN 56304 | Website

DULUTH AERIAL LIFT BRIDGE

The Aerial Lift Bridge is one of the biggest attractions in Duluth, with it holding a special place in Minnesota history. This was one of the first transponder bridges in the U.S., but it is also only one of two other bridges in the world.

The bridge stands at a staggering total length of 501 feet, along with a 138-foot clearance.

Read More: 24 SUPER FUN THINGS TO DO IN DULUTH, MINNESOTA

ITASCA STATE PARK

Itasca State Park happens to be the oldest in Minnesota, established in 1891. It encompasses over 32,000 acres, and it’s the perfect place to have fun with some outdoor activities. You can explore Red Pine forests, fire towers, and hiking trails here. And if you want a good adrenaline rush, you can ride the Wilderness Bike and Drive Route, which loops around the park. 

You can even camp at the state park, right next to the headwaters of the Mississippi River. It also features backpack-only camping sites, along with cabins and lodges.

Details: 36750 Main Park Drive, Park Rapids, MN 56470 | Website

CATHEDRAL OF SAINT PAUL

The Minnesota’s capital city is home to one of the state’s prime attractions, the Cathedral of St. Paul. Even if you are not religious, the cathedral is an architectural marvel worth exploring and taking a better look at.

You can take guided tours that take you across the many rooms and floors of the cathedral, giving you plenty of time to marvel at its incredible design. Photography is encouraged both inside and outside the cathedral, so bring a camera when you visit.

Details: 239 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55102 | Website

PAUL BUNYAN STATUE

Paul Bunyan is a mythical figure that people often refer to in legends about Minnesota. According to the state’s legend, Paul Bunyan was a giant who created the 10,000 lakes with nothing but his footsteps.

While the authenticity of this legend is questionable at best, it does make it a fun attraction to visit. There are multiple statues of the giant lumberjack throughout the state, many of them being in smaller cities.

Details: 300 Bemidji Ave N, Bemidji, MN 56601 | Website

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO MINNESOTA

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