Minnesota Travel Highlights

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The following are some of the distinctive highlights that Minnesota offers as a travel destination. They are among the great travel stories that Minnesota has to tell. In addition to these, check out the featured news ideas for the current year, also on this site.

Minneapolis-St. Paul Packed with Fun Finds
Lonely Planet included the Twin Cities among the top 10 U.S. destinations for 2013, and Travel + Leisure named Minneapolis among the hottest travel destinations internationally for 2013. The Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area has garnered attention for its vibrant music scene, creative chefs, bike-friendly trails, exciting theaters and excellent art museums. Families are drawn to the Twin Cities for its kid-friendly museums, zoos and amusement parks. This metro area is also noteworthy for its many lakes, parks and greenways. Check out the 2013 travel news on this site for what's new in the Twin Cities this year.

Minnesota Is Where the Mississippi River Gets its Start
More Miles Here Than in Any Other State

The iconic Mississippi River begins as a tiny stream flowing out of a woodland lake in Itasca State Park, in northwestern Minnesota. Visitors can walk across the headwaters in the park. The Mississippi arcs across northern Minnesota, flows south through the heart of Minneapolis-St. Paul, and forms the state's southeast border below tall, wooded bluffs. More than 575 miles of the river wind through Minnesota, more than in any other state. Along the way are several historic sites, scenic parks, museums, charming river towns, bike trails and a cycling route, and the riverfront districts of downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.
www.mnmississippiriver.com
www.nps.gov/miss
www.mndot.gov/bike

Mall of America: Largest Shopping and Entertainment Complex in U.S.
Located in Bloomington, Mall of America is the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the U.S. under one roof, with more than 500 stores, 60 restaurants, 14 movie theaters, Nickelodeon Universe indoor amusement park, Sea Life Aquarium, mini-golf and other attractions. During its 21 years, the mall has been an international shopping destination, drawing 42 million visitors a year. Close to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, the mall is easy to get to from a large number of hotels. In 2013, the first hotel linked to Mall of America by an indoor skyway opened. The upscale, luxury Radisson Blu is a 13-story, 500-room hotel with "an edgy, fashion-forward aesthetic." Recent and upcoming shop openings at the mall include Swim 'n Sport, Ruum American Kids' Wear, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Victorinox Swiss Army and Foreign Exchange, featuring clothing inspired by different cultures.
www.mallofamerica.com

Two Natural Treasures Offer Wilderness Experiences:
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park
Along the northern border with Canada, Minnesota has two national treasures. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) is the only federally protected canoe area in the country, with more than 1,300 lakes offering canoeing and campsites. This paddle-only area offers an increasingly rare experience, the chance to visit an area almost untouched by civilization. Area outfitters provide visitors with canoes, camping equipment, provisions and instructions in wilderness camping.
www.fs.fed.us/r9/superior

Voyageurs National Park is the only freshwater-based national park in the United States; boating is the primary method of exploring this park that centers around several large lakes. Tour boats are an easy way to experience the park. There are resorts and campgrounds on the perimeter of the park, and many rent motorboats. Houseboat rentals offer the unique opportunity to explore the park while enjoying the comforts of a floating cabin. Fishing and wildlife-watching are two popular activities in the park.
www.nps.gov.voya

Minnesota Offers Excellent Golfing
Golfers in Minnesota enjoy top-notch course designs, affordable green fees, and a season that stretches from spring through fall. Minnesota is the only state to have hosted every one of the 17 championships conducted by the U.S. Golf Association, including the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. In 2016, Minnesota will host the Ryder Cup, at Hazeltine in Chaska. According to Golf Digest, Minnesota is home to some of the top courses open to the public: The Quarry and The Legend, both at Giants Ridge in Biwabik; The Classic at Madden's Resort, Brainerd; Deacon's Lodge at Breezy Point Resort, near Brainerd; Cragun's Legacy courses, Brainerd; and The Wilderness at Fortune Bay, Tower. All are destination courses with on-site lodging. Several "golf trails" make it easy to explore several courses in the same area.
www.golf.exploreminnesota.com

Eagles, Wolves and Bears the Focus of Three Wildlife Centers
On the banks of the Mississippi River in the southeastern river town of Wabasha, the National Eagle Center showcases the hundreds of migrating and wintering eagles in a sparkling new facility, including five resident eagles that can no longer survive in the wild. The eagle-watching deck has spotting scopes and binoculars for visitors. In Ely, a town in the heart of the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota, are two other centers dedicated to animals of this region: the International Wolf Center and the North American Bear Center. Both have exhibits and the opportunity to watch their featured animals in their natural habitats.
www.nationaleaglecenter.org
www.wolf.org
www.bear.org

Numerous Sites Profile Minnesota's Indian Heritage
Minnesota is home to Dakota and Ojibwe, and the history and heritage of these American Indians is the focus at several historic sites and museums. The Pipestone National Monument (in the southeast corner of the state) is the site of quarries that for centuries have been the source of the red stone used for making peace pipes and a variety of tokens. Today, visitors can watch artisans quarry the stone and carve it into pipes and other objects. Also in southern Minnesota, the Jeffers Petroglyphs are ancient stone carvings, messages left behind in the prairie by long-ago peoples. Several sites along the Minnesota River, including the Lower Sioux Agency near Redwood Falls, tell the tragic story of the U.S. Dakota Conflict of 1862. The Mille Lacs Indian Museum, a state historic site near Onamia, focuses on the culture of the local Ojibwe people, as does the Bois Forte Heritage Center near Tower. Grand Portage National Monument at the northeast tip of the state focuses on the era of Indian and voyageur fur trade.
www.exploreminnesota.com/travel-ideas/discover-minnesotas-ethnic-heritage/

Scenic Byways Explore Minnesota

Minnesota has designated more than 2,500 miles of roads as scenic byways to help visitors discover the state's wide variety of landscapes: countryside dappled with lakes, the north woods, tumbling waterfalls, ribbons of prairie, rolling bluffs, city parks and winding rivers. The 21 Minnesota Scenic Byways offer plenty of reasons to stop along the way and visit historic sites, art galleries and antique shops, hiking trails, and much more. North Shore Scenic Drive, which travels along the rugged shoreline of Lake Superior, is designated as an All-American Road. Six are National Scenic Byways, including the Great River Road and Grand Rounds – one of only two urban byways in the nation.
www.exploreminnesota.com/where-to-go/scenic-byways/index.aspx