Welcome to the Explore Minnesota Tourism Website
Travel ideas by author:
Travel ideas by author:
The serenading song of birds and the translucent green glow of freshly unfurled leaves signals the arrival of spring in Minnesota. If you’re lucky, you can add the thunder of waterfalls, too.
Wildlife sanctuaries dedicated to wolves, bears, eagles and owls offer fun and education for animal lovers of all ages. Plan a trip to the International Wolf Center and North American Bear Center in Ely, the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary near Orr, the National Eagle Center in Wabasha and the International Owl Center in Houston.
Ojibwe (or Anishinaabe) and Dakota (Sioux) heritage figure strongly in Minnesota’s past and its present. Here are some of the best places to admire tribal artistry, learn about their histories, and appreciate their cultures through storytelling and music.
With fresh-from-the-farm meals and sunsets that paint rolling hills pink, you'll find one of the state's most romantic road trips in southeast Minnesota.
The 46-mile Avenue of the Pines Scenic Byway delivers what it promises -- thick evergreens that flank the road like sentries.
Anyone driving to Duluth on Interstate 35 from mid-November through Christmas will easily spot the 12-story Christmas tree towering above 20-acre Bayfront Festival Park. It pulses to holiday music and anchors the annual event, considered America’s largest free walk-through holiday light display.
Garden lovers and green thumbs seeking fresh ideas can find inspiring gardens throughout the state, each with its own distinct personality and history. Blooms begin in mid- to late April (depending on the snow melt) and continue until late fall’s frosty bite. The colors and landscapes change constantly through the seasons, which make them ideal for repeat visits.
From Greyhound buses and snowmobiles to SPAM and Red Wing Pottery, Minnesota boasts a boatful of great inventions and beloved products that have been woven into American life for generations. See how ideas were first sparked, how products evolved, and get the inside story on everyone from Betty Crocker to the Jolly Green Giant by visiting museums and factory tours devoted to the North Star state’s best-known creations.
Besides its location along the great Mississippi River, the St. Cloud area’s also known as Granite Country. Rocky outcroppings throughout the region have been quarried for more than 130 years, providing red and speckled black-and-white granite that graces buildings and monuments across the country.
People from around the world come to Itasca State Park in northwest Minnesota to marvel at the serene birthplace of the mighty Mississippi River. They pose next to a large pine log carved with yellow letters that mark the site and the beginning of the great river’s 2,552-mile route across America to the Gulf of Mexico.
Less than two hours west or south of the Twin Cities, you can reach remnants of rolling and pancake-flat prairie, where summer winds ripple grasses and flowers like a sea. Here’s where you can see what remains of that original prairie and catch a colorful, seasonal glimpse of what the state once looked like.
Expect a dose of “Say cheese!” as visitors hit Bemidji’s lakeshore, where historic statues of Babe the Big Blue Ox and Paul Bunyan loom large. Long before “Super Size Me” became a catchphrase, this larger-than-life plaid-shirted lumberjack starred in tall tales from the north woods.
Slip your canoe into the water to soak up the last of the warm weather and admire autumn’s brilliant colors mirrored across the surface of regional rivers.
For fall-loving road-trippers, meandering roads along colorful hillsides may be all it takes to create a memorable weekend getaway. But for travelers who yearn to kick it up a notch, the Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway is full of eclectic adventures beckoning anyone that passes through to get out of their cars and stay awhile.
There’s little that rekindles romance like a cozy B&B room with a fireplace at the end of a crisp winter’s day exploring the sights together. The river towns of southeast Minnesota are ideal for that sort of getaway.
If big-box Black Friday crowds or sprawling mall parking lots make you want to hyperventilate, head for Minnesota’s historic downtowns this shopping season. You’ll find unique stores, locally made gifts, and a pace that makes it feel like a getaway rather than a to-do list. As a bonus, most destinations offer additional seasonal fun that can spark fresh holiday traditions.
Nothing inspires that “I’m King of the World!” sensation quite like riding Lutsen Mountains’ red gondola high above the Poplar River and over the rocky crest of Moose Mountain. Yes, mountain. Minnesota may be known for its lakes and prairies, but the North Shore’s Sawtooth Mountains offer spectacular 1,000-foot drops and some of the Midwest’s biggest and best ski runs, with a bonus of dark green forests and Lake Superior’s steely winter blues as the backdrop.
The arrival of January and February triggers a parade of icehouses being towed to favorite fishing spots statewide. Seeking everything from walleye and panfish to northern pike and eelpout, about 10 percent of Minnesota’s 1.5 million anglers head back to the lakes once they freeze.
America’s largest and most legendary river claims both its birthplace and its most wild and scenic stretches in Minnesota. Follow the Mississippi’s 300-plus-mile journey across the state, and you’ll have a road trip that ranges from pine-scented northern wilds to majestic southern bluffs that divide Minnesota and Wisconsin more cleanly than a Vikings-Packers playoff.
From tree-lined avenues with late Victorian charm to clusters of homey cafes and artsy boutiques, Minnesota claims its share of classic American main streets. Visit these charming downtowns ideal for leisurely strolls, unique shopping, and wrapping your hands around warm cups of coffee or chilled microbrews while taking in the local vibe.
A bell usually dings as you open the door, before inhaling the smell of old books, furniture polish, and a hint of wood and leather. Whether your weakness is vintage fishing baskets and skis for a cabin, or tea sets and costume jewelry, you’ll find them at these noteworthy Minnesota antiquing destinations.
Sunrise, sunset and shifting whims of winter constantly repaint the view of Lake Superior, the grand dame of America’s Great Lakes. This is only one example among the great variety of scenes for a winter B&B getaway in Minnesota.
An eagle swoops low across the Whitefish Chain of Lakes, where serene bays are perfect for morning paddles. Water arcs high and cools down summer’s heat as a Gull Lake wakeboarder carves through a curve. A bobber softly plunks into sunset-gold water on Big Sandy Lake, and another angler dreams of fresh fish for dinner.
If you crave a bird’s-eye view of Minnesota’s wooded and prairie landscapes as a reward for a hike, bike trek or scenic drive, you’ll find plenty throughout central Minnesota’s oft-rolling terrain, dotted with lakes and threaded by the Mississippi River. Look for prairie flowers by midsummer, ruby-red sumac in early fall, and trees that flame into orange, gold and bronze from mid-September to mid-October.
Bright-red geraniums and the aroma of barbecue smoke lure visitors across Summerhill Farm, a postcard-worthy spot between Park Rapids and Itasca State Park. Visitors stroll in and out of former chicken coops and barns that house rugs and cabin décor, gourmet foods and wine, whimsical flags, and gifts for pampered pets.
When it comes to pleasing furry, four-legged travelers, few destinations rank as highly as Grand Marais and its surrounding North Shore towns, with their cobblestone beaches, Lake Superior to wade into, hiking paths and waterfalls to explore, cafes with dog-friendly patios, and many welcoming resorts. Stillwater, Red Wing and Excelsior are other pet-friendly places rich in waterfront trails, inviting downtowns and outdoor dining.
You can usually hear them before you see them: trios and quartets of women who have been apart far too long. There’s that spark of laughter that catches on and explodes, then heads leaned together as arms rise to mark the occasion with a selfie. Whether it’s for a gathering of moms giddy at being off-duty or empty-nesters and retirees with the freedom to feel like a kid again, here are four destinations ideal for some footloose fun.
Old-fashioned malts, a frosty mug of root beer, hot dogs oozing with chili or ketchup, and a big twisty cone with a perfect curl on top: It’s drive-in season in Minnesota. While Winona’s Lakeview Drive Inn dates back to 1938, most opened mid-century when post-war, automobile-loving America embraced any excuse to go out cruising and cool off. Since then, interstates, central air-conditioning and fast-food chains forced many drive-ins to close up shop, but those that remain are perfect for vintage dinner dates, family stops en route to the lake, or simply savoring a tasty slice of Americana.
Autumn offers some of Minnesota’s best birdwatching, with crisp temperatures, congregating flocks and vibrant forests enhancing bird hikes and road trips. From hawks and eagles to cranes and geese, here are some of the top places to witness the fall migration in Minnesota.
Whether you’re listening to a former Vietnam War nurse tell her stories or hearing the familiar voice of Tom Hanks playing the role of Luverne’s newspaper editor in Ken Burns’ documentary, “The War,” Minnesota’s museums can tells thousands of wartime tales
Minnesota-made gifts—from buttery leather moccasins and sturdy adventure gear to cozy coats and kitchen wares—draw on a love of the outdoors and a passion for great food and heritage to add taste, warmth, tradition and style to the holidays. Here’s a sampling of North Star State standouts and where to find them.
Minnesota’s industrial hub in the late 1800s and throughout the 1900s, the Mesabi Iron Range arcs across northeast Minnesota, from east of Grand Rapids to west of Duluth. Mining carved the landscape, leaving behind big recreation areas and even bigger cultural legacies in towns such as Chisholm, Mountain Iron, Eveleth, Gilbert, Biwabik, Aurora, Virginia and Hibbing.