Welcome to the Explore Minnesota Tourism Website
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Travel ideas by author:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Chalk it up to the slower pace, historic grace and inherent romance of river towns. Southern Minnesota offers several easy river town escapes, perfect for packing a weekend with activities or easy-does-it unwinding together. Here are some of the top spots for rekindling romance.
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.
Wildlife sanctuaries dedicated to wolves, bears and eagles 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, and the National Eagle Center in Wabasha.
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.
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.
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.
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.