Top Minnesota Attractions
Minnesota offers stunning scenery and world-class tours, dining, entertainment and shopping. Hundreds of historic sites and museums relay the stories of determined pioneers from Germany, Scandinavia and central Europe. The towns they founded are now noted for their historic architecture, antique shops, inns and ethnic festivals. In the countryside there are bike trails, canoe rivers, and fishing lakes and streams. And in a state with tax-free shopping on clothing and shoes, Mall of America is a shopper's dream come true!
The following attractions are a few of the highlights in a state filled with interesting sites—from outdoor adventures, world-class theaters and museums, to fascinating historic sites. A complete listing of the various attractions in all corners of Minnesota is also available on this website.
Mall of America
Located in Bloomington, this 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, Underwater Adventures Aquarium, mini-golf, and new attractions including Barbie: The Dreamhouse Experience and Star Trek: The Exhibition. In addition to the mall, Minnesota offers even more shopping, from outlet malls to antique shops and more. Minnesota is a shopping paradise, with no sales tax on clothing, shoes, food or medicine.
Mississippi River Headwaters
Old Man River, the mighty Mississippi, begins as a tiny stream flowing out of Lake Itasca in Itasca State Park, between Park Rapids and Bemidji. A marker at the source states, "Here 1,475 feet above the ocean, the mighty Mississippi begins to flow on its winding way 2,552 miles (4,083 kilometers) to the Gulf of Mexico." Visitors usually cross the source on stepping stones, which according to Indian legend, will lead to a long and fruitful life.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness/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 camp sites. Voyageurs National Park is the only freshwater-based national park in the United States; boating is the recommended method of transportation. Tour boats, motor boats and houseboats are all available for rent.
National Eagle Center
On the banks of the Mississippi River in the southern river town of Wabasha, the National Eagle Center showcases hundreds of migrating and wintering eagles in a sparkling new facility, including three resident eagles which can no longer survive in the wild. The eagle-watching deck has spotting scopes and binoculars for visitors. Complementing this are two other wildlife refuge abodes, the International Wolf Center and the North American Bear Center, both located up north in Ely.
Bayfront Blues Festival/Duluth
Each year in August, Duluth hosts one of the largest outdoor musical festivals, with over 30 performances on two concert stages. Located on the shore of Lake Superior, Duluth welcomes ships from around the world which glide under the Aerial Lift Bridge to enter the harbor. Duluth is also gateway to the North Shore Drive along Lake Superior, recognized as one of the top scenic drives in the United States.
Four of Minnesota's 500 public courses are among the top ranked in the nation. These courses are The Quarry at Giant's Ridge and The Legend at Giant's Ridge, both located in Biwabik, and The Classic at Madden's Resort and Deacon's Lodge at Grand View Lodge, located in Brainerd. Beautiful, affordable courses are found statewide where every golfer, from the novice to the experienced will have a great time. More than 90 percent of the state's courses are open to the general public.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum
Readers of Laura Ingalls Wilder books and viewers of the television series, "Little House on the Prairie", enjoy this museum in Walnut Grove. The actual Wilder dugout home site on Plum Creek is about one mile north of the museum. Each year the Wilder Pageant, an outdoor theatrical production, runs for three weekends in July.
Pipestone National Monument
For centuries, American Indians from throughout North America have come to Pipestone to harvest this red soapstone-like material, which is used for making peace pipes and other artifacts, such as turtles and eagles from quarries in southwestern Minnesota. Attractions at the Monument include operating quarries, craftspeople carving the pipestone, and an interpretive center and gift shop. Believed to be sacred ground, the Monument is a surprising relief from the surrounding prairie, with forest, rock formations, water falls and native plants.
The newly constructed Guthrie, in a spectacular award-winning facility designed by Jean Nouvel, sits along the banks of the Mississippi River. Productions are shown on three stages where visitors can enjoy breathtaking views from the cantilevered bridge over the river. Minneapolis is home to over 75 theater companies. Many more are found in the Twin Cities area, where one may find Broadway shows or original, avant-garde productions, comedy and dinner theater.
Saint Paul Winter Carnival
The Saint Paul Winter Carnival, dating back to 1886, operates from late January to early February and is one of the oldest and largest festivals in the nation. For ten days, you can find parades and competitions throughout the city of Saint Paul. Events include ice and snow sculpturing, giant slides, golfing on snow, and car races on ice-covered lakes.