Things to Do // List

26 Things You Should Know About Minnesota, From A to Z

By Erica Wacker

From A to Z, discover what makes Minnesota such a special place.

Jim's Apple Farm in Jordan

The Honeycrisp apple was invented in Minnesota / Jim Hoffman

Apples

The crowd-pleasing Honeycrisp was invented at the University of Minnesota. Pick your own, along with several other homegrown varieties, at orchards around the state.

Boating

With 11,842 lakes (we’re being humble when we say 10,000), there’s no excuse not to get out on the water. Paddle a canoe, rent a houseboat, or go launch fishing with 50 of your closest friends.

County Fairs

Most states host county fairs, but in Minnesota, they’re a way of life. Choose from 90 of them between June and September, with highlights ranging from Ferris wheels to tractor pulls.

Diversity

From rolling hills to flat plains, big cities to small towns, and people from all walks of life, Minnesota is incredibly diverse. Numerous festivals and attractions celebrate the many cultures found here, including Native Americans, Europeans and the largest Hmong population in the country.

Bald eagle in flight with blue sky in the background

Bald eagle in flight / Steve Allen

Eagles

The National Eagle Center in Wabasha pays tribute to bald and golden eagles, which can be spotted throughout the state. In winter, look for them along the Mississippi River in southeast Minnesota where the water doesn’t freeze.

Fishing

Minnesota boasts the most resident anglers in the lower 48 states and 18,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams. Popular species include walleyebass, northern, crappie, muskie and trout.

Golf

Close to 500 courses cater to golfers of all abilities, and Minnesota is the only state to have hosted all 13 USGA championships. Most courses are open spring through fall.

Hockey

Known as the “State of Hockey,” Minnesota prides itself on this beloved sport. Kids start young playing pond hockey and pee-wee leagues, with dreams of one day joining the Minnesota Wild or U.S. Olympic team.

Ice climbing Robinson Park in Sandstone

Ice climbing in Standstone

Ice

In addition to its role in hockey and figure skating, ice takes many forms in the winter months, ranging from picturesque icicles and frozen waterfalls to manmade ice castles and sculptures, not to mention solid platforms for ice fishing houses.

Juicy Lucys

Or “Jucy” Lucy, depending where you order it. This iconic Minnesota burger is served in many ways at a multitude of restaurants and bars, but it always refers to a juicy burger patty with molten cheese in the middle.

Kids

There’s so much for the little ones to do here, from amusement parks such as Valleyfair and Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America, to family-friendly museumswaterparks and nature activities.

Loon and lilypads on West Battle Lake

Minnesota's state bird is the loon / Allie Hoeft

Loons

Minnesota’s distinctive black-and-white state bird is prevalent in much of the north and central regions; you can't miss its distinctive call. The bird also serves as the mascot for our Major League Soccer team, Minnesota United FC.

Miles

We’ve got 22,000 of them for snowmobiling, 4,000 for biking, and enough to surpass a trek from St. Paul to Los Angeles for cross-country skiing.

Nice

As in “Minnesota Nice.” This common phrase has many nuances for locals, but for visitors, it means to expect smiles on the street, strangers opening doors and minimal honking on the roads.

Outdoor Recreation

The Twin Cities regularly top lists of the healthiest cities in America, and statewide, you’ll find people bikingrunning, paddling, skiing and enjoying the outdoors year-round.

Prince mural Uptown Minneapolis

An homage to Prince in Uptown by artist Rock 'Cyfi' Martinez / Courtesy Meet Minneapolis

Prince

Pay homage to the beloved Minnesota icon at some of his favorite places around the Twin Cities, including First Avenue nightclub (immortalized in his 1984 movie "Purple Rain") and Paisley Park, his Chanhassen home, recording studio and performance venue that's now a museum.

Quilts

Quilt shows are a popular pastime throughout the state, and the southeastern town of Caledonia boasts 60 barns adorned with painted quilt squares that dot the rural countryside.

Rivers

Our lakes may be our claim to fame, but we’re also home to the headwaters of the Mississippi River, as well as the Minnesota, St. Croix and dozens of other rivers that add up to 92,000 miles.

summer kite and lighthouse on lake superior in grand marais

Summer kite flying over Grand Marais lighthouse on Lake Superior

Superior

As in the largest freshwater lake in the country, bigger than all of the other Great Lakes combined. Take in the beauty of the North Shore by foot, bike, car or motorcycle, and come winter, keep an eye out for extreme surfers hanging 10.

Target

Everyone’s favorite big-box store is based right here in Minnesota. In addition to the headquarters and some of the chain’s biggest (and smallest) stores, you’ll find stadiums, museum wings and special events donning the signature bull’s-eye.

Universities

From one of the biggest in the Midwest (the University of Minnesota) to dozens of acclaimed liberal arts colleges, many campuses offer impressive museums, exhibits, performances and sporting events.

Vikings

In both senses of the word. The historic Nordic variety reached America before Columbus, and several museums and monuments tell versions of their story. As for the purple, football-playing type, their shiny new stadium is an iconic part of the Minneapolis skyline.

Minneopa Falls fall colors

Minneopa Falls / Dave Tapia

Waterfalls

Find them everywhere from the southwest corner of the state to the Canadian border, and even in the middle of our biggest cities. These waterfalls are especially stunning as the snow melts into them come spring.

X-Rays

Rochester’s renowned Mayo Clinic welcomes patients from around the world for X-rays and many other treatments. Visitors can also tour the founding family’s mansion nearby, as well as their earlier, much humbler abode in the town of Le Sueur.

Yurts

Falling somewhere between a tent and a cabin, these ancient Turkish dwellings are gaining popularity statewide and can be rented year-round at a handful of state parks, in Ely and on the Gunflint Trail.

Zoos

Rub shoulders with native and exotic species at Minnesota’s 10 zoos and aquariums, found in Apple Valley, St. Paul, Duluth, Little Falls, Owatonna and beyond.

Erica Wacker

Erica Wacker is a Midwesterner through and through, growing up in Illinois, going to college in Wisconsin, and settling down in Minnesota. She loves to run, travel with her family, and go to concerts to relive her youth.