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Explore Minnesota From a Safe Distance

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Avoiding crowds and social distancing are key strategies for containing the spread of COVID-19 / Roy Son

Explore Minnesota From a Safe Distance

By Caitlin Hannah

While we all practice social distancing, Explore Minnesota wants residents and travelers to continue to daydream, feel optimistic and be connected. Here’s a fun list of activities to safely see and do across the state—and when the world is ready to travel again, we’re here to welcome you.

Jigsaw Puzzle - Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, Minnesota

Piece Together These Minnesota-Themed Digital Jigsaw Puzzles

Satisfy your passion for puzzling with Minnesota-themed digital jigsaw puzzles made just for you. These puzzles let you virtually visit your favorite Minnesota destinations like the Mississippi River headwaters, Paisley Park, Pipestone National Monument and more, all from the comfort of your couch. Once you’re all puzzled out, use these #OnlyinMN destinations as inspiration for planning your next Minnesota vacation.

Attend Virtual Festivals & Events

For many of us, summer in Minnesota is all about festivals, events and spending time with your pals—AKA, all of the things we won't be doing this year until it's deemed safe by the experts. In the meantime, some Minnesota festivals and events have been postponed to help flatten the curve, while others have decided to make like Neo and go digital so we can stay connected while staying apart. Here are a few examples of the creative ways Minnesota events are moving online.

Glensheen Mansion 360 Tour Still

Take a virtual, 360-degree photo tour of Glensheen Mansion  / Glensheen Mansion

Virtually Visit an Iconic Minnesota Destination

You can explore many great things to see and do in Minnesota from the comfort of your home. Attractions across the state have created virtual tour experiences via 360º photography tours, live webcasts or special apps. These tours offer a unique, behind-the-scenes look at attractions. 

360º Photography Tours

Live Web Cams & Videos

Animal Cams & Photos

Get Inspired by the Minnesota Tourism Industry's Response

As the Minnesota tourism industry goes digital to help suppress the coronavirus pandemic, tourism-related businesses across the state are pivoting their operations to help flatten the curve. From distilleries manufacturing hand sanitizer to hotels offering free or discounted lodging for healthcare workers, check out the ways Minnesota's tourism industry is stepping up and innovating to keep Minnesota healthy.

Woman building a boat

Learn traditional northern crafts and skills like boat building and pine needle basketry at North House Folk School in Grand Marais / Layne Kennedy

Hone Your Skills Without Leaving the Couch

With in-person classes shut down through May 4, a handful of Minnesota's finest cooks and crafters have moved their classrooms online. Better still, many of these newly virtual courses are completely free to attend. From webinars about wool mending to live-streamed cocktail classes, here are a few ways to expand your skill set from the comfort of home.

Interior of SubText Books in downtown St. Paul

Subtext Books in downtown St. Paul / Tony Webster, shared under CC BY-2.0

Read a Book by a Minnesota Author

Some of America's most beloved authors have lived in Minnesota, from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Marlon James, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Wanda Gag, Sinclair Lewis and more. Cuddle up with a blanket, a book and dive into one of these famous stories. Some local bookshops are even offering delivery or curbside pickup.

Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau in Grumpy Old Men

Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau in "Grumpy Old Men"

Binge Watch Your Favorite Minnesota Movies and TV Shows

Movies made in Minnesota have become fan favorites like the Mighty Ducks trilogy, Grumpy Old Men, and of course, Purple Rain. Television shows like the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Coach, and Little House on the Prairie also call Minnesota home.

Motorcycle and Prince outfit

See the motorcycles and outfits featured in Prince's movies on your tour of Paisley Park / Leslie Anderson

Listen to Minnesota-Made Music

Minnesota is home to icons like Prince, Bob Dylan and current favorites like Trampled By Turtles, The Replacements and Lizzo. Stream Meet Minneapolis’ latest playlist for some upbeat tunes.

Mankato Brewery

Mankato Brewery / Pat Branstad

Sip on Stately Beverages

You still can sip on stately Minnesota-made cocktails from your couch made with spirits across the state, or enjoy a pint of beer from the many breweries that offer curbside pickup of crowlers, growlers or pick up a pack from your local store.

Woman biking on trail in Stillwater

Riding along the St. Croix River in Stillwater / Discover Stillwater

Take a Hike or Hop on a Bike

Minnesota’s endless trails are open for hikers, bikers, or walkers. While maintaining proper social distancing guidelines, you can get outside to enjoy fresh air and get some steps in. Walk around the lakes, get into nature and enjoy the beauty of Minnesota. While most parks, recreation areas and public lands remain open to the public, many are seeing an influx of visitors at the moment. To maintain safe social distancing between yourself and other visitors (at least 6 feet of space), consider visiting during off-peak hours or heading to one of your area’s lesser-known parks.

Female hiker at the top of Honeymoon Bluff in Grand Marais

Hike to the scenic lookout point of Honeymoon Bluff near Grand Marais / Roy Son

Daydream About a Minnesota Vacation

Whether you’re planning to stay close-to-home or hitting the open road with your family, start making your dream list of new places to explore when you’re ready to travel. Get inspiration for every season from our Minnesota travel guides.

Woman with pizza at Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm

Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm / @ingie.e

Support Local Businesses Across the State

Many of your favorite local restaurants, retailers and businesses are back open for business and need your support. If you're not ready to head indoors, check into options for takeout, curbside pickup, or delivery, or find outdoor dining options. You can also indulge in special online shopping incentives.

Interior of Mill City Museum

The Mill City Museum tells the story of how flour shaped the history of Minneapolis

Get to know Minnesota with These Trivia Facts and Figures

If you’re looking for a fun family-friendly activity, learn more about Minnesota or make these facts and figures into a trivia game.

Caitlin Hannah

Caitlin Hannah is Explore Minnesota's social media strategist and resident Disney expert. She grew up spending summer weekends at her family's lake cabin in Detroit Lakes, and brings that "up north" attitude to everything she does. When traveling around the state, she likes trying new restaurants and taprooms, or watching Minnesota hockey.