Split Rock Lighthouse State Park in Two Harbors

Your Quintessential Minnesota Bucket List

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Split Rock Lighthouse State Park in Two Harbors  / Paul Vincent
Things to Do // List

Your Quintessential Minnesota Bucket List

By Caitlin Hannah

Everyone has their own Minnesota bucket list and dream vacation. Here's your guide to unique events, activities, and destinations that can be found only in Minnesota this year.

  1. Do Go Chasing Waterfalls
    Woman hiking at Gooseberry Falls State Park

    Get your boots dirty on a fall hike at Gooseberry Falls State Park / Micah Kvidt

    Do Go Chasing Waterfalls

    Experience the thunder of Minnesota's waterfalls. See the state's aptly named High Falls as it plummets 120 feet down the Pigeon River at Grand Portage State Park. Visit Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis and dine alfresco at the popular seasonal spot, Sea Salt Eatery. Take a quick look at 10 Epic Waterfalls here

  2. Visit a Native American Heritage Site
    Native American pow wow dancer in regalia

    A dancer at the Prairie Island Indian Community Wacipi near Red Wing  / Lorie Shaull

    Visit a Native American Heritage Site

    Get acquainted with Dakota and Anishinaabe history, and plan a trip to honor and celebrate the state's original inhabitants. Our Native American Heritage page is a survey of historic sites, upcoming events and travel ideas relating to this important piece of Minnesota's past and present.

  3. See Split Rock Lighthouse Shine Bright
    Split Rock Lighthouse State Park in Two Harbors

    Split Rock Lighthouse State Park in Two Harbors  / Paul Vincent

    See Split Rock Lighthouse Shine Bright

    Every year on Nov. 10, the Split Rock Lighthouse beacon shines bright to commemorate the sinking of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald freighter, along with all the other vessels lost on Lake Superior. The ship sank on Nov. 10, 1975. The annual event includes a ceremony honoring the crew that was lost and opportunities for visitors to tour the interior of the light room.

  4. Take a Road Trip
    aerial view of curved highway with fall color on left and river on right

    Follow the Mississippi River's 600-plus-mile journey across Minnesota on the Great River Road / Visit Winona

    Take a Road Trip

    Experience Minnesota's scenic, 575-mile portion of the Great River Road, an All-American Road and National Scenic Byway that spans 10 states along the Mississippi River. Bucket list-worthy stops include the Mississippi River headwaters at Itasca State ParkNational Eagle Center in Wabasha, Charles A. Lindbergh House and Museum in Little Falls and many more.

  5. Do a Juicy Lucy Tour
    Juicy Lucy burger The Nook

    The Nook, St. Paul / Courtesy Visit Saint Paul

    Do a Juicy Lucy Tour

    One of Minnesota’s most famous meals is a burger stuffed with molten cheese. The beloved “Juicy Lucy” burger is found at many restaurants throughout the state, but some of the most famous iterations are concentrated in the Twin Cities at Matt’s Bar5-8 ClubThe Nook and Blue Door Pub. Get a group of friends together and taste your way through town to determine your favorite.

  6. Explore a Museum
    Science Museum of Minnesota in Saint Paul

    Science Museum of Minnesota in Saint Paul  / Paul Vincent

    Explore a Museum

    Museums dedicated to art, history, science, and more are scattered throughout Minnesota. The Science Museum of Minnesota and Minnesota Children's Museum in St. Paul are must-sees for families. In Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Institute of Art is the Twin Cities’ encyclopedic museum, housing more than 80,000 objects spanning 5,000 years of world history. Called Mia for short, this impressive attraction is regularly ranked among the top 10 comprehensive art museums in the country. Admission is free, with special exhibits for an additional fee. Find more must-see art museums across Minnesota.

  7. Visit a Trendy Food Hall
    Opening week at Eat Street Crossing

    Opening week at Eat Street Crossing 

    Visit a Trendy Food Hall

    Food halls are the latest foodie trend to hit Minnesota. Taste your way around and shop for local goods at Midtown Global Market, Malcolm Yards and Eat Street Crossing in Minneapolis. 

  8. Explore the Transformed Mines of Cuyuna
    Mountain biker, Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area

    Hugging the curves at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area

    Explore the Transformed Mines of Cuyuna

    The iron-ore mines in the Cuyuna Lakes region closed in 1984 and sat dormant for decades — until now. Over the past decade, they've been transformed into a world-class destination for mountain bikingwinter fat biking, scuba diving, hiking, paddling, and more. The old mining lakes are full of fish and even a few surprises. Scuba divers will find lakes so clear they have 40-foot visibility. You can find old mining equipment, trucks and even a spooky Jason Voorhees statue just waiting to be discovered.   

  9. Pick Your Produce at the Farm
    Blueberry Fields of Stillwater bucket

    Blueberry Fields of Stillwater bucket / Andrew Parks

    Pick Your Produce at the Farm

    You may have gone apple picking in the fall but have you gone strawberry picking in the summer? Head to a local you-pick farm to find a bounty of delicious strawberries, blueberries, peppers, beans, corn and more. For more information about Minnesota you-pick farms, visit Minnesota Grown.

  10. Stop at an Iconic Roadside Attraction
    Minnesota's largest ball of twine

    The largest ball of twine in Darwin / Jessica Brouillette

    Stop at an Iconic Roadside Attraction

    Minnesota is home to many quirky and fun roadside attractions like the World's Largest Ball of Twine and the Jolly Green Giant. Other larger-than-life monuments include a giant Red Wing boot, loon, hockey stick and multiple walleye.

  11. See Tony Award-Winning Theater
    Children's Theatre Company actors perform in Cinderella

    Cinderella delights all ages at Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis / Dan Norman

    See Tony Award-Winning Theater

    Minnesota's commitment to the arts is showcased statewide with local theaters, award-winning theaters like the Guthrie and Children's Theatre Company, and a plethora of touring shows making their way through Minnesota. Catch a show this season

  12. Go on a Brewery Tour (or Two or Three...)
    Forager Brewery in Rochester

    Forager Brewery in Rochester

    Go on a Brewery Tour (or Two or Three...)

    Minnesota’s breweries just keep adding up; there are more than 150 across the state, so taste as many local beers and ciders as you like (responsibly, of course). Minnesota's breweries are also crafting delicious non-alcoholic beers to enjoy.

  13. Marvel at a Mansion
    Glensheen Mansion exterior in summer, Duluth

    Glensheen Mansion in summer, Duluth / Dennis O'Hara

    Marvel at a Mansion

    Minnesota is home to beautiful historic homes like the James J. Hill House and Alexander Ramsey House in St. Paul, Hormel Historic Home in Austin, Glensheen in Duluth, and the Plummer House and Mayowood Mansion in Rochester. Take a step back in time and marvel at the amazing architecture, furniture and design of these historic homes. Many offer tours, special decorations for the holidays and other events throughout the year.

  14. Get a Taste of Minnesota's Craft Cocktail Scene
    The cocktail room at Vikre Distillery

    Vikre Distillery

    Get a Taste of Minnesota's Craft Cocktail Scene

    Plan a visit to a Minnesota distillery or cocktail room. Sip and sample a variety of spirits and learn how they're made during a tour.

  15. Two Words: Music Festivals!
    Lowertown Blues Festival

    In mid-July, head to Mears Park for St. Paul's free, two-day Lowertown Blues & Funk Festival / Minnesota Blues Society

    Two Words: Music Festivals!

    Home to legends including Prince, Bob Dylan and contemporary acts like Atmosphere, Dessa and Trampled by Turtles, Minnesota has a great music scene and such major festivals as WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, Mid West Music Fest in Winona, and Winstock in Winsted. 

  16. Stroll a Charming Main Street
    Stillwater Leo's Malt Shop family

    Leo's Grill & Malt Shop in Stillwater / Micah Kvidt

    Stroll a Charming Main Street

    Minnesota is practically overflowing with adorable downtowns, complete with the requisite independent boutiques, ice cream shopsantique stores and historic architecture. Explore one of the many charming main streets in towns including Little FallsNisswaRed Wing and Stillwater (just to name a few).

  17. Go Whitewater Rafting
    A family enjoys swiftwater rafting in Jay Cooke State Park, Carlton

    Swiftwater rafting in Jay Cooke State Park, Carlton / Micah Kvidt

    Go Whitewater Rafting

    Did you know you can go whitewater rafting in Minnesota? It’s true! Chase the rapids on the St. Louis River with Minnesota Whitewater Rafting Tours in Cloquet, Swiftwater Adventures in Carlton, or with Hard Water Sports on the Kettle River in Sandstone.

  18. Take a Hike
    A group of friends hike in the fall at Frontenac State Park

    A group of friends hiking at Frontenac State Park / Paul Vincent

    Take a Hike

    Get your boots dirty this year and take a hike on one of Minnesota’s many hiking trails. Gaze at the fall colors on one of our favorite seasonal hikes, bundle up and go winter hiking, or bring your furry friend along to a dog-friendly trail and a brewery.

  19. Discover Minnesota's 11,842 Lakes
    EMB - Jim of Cirrus Aircraft sailing on Lake Harriet

    Jim of Cirrus Aircraft goes sailing on Lake Harriet  / Paul Vincent

    Discover Minnesota's 11,842 Lakes

    Minnesota may be known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” but it's actually home to 11,842. Spend some time on or near the the water fishing, boating, swimming, skiing, tubing, or walking around the lakes.

  20. Shop 'Til You Drop
    Three women shopping at Mall of America

    Mall of America in Bloomington

    Shop 'Til You Drop

    Minnesota is home to Mall of America, numerous outlet malls and boutiques galore. Did you know that Southdale Shopping Center in Edina was America’s first enclosed shopping center? Best of all, there is no sales tax on clothing or shoes!

  21. Cheer On the Home Team
    MInnesota United FC soccer team at Allianz Field

    Minnesota United FC play Major League Soccer at Allianz Field in St. Paul

    Cheer On the Home Team

    Enjoy outdoor baseball and cheer on the Minnesota Twins at Target Field, visit Target Center for the Minnesota Timberwolves and four-time WNBA champions, the Minnesota Lynx. Head to downtown St. Paul and be part of the "Team of 18,000" at the Xcel Energy Center for a Wild game, cheer on one of six charter franchises of the Professional Women's Hockey League or visit Allianz Field for a Minnesota United FC match. The Minnesota Vikings play at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, home to Super Bowl LII and the X Games.

  22. Go for a Bike Ride
    Midtown Greenway Bike Trail

    The Midtown Greenway Bike Trail in Minneapolis  / Paola Carlson-Sanchez

    Go for a Bike Ride

    Minnesota has more than 4,000 miles of paved bike trails throughout the state, plus dozens of mountain biking areas. Learn more about Minnesota’s biking scene by visiting our biking page.

  23. Hit the Links
    Lake City's Jewel Golf Club

    Lake City's Jewel Golf Club / Micah Kvidt

    Hit the Links

    As home to more than 500 incredible golf courses, planning an unforgettable golf vacation in Minnesota is par for the course. Find unique golf holes throughout Minnesota or spend an epic 72 hours golfing in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Brainerd, or northeast Minnesota.

  24. Explore Minnesota with Your Furry Friend
    Woman hiking with dogs in Lester Park, Duluth.

    Woman hiking with dogs in Lester Park, Duluth / Alyssa Hei

    Explore Minnesota with Your Furry Friend

    Discover pet-friendly travel ideas, from dog-friendly hikes and breweries to offbeat experiences.

  25. Stay Overnight
    Northern lights over a houseboat in Voyageurs National Park

    Northern lights over a houseboat in Voyageurs National Park

    Stay Overnight

    Minnesota's unique lodging options run the gamut from houseboats and tugboats to treehouses and lighthouses.

Caitlin Hannah

Caitlin Hannah is Explore Minnesota's senior digital social strategist. When traveling around the state, she likes spending time near the water, hiking, antique shopping, trying new restaurants, and watching hockey.