Safer Ways to Explore Minnesota This Summer
Safer Ways to Explore Minnesota This Summer
By Caitlin Hannah
Summer in Minnesota is a special time. This summer will be a little different, but if you take the appropriate precautions, you can still get out and enjoy the season with these travel ideas.
Go for a Hike
Looking to stretch your legs? With a wide variety of trail types across the state, hiking at Minnesota's 75 state parks and recreation areas is a great way to experience the state’s diverse landscapes and get in a socially distanced workout. Lace up your hiking boots and go chasing waterfalls, take a forest bath or experience Minnesota’s incredible native tallgrass prairies.
Hop on a Bike
Explore Minnesota on two wheels along our 4,000 miles of paved bike trails across the state. Minneapolis and St. Paul are some of the most bike-friendly cities in the nation, or if you love small towns and charming main streets, ride the Root River Trail through southeast Minnesota to see towns like Harmony, Preston and Lanesboro.
Mountain bikers have plenty of options right here in Minnesota, too. Nationally recognized trail centers like Duluth and Cuyuna are some of the top mountain bike destinations in the Midwest, and you’ll find an incredible variety of places to shred across the rest of the state.
Get Back to Nature with Birding
Birding is a tranquil and rewarding way to experience nature that practically anyone can do—no special equipment required. It’s also perfectly suited to social distancing since it’s an activity that relies on avoiding populated areas by design.
Many birds have migrated back for the season and nearly 250 species of birds call Minnesota home. In northwest Minnesota, the aptly named Pine to Prairie Birding Trail stretches more than 200 miles between Fergus Falls in the south to Warroad in the north, with 45 viewing sites along the way. Other popular birding spots include the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington, Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in Waite Park and the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge in Middle River.
Sign up for our free birding report to discover more fantastic birding destinations.
Enjoy a Meal Outdoors
Restaurants across the state continue to offer curbside pickup or takeout options, and there’s no better place to enjoy your meal than the great outdoors. When you go to pick up your next takeout meal, pack a blanket and visit your favorite open space to dine alfresco. Just be sure to clean up after yourself and leave no trace.
Cruise a Scenic Byway
For a little taste of adventure, hop in your car and hit the open road on one of Minnesota’s 22 scenic byways. These winding roads bring you through lake country, waterfalls, bluffs, prairies and city parks, so there’s a route for every traveler. In addition to their scenery, these routes are noted for their cultural, historic, natural and recreational qualities.
With 11,842 lakes and 5 rivers, there’s plenty of space to get out on the water and go fishing in Minnesota. Walleye is Minnesota’s state fish and a favorite of many anglers, but our bass fishing has also been gaining national attention. Other sought-after species include trout, panfish, northern pike and muskie. Just looking to dip your toes in the water? Fly fishing is one of the most beginner-friendly ways to go fishing in Minnesota. Many anglers will fish in a small stream or river where they can stand in the water with waders and a vest. You can also fish from a boat, float tube, from shore or even a paddle board.
Sign up for our weekly fishing report to hear about where the fish are biting from local experts.
Hit the Links
With courses once again open across Minnesota, golfing is a great way to get in some steps and enjoy the warm weather. Golfers that have been itching to get out may want to enjoy one of Minnesota’s golf trails. These courses are grouped together so you can enjoy multiple rounds and hit several top-rated courses all in one trip. Call or check individual course websites for more information about safety guidelines and reservations.
Take a Sculpture Walk or Visit a Sculpture Park
Sculpture walks are self-guided public art trails featuring works from artists from around the world, and you’ll find them in Minnesota towns both large and small. It’s a great way to get outside, admire the arts and discover some hidden gems along the way. You’ll find notable public sculpture walks in Mankato, Stillwater and Bemidji, among other towns. You can also enjoy public art at Franconia Sculpture Garden, Nyberg Sculpture Park in Vining, Norby Sculpture Garden in New London and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
Visit Minnesota's Most Instagrammable Murals
If you enjoy public art paired with Instagram, you can get lots of likes at Minnesota’s most iconic murals. Highlights include a concrete mural in Perham weighing 4,000 pounds that features a family of loons plus 50 hidden homages to the area, a series of eight murals in Virginia depicting the history of the Iron Range, and several Faribault murals that showcase notable facts about the area like the invention of the Tilt-A-Whirl or their beloved Pet Parade.
Catch a Movie at the Drive-In
Watching your favorite movies under the stars is a nostalgic tradition for many, and this summer Minnesota’s drive-in theaters will invite many first-timers to join in the fun. Pack your family into the car, bring a couple blankets and your favorite snacks, and head to one of Minnesota’s old-school drive-in theaters.