Your Quintessential Minnesota Bucket List

By Explore Minnesota

We’ve all made those resolutions for the new year that barely make it past the first week in January. But we say this year should be the year you keep your resolutions going all year long. Here's your guide to 25 unique events, activities and destinations that can be found only in Minnesota this year.

1. Do go chasing waterfalls 

Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis
Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis / Kurt Carlson

Experience the thunder of Minnesota's waterfalls. See Minnesota's highest waterfall, 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. Find more waterfalls across the state here.

2. Visit a Native American heritage site

Our Native American Heritage page is your one-stop shop for Native American 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

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

Experience Minnesota's scenic, 575-mile portion of the Great River Road, a National Scenic Byway that spans 10 states along the Mississippi River. Bucket list-worthy stops include the Mississippi River headwaters at Itasca State Park, National 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 at The Nook, St. Paul
Juicy Lucy at The Nook / Visit Saint Paul

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 Bar, 5-8 Club, The Nook and Blue Door Pub. Get a group of friends together and taste your way through town to determine your favorite.

6. Watch a Movie Under the Stars

Plan a night of family fun or a romantic date night and see a movie under the stars. Classic drive-ins can be found around the state, including Vali-Hi in Lake Elmo, Long Prairie Drive-In in Long Prairie, Sky-Vu in Warren and Verne Drive-In in Luverne.

7. Visit a trendy food hall

Keg and Case
Keg and Case Market / Darin Kamnetz

Food halls are the latest foodie trend to hit Minnesota. Taste your way around and shop for local goods at Keg and Case Market in St. Paul, Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis, or Revolution Hall in Roseville at Rosedale Center. The much-anticipated Dayton’s Project on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis is scheduled to open in 2019.

8. Explore the Transformed Mines of Cuyuna 

The iron-ore mines in the Cuyuna Lakes region closed in 1984 and sat dormant for a decade—until now. They are now a world-class destination for mountain 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

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

Ball of Twine Museum Darwin

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. Go on a Winter Snowfari

Grab a pair of snowshoes and explore the winter landscape. Some great spots to soak in the sparkling scenery include the Gunflint Trail, Superior National Forest, and any of Minnesota’s 75 state parks and recreation areas.

12. 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).

13. 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 Booming 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!

Minnesota Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival in Richmond
Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Festival, Richmond

Home to legends including Prince, Bob Dylan and contemporary acts like Atmosphere, Lizzo and Trampled by Turtles, Minnesota has a great music scene and festivities surrounding it. Use this list as inspiration for some great ones.

16. Stroll a New Charming Main Street

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

17. 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

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 10 fall hikes, bundle up and go winter hiking, or bring your furry friend along to these dog-friendly trails.

19. 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 the water fishing, boating, swimming, skiing or tubing.

20. Shop 'til you Drop

hastings street scene
Antique shops in downtown Hastings

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 

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, or the new Allianz Field for the Minnesota United FC. 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

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

As home to more than 500 incredible golf courses, planning an unforgettable golf vacation in Minnesota is par for the course. Join Tom Lehman and discover his bucket list of Minnesota golf courses.

24. Explore Minnesota with Your Furry Friend

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

25. Stay Overnight

Houseboat with northern lights in Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs National Park

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

Share your Minnesota experiences this year on social media using #OnlyinMN. Discover more events, activities and destinations you can find only in Minnesota by browsing the #OnlyinMN page.