This article is supported by the Southern Minnesota Tourism Association.
What better way to celebrate the beginning of spring than exploring Southern Minnesota during this lovely time of year? If you’re planning a trip to the Midwest this spring, be sure to keep Southern Minnesota at the top of your list. The area’s enjoyable temperatures, paired with the variety in landscape and charming towns scattered throughout the region, make it an ideal destination for exploring the great outdoors.
Here are just a few of the incredible experiences you can have in Southern Minnesota this spring:
Take a Scenic Drive
As the weather continues to warm and the flowers begin to bloom, considering taking a drive on one of the stunning scenic byways in Southern Minnesota. Add to your cross-country travels by way of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway, where the road parallels the Mississippi River and runs through charming river towns including Red Wing, Lake City, Wabasha and Winona.
Stay the night at one of the many cozy bed-and-breakfasts or campgrounds along the way while you explore nature and history on the Historic Bluff Country National Scenic Byway. This is the perfect path for those looking to get close to nature by camping, fishing, biking, hiking or kayaking along the way.
Southern Minnesota’s Apple Blossom Scenic Drive is the quintessential route to travel during the spring months, just as the apple orchards blossom with pink and white blooms. Don’t miss the charming community of LaCrescent, considered the apple capital of Minnesota.
See more beautiful flowers by driving along the Shooting Star Scenic Byway, one of the state's first designated wildflower routes, and take time to stop at Lake Louise State Park just north of the Iowa border in LeRoy.
Explore the Outdoors
Find yourself zip lining through the trees at Kerfoot Canopy Tours near Henderson. Explore a suspension bridge, multiple spiral staircases, incredible views, and deep ravines on these tours, which feature more than three hours of activities and more than a mile of zip line. Not one for heights? Rent a canoe on-site and make a day of paddling your way down the Minnesota River.
See the eagles soar this spring in Wabasha, where thousands of bald eagles nest along the banks of the Mississippi River. Visit the National Eagle Center for indoor and outdoor wild eagle viewing, interactive exhibits, and cultural and historical displays. Experience the grandeur of the majestic bird during daily live eagle programs conducted by a naturalist interpreter.
Kick up some dirt and explore the trails of southwest Minnesota on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) at the Appleton Off-Highway Vehicle Park. With 10 miles of 4x4 truck trails, 15 miles of ATV/OHM trails, a 2.5-mile OHM practice track, three enduro tracks, jumps and sand dunes, you are sure to experience the true grit of the outdoors here.
Get Out and Explore Southern Minnesota State Parks
Visit one of the more than 20 Minnesota State Parks in Southern Minnesota.
Try the art of fly fishing at Whitewater State Park in Altura, where the trout streams flow through picturesque woodlands and farmlands. Looking for a more extreme adventure? Look no further than Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne, where the Sioux quartzite cliffs offer ample opportunities for rock climbing.
Get close to nature in Mankato’s Minneopa State Park by walking the waterfall loop trail for close viewing of the natural waterfall. Or travel the Bison Drive, which allows visitors to see a recently introduced herd of purebred bison in the wild.
Discover Native American Heritage
Discover Native American heritage at the Pipestone National Monument. For generations, Native Americans quarried the red pipestone at this site in southwestern Minnesota. Many believe the pipes made at this site release smoke that carries prayers to the Great Spirit. These quarrying and pipemaking traditions continue at the monument to this day.
Be sure to take tours, experience cultural demonstrations, and walk the park trail that leads to the beautiful Winnewissa Falls.
This spring is the perfect occasion to explore Southern Minnesota. With beautiful countryside drives, incredible outdoor adventures, and a rich cultural history to discover, you will be amazed with everything this region has to offer. Plan your trip today at ExploreSouthernMinnesota.com.