Minnesota offers stunning scenery and world-class tours, dining, entertainment and shopping. Hundreds of historic sites and museums relay the stories of determined pioneers from Germany, Scandinavia and Central Europe. The towns they founded are now noted for their historic architecture, antique shops, inns and ethnic festivals. In the countryside there are bike trails, canoe rivers, and fishing lakes and streams. And in a state with tax-free shopping on clothing and shoes, Mall of America is a shopper's dream come true!
The following attractions are a few of the highlights in a state filled with interesting sites—from outdoor adventures, world-class theaters and museums, to fascinating historic sites. A complete listing of the various attractions in all corners of Minnesota is also available on this website.
Located in Bloomington, this is the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the U.S. under one roof, with more than 520 stores, 60 restaurants, 14 movie theaters, Nickelodeon Universe indoor amusement park, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, mini-golf, and other attractions including the new FlyOver America and Crayola Experience.
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In addition to the mall, Minnesota offers even more shopping, from outlet malls to antique shops and more. Minnesota is a shopping paradise, with no sales tax on clothing, shoes, food or medicine.
Old Man River, the mighty Mississippi, begins as a tiny stream flowing out of Lake Itasca in Itasca State Park, between Park Rapids and Bemidji. A marker at the source states, "Here 1,475 feet (2,373 kilometers) above the ocean, the mighty Mississippi begins to flow on its winding way 2,552 miles (4,083 kilometers) to the Gulf of Mexico." Visitors usually cross the source on stepping stones, which according to Indian legend, will lead to a long and fruitful life.
Along the northern border with Canada, Minnesota has two national treasures. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is the only federally protected canoe area in the country, with more than 1,300 lakes offering canoeing and camp sites. Voyageurs National Park is the only freshwater-based national park in the United States; boating is the recommended method of transportation. Tour boats, motorboats and houseboats are all available for rent.
On the banks of the Mississippi River in the southern river town of Wabasha, the National Eagle Center showcases hundreds of migrating and wintering eagles in a sparkling new facility, including five resident eagles who can no longer survive in the wild. The eagle-watching deck has spotting scopes and binoculars for visitors.
Other Wildlife Education Centers
In addition to our national bird, two other wildlife centers in Ely help educate and preserve Minnesota's wildlife. The International Wolf Center has exhibits and a resident wolf pack to help us learn more about this often misunderstood creature. The North American Bear Center, is a nonprofit museum with indoor and outdoor viewing of live black bears in natural habitat with a pond and waterfall. The 2.5-acre enclosure is home to four resident bears - Ted, Lucky, Holly and Tasha - that are always within view of the large windows.
Each year in August, Duluth hosts one of the largest outdoor musical festivals, with more than 30 performances on two concert stages. Located on the shore of Lake Superior, Duluth welcomes ships from around the world that glide under the Aerial Lift Bridge to enter the harbor. Duluth is also the gateway to the North Shore Drive along Lake Superior, recognized as one of the top scenic drives in the United States.
Hazeltine National Golf Club was the site of the 2016 Ryder Cup. Find more information here. In addition, Minnesota has more than 500 beautiful and affordable golf courses found statewide where every golfer, from the novice to the experienced will have a great time. More than 90 percent of the state's courses are open to the general public.
Readers of Laura Ingalls Wilder books and viewers of the television series "Little House on the Prairie" enjoy this museum in Walnut Grove. The actual Wilder dugout home site on Plum Creek is about a mile north of the museum. Each year the Wilder Pageant, an outdoor theatrical production, runs for three weekends in July.
For centuries, American Indians from throughout North America have come to Pipestone to harvest this red soapstone-like material, which is used for making peace pipes and other artifacts, such as turtles and eagles from quarries in southwestern Minnesota. Attractions at the Monument include operating quarries, craftspeople carving the pipestone, and an interpretive center and gift shop. Believed to be sacred ground, the monument is a surprising relief from the surrounding prairie, with forest, rock formations, waterfalls and native plants.
The Guthrie, in a spectacular award-winning facility designed by Jean Nouvel, sits along the banks of the Mississippi River. Productions from contemporary to classical are shown on three stages. In addition to staging performances, the Guthrie is open for visitors to enjoy breathtaking views from the cantilevered bridge over the river or to stop in for drinks or dinner at Sea Change restaurant.
Minneapolis is home to more than 75 theater companies, and many more are found throughout the state. One can find Broadway shows, original, avant-garde productions, Shakespeare comedies or a production written about a part of Minnesota history by a Minnesota playwright.
The Saint Paul Winter Carnival, dating back to 1886, operates from late January to early February and is one of the oldest and largest festivals in the nation. For 10 days, one can find parades and competitions throughout the city of St. Paul. Events include ice and snow sculpting, giant slides, golfing on snow, and races on ice-covered lakes.