Forests, low mountains, prairies, the Mississippi River and over 10,000 lakes. In addition, Minnesota is located on the northern border of the United States with Canada. Minnesota is a great place for outdoor activities and offers a rich cultural heritage. Incidentally, the state’s name comes from the Sioux (Dakota) word “Mnísota,” which translates to “muddy water.” Minnesota is affectionately known as North Star as well as the Gopher State. The latter name derives from the word for the thirteen-striped squirrel, which is common in Minnesota.
Minnesota is the 32nd state of the United States and forms the so-called Northwest Corner of the United States. This makes the state the northernmost state next to Alaska in the United States. Area-wise, Minnesota is the twelfth largest state in the United States and second largest in the Midwest. These are the 16 most beautiful places in Minnesota.
16. Split Rock Lighthouse
Perched atop a 39.6-meter-high mountain on the rocky shores of Lake Superior, Split Rock Lighthouse was an intact 1910 lighthouse that helped guide ships in the stormy western waters of Lake Superior. In modern times, Split Rock Lighthouse is both a Minnesota Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Little has changed since the lighthouse was built. At the top of the 32-step spiral staircase, the lantern room contains an original French Fresnel lens, which always rotates around the original clockwork. Although the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1969, the lanterns are still in use and are lit every November 10 at the Edmund Fitzgerald Beacon Lighting Ceremony.
15. Lake Itasca
Lake Itasca, believed to be the main source of the Mississippi River, is located in northwest Clearwater County of Minnesota, USA. With its glacial origin, the lake covers an area of 4.4 square kilometers and has a maximum depth of 12 meters. From the lake, which is 450 meters above sea level, the Mississippi River flows 3,780 kilometers south into the Gulf of Mexico.
William Morrison, a fur trader, was the first white-skinned person to visit the lake, possibly in 1803 or 1804, but it was explorer and ethnographer Henry Rowe Schoolcraft who suggested Lake Itasca as the true source of the Mississippi River in 1832. The explorer Joseph Nicollet, originating from France, surveyed the area in 1836 and acknowledged Schoolcraft’s claims to be true. Several geologists have speculated that other glacial lakes in the area are also a source of water for the river’s headwaters.
Minneapolis is a city of millions that knows how to combine cosmopolitanism with its traditional Midwestern past. Some of the most sought-after musicians and art forms in the world are born here, expressing the spirit of the unconventional, free-spirited, soulful and unpretentious city. The city satisfies the thirst for creativity with impressive museums, original street art and a variety of unique independent stores, bars, restaurants and galleries. Cult pubs are hard to describe.
Betty Danger’s Country Club is no different. At this quaint pink-and-green palace just blocks from the Mississippi River, Midwestern California Mexican cuisine is recommended along with colorful cocktails to awaken the eyes and taste buds in a charming palm garden. Minneapolis has several creative enclaves wherein artists give free rein to their creativity.
But the metropolis is home to a major art institution named after a wealthy philanthropist and designed by a world-renowned architect. The neoclassical Minneapolis Institute of Art, built in 1915, is one of the most traditional and grand museums. Again and again throughout the century, the collection in the museum grows.
13. Minnehaha Falls Regional Park
One of the most popular and also the oldest parks of Minneapolis, is Minnehaha Falls Regional Park with its majestic 13.10 meters high waterfall. With unforgettable views of the river and limestone bluffs, Minnehaha Falls Regional Park attracts more than 850,000 visitors each year. The biggest tourist attraction is, of course, the waterfall.
There is no fee to visit Minnehaha Falls Regional Park or to see the waterfall. Paid and free parking is available. Minnehaha Falls Regional Park has impressive amenities including a bandstand, various gardens, wading pools, historic buildings, a dog park, bronze sculptures, a disc golf course, and a bike rental shop. There are numerous biking and hiking trails, many of which lead to Fort Snelling State Park.
12. Paul’s Cathedral
Paul’s Cathedral stands out as the skyline of St. Paul and is the highest point in downtown. Not only for parishioners, but for everyone, the Cathedral provides an opportunity to increase appreciation for art and immortalize one’s inner self here. The congregation periodically organizes events such as organ recitals featuring the church’s two organ skinners. In this regard, the Minnesota Orchestra and the Vocal Essence are part of various groups that may perform in the cathedral from time to time.
Of course, any Catholic can attend services at St. Paul’s Cathedral. St. Paul, by the way, has six small chapels dedicated to the patron saints of the country of origin of the many Catholic immigrants. For the immigrants with German background, St. Boniface was commemorated in the chapel. Guided tours are Tuesdays through Fridays at 1:00 pm.
11. Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
A true Minnesota highlight is the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. It offers wonderful exhibits and activities. The Como Park Zoo includes a variety of animals. The Marjory McNeely Conservatory has an extensive network of indoor gardens with exotic plants and beautiful exhibits. At Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, visitors’ senses are overwhelmed by a unique experience.
Exotic animals in the zoo such as gorillas, polar bears, giraffes, sea lions, orangutans and tigers are impressive. The “tropical encounters” exhibit immerse visitors in the attractions, sounds and smells of the South American rainforest. The beautiful conservatory features seasonal flower shows, tropical gardens, ferns, orchids, bonsai and a popular Japanese garden.
10. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness covers 400,000 acres of forestland with about 1,000 glacial lakes on the Midwest border between Canada and the United States. There are no roads here, no stores, no restaurants. If you can paddle a canoe, you will have tremendous fun here. The area is an extremely beautiful paradise for canoeists, campers, fishermen, hikers and for those who want to escape from their stressful everyday life and find peace in the solitude of nature.
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is located north about 430 kilometers from Minneapolis near the small towns of Ely and Grand Marais. Peak season is from May through September. Winter temperatures in Minnesota are often well below 0 degrees. Snow drifts usually reach a height of 1.50 m or more. In winter, the area offers ideal conditions for skiing, dog sledding, snowshoeing, and other outdoor sports.
9. Gooseberry Falls State Park
Gooseberry Falls is considered the North Shore gateway. The area is popular for its exceptional waterfalls, river gorges, Lake Superior shorelines, Civilian Conservationist rock and timber structures, and Northern Forest fauna. Visitors here enjoy listening to the roar as the Middle, Upper and Lower Falls of the Gooseberry River flow through rocky gorges. Further, waves, boats or a beautiful moonrise on Lake Superior can be seen from the ancient lava flow known as Picnic Flow.
Hiking or skiing through evergreen, cottonwood and birch forests to see Fifth Falls is recommended. The Rocky Lake Superior shoreline, Gooseberry River, a total of five waterfalls and the gorges, Picnic Flow and Agate Beach are highlights of Gooseberry Falls State Park. The trail passes through a respectably diverse vegetation cover consisting of varied evergreen cottonwood and birch forests as well as habitat for plants, birds and other wildlife. Gooseberry Falls State Park has diverse populations of arctic alpine plants because the native climate is regulated by Lake Superior.
8. Mississippi River
The Mississippi River meanders out of the marshes around Lake Itasca into open farmland. The Minnesota River joins the Mississippi River at St. Paul. From here, it continues into the fertile Midwest of the United States. The north of the river leading to St. Louis is tamed. The Corps of Engineers manages the Mississippi River with the help of a system of 27 dams and locks.
Even though there was flooding at times as a result. But the dam at least allowed regulated navigation. A number of nature parks, fish and bird paradises and deer have been created along the coast. The length of the Mississippi River is 3,766 km. The total length of the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers is 5,971 km.
7. Lake Superior
Lake Superior, bordered north by Ontario, Canada and Minnesota, USA and south by Wisconsin and Michigan, is the largest of the five famous Great Lakes of North America, covering 82,000 square kilometers, and is the largest freshwater lake even in existence. It is the largest lake in the world by area, so to speak.
On all sides of the lake, which due to its sheer size resembles an ocean in most places, there are countless vistas, gorgeous landscapes and amazing natural wonders, the Lake Superior Circle, which completely encircles the lake. A visit, an extensive walk is always worthwhile. Popular coastal areas on the U.S. side of Lake Superior include: Duluth, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Isle Royale National Park, Keweenaw Peninsula, Apostle Island National Lakeshore and the North Shore Scenic Drive.
6. Itasca State Park
If you haven’t yet experienced the magic of Itasca State Park in Minnesota, you should take the opportunity to do so. Popular as the source of the mighty Mississippi River, Itasca State Park is a magical place. In the summer, there are varied opportunities to explore the scenic surroundings by bike or by hiking. Fire towers to climb and 1 acre of majestic pine forest can also be admired. Itasca State Park in Minnesota was established in 1891. It is the oldest state park in Minnesota.
Itasca State Park’s 32,000 acres are home to more than 100 lakes, but the upper Mississippi River access is the most famous. The diversity of plant life within the park helps many species of wildlife. Bird watching is great. Visitors can discover the bird life for themselves. Birds to see include loons, cormorants, divers, herons, owls, ducks, hummingbirds, tits, woodpeckers, nuthatches, tanagers, vireos, finches, warblers and other bird species that can be seen at any time of day. On the paths in the park cross already once with deer, squirrels and chipmunks. The park is also home to beavers, black bears, porcupines and wolves.
5. Temperance River
The Temperance River Park is located in an area known for its steep cliffs on the shores of Lake Superior. This park receives warm breezes from the lake during the winter days and cool breezes during the warm summer weeks. Attractions include Lake Superior camping, fabulous views at Carlton Peak, and spectacular geological formations along Temperance Gorge. It is managed by Tettegouche State Park. An interesting geologic feature of Temperance River Park is the confined gorge of the Temperance River with its numerous waterfalls. The fast flowing river water has deepened outcrops in and along the river.
4. Silver Bay
The town of Silver Bay has its founding day on May 1, 1954 as a housing project Beaver Bay. The company town, built to process taconite, was mined and shipped by rail from Babbitt 60 miles northwest. Silver Bay got its familiar name in the 1960s and became a celebrity when the Reserve Corporation dumped taconite tailings into Lake Superior. In 1972, they were suspended and charged with violating the 1899 Port and River Act. The prohibition on dumping hazardous materials into interstate waters remained in effect. In 1977, after much trial and error, a new landfill was built 11 miles inland.
There are many great adventures and attractions to experience in the area that visitors do not have a long drive to get to. Visitors come to the heart of the North Coast, so to speak. The Silver Bay region is truly the centerpiece of the North Shore. The moving landscapes and most popular attractions, including Gooseberry State Park and Split Rock, are within a stone’s throw. Lighthouse State Park, Palisade Head as well as Shovel Point likewise. Inland is the endless Tettegouche State Park with miles of ski, snowmobile and hiking trails that take visitors into the thickets of the Palisade Valley and Superior Hiking Trails.
3. Port Of Duluth
The Port of Duluth is located on the west side of the St. Lawrence Seaway. It is considered the largest port directly on the Great Lakes. More than 86,000 inhabitants are accommodated by St. Louis County in Minnesota. The complex is located on the other side of the river from Superior, Wisconsin, at the confluence of the St. Louis River and Lake Superior.
Together, the two ports form the Duluth Superior Port. The Duluth Port is managed by the Duluth Seaway and the Port Authority, which was established by the Minnesota Legislature in 1955. The port measures 19 square miles of land and water with 49 miles of shoreline and 17 miles of dredged channels.
45 million tons of cargo pass through the Duluth port each year. It is also a member of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition, a collective U.S.-Canadian group that provides passenger cruise relief on the Great Lakes. Among the companies, those offering cruises on the Great Lakes include Great Lakes Cruise Company, American Canadian Caribbean Cruise Lines, Classic Golf Cruises, St. Lawrence Cruise Lines and Pearl Seas Cruises. Travelers will find cruise options around the Great Lakes, Saint Lawrence Seaway and the Atlantic Ocean.
2. Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs National Park covers 218,055 acres and is a year-round adventure paradise with exposed rocky ridges, wetlands, cliffs, forests, lakes and streams. It is a transition point between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems among dense southern and northern hardwood forests and in managed wilderness areas. Whether visitors enjoy Voyageurs National Park in the water, on land, or on ice, there is a fun factor for everyone. Located within North America, Voyageurs National Park is as fascinating today as it was when French trappers arrived in Minnesota in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Voyageurs National Park delights with its lush, dense forests, winding waterway and twinkling starry skies. The lakes and rivers of Voyageurs National Park (about 440 km north of Minneapolis) take visitors back to the days when French tourists navigated their canoes through clear and dark waters. Each canoeist can steer himself through these waters. Those who do not have their own canoe can rent a canoe or kayak from one of the park attendants in the park and surrounding area and begin exploring. There are also many hiking trails in Voyageurs National Park that can be explored in the winter with snowshoes or snowboards.
1. Mall of America
Located just minutes from downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Mall of America is popular as a tourist and vacation destination. The Mall of America offers over 520 upscale stores and welcomes more than 40 million visitors annually. Apparel and footwear are not subject to excise tax. The Mall of America has more than 50 restaurants and versatile attractions for the entire family.
The Mall of America is within walking distance of the “Twin Cities” of Minneapolis and St. Paul with lake views, unique historic sites and cultural offerings. America’s most famous mall offers the largest indoor theme park, many other unique attractions, two adjacent hotels and a world-class dining scene.