Things You Must do in Minnesota

Thinking about traveling to Minnesota? Whether you’re planning an extended vacation and want to make a list of the best things to do in Minnesota or looking for a weekend getaway, you need to know what the state offers. 

But finding all the things to do in Minnesota will take hours, maybe even days, of research. And there’s the chance you’ll miss some important information about landmarks or attractions you would’ve wanted to see. 

In this guide, you’ll learn about Minnesota, fun facts about Minnesota, the best things to do in Minnesota, the best national parks in Minnesota, expensive home sales MN, and famous sites to see in Minnesota. Think of this as your one-stop shop for your destination planning. Let’s start with some general facts about the 32nd state to join the union. 

Downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota at night time as seen from the famous stone arch bridge

About Minnesota

Here are some things to know about Minnesota. It’s known as “The North Star State” and used to be home to several Native American tribes, including the Dakota Sioux.

A summary of your general need-to-know information about Minnesota includes:

  • Its state bird is the common loon.
  • Minnesota’s state flower is the pink and white lady slipper. 
  • The state’s population is over 5.5 million, and its largest city is Minneapolis. 
  • The state capital is St. Paul. 
  • Minnesota officially became a state in 1858.

Minnesota was originally created as a territory from a combination of land the U.S. took over from Great Britain and France. What now forms modern Minnesota also includes land that came from treaties with Native Americans. One little-known fact about Minnesota is that when the Civil War started, the state was the first to volunteer its troops. 

The state’s name originates from the Dakota Indian word mnisota. The word translates to “cloudy (or muddy) water.” Some also interpret the words’ meaning as “sky-tinted water.” Minnesota is unofficially known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes since it has over 11,000. 

To the state’s north is Canada. Minnesota also shares its borders with Wisconsin, Lake Superior, North and South Dakota, and Iowa. The state’s terrain features valleys, forests, mountains, hills, and plains. One of the things to know about Minnesota is that the state’s landscape was carved out by glaciers during the ice age. 

Fun Facts About Minnesota

Your knowledge wouldn’t be complete without fun facts about Minnesota. It’s time to delve into some facts about Minnesota that are sure to make you smile, laugh, and even go hmmm.

  • Pop-up toasters, water skis, Scotch tape, and grocery bags featuring handles were all invented in Minnesota.
  • The company responsible for the creation of the Milky Way candy bar started in Minnesota. Milky Way’s original name was Mar-O-Bar.
  • Archaeologists believe humans first came to the land known today as Minnesota between 9,000 and 12,000 years in the past. 
  • Minneapolis is home to 420,000 people.
  • A change in policies has recently spiked an increase in demand for family houses. If you’re looking to “sell my house fast Minneapolis” or searching “best ways to sell a house in MN”, you are sure to find a buyer!
  • The entire state’s population is 5 million.
  • Minnesota spans 86,000 miles.
  • Minnesota’s nickname is the Gopher State.
  • The state’s lowest elevation is at Lake Superior. Its altitude is 601 feet.
  • Minnesota’s highest elevation is 2,301 feet, on the top of Eagle Mountain.
  • Eagle Mountain is one of the country’s top 40 highest elevations. 

Now that you know some general fun facts about Minnesota, here are fun facts about its topography.  

  • Minnesota’s rivers and streams span over 69,200 miles. You’d have to go around the earth’s equator three times to walk this distance. 
  • 52 different tree species are native to the state. These include the American elm and the mountain maple.
  • The rusty patched bumble bee was made Minnesota’s official state bee in 2009.

Best Things to Do in MN

If you’re looking for a list of the best things to do in Minnesota, don’t skip this section! You’ll learn what to do in Minnesota this weekend and the things you must do in Minnesota. 

North Shore Scenic Drive

If you’re a nature lover and want to see Lake Superior, you’ll love this drive. It’s rated as one of the top 10 things to do in Minnesota. This attraction is adaptable to singles, couples, and families. 

As you drive along the north side of Lake Superior, you’ll see the Split Rock Lighthouse and Grand Portage State Park. Plan a day of fishing, hiking, or snowshoeing in the winter. Take in the natural beauty of waterfalls and the lake. 

Mall of America

In Bloomington, you’ll find one of the 15 best things to do in Minnesota. Visit the largest mall in North America and get your shop on with over 500 stores. But if shopping’s not your thing, you can still visit this mall’s attractions. It’s worth stopping by to see the aquarium. 

Minneapolis Institute of Art

One of the best things to do in Minneapolis is visiting its art museum. Look through over 90,000 creative pieces that span 5,000 years. There’s so much to see, including works that originate from Europe to Egypt. Most people need at least an hour and a half to fully explore the museum, and art lovers should plan on visiting multiple days to appreciate fully what the museum has to offer.

Other Must-See Attractions

  • Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
  • Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
  • Cathedral of Saint Paul
  • Minnehaha Falls
  • Munsinger Clemens Gardens
  • Valleyfair Amusement Park
  • International Wolf Center
  • Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge
  • Niagra Cave
  • Greyhound Bus Museum
  • Pipestone National Monument
  • Guthrie Theater

Best National Parks in MN

The National Parks in Minnesota offer stunning views of the state’s landscape. Minnesota parks also represent a rich and diverse cultural history. Here’s a breakdown of the best National Parks in Minnesota.

Voyageurs National Park

You have to go across the water to get to this park, making it one of the state’s most unique. This park is nestled next to the Canadian border. It contains 200,000 acres of land, 655 miles along the shore, and 500 islands. You’ll find activities like motorboating, canoeing, and camping.

Mississippi National River

Paddle a canoe down 72 miles of the Mississippi when you visit this recreational area. While it’s actually run by local, regional, and state officials, you can find many guided activities. See the sights and go on a guided tour with one of the park’s rangers. You can also catch some fish or set up camp to take in the views.

St. Croix Riverway

As parks in Minnesota go, this is one of the top places to canoe in the state. St. Croix Riverway is also considered to be one of the best canoeing destinations in the country. The river is home to smallmouth bass fish and a plethora of other species. 

Grand Portage 

This is a national monument that’s near Lake Superior. Experience the reenactment of history by park staff, as this site was critical to French-Canadian fur trade routes in the early 1800s. See how the fur traders lived and a museum full of artifacts. 

Wilderness and National Forest Areas

Wilderness and National Forest Areas

If you want to get lost, hike or camp among the trees, one of Minnesota’s parks with miles of forests will be up your alley. The Superior National Forest and the Chippewa National Forest await your arrival. Experience acres of trees, lakes, and rivers. Use one of the campgrounds for a weekend getaway or a weeklong adventure in the woods. 

Famous Sights to See in MN

Sightseeing in MN is easy to do with so many famous sights. Learn about some of the most famous sights in Minnesota below. 

State Capitol

The Minnesota state capitol building is one of the Minnesota sights you have to see. It was built between the late 1800s and early 1900s. However, the state has recently renovated the building to restore it to its original look and feel. 

You can get a guided tour throughout the building, including the governor’s reception room and rotunda. Take a picture in front of the horse chariot statue in front. You can also explore the building on your own with a self-guided tour. The state capitol building is located in St. Paul.

Science Museum

The Science Museum of Minnesota is also located in St. Paul and features hands-on exhibits. Brush up on your knowledge of science or take the kids to see dinosaur fossils and more. You can even extract DNA in an interactive lab about the human body.

Mill City Museum

This museum is in Minneapolis and is actually inside a former 1870’s mill. Go back in time to the industrial age. See how meals were cooked during this period and how people learned to operate railroad cars. The museum also has a gift shop and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat.

Sculpture Garden

While you’re in Minneapolis, stop by the sculpture garden. Built in 1988, the garden has over 40 artistic features. See unique sculptures and enjoy the landscaped grounds.

Nickelodeon Universe

This attraction is inside the Mall of America in Bloomington. It’s a kid’s dream with rides and other types of theme park fun. Kiddos can also meet characters like Spongebob and the Ninja Turtles.  

Conclusion

Well, there you have it: a guide to the best things to do in MN to make planning your next trip that much easier. We buy homes in Minnesota, so we know all about MN! Next time you’re there, be sure to take in as many of the mentioned sights as possible for the full-blown Minnesota experience! 

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