7 Best Things To Do in Minnesota
If you are tired of exploring popular sites in the U.S., then you should just opt for states that are equally beautiful but less crowded. Minnesota is one of them. A heavenly place for nature lovers, this underrated state might be just what you need this summer. That's because from the lake-laden North Country to the marble exterior of the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota is absolutely brimming with natural and cultural beauty.
No matter your plans - whether it's wandering down one of the many hiking trails, paddling the waterways, or shopping at the famous Mall of America, Minnesota is more than a land of 10,000 lakes. It's a state with unlimited things to do. Here are some of the best ones:
1. Mall of America
Ok, you must have heard about Mall of America. It's impossible not to know about it. However, if you don't, just know, that your Minnesota bucket list should most definitely include spending a day or more at Bloomington, Minnesota’s Mall of America, the largest shopping mall in the United States. Boasting over 40 million visitors a year, you can literally spend an entire weekend here taking it all in! Not only is Mall of America the nation’s largest retail shopping center, but it is also a mecca of dining, entertainment, and dozens of family-friendly attractions. For families with children, the crown jewel of Mall of America is the indoor Nickelodeon Universe theme park found in the center of the mall! With classic theme-park rides such as rollercoasters, the Log Chute, a Ferris Wheel, and bumper cars, Nickelodeon Universe tops the list of the best things to do in Minnesota with kids! If visiting Mall of America ends up on your bucket list, perhaps you’d like to stay there too. Featuring both luxury and convenience, the Radisson Blu and JW Marriott Minneapolis are attached to the mall itself. With direct access to the Mall of America, you never have to step foot outside during your visit. Exciting, isn't it?
2. Minnesota's North Shore Scenic Drive
Minnesota's North Shore Scenic Drive is a beautiful, 142-mile wilderness journey from Duluth to Grand Portage. Bordered on one side by Lake Superior and on the other by the Sawtooth Mountains, sights include breathtaking cliffs, beaches, and thousands of acres of forest. Lighthouses and waterfalls dot the landscape and there seems to be no end to the recreational opportunities, no matter how much time you got. Many adventures await along the route, including golfing, tent and RV camping, canoeing, hunting, rock climbing, dog sledding, and more. If you are not in a hurry, eight of Minnesota's State Parks are accessible along the way, so you can stop to explore all of them if you want. So while it takes about three hours to make the journey if you drive straight through, you could easily stretch the journey to several days by stopping along the way.
3. Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
The Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is one of the best family attractions in Minnesota. Here, you'll find everything for a complete day of fun for all ages. It's also budget-friendly so win-win. Both attractions are free to enter but donations are encouraged. The zoo has a variety of animals from around the world, ranging from monkeys to polar bears. One of the most enjoyable animal interactions is feeding the giraffes. Available to visitors of all ages, these gentle giants eat Romaine lettuce right out of your hand. The zoo is near completion of a $20-million-dollar expansion, with the addition of the new Como Harbor exhibit. This will be the new home for penguins, otters, and two giant octopuses. There is more to the park than the zoo. Be sure to swing by the conservatory to see a riot of heat-loving plants. A visit to this beautiful glass building makes you feel like you've stepped into the tropics. The Sunken Garden is a colorful area full of fragrant and beautiful plants that change throughout the seasons and is an ideal place to snap a picture or two.
4. Minnesota Marine Art Museum
The Minnesota Marine Art Museum is an art museum in Winona that is located in a unique historical building on the banks of the Mississippi River. It houses five different galleries of art and artifacts which include marine art, folk sculptures, impressionism, Hudson River School paintings, as well as space for traveling exhibits. The museum's primary focus is marine and maritime art. One of the most famous pieces in their collection is one of the two surviving copies of "Washington Crossing the Delaware" by Emanuel Leutze, which was on display at the White House prior to becoming a part of the Marine Art Museum.
5. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is an arboretum and horticultural garden that is part of the University of Minnesota. It is the largest public garden in the upper Midwest and comprises more than 1,100 acres. Over 5,000 plant varieties can be found in the park. The arboretum features gardens displaying plants developed for northern climates as well as educational exhibits, demonstration gardens, and a unique Japanese garden area. The property features natural areas, including miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails. There is a horticulture library and conservatory on site. Guided tours are available as well as a three-mile driving route that passes many of the park's highlights.
6. International Wolf Center
The International Wolf Center near Ely is an educational center that supports and promotes the survival of wolves. Hands-on exhibits, demonstrations of wolf tracking methods, and all kinds of information on wolves are presented. Visitors learn about the natural history of wolves by observing the resident wolf pack. The center also offers a wide variety of programs and other visitor experiences, including Wolf Photography Workshops, Geocache Adventures, and overnight visits for groups of eight or more.
7. North American Bear Center
The North American Bear Center is a unique bear and wildlife educational facility. From beautiful wildlife murals to naturally posed bear mounts and background forest and bear sounds, the indoor exhibit area is designed to allow yourself to become immersed in the bear experience. A wall of windows enables visitors to peer into the bear enclosure, which is equipped with ponds and waterfalls. The Bear Center includes three living black bears, which are housed in a 2.5-acre naturalistic habitat. The bears can be viewed from either the indoor viewing area or an outdoor balcony. The center also has a theater, a 1/4-mile interpretive trail walk, a gift shop, and daily programming and events.