Updated: Apr 7, 2021
Being I have lived in Minnesota for most of my life (18 years), I would say I've done my fair share of exploring the state. From rugged cliffs, to big cities, to 10,000 lakes, I will take you on a journey to the must see places in my home state!
For those of you that are new.. welcome to my blog! My name is Savanna Crowell and I'm a wanderer who likes to share travel tips and favorite destinations. If you are interested in knowing more about my background, travels, or dreams in life, check out the 'About Me' section of my website. And don't forget to follow me on Instagram @slc_travels to join me on my journeys!
From rugged cliffs, waterfalls, 10,000 lakes, and skiing, to big cities, and America's largest mall, Minnesota has much more to offer than you might think.
I was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota which is the largest city in the state, and one thing I have grown to love in Minnesota is the diversity. Diversity with nature, culture, and even cities. Although, the biggest diversity I have found in the state is the weather. The summer months from June to August are beautiful, with the temperature ranging from 70-80 degrees F (20-26 C) and sunny almost every day. Whereas the winter months are frigid, with the average temperature in the coldest month (January) being about 10 degrees F (-12 C), and the average snowfall for one winter ranges from 36-70 inches (90-177 cm)! With that being said, there are fun things to do and beautiful places to see during all of the months, and you will see that diversity in the list I have created below.
15 Beautiful Places to Visit in Minnesota
Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis
In the heart of downtown Minneapolis is this former railroad bridge crossing the Mississippi River. It is the only arched bridge made of stone on the entire Mississippi River and it provides amazing views of the downtown and Saint Anthony Falls.
Secret Tip: Walk across the bridge to the side that doesn't have the skyscrapers and go down the hidden stairs on the side of the path to get this view of the bridge and skyscrapers!
The top image is where you can find the Stone Arch bridge in Minneapolis. The bottom image is a zoomed in version, and where you see the green trail to the left of the bridge is where the hidden stairs are!
2. Split Rock Lighthouse, Two Harbors
Nestled in a Minnesota State Park, Split Rock Lighthouse is one of the most photographed and visited spots in the state, with a drama-filled history and breathtaking Lake Superior views. Admission is $8 each and free for 4 year olds and under.
3. Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis
Minnehaha Falls is located in a city park (Minnehaha Regional Park) and is a beautiful waterfall to visit while in the city. Although beautiful all throughout the year, my favorite time to visit is winter. When it gets cold enough outside, the falls freeze over and create icicles that are 10 ft tall! It's free to visit and makes for amazing hikes.
4. Tettegouche State Park, Silver Bay
Spread over 9,300 acres, Tettegouche is a handful of overlapping parks. There is no entrance fee and my favorite hike is the 1.2mile round trip to Shovel Point. Below I've attached a map of the hike showing where to park and where the trail is.
Here is the view from the overlook of the Shovel Point trail:
5. Mall of America, Bloomington
Mall of America opened in 1992 and is the largest shopping mall in the USA. It's 520,000 m^2 (5,600,000 sq ft) is located in a suburb of Minneapolis. There are 520 stores, 60 restaurants, an aquarium, a 7-acre indoor amusement park, mini golf, comedy club, movie theatre, virtual reality gaming center, soon to be ice skating, and much more!
6. Gooseberry Falls State Park, Two Harbors
20 minutes south of Tettegouche State Park along Lake Superior lies another FREE state park. Gooseberry Falls is a park with many different hiking trails and rocky cliffs, but my favorite part to visit is the two main waterfalls. Parking is free, and you can even camp here for $23/night. Although, I would suggest only doing this in the summer months of mid June to end of August.
7. Lake Minnetonka, Minnetonka
Lake Minnetonka is an inland lake located approximately 15 miles west-southwest of Minneapolis. It's one of the largest lakes in Minnesota, and certainly the largest within the suburbs of Minneapolis. It's beautiful for a beach day in the summer, and even ice fishing and ice skating in the winter. It's known for being a popular boating destination in the summer, having upscale restaurants and homes on the lakeside, and even being a past home to Justin Beiber!
8. Grand Marais
Grand Marais has been named "America's coolest small town" by Budget Travel Magazine and even the "Next Great Adventure Town" by National Geographic Adventure Magazine. It's a picturesque village town on the North Shore of Northern Minnesota and is known for many hiking and mountain biking trails, a historic lakeshore downtown, rocky beaches, and even seeing the Northern Lights!
9. Palisade Head, Silver Bay
Palisade Head is in Northern Minnesota and is a beautiful overlook of Lake Superior and the cliffs along the shore. You can drive up the point, so if you are tired from your day of hiking this is an excellent overlook to easily access and enjoy views. The point is within Tettegouche State Park, but is not contiguous with the rest of the park, so if you want to get there you have to stop before (or after) arriving at the main entrance of the park. Here I've attached the road to exit on to arrive at the overlook:
The road is called "Palisade Head Rd." and is easily accessible from highway 61.
10. Taylors Falls
Taylor's Falls is one of my favorite day trips from Minneapolis. The small town is only about an hour northeast of the city! Despite the name, there aren't actually waterfalls in the town. When in Taylors Falls I go hiking on the rocky cliffs that run along the St. Croix River. I park in the free 'Interstate State Park' and hike along the trail that leads you from the parking lot. Along the trail you will see old lava flows, glacial potholes, and many beautiful overlooks of the river. You can even go canoeing, camping, fishing, or stop at Wild Mountain (a recreation park with skiing, snowboarding, ropes courses, etc. just depending on the season).
11. Cathedral of Saint Paul, St. Paul
Within the state's capitol city, lies a beautiful historic cathedral. It was built in the late 1800s and is a national shrine. If you're in St. Paul it's a must to see the beautiful architecture!
12. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wildnerness, Lake County
Almost on the Canadian Border lies the Boundary Waters Area. It's a 1,090,000 acre wilderness area within the Superior National Forest. A permit is $6 and $16/night to camp. It's amazing for hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, picking wild blueberries, stargazing, seeing the Northern Lights, and much more. It's the most peaceful place I've ever been to!
Duluth is the most southern city in Minnesota that lies on Lake Superior. There's a waterfront called 'Lakewalk' trail that passes along Canal Park, with views of the 1905 Aerial Lift Bridge. This landmark connects the city to the Park Point sandbar. Other stops in the city include: the only all fresh-water aquarium in the US, and multiple lighthouses.
14. Bean and Bear Lake, Silver Bay
Bean and Bear Lake is a hidden gem. It is an amazing overlook that's a part of a difficult 6.4 mile roundtrip hike. If you are someone who LOVES hiking, this is for you! Here I have attached a map of where to park and where the trail is:
15. Lutsen Mountains Ski & Summer Resort
My favorite skiing and snowboarding destination in Minnesota is Lutsen Mountain Resort. Besides skiing, they also have an alpine slide, hiking, and beautiful Lake Superior views! It is the ultimate outdoor activity destination regardless of the season!
These are just a few of my favorite places in Minnesota. I hope I have inspired you to check out the state, and not be afraid by its winter! Until next time friends..keep exploring!! xoxo, Savanna