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14 Most Famous Historical Landmarks in Minnesota

Minnesota is undeniably a wonderful state to visit, and it is blessed with breathtaking scenery, lively cities, and cutesy towns. The landmarks in Minnesota are among the state’s best things to see and explore! To see Minnesota’s landmarks means an adventure of Midwestern exploration and memorable travel experiences!

To indulge in such a travel experience surrounded by such wonderful scenery and a unique Minnesotan ambiance is a trip not to miss. If you want to start an incredible journey in the state, use this list of landmarks in Minnesota as a guide on which destinations you want to visit the most.

Most Famous Historical Landmarks in Minnesota

Let’s get into some of the top landmarks in Minnesota to visit and see.

1. Historic Fort Snelling

Historic Fort Snelling

Address: 200 Tower Ave, St. Paul, MN 55111, United States

The construction of the Historic Fort Snelling began in 1820 by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Leavenworth and was completed in 1825 by Colonel Josiah Snelling. The fort was constructed at 200 Tower Ave, St. Paul, MN 55111, along the Mississippi river.

It was named Fort St. Anthony immediately after construction but was later changed to reflect Colonel Snelling’s efforts. The area around Fort Snelling has a very rich natural and human history that spans over 10,000 years. Originally designed as a garrison fort to guard against potential invasions from British Canada following the War of 1812, Fort Snelling became the headquarters for supplying and staging operations against the local Native Americans.

Native Americans relied on the Mississippi River for food, forging extensive trade relationships, and for transportation. The two main Native American tribes living in the area for centuries were the Ojibwe and the Dakota. They passed down their history through word of mouth and scant written records.

The fort made it easier for the US to protect its interests in the fur trade that was thriving in the region. It would also serve as a marshaling point for Minnesota’s volunteer regiments during the Civil War.

There is a shop where you can get yourself some souvenirs. You can purchase snacks and beverages, educational games and toys, books about early Minnesotan and American history, and other history-themed gifts.

Tours of the fort are normally a couple of hours long and are self-guided. The entrance fee is reduced whenever you come with a group of more than 10 adults.

In the summers, Fort Snelling is home to some fantastic reenactment days, showcasing Union Army soldiers conducting close-order drills, as well as musket and cannon firing!

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2. Landmark Center

St. Paul Landmark Center
EWY Media –

Address: 75 W 5th St, St. Paul, MN 55102, United States

Landmark Center was erected in 1902 and the building was built for use as the Upper Midwest Post office, and a Federal Court House. In the 1970s, the building was to be demolished for development but it was saved by citizens who went on to restore it to its former grandeur. It is among the best reasons to plan a visit to Minnesota.

It’s home to 3 of the best museums in Minnesota (the Ramsey County Historical Society Gallery, the Schubert Club Museum, and the Woodturners Gallery of Wood Art). Also acts as a cultural center where people get together to enjoy exhibitions, music, public forums, theater, and dance. It’s also a popular venue for hosting all sorts of special and private events.

Free public tours are offered on Thursdays at 11:00 am and on Sundays at 12:00pm but you need to make an appointment. If you are looking for a Minnesotan souvenir for a friend, the LANDMARKET Gift Shop has you covered! When you start feeling hungry, you should head over to Anita’s Café, both the shop and the café area on the main floor.

The center is open all year round, on weekdays it’s from 8:00 am-5:00 pm –with the exception of Thursday (8:00 am- 8:00 pm). On weekends its open from 10:00am-5:00pm (Saturday) and from 12:00pm-5:00pm (Sunday).

Landmark Center offers meeting halls and banquet facilities. Catering is available and there are commercial air services close by. The facilities have also been made accessible to people living with disability

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3. James J. Hill House

James J. Hill House

Address: 240 Summit Ave, St. Paul, MN 55102, United States

The James J. Hill House was the most expensive and largest home in all of Minnesota and it was built as a sign of success in business and family life. Located on St. Paul’s historic Summit Avenue (home to the largest stretch of Victorian-era homes in the country), it was finished in 1891, containing 13 bathrooms, 22 fireplaces, and an 88ft high reception hall, all housed in 36,500 sq ft on 5 floors.

There are mechanical systems put in place for heating, plumbing, gas, lighting, communication, ventilation, and security. It’s also decorated with carved mahogany and oak woodwork.

The James J. Hill House also had a two-story skylit art gallery where Hill kept his magnificent art collection. He was mainly attracted to the mid-19th century Barbizon School landscape painters.

The house was designed with retractable iron grilles on all doors and windows for the security of art and other valuables in the house. In 1925, five years after the death of Mrs. Hill, the mansion was purchased from the estate by her family members who then donated it to the Catholic church. It was put to use as a school, office building, and church residence.

In 1961 it gained recognition as a National Historic Landmark and in 1978 it was acquired by the Minnesota Historical Society for preservation.

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4. Mill City Museum

Mill City Museum Building
Jeff Bukowski /

Address: 704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401, United States

The Mill City Museum is an 8-story architectural showpiece that was built on the Washburn A. Mill ruins. It is located at 704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401, and it’s a National Historic Landmark.

At the time of its completion, the Washburn A. Mill was the largest mill in the world and it was designed by the celebrated Austrian engineer William de la Barre in the 1800s.

This wonderful museum offers walking tours where you get to retrace footsteps from the past as you hear stories and experience the sights and sounds of one of the most scenic and oldest parts of Minneapolis.

Mill City Museum also offers the beautiful Minneapolis Riverfront Walking Tour where you learn all about the city’s ever-brightening future, and the dramatic past it strives to overcome.

The tour will take you through the St Anthony District, once the milling center of the world, now a thriving residential neighborhood undergoing recreational and cultural growth.

For a great view of the falls, you should make a stop at the Stone Arch Bridge. You will also have a great view of all the historic buildings that surround the riverfront.

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5. Purple Rain House

Front of the Purple Rain House in Minneapolis

Address: 3420 Snelling Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406, United States

The Purple Rain House is a 1,348 sq ft space with 2 bathrooms and 3 bedrooms and is located at 3420 Snelling Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406. The house was built in 1913 and was used in the filming of the 1984 movie dubbed Purple Rain in which Prince played the character of the “the Kid”.

Prince later purchased this 2-story house in 2016 shortly before his death by accidental overdose. He owned several properties in Minnesota and was among the largest landowners in the city by the time of his death.

The Purple Rain house is a popular pilgrimage point for Prince fans to remember him and take photos of the house. The house is in a residential neighborhood, so be considerate of the neighbors when you visit.

The visit takes an hour at most, so add a few activities to your itinerary to keep you going if you’re making a full-day trip. If you’re looking for inspiration, take the Twin Cities Highlights Tour and get to learn about the city of Minnesota. This tour comes with a guide and it takes 3 hours to complete.

The tour has 4 start points to choose from; the Minneapolis Marriot City Center, InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront, Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, and the Mall of America Bus pickup/drop-off.

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6. Minnesota State Capitol

Minnesota State Capitol

Address: 75 Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard., St. Paul, MN 55155, United States

The Minnesota State Capitol was established in the year 1905 in a settlement previously called Pig’s Eye Landing. Pig’s Eye’s name was only changed after a Catholic missionary built a chapel dedicated to St. Paul…and much petty deliberation! It is a wonderful place to visit in Minnesota.

St. Paul was made the new Minnesota Territory’s capital and when Minnesota joined the Union in 1858, St. Paul became the capital of the state.

In 1849 the Minnesota Territory legislature team used to hold their meetings in the town of St. Paul in a log hotel. 5 years later the first capitol building was finished, but it burned down during a legislative session in 1881.

Finished in 1883, the 2nd capitol building had ventilation issues and was quite small for the rapidly growing state. The bill for the current state capitol was passed in 1893 by a commission. In 1895 a competition for the best architectural design was held and it drew in over 40 architects.

The contract was won by a very influential local 35-year-old architect called Cass Gilbert and construction began later on in 1896.

There are free guided tours of the Minnesota State Capitol that are aimed at enlightening you about the architecture, capitol history, art, and state government. The free tours are only available Monday to Friday only from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

As well as the functioning capital of Minnesota, the capitol building is home to several works of art, sculptures, and artifacts sacred to Minnesota.

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7. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Address: 725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis, MN 55403, United States

At the time of its opening in 1988, the world-famous Minneapolis Sculpture Garden was the only park of its kind in the US. It was made by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board in partnership with the Walker Art Center, which is right next door.

The parkland has been transformed from the marshland expanse and former seasonal camp for Ojibwe and Dakota Natives it used to be. Later in the 1800s, it was used as an army parade ground with an armory on-site.

In the 1900s, the Park Board established formal gardens and fields for numerous sports. To help make the marshland more sustainable by absorbing excess stormwater, the Park Board had a fresh meadow made with engineered soils and native plants. The garden is now used to showcase both contemporary and modern art from the renowned Walker Art Center.

Since its opening, it has been visited by millions of people. There are no fees to enter and it’s open all year round from 6:00 am – midnight daily. This garden has over 40 outdoor sculptures made by artists from different countries and across several generations.

Most of the artworks were made specifically for this wonderful park such as the park’s centerpiece, the instantly recognizable Spoonbridge and Cherry, as well as others big enough for people to gather under and converse or just relax and be inspired. Check out these other best museums in Minnesota.

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8. Washburn Park Water Tower

Washburn Park Water Tower

Address: 401 Prospect Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55419, United States

The Washburn Park Water Tower was constructed from 1931-1932 to replace the old one. It is situated at 401 Prospect Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55419, and was designed by Harry Wild Jones and constructed by William S. Hewitt.

The sculptures of the 8 knights standing armed guard were made by John K. Daniels, a local designer who also did work on the Washburn Flour Mills Utility Building.

The military imagery doesn’t end there. The cylindrical tower resembles interlocked Roman scutum (shields), the dome itself resembling the central boss of a scutum.

Made of reinforced concrete (a technology that was new at the time of construction) the Washburn Park Water Tower stands at 110 feet and can hold up to 1.35 million gallons of water. It was the main source of water for the neighboring residents up to the 1990s.

The tower was named a National Historic site in 1983. It is no longer used as the primary supply for the people of the Tangletown neighborhood, but it still helps to boost the water pressure.

It also plays another role in an unofficial capacity as a helpful landmark for planes landing at MSP and St. Paul Downtown Airport!

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9. Music Wall

Minneapolis Music Wall

Address: 94 S 10th St, Minneapolis, MN 55403, United States

The Music Wall was commissioned by the Schmitt Music Company in 1972 on a building located at 94 S 10th St, Minneapolis, MN 55403, at the S Marquette Avenue and S 10th Street intersection after the adjacent property was demolished and turned into a parking lot.

The 5-story tall Schmitt Musical mural was painted on what used to be the Schmitt Music Company headquarters. The company later moved on and the building is now the offices of The Creative Partners Group (CPG).

In the 1970s, most cities in America began to beautify older buildings in the older downtowns. Robert P. Schmitt decided to do the same and settled on musical notes. The Company’s advertising art director, Jill Sprangers, was tasked with actualizing the idea and settled on a measure from a piece of music.

She had to choose a piece that challenging would look great on the wall, and fit the building’s history well. She settled on the “Gaspard de la Nuit,” which is not only pleasing to the eye but also quite a challenging solo to play.

The Music Wall had to be prepared first before the notes were to be painted on it. This took the filling up of 32 windows and 2 coats of primer and paint before the musical notes themselves.

Amazingly, the whole project took 10 working days and cost approximately $17,500. Good job Jill!

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10. Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

Mississippi National River and Recreation Area Scenery

Address: 120 W Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55102, United States

The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area is a 72-mile-long stretch along the Mississippi River.

The river separates Minneapolis and St. Paul and the Recreation Area helps to protect the land on both sides of its banks. Its only waterfall (St. Anthony falls) is north of the Twin Cities at a very narrow gorge.

The river also offers the best and quietest stretches where you can go fishing, boating, and canoeing. You can also hike in this area, go birdwatching, or cycle. It is an ideal place to relax and enjoy the beauty of this majestic river.

There is a Visitor Center where guests can get info on the area, as well as tutorials. For example, if you want to fish but you’ve never been before, there’s the “Fish with a Ranger” program among several others.

Things to see include the Coldwater Spring that was added to the park in January 2010 that was made to help restore the landscape. This took the demolition of 12 old buildings and the seeding of an acre of wetlands and 12 acres of prairie. The Mississippi Gateway Regional Park is also along the river, and it has some really picturesque scenery. There are over 2 miles of trails in the park and lots of wildlife to see.

Next, you can visit the Hidden Falls Regional Park which is set below Dam 1 and Lock. It’s a great place to go fishing, picnicking, walking, and bird watching. It’s a small seasonal waterfall that’s hidden off the main trails.

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11. Walker Art Center

Front of the Walker Art Center

Address: 725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis, MN 55403, United States

The Walker Art Center was started out as a personal art gallery in 1879 at the home of Thomas Barlow Walker, a local lumber baron. It currently hosts more than 13,000 modern and contemporary pieces of art, including paintings, fashion items, prints, pottery, and much more.

Walker Art Center was made to be a catalyst for the audiences’ active engagement and artists’ creative expression. The center undertakes programs that focus on questions that are important to communities, individuals, and their cultures. They do this by taking diverse and multidisciplinary approaches to how they collect, interpret, and present art. They also take a heavy focus on performing, visual and multi-media arts.

Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, and $10 for students, children under 18 get in free of charge. However, every Thursday (Target Free Thursday Nights) you can get in for free from 5-9 pm! You just have to get the $0 timed ticket to gain access.

There are several programs that you can enjoy online for free too, the include art-making workshops with local artists and exhibition tours. These free visits are sponsored by Target, whose headquarters are close by in the city.

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12. Landmark Plaza

St. Paul Landmark Plaza

Address: 379 St Peter St, St. Paul, MN 55102, United States

The Landmark Plaza’s construction began in 1892 and was completed in 1902 it has a total of 8 floors and elevators. It is located at 379 St Peter St, St. Paul, MN 55102, and connects Rice Park and Hamm Memorial Park.

The park came into existence as a result of a local government project that was aimed at reconnecting the city with the Mississippi River. Visiting the park is easily among the best things to enjoy in Minnesota. It took the rehabilitation of 27,00 square ft of old commercial space to create the park. In 2002, the park was awarded the AIA Minnesota Honor Award.

This public park is close to the Landmark Center and it beautifies downtown Saint Paul with its scene-setting trees and green lawns. It’s magical any time of year, particularly in winter.

It is very popular in the city and it offers a seasonal ice rink, bronze statues of beloved Peanuts characters, and some nice shady spots for picnics. It’s also used to host festivals, concerts, and other different outdoor events. The lighting design is very creative and breathes life into the posts and surroundings, creating a beautiful and inviting space.

The Wells Fargo WinterSkate outdoor ice rink that pops up in winter is free to use. Next to the ice rink is a warming facility where you can also get your rental ice skates.

Transportation is readily available around the park should you be interested in checking out other attractions in the city of Minneapolis.

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13. Mary Tyler Moore Statue

Mary Tyler Moore Statue

Address: 700 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402, United States

The bronze Mary Tyler Moore Statue is located at 700 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402, close to where her iconic hat-toss was shot. For those unfamiliar with her namesake TV show, at the end of each opening sequence, Mary Tyler would toss her blue hat in the air as she turned jubilation expressing her independence.

The statue was commissioned by TV Land to commemorate the star who brought joy to many people with her acting in the beloved TV series “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”. Mary Tyler Moore was a huge inspiration for women, especially at a time when women were still not appreciated or taken seriously in the professional world.

In 2015 the statue was moved to make room for the construction of the sidewalk. It was to be kept in storage for 2 years until the construction was finished, but fans expressed their concerns as to Mary Tyler’s whereabouts, which led to it being put on display in a nearby visitor center, before returning to her original location in 2017.

Other places nearby associated with Mary Tyler Moore include the Mary Tyler Moore House (2104 Kenwood Pkwy), and RSM Plaza (801 Nicollet Mall) whose office exterior shots were used in the show as the office where she worked. There’s also Riverside Plaza (1600 6th St. S) which was used for shots of where Mary lived from season 6 of the show.

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14. Fort Snelling State Park

Fort Snelling State Park

Address: 101 Snelling Lake Rd, St. Paul, MN 55111, United States

The Fort Snelling State Park was established in 1962 at 101 Snelling Lake Rd, St. Paul, MN 55111, where the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers intersect. This area is of great importance to the Dakota people, some considering it to be Earth’s center.

The Park is open all year round from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm every day of the week. Entrance will cost you an annual fee of $35, $12 for handicapped visitors, or $7 for a day. Some of the activities that you can participate in at Fort Snelling State Park include hiking, biking, or water skiing out to Pike Island.

You can also go fishing at the lake or go see the interpretive exhibits and visit the Dakota Memorial, devoted to the natives killed during the 1862 war between the US and the Dakota in Minnesota.

There are great scenic bike trails that you can explore as you take in the beauty of this historic park. The Park is about a mile from the St. Paul International Airport, and near the 5 and 55 Minnesota highways.

You could drive yourself or use the light rail trains to get there. From the Fort Snelling light rail train station to the park it’s about a 20-minute walk. Parking is available at the park though it might be limited due to ongoing constructions as of writing.

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