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14 Most Famous Historical Landmarks in Minnesota

Minnesota is undeniably a great 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 incredible scenery and a unique Minnesotan ambiance is a trip not to miss. If you want to start a fantastic 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 visit some of Minnesota’s top landmarks 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 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 vibrant 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 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 usually a couple of hours long and are self-guided. The entrance fee is reduced when you come with more than ten adults.

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

See Related: Minnesota vs. Wisconsin: What’s the Difference?

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 restored 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). It 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 unique and private events.

Free public tours are offered on Thursdays at 11:00 am and Sundays at noon, but you must 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 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 –except Thursday (8:00 am- 8:00 pm). On weekends it’s open from 10:00 am-5:00 pm (Saturday) and 12:00 pm-5:00 pm (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

See Related: Best Weekend Vacations in Minnesota

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 most prominent 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 most significant stretch of Victorian-era homes), it was finished in 1891, containing 13 bathrooms, 22 fireplaces, and an 88ft high reception hall, all housed in 36,500 sq ft on five floors.

There are mechanical systems 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 to secure art and other valuables. 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 used as a school, office building, and church residence.

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

See Related: Best Parks in St. Paul, Minnesota

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 built on the Washburn A. Mill ruins and a National Historic Landmark. At the time of its completion, the Washburn A. Mill was the largest 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 can retrace past footsteps 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 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.

Stopping at the Stone Arch Bridge for a great view of the falls would be best. You will also have a great idea of all the historic buildings surrounding the riverfront.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Rochester, Minnesota

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 home with two bathrooms and three bedrooms built in 1913 and was used in the filming of the 1984 movie dubbed Purple Rain, in which Prince played the character of 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, which takes 3 hours to complete.

The tour has four start points: 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 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 after much petty deliberation! It is a beautiful 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 state’s capital.

In 1849 the Minnesota Territory legislature team held meetings in St. Paul in a log hotel. Five 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 relatively 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, drawing in over 40 architects.

The contract was won by a very influential local 35-year-old architect called Cass Gilbert, and construction began in 1896. Free guided tours of the Minnesota State Capitol are aimed at enlightening you about the architecture, capitol history, art, and state government. The free tours are only available Monday to Friday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

As well as the working 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 its opening in 1988, the world-famous Minneapolis Sculpture Garden was the only park of its kind in the US. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board made it 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 now showcases 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 artworks were explicitly made for this beautiful park, such as the park’s centerpiece, the instantly recognizable Spoonbridge and Cherry, and others significant enough for people to gather under, converse, 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 eight 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 new technology 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 primary water source 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 pleasing to the eye and quite a challenging solo.

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

Amazingly, the project took ten 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 at a very narrow gorge north of the Twin Cities.

The river offers the best and quietest stretches for 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 and tutorials. For example, if you want to fish but have never been, 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 to help restore the landscape. This took the demolition of 12 old buildings and seeding an acre of wetlands and 12 acres of prairie. The Mississippi Gateway Regional Park is also along the river and has picturesque scenery. The park has over 2 miles of trails and lots of wildlife to see.

Next, you can visit the Hidden Falls Regional Park below Dam 1 and Lock. It’s excellent for fishing, picnicking, walking, and birdwatching. It’s a small seasonal waterfall that’s hidden off the main trails.

See Related: Best Lakes in Minnesota (Ranked!)

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

Walker Art Center was made to be a catalyst for the audiences’ active engagement and artists’ creative expression. The center undertakes programs focusing on questions important to communities, individuals, and their cultures. They do this by taking diverse and multidisciplinary approaches to 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, you can get in for free every Thursday (Target Free Thursday Nights) from 5-9 pm! You have to get the $0 timed ticket to gain access.

You can enjoy several free online programs, including art-making workshops with local artists and exhibition tours. These free visits are sponsored by Target, whose headquarters are nearby 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 eight floors and connects Rice Park and Hamm Memorial Park. The park came into existence due to a local government project 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 trendy in the city, offering 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 creative lighting design 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. 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 want to check out other attractions in 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, Mary Tyler would toss her blue hat at the end of each opening sequence as she turned jubilantly, expressing her independence.

TV Land commissioned the statue 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 when women were still not appreciated or taken seriously in the professional world.

In 2015 the statue was moved to make room for sidewalk construction. It was to be stored for two years until the building was finished. Still, fans expressed their concerns about Mary Tyler’s whereabouts, which led to it being displayed 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 as a state park in 1962 and is located 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 activities 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 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 incredible 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 Minneapolis-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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