Minnesota is great, isn’t it? So great, you’ll want to take a little bit home with you. If you’re traveling to the wonderful State of Nice and want the best gifts from Minnesota, this article is just for you.
Minnesota is the ultimate treat for hearts with wanderlust. Who wouldn’t fall for its captivating combination of breathtaking wildernesses, rural charm, and urban sophistication? It’s home to the famous Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, where cultural richness meets celebrated urban landscapes. It’s also the birthplace of the mighty Mississippi River.
You can’t return from the Land of 10,000 Lakes without leaving a piece of your heart and bags full of souvenirs to bring home. Once you’re in Minnesota, you’ll find many gifts to help you remember this uplifting and friendly environment, especially if you shop locally. But you can’t take everything, I’m afraid!
So, to help you hunt for the ultimate Minnesota gift, we’ve closely searched retail opportunities showcasing Minnesota’s finest. We hope you’ll enjoy our great list of yummy, adorable, or plain one-off Minnesota gifts, souvenirs, and keepsakes.
What We Cover
- Best Gifts From Minnesota
- 1. Minnesota Wild Rice
- 2. Minnesota Wine and Beer
- 3. Faribault Blankets
- 4. Sweet and Smoky Meats
- 5. Locally-Made Chocolates
- 6. Hotdish Recipe Book
- 7. Local Arts and Crafts
- 8. Minnesota Music Heroes
- 9. Loon and Moose
- 10. Hand-crafted Jewelry
- 11. Unique Minnesota Experiences and Adventures
- 12. ‘I Like You’ Store Merchandise
- Summary of Minnesota Gift Ideas
- What are the unique gift ideas from Minnesota?
- What are some popular Minnesota brands and products for gifting?
- How can I create a Minnesota-themed gift basket?
Best Gifts From Minnesota
1. Minnesota Wild Rice
Wild rice has been cultivated in Minnesota for centuries. Most of the world’s wild rice still comes from Minnesota. Wild rice plays an essential role in the state’s culture, as it was the reason that brought their ancestors to the region’s lakes and river tributaries. Today, it’s often harvested using the same centuries-old canoe method in the northern Boundary Waters. And, naturally, it’s the official State Grain.
Although it’s called rice, the crop is actually an aquatic grass unrelated to rice. The seeds are the only cereal grains native to North America. Their kernels have a smoky, earthy flavor and can be incorporated into many delicious recipes. Wild rice is also stuffed with nutritional goodies.
Known to the Native Americans as a gift from the earth, wild rice is the perfect option as a gift for a cooking enthusiast. You can find it anywhere in Minnesota, from local farmers markets to large grocery shops.
It’s a good idea to purchase industrially packaged wild rice to take home, as this ensures the rice stays fresh, for example, this bag of wild rice from the Red Lake Nation (100% All Natural). Or you could go for this Minnesota-grown wild rice and veg soup mix. And from its very nature, you’ll be sure that naturally-harvested wild rice is non-GMO.
See Related: Best Beaches in Minnesota
2. Minnesota Wine and Beer
Minnesota is heaven for travelers who love wine, beer, or cider. The state is awash with breweries, wineries, and orchards, several of which you can tour. You can watch the processes, taste the product, and purchase some extremely popular gifts.
Many of the 40+ Minnesota vineyards major in wines from cold-climate varieties, including Edelweiss and St. Croix grapes. In the colder northern counties, you’ll even find some super-sweet ice wine, from grapes frozen on the vine. For example, there’s Solstice Ice from Rustic Roots Vineyard, which also brews its hard cider.
If MN bubbly is on your shopping list, try the offerings from Mousse Sparkling Wine Co. They’re available from the winery in Jordan or retail outlets in Duluth and the Twin Cities, including all Kowalski’s Markets.
A winery tour makes a fun gift for someone vacationing in Minnesota. Mousse runs an in-depth tasting most Saturdays, while at Burr Vineyards, you can have a wagon-ride tour and tasting. Or why not combine a two-vineyard tour with a mosey around beautiful Stillwater?
If craft beer’s your tipple, you’ve hit something of a mother-lode. With over 250 craft breweries and hundreds of MN-brewed ales, the state will surely offer a suitable beer. It’s just a question of trying them all out…
Besides its ales, Little Thistle Brewing in Rochester sells cute thistle-design merch and glassware – ideal presents for family and friends. You could gift a tour around the Summit Brewery in St Paul.
Or you could enjoy one yourself before sampling a taster flight and browsing the well-stocked shop. This trip around three Minneapolis brewpubs would be the perfect gift for a beer enthusiast – all transportation is included.
3. Faribault Blankets
No Minnesota home is complete without a range of cozy blankets and throws to snuggle under during the chilly Upper Midwest winter. For some quintessentially Minnesotan coziness, you need a Faribault Mill blanket.
Faribault Mill – one of America’s last vertical woolen mills – has been weaving comfy and durable blankets since 1865. There are mill tours to watch the process twice a week. And at the shop, you can buy totes, towels, and pillows, as well as blankets. There’s also a limited range of Faribault blankets available on Amazon.
These MN-crafted blankets make perfect Christmas gifts. Pick the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes Map Throw or the elegant St. Croix Map Wool Throw Blanket.
Be prepared to spend big – we’re talking a few hundred dollars. But if you buy a blanket, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing the mill will donate one to a homeless non-profit. Plus, you’ll have something that will stay in the family for generations. From loom to heirloom!
See Related: Things to do in Faribault
4. Sweet and Smoky Meats
You may have heard of Minnesota as the ‘Bread and Butter State.’ But did you know it also offers a mouth-watering selection of delicious meats? And whether you desire smoky, spicy, or salty meats, there’s a Minnesota meat market to fit the bill.
St. Joseph Meat Market near St. Cloud produces 150 kinds of sausages and over 60 kinds of brats. These include must-haves for Minnesota enthusiasts: MN Brats, Wild Rice Brats, and Tator Tot Hotdish Brats.
Everett’s Food and Meats in Minneapolis offers jerky, homemade bologna, and double-smoked thick-cut bacon. And Schmidts in Nicollet does some great summer sausage gift boxes.
Ketters in Frazee still use old-fashioned wood-smoking techniques for ham and meat sticks. They’ll even smoke any fish you’ve caught on your vacation. And, of course, there are vegan alternatives, for example, at The Herbivorous Butcher in Minneapolis.
Speaking of cured meat…we can’t forget Austin’s pride and joy, Spam. The perfectly portable gift, Spam comes in a mouthwatering array of flavors, including Jalapeño, Maple Syrup, and Teriyaki. Make sure you visit the Spam Museum to pick up your Spam flip-flops, Spam earrings, and other cured-meat-themed nonsense!
See Related: Best Breakfast in Minnesota
5. Locally-Made Chocolates
Why not make a whole afternoon of it at Legacy Chocolates, St. Paul’s only chocolate cafe? Enjoy a coffee and an ice cream before browsing the huge range of truffles to take away. Across town, kids will love Regina’s brittles and chocolate figurines. Or build your chocolate box to delight your sweetheart (OK – yourself).
Further afield, the St. Croix Chocolate Company has award-winning toffee. It’s also known for its exquisite fruit-based chocolate confections. And no trip to Stillwater is complete without a visit to Tremblay’s Sweet Shop and Barbara Ann’s Fudge Shoppe.
B.T. McElrath uses only local butter for their Minnesota-made chocs. One of the state’s biggest chocolatiers, their collections feature in many high-end food markets.
Though a New Jersey invention, saltwater taffy is something you’ll see all over Minnesota. For some truly local-made taffy, you’ll have to visit not a candy store but a fish and chip shop. This is Mac’s Fish / Chips / Strips in the Twin Cities. You might as well pick up another local favorite, cheese curds, while you’re there!
See Related: Skiing Resorts in Minnesota
6. Hotdish Recipe Book
Stick around Minnesota long enough, and with any luck, you’ll be tucking into that great state invention, the hotdish. A hot dish is a hot and handy main course in a single dish.
Regarding ingredients, it doesn’t matter what you put in – anything goes. A recent WalletHub survey claims the state’s favorite comfort food is Tater Tot Hotdish.
To create Minnesotan magic when you’re far away, embrace the hotdish state of mind. Fortunately, any good bookstore can help – plenty of hotdish recipe books are out there.
One of the best locations to find gifting ideas for cooks is the fabulous Mill City Museum in Minneapolis. Here, at what was once the world’s largest flour mill, tours provide a dramatic insight into the milling process.
In keeping with the theme, the shop offers a neat range of flour sack aprons and tea towels, amongst other kitchen items. My favorite is the Principal Hotdishes by Region tea towel. According to the towel, Austin’s signature version is – you guessed it – the Souper Spam Hotdish.
The Minnesota Historical Society runs the Museum, and a year’s membership makes an excellent gift as it’s one of the best museums in Minneapolis. You’ll get unlimited visits to the Society’s 25+ historical sites and learn some of the state’s epoch-making stories.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Minneapolis
7. Local Arts and Crafts
For truly unique Minnesota gifts, nothing can beat homegrown artwork. Luckily, this creative state is full of galleries and studios boasting a dazzling range of beautiful objects.
One of my go-to spots any time I’m in St. Paul is Grand Hand Gallery. I love that the paintings, ceramics, and glassware include affordable, luggage-friendly items.
In Minneapolis, you’ll find the Groveland and Gamut galleries. These two institutions promote the best and most innovative Minnesota art. Both are also convenient for the Walker Art Center and Sculpture Garden and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, where you’ll find stores laden with classy gifts.
Duluth Pottery & Tile is a working studio and gallery crammed with sumptuous ceramics. They also hold special events featuring quilts and watercolors. The gallery’s in the heart of the cool Lincoln Park Craft District, where you can stop for a craft beer or homemade gelato.
Even further north is the Northwoods Pioneer Gallery on Lake Superior’s northern shore. Where better to buy the MN-based North Shore-opoly, a property trading game based on the North Shore area? You’ll also find knits, wood carvings, glassware, mosaics, pottery, outdoor gear, and Christmas decorations – it’s like wandering into Etsy.
See Related: Things to Do in Saint Paul, Minnesota
8. Minnesota Music Heroes
If you or your loved ones are music fans, you might like the idea of a memento honoring a Minnesotan megastar. After all, three of the biggest names in music history were MN-born and raised.
Eddie Cochran is Albert Lea‘s most famous son, with a street there named in his honor. The best place to find Cochran merch is at the city’s annual Eddie Cochran Car Show & Music Festival. Or take a souvenir photo of Eddie’s leather pants at the memorabilia collection in Freeborn County Museum.
Bob Dylan fans will know the reference to Duluth’s hills in the 1974 album Planet Waves. You can now walk down Bob Dylan Way in Duluth and take a selfie with the Dylan sculpture at Hibbing Public Library.
Finally, fans of Prince, Minneapolis’s most purple son, will love a Purple Rain t-shirt. Even better, gift a ticket to his brainchild, Paisley Park. Basic tours include Prince’s recording studios and soundstage, while the Ultimate Experience lets you record in one of Prince’s studios.
See Related: Museums in Minnesota
9. Loon and Moose
As anyone who visits here knows, the official state bird is the loon, affectionately known as the Minnesota penguin. If you want a souvenir or gift that shouts Minnesota, make sure it’s got a loon. The image of this elegant diving bird evokes all the romantic wildness of the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
The name also hits the spot when it comes to humorous souvenirs. Look out for “A loon. A tick. Lives in Minnesota” pillows and prints and “Live. Laugh. Loon.” banners.
A great place for last-minute loon gifts at the end of your trip is the State of Nice store in Terminal 1, MSP airport. There are plenty of moose-themed goodies, too. Minnesota’s largest wild animal, the moose, also lends itself to cute toys and candy.
Check out the chocolate-and-peanut-butter moose lollipops and the bobblehead dashboard moose. And who wouldn’t fall in love with this adorable guy? Other MSP airport outlets offer many more Minnesota gifts, including Spam and Minnesota Vikings brands.
10. Hand-crafted Jewelry
Always acceptable and lightweight, beautiful jewelry is one of the perfect bring-home gifts. And there’s something especially personal about a unique work of art. Happily, Minnesota is rich in talented designers, with every taste and style catered for.
For stunning beadwork and metalwork, visit the Native Arts section of Birchbark Books in the Twin Cities. And don’t miss Shakopee Trading Post, where artisans use centuries-old techniques in their turquoise necklaces and pendants.
Buy a stretchy Do Good bracelet at Larissa Loden, and the company donates to a good cause. They also have a line of lovely made-in-St. Paul lockets, plus a “Mama” bracelet just for Mom.
For more pretty things, take a trip to St. Peter. At Julee’s Jewelry, you could buy a diamond for that special person, though there are wallet-friendly gifts, too. At the Stone’s Throw Gallery, goldsmith Patty Conlin creates bridal sets that are miniature works of art.
Check out Duluth for local shops featuring hand-crafted Minnesota gifts. Two Loons has a line of chunky agate rings plus some says-it-all “Love MN” earrings. At Hucklebeary, there are fun acrylic and clay earrings – super-lightweight for your luggage. And Indigenous First Art & Gift Shop features wonderfully tactile birchbark pieces.
See Related: Things to Do in Mankato
11. Unique Minnesota Experiences and Adventures
You might argue that some gifts are not special or Minnesotan enough. But there are some you absolutely cannot find anywhere else. I’m about talking trips, excursions, and experiences. A Minnesota adventure has to be the most immersive gift of all.
So, instead of wild rice, treat your loved ones to a magical adventure on the boundary waters where the rice grows. As well as wine, consider gifting a winery tour. And why not complement a bottle or two of craft beer with a Pedal Pub Tour of Minneapolis?
The Mall of America is a magnet for travelers to the Twin Cities (my absolute fave: Callisters Christmas). If your nearest and dearest are shopping there, pep up the experience with an escape room adventure.
If they’re visiting St. Paul, add on a fabulous Gangster Tour or a tour of all the haunted houses on Summit Avenue. Or treat your special person to a date night at an upscale Twin Cities restaurant, such as W.A. Frost & Co.
For people who don’t mind getting muddy, a dune buggy adventure at Moose Lake makes a great gift. And for trip-of-a-lifetime territory, how about this helicopter ride over Duluth’s famous lift bridge? That’ll beat a postcard and a few photos.
12. ‘I Like You’ Store Merchandise
If you’re still at a loss about what to get for the kids, your mom, or a special friend, have a search around the ‘I Like You’ store in Minneapolis. There’s a holiday atmosphere to this small but vibrant business. It has an extensive collection of everything you love about the state and life in general.
Merchandise oozing this feel-good vibe includes chocolates, t-shirts, and decorations for the holiday season. It’s all about shopping locally – look out for Lenny the Loon books and some chic home-crafted pins, pillows, mugs, and stickers. And, as the store says, life is too short to wear mass-produced jewelry – buy handmade!
You’ll have a blast just looking around the store. And bring your dog – the I Like You store is proudly pet-friendly. Check out these other gifts from Minnesota via Amazon handmade. You’ll find something that can get directly to you or to the person receiving a present in no time.
See Related: Best Lakes in Minnesota
Summary of Minnesota Gift Ideas
|A Minnesota specialty, wild rice is a tasty gift option, especially for keen cooks.
|Local Wine and Beer
|Minnesota’s known for its cold-climate grape vintages and thriving craft beer scene. A gift basket of local brews will be something special.
|Heirlooms of tomorrow, Faribault blankets and throws are famed for their heritage and durability.
|Sweet and Smoky Meats
|Minnesota’s meat markets are known for their savory treats. Consider a charcuterie gift pack for that authentic Minnesota taste.
|Put together a bespoke gift box from one of Minnesota’s excellent independent chocolatiers.
|Hotdish, a beloved Minnesota comfort food, is a must-try. Give the gift of delicious recipes with a hotdish cookbook.
|Local Arts and Crafts
|A statement piece by a brilliant local artist makes a thoughtful one-of-a-kind present.
|Minnesota Music Heroes
|Eddie Cochran, Bob Dylan, and Prince all came from Minnesota. Tickets or souvenirs celebrating these greats will hit the spot with music-lovers.
|Loon and Moose
|The loon and the moose are enduring symbols of Minnesota. Their images also decorate many fun, affordable gifts.
|Minnesota is home to tons of talented jewelers, silversmiths, and goldsmiths. A unique jewel can make a distinctive personal gift.
|Unique Minnesota Experience
|With the gift of a Minnesota experience, you can share your love of Minnesota with family and friends.
|“I Like You” Merchandise
|Find something funny, lovable, and unique at this must-visit Minneapolis store.
That wraps up our list of the best Minnesota gifts! There are plenty of cool gifts out there that capture this lovable state’s many facets. Find something that speaks to you and will help you spread the love.
Remember, while souvenirs can range from $10 loon keychains to $300 Faribault blankets, the main focus remains on an object’s memories.
Buying an expensive present or memento is not the point. Ultimately, your souvenir gifts should tell a story about your great time. Happy traveling – and happy buying!
What are the unique gift ideas from Minnesota?
Wild rice, Faribault blankets, and loon-themed souvenirs are uniquely Minnesotan gifting ideas. And a helicopter ride over Duluth or a gangster tour in the Wabasha street caves in St. Paul can’t be replicated anywhere else.
What are some popular Minnesota brands and products for gifting?
Locally-produced Mousse sparkling wine and B.T. McElrath luxury chocolate are high-end Minnesotan brands ideal for gifting. And, of course, the Spam and Minnesota Vikings brands are both proudly Minnesotan.
How can I create a Minnesota-themed gift basket?
A Minnesota-themed gift basket for keen cooks might contain some wild rice, tins of Spam, a hotdish cookbook, and a cute Minnesota tea towel. An alternative basket could contain a selection of Summit Brewery beers, a summer sausage gift pack, and wood-smoked meat sticks from Ketters.