You may have to spend weeks if you want to explore every attraction in Minnesota. But we don’t have this much time, do we? To make the list shorter, here are the 16 top places to visit in Minnesota.
Minnesota, commonly called the Land of 10,000 Lakes, is a Midwestern state popular for water sports and fishing. However, those are not the only attractions in the state.
From haunted sites to national parks, there are a lot of places to visit in Minnesota.
If you happen to have a love for everything outdoors, you should definitely get on Scotts today and get yourself a cheap flight to the state.
Regardless of where your interests lie, this guide will introduce you to something you can do while you’re in Minnesota.
Table of Contents
- Best Places To Visit In Minnesota
- 1. Cathedral of St. Paul
- 2. Schmidt’s Brewery
- 3. North Shore Scenic Drive
- 4. Wolf Creek Falls Trail In Banning State Park
- 5. Mounds Theatre
- 6. Leech Lake
- 7. Kerfoot Canopy Tour
- 8. Lake Mille Lacs
- 9. Tour Of Abandoned Places In Minnesota
- 10. Mall of America
- 11. Lutsen Mountains
- 12. Sand Creek Adventures
- 13. St. Croix River
- 14. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
- 15. Spirit Mountain
- 16. Cloud Clemens Gardens
Best Places To Visit In Minnesota
While it may be known for its lakes, Minnesota has an assortment of tourist activities, from shopping and hiking trails to waterways and cultural attractions.
Here are some places to visit in Minnesota.
1. Cathedral of St. Paul
If you’re on a hunt for the best places to take pictures in Minnesota, make sure you visit the Cathedral of St. Paul.
Built during the 1900s, the cathedral is a pilgrimage site today, known as the North Shrine of the Apostle Paul.
Featuring a Classical Renaissance design, the cathedral’s interior seats 3000 people. It’s open for tourists for most parts of the day except during holy services and Masses since the cathedral is still an active worship place.
If you want to learn more about the history of the building, you can take a one-hour guided tour at 1 pm. These tours take place from Tuesday to Friday and will teach you quite a bit about the cathedral’s history.
It’s best to check the cathedral’s website before visiting.
See Related: Best Things to do in St. Paul, Minnesota
2. Schmidt’s Brewery
Just like its abandoned places, Minnesota is also notorious for many haunted spots. One of these haunted places in Minnesota is the Old Schmidt Brewery, which is located at the now, Keg and Case Market.
The brewery is not just proclaimed haunted by people who want to create an air of mystery around it. It’s actually infamous for the cinematic history of the Schmidt family, including gangland kidnappings and random shootings.
The International Paranormal Society’s founder, Adrian Lee, says that this place was the inspiration for Mysterious Minnesota, his publication. According to him, the place still sends shivers down his spine.
Before you go there, it’s good to know a little history of the place.
Jacob Schmid settled in the area in 1884 and started making beer. Nine years down the line, the police detained him for shooting pigeon hunters on the river behind his brewery. However, he was not charged.
The Schmidt Brewery officially began in 1890 and burned to the ground the very next year.
In 1934, the owner’s son, Edward G. Bremer, was kidnapped. The Ma Barker Gang held him hostage for $200,000.
While these are just some sinister events that have taken place in the building, it’s the deaths of brewery workers that are actually chilling about the place. In 1896, two workers died in an explosion.
Later, in 1902, there was an incident with the elevator shaft.
Two years later, Matthew Kohler, a worker who lit gas lamps in the building, died of inhaling flames. Long story short, it’s definitely one of the most haunted places in Minnesota.
See Related: Most Haunted Hotels in Minnesota
3. North Shore Scenic Drive
If you’re planning an extended family or friend’s trip, make sure to hit the scenic drive near Duluth. It follows Lake Superior’s shore all the way up to Thunder Bay in Canada.
You’ll find many top state parks along the route, including Grand Portage State Park, Split Rock, Tettegouche, and Lighthouse.
Lined with rocky cliffs, beautiful views, and waterfalls, the drive lives up to its name.
If you get an RV off RVshare, you can stop at many places along the route for ice-fishing, boating, and canoeing. The route is also popular for having some of the best ski places in Minnesota.
For travelers who’re not huge fans of enjoying the views from the car, the over 300-mile Superior Hiking Trail takes you along the state’s shoreline, allowing you to view the scenic beauty from above.
See Related: Best Things to do in Grand Marais, Minnesota
4. Wolf Creek Falls Trail In Banning State Park
Speaking of cool hiking places in Minnesota, the Wolf Creeks Falls Trail takes the crown since this is where the adventure happens.
You can start hiking from the Quarry Nature Trail along the Kettle River.
Along the way, you’ll also see the ruins of a sandstone quarry that was there in the early 20th century. While the Kettle River offers a splendid view from the top, the real attraction lies in Wolf Creek Falls.
It’s another hiking trail with a serene landscape that spans four miles. Make sure to take your hiking boots along because there are some steep steps along the way.
In the middle of this route, you’ll also find Banning State Park’s camping ground with 34 sites.
See Related: Best Things to do in Minneapolis
5. Mounds Theatre
A theatre might be the last place you expect to find ghosts in, but Mounds Theatre is one of the most haunted places in Minnesota. It was built in 1922 and is known to be the most paranormally active place in St. Paul.
The theatre opens a few times every week for productions and rehearsals.
Jackie Day reopened Mounds Theatre in 2001 and reports being grabbed by an unseen entity one night while working on a poster. People investigating the building have left with claw marks on their bodies.
However, the most notable horror story of the theatre is Red – a foul-mouthed spirit who lives in the projection booth and hurls objects and profanities at women. Another ghost prowling the theatre is a girl in a pink dress, who often graces the stage with her presence, bouncing a ball.
While we’re on the topic of young girls, it’s better to leave your kids at home when visiting haunted places in Minnesota.
Make sure to book yourself a room at Marriott for some pampering after a spine-chilling day at the theatre.
See Related: Best Things to do in Taylors Falls, Minnesota
6. Leech Lake
Leech Lake is three hours north of Twin Cities and is popular for Muskie fishing. The growth rates in this area are phenomenal, and the lake also holds the title of being home to the second-largest Muskie in the state.
It was a 52-pound fish, which was released back into the lake after being caught.
It’s one of the best places to visit in Minnesota if you have an interest in catching Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye, and Eelpout.
Since it’s operational year-round, you can go whenever you want. Book a hotel from Kayak in the area to go ziplining in Bemidji the next day, which is within a short driving distance of the lake.
See Related: Best Things to do in Brainerd, Minnesota
7. Kerfoot Canopy Tour
Anyone who is looking for the best places to zipline in Minnesota needs to check out the Kerfoot Canopy Tour at least once.
The adventure park has the longest zipline in Minnesota, offering you a birds’ eye view of the state.
The Minnesota Zip Line Adventures operate the canopy tour, and it’s located 50 miles from the Twin Cities. You can also go on another zipline tour from the same company in Bemidji.
The Kerfoot Canopy Tour starts close to the ground and goes up to 175 feet up, spanning 14 zip lines, for a whole mile over the trees. One of the highlights of the zipline tour is the 170-foot suspension bridge that must be passed to go to the other platform.
Besides the exhilarating feeling of soaring through the wilderness, you’ll also have a stunning view of the surroundings from the top of the platforms.
The tour can be a fun activity for the whole family since it’s open for everyone above the age of 10.
If you’re nervous or it’s your first time ziplining, there’s no need to worry as the helpful guides at the adventure park will show you what will happen at each platform.
Want to know the best part? The tour is open all year round, so you can also zipline through snowy treetops in the winter.
8. Lake Mille Lacs
Obviously, if you’re in the land of lakes, you have to put one or two on your itinerary. Mille Lacs is the second largest lake in the state and is 40-feet deep.
It’s also the most popular lake for fishing, where you can find everything from Smallmouth Bass and Northern Pike to Jump Perch.
If you’re lucky, you might catch one of the many fishing festivals that take place here all year round. Moreover, you can ask the local guides about the best spots to fish in the region.
While you’re there, make sure to stop at the Soo Line Trail Campground. It’s a few miles from the lake and has a perfect base for exploring the lake and catching a ton of fish, especially Walleye.
9. Tour Of Abandoned Places In Minnesota
If you have a love for abandoned places and the eerie charm they hold, you can satisfy your interests in Minnesota. The state has a number of abandoned places, from banks and homes to superstores.
Here’s a route of nine abandoned or haunted places in Minnesota that’s over 800 miles long. You can take the full route or do parts of it, depending on the time on your hands.
- Hadley Bank: Hadley is a small town in Minnesota, which was founded in 1879. At the time of its incorporation in 1903, the town had 161 residents. Over time, the number fell down to only 61. The Hadley Bank is a symbol of abandonment in the town, covered in irregularly growing vines and reclaimed by nature due to lack of use.
- Northfield Store: The Northfield store is on MN-19. Some say it was a barbershop and antique store back in the day. However, it has been abandoned for as long as most residents remember.
- UMore Park: Definitely one of the strangest abandoned places in Minnesota, the UMore Park was previously named Gopher Ordnance Works. The factory made gunpowder during the second world war. However, it closed down at the end of the war and has been abandoned since then. Some sources report that it’s going to be torn down, so it might not be there when you visit.
- Mills Ruins Park: The park has some amenities and walking paths, but most of it is still crumbled remains. It’s an ode to the flour mills that used to operate in the area. Besides offering insight into the state’s history, the park also offers spine-chilling views, especially in the evenings.
- Banning State Park: The Banning State Park, even without its abandoned places, is worthy of a visit since it features a beautiful waterfall and a rushing river. In the 1800s, the area was home to Banning Sandstone Quarry, which operated till 1905. Later, there were many fires in the region that wiped out the nearby Banning town. Today, only crumbled ruins fill the area.
- Taconite Harbor: Being a ghost town in Minnesota, Taconite Harbor was built to habitat the employees who worked in taconite mines in the region. The town began to disappear when taconite’s demand ceased. Today, you’ll be welcomed by overgrown weeds and empty spaces.
- Tanner Hospital: The Tanner Hospital was built a century ago and abandoned after being used as an apartment building for a few years. Recently, there have been talks of restoring it, but at the moment, the building is something out of a horror asylum movie.
- Rouchleau Mine: The Rouchleau Mine was abandoned in 1977 and reminds passersby of the state’s mining history today.
- Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center: Being the last stop on the list of abandoned places in Minnesota, the Treatment Center was once the Fergus Falls State Hospital. Built during the 1800s, it was operational in 1890 and treated mentally ill patients. After 1971, the hospital started treating people with other diseases too. However, it closed in 2005 and is abandoned to date. Check out these top things to do in Fergus Falls.
See Related: Best Beaches in Minnesota
10. Mall of America
Mall of America is no ordinary mall since it’s one of the largest in the country. It opened in 1992 and has over 500 shops and a ton of restaurants to catch a bite. Plus, there are multiple amusements, theatres, and hotel accommodations.
Possibly the most attractive feature of the mall is the number of celebrations that take place there every year. It’s known for hosting over 400 events a year – that’s more than the number of days in a year – so you’re sure to catch a celebration no matter what day you visit it.
Make sure to check Viator for any upcoming events.
If you’re staying in St. Paul or Bloomington, look for a hotel on Kayak since many dwellings offer ‘Stay and Shop’ packages, giving you discounts on some things in the mall.
11. Lutsen Mountains
If you’re looking for the best ski places in Minnesota, the Lutsen Mountains will make all your skiing dreams come true.
You can enjoy four interconnected mountains, offering an array of boarding and skiing options.
The mountains get up to 10 feet of snow annually and feature 95 hills for skiing. If you’re a beginner, you can try the Caribou Express. Meanwhile, pros can try the Iron Mountain chair.
12. Sand Creek Adventures
Sand Creek Adventures are among the best places to zipline in Minnesota, allowing you to experience 1600 feet of ziplining, a hundred feet above the ground.
Moreover, Sand Creek Adventures offers courses for families, individuals, and team building. If you’re going with a group of friends, you’re in luck because the adventure park can accommodate larger groups of 45 and more.
13. St. Croix River
When you think of fishing in Minnesota, lakes are more likely to come to your mind. However, the St. Croix River is just as good of a place to fish. In fact, it’s one of the best places to catch catfish in Minnesota.
Some other fishes in the area include Walleye, Sturgeon, Muskie, Bass, and Panfish. Since river fishing is a bit different from lake fishing, you might want to get help from local guides to find the right spot.
If you need a place to rest or stay, find the St. Croix River Resort on Booking for a deal on your stay.
While you’re there, you should bring your own supplies or rent some from the hotel you’re staying at – most local lodgings have such facilities.
Minnesota has certain regulations about fishing that you must follow. If you’re a non-resident, you need a fishing license. Kids under 15 do not need a permit if they’re with a licensed guardian or parent.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issues these licenses. Even if you’re a resident of the state, you still need a permit to fish.
Here are some people who can fish in the state without a license:
- Residents under the age of 16
- Residents over the age of 90
- State residents who are enlisted in the US Armed Forces
See Related: Best Things to do in Red Wing
14. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
The Boundary Waters is one of the best places to canoe in Minnesota. The Superior National Forest covers most parts of the state’s northeast.
If you want to explore the unspoiled landscape, the International Wolf Center is the best place for it.
Meanwhile, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area is in the forest, along the US-Canada boundary.
Here, you can canoe, fish, and kayak while enjoying being surrounded by wildlife, such as wolves, moose, and bears.
With the water covering 700 square miles and the forest going on for 445,000 acres, you’ll be blanketed by nature. The area also has some cool hiking places in Minnesota that you can find on their official site.
15. Spirit Mountain
Spirit Mountain is slightly different from other ski places in Minnesota since it’s in the middle of a suburb rather than being hidden in the wilderness.
If you’re living in Duluth, you can sneak off to the Spirit Mountain for an afternoon of skiing.
The 22 runs provide an opportunity for beginners, intermediate skiers, and pros to have the time of their lives.
Moreover, Spirit Mountain is also a hot spot for freestyling with four freestyle areas named Shark Park, Spirit Park, 18-Line, and Lone Oak Tow Park. If you want to enjoy the terrain at night, you can go to Spirit Mountain from Wednesday to Sunday till 8 pm.
Check out Get Your Guide for other fun activities to do in Duluth while you’re there for skiing.
Duluth is a city filled with tons of activities, here are some of our favorite guides of the city:
- Best Restaurants in Duluth
- Best Hotels in Duluth
- Best Duluth Craft Breweries
- Top Duluth Museums to Visit
See Related: Best Rental Cabins in Minnesota
16. Cloud Clemens Gardens
The Munsinger Clemens Garden should be on your summertime itinerary since it features 80,000 plants and is one of the best places to take pictures in Minnesota.
If you go on Sundays, you can catch live music and find yourself close to nature among the rose bushes and flowering shrubs. Moreover, the fountains, trees, swings, ponds, and benches make this park one of the best places to visit in Minnesota.
Make sure to get yourself in for the annual Art Fair in Clemens Gardens if you love music, art, and nature.
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