Top 25 Minnesota Attractions You Definitely Have To See

Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Nikki Jain

Experience the wonderful attractions in Minnesota when you visit this popular destination in the Midwest. You’ll be amazed by what’s in store when you visit Minnesota. It’s an exciting place for the entire family. There are lots of things to do in Minnesota for all tourists. Whether it’s your first time visiting or a frequent traveler to the state, there’s always something new to discover.

You can explore the great outdoors at the many state parks, see where the Mighty Mississippi starts, or go sightseeing around the Twin Cities to see famous landmarks that are sure to take your breath away. Minnesota is a place for adventure, culture, entertainment, and thrill. There’s never a dull moment when you visit the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes.’ We’ll explore some of the top Minnesota attractions to see all that it has to offer.

Things To Do in Minnesota

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1: Mall of America

Mall of America

Naming a mall the “Mall of America” comes with some pretty lofty expectations. But even skeptics can admit that the Mall of America lives up to the hype.

Located just 15 minutes from downtown Minneapolis, the Mall of America has been a leading retail and entertainment venue since 1992.

It’s home to 400 stores and hundreds of events each year.

It also has earned a reputation of being one of the go-to kids' destinations in Minnesota. Kids can spend their days at the full-scale theme park Nickelodeon Universe or head to the ocean with a trip to Sea Life Aquarium.

One thing is for sure: there are no dull days at the Mall of America.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Bloomington

Address: 60 E Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425

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2: Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
Facebook/Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

If you’re looking for one of the best free attractions in Minnesota, visit the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.

Located in Saint Paul, it’s one of the top destinations for families in the Twin cities.

The site is a park complex developed around Como Lake and features a zoo, amusement park, conservatory, golf course, and more.

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory attracts nearly two million visitors every year.

The zoo is one of the best places to get up close and personal with all exotic animals such as sea lions, polar bears, big cats, giraffes, and gorillas.

Walk the paths around the various exhibits and also check out all of the art sculptures and murals.

The conservatory is a place for leisure walks through the themed gardens, where you'll see unique flora in each. The well-designed Japanese gardens and the butterfly gardens are a few of the best gardens to visit.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Saint Paul

Address: 1225 Estabrook Dr, St Paul, MN 55103

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Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Saint Paul, Minnesota

3: Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Flickr/Greg Walters

Imagine the perfect campsite. It probably has expansive lakes, thick forest, and rolling hills. That’s what you’ll find at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

This preserved area of northeastern Minnesota includes over 1,000,000-acres of wilderness. It’s part of the Superior National Forest and gets over 100,000 visitors each year.

The campers dream park includes over 1200 miles of canoeing opportunities, isolated hiking trails, and countless campsites. It’s even home to numerous vacant islands that are accessible via boat.

You can experience the best of Minnesota’s outdoors regardless of the time of year. During the winter, it’s a treasure trove for long-distance skiing and ice fishing.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Duluth

Address: Duluth, MN 55808

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4: Cathedral of Saint Paul

Cathedral of Saint Paul

The Cathedral of Saint Paul is a highlight of the St. Paul skyline as one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the US.

The landmark church is located atop Cathedral Hill with views of Downtown St. Paul. The historic church remains active and a frequent destination for tourists while sightseeing.

The Cathedral of Saint Paul is a Roman Catholic Cathedral built in the early 1900s.

The exterior architecture stands out from the surrounding buildings, making it one of the most gorgeous sights. The massive dome towers 175-ft above the ground.

Admire the decorative architecture before entering inside the cathedral – it’s open to the public.

The stunning interior is decorated with large statues, marble columns, and stained-glass windows depicting the story of Christ.

Be sure to look up to see the decorative roof. You might also hear the warm sounds from the organ pipes.

Address: 239 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55102

Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Saint Paul, Minnesota

5: North Shore Scenic Drive

North Shore Scenic Drive
Adobe Stock/MelissaMN

Take a ride along the North Shore Scenic Drive for one of the best routes in Minnesota.

The drive is located at Minnesota State Highway 61. It starts at Duluth and spans 154 miles along the Lake Superior coast before reaching the Canada border.

North Shore Scenic Drive is one of the best things to do in Minnesota to incredible scenery or visiting some of the many Minnesota attractions located along the route.

The entire stretch of the highway has views of Lake Superior. It runs through the Superior National Forest.

There are several places to stop off and go for a hike in the forest. Some of the points of interest include Gooseberry Falls and the Split Rock Lighthouse.

Take a break at one of the restaurants in the local towns along the route and enjoy the sights from several viewpoints.

Address: N Shore Dr, Duluth, MN 55804

6: Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is the most famous state park in Minnesota, with visitors arriving to see the iconic lighthouse.

The park is home to the Split Rock Lighthouse, a photogenic lighthouse perched on a cliffside overlooking Lake Superior.

Visit the attraction to see the landmark and also enjoy outdoor activities in the park.

The state park is located in Two Harbors and was established in 1945. The most famous landmark in the park is Split Rock Lighthouse, built in 1910.

Climb to the top of the lighthouse for incredible views of the lake and learn about its history in the lighthouse museum located in the Lighthouse Keeper’s house. It’s one of the best photography spots in Minnesota.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park has several scenic hiking and biking trails. The fall is a special time to visit to see the colorful fall foliage.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Two Harbors

Address: 3755 Split Rock Lighthouse Road, Two Harbors, MN 55616

Also Read: Top 10 Most Beautiful Lighthouses in the USA

7: Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls
Flickr/Evan Miles

You don’t have to travel to a tropical paradise to find a majestic waterfall. Instead, you can just make a trip to Minneapolis’s own Minnehaha Falls. The 53-foot waterfall attracts over 850,000 visitors each year.

You can hike along the Minnehaha Creek en route to the Mississippi River and the legendary falls. Once there, you’ll be greeted by picturesque views from the top of the falls to the lower vistas.

Wading pools are also available for adventurous tourists looking to take a dip. The park also has bike rentals available for people looking to tour the park in style.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Minneapolis

Address: 4801 S Minnehaha Drive, Minneapolis, MN 55417

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Minneapolis

8: Munsinger Clemens Gardens

Munsinger Clemens Gardens

Escape the busy city atmosphere of Saint Cloud into the tranquil garden setting of the Munsinger Gardens and Clemens Gardens.

You’ll get to explore two different gardens featured themed sections full of beautiful flowers, trees, and decorations.

Munsinger Gardens and Clemens Gardens are both free to the public. The gardens are located next to each other, so it’s easy to spend a couple of hours wandering around them both.

The gardens are located on the site of a former sawmill along the Mississippi River. They were designed in the 1930s in a decorative European style.

Walk the paved pathways to see the colorful flowerbeds and unique trees. There are many fountains throughout the gardens and plenty of places to sit down and enjoy the serene atmosphere. You might even spot peacocks.

The gardens are open seasonally between spring and fall.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Saint Cloud

Address: 1301 Kilian Blvd SE, St Cloud, MN

9: Itasca State Park

Itasca State Park

See the origin of the Mississippi River located within the Itasca State Park.

It’s the oldest state park in Minnesota, established in 1891. The state park preserves a large area home to more than 100 lakes and man-made historical sites.

Itasca State Park derives its name from Lake Itasca. The large lake was formed from glaciers. It’s where the Mississippi River begins.

The park includes other points of interest. The Wilderness Sanctuary is a National Natural Landmark. There are multiple historical cabins, Native American mounds, and other sights to check out in the park.

The state park hosts approximately half a million visitors every year. Many people visit to see the landmarks, while others come to enjoy the outdoor recreation.

The park includes well-marked hiking trails ideal for all levels. Kayaking is another favorite activity. Camping is permitted for overnight stays.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Park Rapids

Address: 36750 Main Park Drive, Park Rapids, MN 56470

Also Read: 25 Best State Parks in the US

10: Valleyfair Amusement Park

Valleyfair Amusement Park
Flickr/Jeremy Thompson

Spend a day at the Valleyfair Amusement Park to enjoy all of the thrill and exciting rides.

The park has 125-acres making it the largest amusement park in Minnesota. It’s open seasonally from May to October, so there’s plenty of time to visit.

Valleyfair Amusement Park is a longstanding park open since 1976. When it first opened, it had 20 rides, but thanks to its popularity, it expanded to more than 75 rides and attractions. Many of the original rides are still operating in the park.

Feel the thrill riding on one of the eight roller coasters or cool off from the hot summer sun in the Soak City water park.

There are rides for all ages, including small children. The park also has other attractions to explore. When you need a break from riding, grab a bite to eat at one of the in-park restaurants.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Shakopee

Address: 1 Valley Fair Dr, Shakopee, MN 55379

Also Read: 25 Best Amusement Parks in the US

11: Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park

The abundance of water surrounding Voyageurs National Park makes it one of the favorite Minnesota attractions for boating.

The park was established in 1975 in the state’s northern region centered around the Kabetogama Peninsula.

Voyageurs National Park has several natural landmarks, including Kabetogama Lake, Ellsworth Rock Gardens, Rainy Lake, and Kettle Falls. It’s a popular year-round destination for outdoor recreation.

During the warm season, it’s one of the best places to go boating in Minnesota. Canoeing, kayaking, and houseboats are all popular in the park.

Guided boat tours are available to explore the park’s many natural features. It’s also a location for fishing, hiking trails, and camping. During the winter, many of the trails are used for snowmobile routes.

There are multiple visitor centers around the park. It’s a unique destination because it’s primarily accessible via boat.

Accommodation: Where to stay in International Falls

Address: 360 Minnesota 11 East, International Falls, MN 56649

12: International Wolf Center

International Wolf Center
Flickr/Sharon Mollerus

Visit the International Wolf Center to learn all there is to know about wolves. The interpretive center, located in Ely, is a research and educational venue for wolves.

The center promotes healthy wolf population maintenance and features various exhibits and programs for visitors.

The International Wolf Center is a fun place to go in Minnesota for all ages.

The center’s main attraction is seeing the “ambassador pack,” a group of five wolves from various species living within the Superior National Forest.

Visitors can observe the wolves in the natural habitat safely from a large viewing window at the center.

When you first arrive at the center, you can sit through a short lecture to learn about wolves before exploring the different exhibitions around the center. There are also other educational programs hosted at the center.

Be sure to catch the live feeding of the wolves during your visit.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Ely

Address: 1396 MN-169, Ely, MN 55731

13: Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum

Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum

The building that houses the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum is just as impressive as the works of art housed inside it.

Visit the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis to discover one of the premier art museums in the state.

The Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum is named after a former art collector who opened his personal collection to the public.

It holds a collection of over 25,000 objects, displayed in permanent and rotating exhibitions. The collection includes fine art, pottery, furniture, and other contemporary artworks.

The building is one of the most attractive on the campus. Famed architect Frank Gehry designed it in a contemporary style. It overlooks the Mississippi River.

Many visitors take time to explore the building’s exterior to admire the architecture before entering inside to check out the current exhibitions. Many of the staff are students at the university.

Address: 333 E River Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55455

14: Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge
Flickr/Ron Reiring

Duluth is Minnesota’s main port city, where the skyline features landmarks like the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge.

It’s one of the most unique bridges in the US that you get to see in action as large ships enter and exit the docks.

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge was first constructed in 1905 as the first ferry bridge in the country. It was redesigned a couple of decades later as a vertical-lift bridge.

It operated by the bottom level raising to allow ships to pass beneath it before returning to its original position. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The shipping schedule is available online for the public for a chance to see the bridge in action during your visit. The best place to view the bridge is from canal Park. Visitors can also walk across the bridge.

Address: 601 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802

15: Gooseberry Falls State Park

Gooseberry Falls State Park
Flickr/Sharon Mollerus

Gooseberry Falls State Park is home to Gooseberry Falls, one of the most scenic waterfalls in Minnesota.

The state park is a fun destination for outdoor recreation and enjoying the beautiful nature views.

Gooseberry Falls is divided into multiple sections – upper, middle, and lower. The falls flow from the Gooseberry River and eventually end up in Lake Superior.

The waterfall is tucked inside a forested area. Visitors can hike trails leading to scenic overlooks of the waterfall.

You might even catch a glimpse at some of the local wildlife, such as bears, wolves, lynx, and deer.

Visit the Gooseberry Falls State Park visitor center before exploring the park. The center provides various nature events and programs open to the public. The waterfall is just a short walk from the visitor center.

During low water flow, visitors can swim at the bottom of the waterfall in the natural pools.

Address: 3206 MN-61, Two Harbors, MN 55616

Also Read: 25 Best State Parks to Visit in the US

16: Devil’s Kettle

Devil’s Kettle
Adobe Stock/ramesh1502

Visit the Judge C. R. Magney State Park to find Devil’s Kettle, one of the most mysterious Minnesota attractions.

The mysterious disappearing water has led to lots of speculation around the waterfall. Visit the site to make your own guess or simply enjoy the natural scenery.

Devil’s Kettle is a waterfall formed from the Brule River. The river splits into two streams upon approaching the drop. The first stream flows over the edge in a 50-ft drop downstream. The second stream mysteriously disappears into a pothole and seemingly disappears underground.

It’s fun to speculate about where the water goes. Many people have tossed objects into the water and never saw them again. After research, scientists confirmed that the water ends up downstream.

Visitors can take a two-mile loop hiking trail to see the falls. There is also a swimming spot downstream from the falls.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Grand Marais

Address: Superior Hiking Trail, Grand Marais, MN 55604

17: Niagara Cave

Niagara Cave
Flickr/Bruce Guenter

Caving is a popular recreational activity in Minnesota, and Niagara Cave is one of the best caves to explore.

Although privately-owned, it’s available for seasonal tours to explore the natural attractions formed inside of it.

Niagara Cave is a limestone cave that was discovered in 1932. It’s 200-ft deep and designed with accessibility features for visitors like stairs, bridges, and more.

Take a guided tour to learn about the cave’s formation and see the unique sights.

The cave has one of the best examples of an underground waterfall and river. The tour takes you to see the 60-ft waterfall completely underground and the stream. There are also large rock formations and fossils inside.

The tour route extends approximately a half-mile into the cave. Even during the summer, it has a cool temperature, so bring a light jacket. It’s a surreal experience to hear the rushing water all around you while inside the cave.

Address: 29842 Co Hwy 30, Harmony, MN 55939

18: Greyhound Bus Museum

Greyhound Bus Museum

The Greyhound Bus Museum walks you through the history of one of the greatest transportation companies in America.

The museum is located in Hibbing, MN, where the Greyhound Bus Company originated. The multimedia exhibitions highlight the company’s past.

Greyhound Buses are seen daily crossing the US, but you’ll get to see where it all began in the museum.

Opened in 1989, the museum exhibits vintage buses, memorabilia, photos, advertisements, uniforms, and more.

You’ll get to see the original Hupmobile from 1914, which was used to transport local miners and started the company.

The bus collection includes several buses from many decades. Visitors can climb into the buses for a glimpse of how travelers moved around the US in the past.

The museum experience also includes a video presentation detailing the company’s history and legacy.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Hibbing

Address: 1201 Greyhound Blvd, Hibbing, MN 55746

19: Minneapolis Institute of Art

Minneapolis Institute of Art
Flickr/Sharon Mollerus

The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) is one of the best places to visit in Minnesota to see world-class artwork.

It’s the largest museum in Minnesota, with a collection of close to 100,000 artworks. The art is sourced worldwide to give visitors a look at some of the best global artworks.

Visiting the Minneapolis Institute of Art is free for the public, making it one of the top things to do in Minneapolis.

It welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors every year to explore the permanent and temporary installations.

The main exhibitions are segmented by region and style. You can browse exhibits showcasing Contemporary art, African art, Asian art, and more.

You can also see sculptures, drawings, photographs, and other mediums. Some of the notable artists include Vincent Van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, and Henri Matisse.

The MIA frequently hosts events and educational programs for all ages.

Address: 2400 3rd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55404

20: Stone Arch Bridge

Stone Arch Bridge
Flickr/Sharon Mollerus

The iconic Stone Arch Bridge is a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Located in Minneapolis, the historic bridge is one of the favorite attractions in Minnesota.

Stone Arch Bridge was built in the late 19th century and used for railroad crossings across the Mississippi River.

The name derives from the 21-arch design constructed entirely of stone. It spans nearly 200-ft long. Today, the landmark is a pedestrian bridge for walking and biking.

Visiting the bridge is one of the best things to do in Minneapolis. You can walk or bike across the bridge or enjoy views below along the riverbanks.

You’ll frequently see musicians playing on the bridge. Take a moment to take in the sights when you’re crossing the bridge.

It offers one of the best views of the Minneapolis skyline, the Mississippi River, and St. Anthony’s Falls.

Address: 100 Portland Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401

21: Pipestone National Monument

Pipestone National Monument
Flickr/Brian Jeffery Beggerly

Native Americans once inhabited what's now considered Minnesota. All around the state, you'll find sites once used by the natives.

Pipestone National Monument is one such site that tourists now can visit and learn more about how the natives used it.

Pipestone National Monument contains several quarries used for crafting ceremonial pipes from stone.

The pipes were later used for trading amongst European settlers who arrived in the region.

The national monument designation gives ownership of the quarries back to the Native Americans and recognizes the area as their land.

Pipestone National Monument is a popular sight in Minnesota to immerse into the Native American culture.

Stop by the visitor center to start your visit. Pick up a route map that takes you on a loop path to see various quarries and the Winnewissa Falls. The visitor center also hosts cultural performances and classes for pipe making.

Address: 36 Reservation Ave, Pipestone, MN 56164

22: Guthrie Theater

Guthrie Theater
Flickr/Joe Wolf

Minneapolis is a hub for culture and art, thanks to venues like the Guthrie Theater.

The award-winning venue is one of the best places to visit in Minnesota for live entertainment. From the professional shows to the incredible architecture, it’s a place you don’t want to miss.

Guthrie Theater remains one of the premier theater venues ever since it was founded in the mid-1900s.

In its new building opened in 2006, the venue hosts theater shows, training, and education. It features three theater auditoriums – the largest seats 1,100 people. There is also a restaurant and public lobby areas.

Check the calendar during your visit for a chance to see one of the popular shows. It’s open all year round, with new theater shows introduced every year. It also offers backstage tours on select days.

It’s the perfect place to go for a date night or an evening out with the family.

Address: 818 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55415

23: Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox Statues

Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox Statues
Flickr/Matthew Stinar

Take a road trip to see one of the quirkiest attractions in Minnesota.

Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox statues are one of the top roadside attractions in the US. The figures were installed in 1937 during the automobile boom and remain a popular destination for tourists.

The statues are based on the tales of Paul Bunyan, an American Folk Hero. They are located in Bemidji, known for its former prominent local lumber industry.

The massive statues are highly visible from the road. The Paul Bunyan statue is 18-ft tall, while Babe the Blue Ox is 10-ft tall.

Paul Bunyan Park was established around the statues to support tourism to the site. The park includes a kids’ playground, seating, and picnic tables. It also has a tourist info center.

Take photos during your visit – it’s considered one of the most photographed sites in the US.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Bemidji

Address: 300 Bemidji Ave N, Bemidji, MN 56601

24: SPAM Museum

SPAM Museum
Flickr/Lorie Shaull

SPAM is a world-famous canned meat brand that you’re sure to find in most people’s pantries.

The SPAM Museum is a space entirely dedicated to the Spam brand. Visit the museum to learn about the history of Spam and its parent company Hormel Foods.

SPAM Museum has free admission for the public, so it’s a fun place to drop by if you have an hour or two to spare.

It’s fun for all ages with lots of information about Spam and even interactive activities to get hands-on.

The museum is sectioned into seven galleries. The galleries highlight themes such as brand history, advertising, Spam’s role in WWII, and fun games for the kids. Guided tours are available.

As soon as you enter the museum, you’ll see the giant Wall of Spam containing approximately 3,000 cans.

Walk up to one of the Spambassadors for a free sample. There is also a gift shop dedicated to all things Spam.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Austin

Address: 101 3rd Ave NE, Austin, MN 55912

25: Quarry Hill Nature Center

Quarry Hill Nature Center

Experience Minnesota’s beautiful natural scenery at the Quarry Hill Nature Center. The nature center covers nearly 330 acres with indoor and outdoor attractions.

Visit with the entire family for nature exploration and get an up-close look at the wildlife.

Quarry Hill Nature Center is a historic park showcasing the wonders of natural science.

The center is a fun place with lots of informative and interactive exhibitions. You’ll get to learn about the environment and local wildlife.

The nature center hosts programs open to the public. One of the most popular programs is seeing live animals, many of which are native to the region. You’ll get to see various small mammals, reptiles, and birds.

After a visit to the nature center, spend time enjoying the outdoor scenery. There are several miles of hiking trails – the trails feature markers with historical details about the grounds.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Rochester

Address: 701 Silver Creek Road NE. Rochester, MN 55906

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