Fall foliage vista of the Superior National Forest, Minnesota

Things to do in  Minnesota

From big theater to big nature

Minnesota is one of America’s most underrated states. Its biggest city, Minneapolis, is home to one of the nation’s largest theater scenes, Michelin-starred restaurants, and must-see cultural attractions, but even smaller, immigrant-heavy towns such as Rochester offer oodles of local art, music, and food. Outdoors, you’ll find water, water everywhere: There are more than 10,000 inland lakes, plus access to Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters, one of the nation’s last great wildernesses. There are so many places to explore and things to do in Minnesota.

Top 7 attractions in Minnesota

Mall of America

At 5.6 million square feet, Minnesota’s Mall of America is bigger than Vatican City—it literally has its own zip code. It’s the largest mall in the US, and its doors swing open for some 40 million visitors yearly. With more than 500 stores, dozens of restaurants, and an indoor amusement park, you could vacation here for weeks.More
The Museum of Russian Art

The Museum of Russian Art

Gain a better appreciation of Russian culture at the Museum of Russian Art, the only museum in North America devoted to preserving and presenting all forms of Russian art and artifacts. Housed in a beautifully restored historic building, the museum features a dynamic rotation of temporary exhibitions and special programs.More

SEA LIFE® Minnesota Aquarium

The enormous Mall of America outside the Twin Cities is big enough to contain many things, including an amusement park and the 1.2-million gallon SEA LIFE® Minnesota Aquarium.The aquarium has been entertaining visitors since it opened in 1996. The space has undergone several changes and renovations since then, but one of the most popular features remains the 300-foot-long clear tunnel through which people can walk with water (and sea creatures) surrounding them.There are both saltwater and freshwater habitats at the aquarium, with a variety of sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, lobsters, catfish, octopuses, and more. One tank contains many different kinds of jellyfish, while another has six kinds of seahorses. There is a touch pool, a tank with live coral, and a rainforest exhibit with animals like caiman, piranhas, and poison dart frogs.The aquarium offers different ticket options, from general admission up through a “VIP Experience” that includes a “behind-the-scenes” tour and a Stingray Adventure feed experience.More
Bauhaus Brew Labs

Bauhaus Brew Labs

Colorful and creative, Bauhaus Brew Labs is named after a niche school of German architecture, which should tell you a lot of what you need to know about this eclectic, fun, and innovative space. Specializing in German beers, this spot in Minneapolis’ funky northeast side is a place to drink up, let loose, and fuel your creativity.More

Nickelodeon Universe

Covering seven acres (2.8 hectares) of family-friendly fun, this Mall of America® theme park is like an oversized playground. From the Log Chute to Crazy Cars, more than two dozen rides and attractions keep kids engaged. On weekends, Nickelodeon characters like Dora the Explorer, Gil and Bubble Puppy, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles make appearances.More
Indeed Brewing Company

Indeed Brewing Company

Indeed Brewing Company is a Twin City mainstay, and you’ll find their beers in more than 300 bars in the metro area. The Minneapolis taproom is located in the artist-heavy (and historic) Solar Arts Building. Pop inside to clink pints of lagers, pale ales, and even wood-aged sours in a communal space that’s all about good friends and good beer.More
Hard Rock Cafe Mall of America

Hard Rock Cafe Mall of America

In the midst of the hundreds of shops that comprise the Mall of America, the Hard Rock Cafe brings the restaurant and rock ’n’ roll memorabilia that they’re known for to Minnesota. After a day of shopping, you can refuel on food and drink with their classic American menu, or take a look at their pieces of American music history on display. Items range from instruments and costumes worn by artists such as Alanis Morissette, Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison, and Britney Spears. There is also an extensive collection of Prince memorabilia including outfits and a signed guitar (he was a Minnesota native.)A stage on the main level plays iconic music videos, and more often than not, is home to live performances. Visitors won’t want to miss the interactive Rock Wall Solo, a giant interactive touchscreen full of music history. With patio seating and two bars, the menu includes appetizers such as nachos, wings, and potato skins and tasty entrees that range from burgers and sandwiches to barbecue. Vegetarian options are also available.More

Top activities in Minnesota

Twin Cities Highlights Tour

Twin Cities Highlights Tour

Airport Transportation

Airport Transportation

per group

All about Minnesota

When to visit

Summer is the high season for Minnesota, with out-of-school crowds flocking to the state’s lakes (and lake towns) to cool off waterside. Of course, spring and fall also offer comfortable temps, with autumn bringing along the state’s notable fall foliage. But if it’s uncrowded snowshoe and snowmobile trails and fantastic ice fishing you’re after, visit January–March.

Getting around

Minnesota is a massive state—about 87,000 square miles (225,000 square kilometers). If you’re going beyond Minneapolis–St. Paul, you’ll want your own vehicle; like most American states, the Land of 10,000 Lakes was built for highway travel. It’s roughly 400 miles (640 kilometers) top to bottom, so if you’re planning on exploring from the more urban south to the forested north, allot plenty of time for getting around.

Traveler tips

Don’t fall for the assumption that Minneapolis–St. Paul is the state’s only hot spot of culture. Rochester buzzes with great restaurants and attractions, supported by a diverse immigrant population. Grand Marais, on the state’s North Shore, is an unlikely, eclectic arts enclave bursting with studios and galleries. And Duluth is becoming an outdoor mecca rivaling cities like Boulder.

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People Also Ask

What is Minnesota famously known for?

Minnesota is known for its 10,000 lakes. Minnesota means “sky-tinted water” in the Dakota language, and the northern reaches of the state are the world's greatest canoe-country wilderness. It’s also famous for Minneapolis, the state's largest city; the artist known as Prince; and the “hotdish” (a type of casserole).

Why is Minnesota a good place to visit?

Minnesota is a good place to visit thanks to its urban attractions, wild nature, and few crowds (Mall of America, notwithstanding). In the state’s southern bits, you’ll find the population centers like Minneapolis–St. Paul and Rochester; up north there are almost more lakes than people, and outdoor adventure reigns supreme.

What is Minnesota known for in the winter?

In winter, Minnesota is known for its outdoor adventure—locals aren't afraid to get outside in the cold. From ice climbing Minnehaha Falls (in Minneapolis) to ice fishing in the Boundary Waters and snowmobiling through the Superior National Forest, there’s loads to explore and things to do in a Minnesota winter.

How do you spend a day in St Paul MN?

In St. Paul, the Minnesota State Capital and the beaux arts Cathedral of Saint Paul are draws. Families should check out the Science Museum of Minnesota and Minnesota History Center. There’s also Historic Fort Snelling, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, and Summit Avenue, a long stretch of Victorian-era homes.

Is downtown St. Paul safer than downtown Minneapolis?

Yes, downtown St. Paul is safer than downtown Minneapolis. But both cities are fairly similar in terms of crime rates. Treat both cities the way you would any major city. In short: Lock and secure your car, don't leave any valuables in your vehicle, and keep personal belongings close.

Is St. Paul Minnesota worth visiting?

Yes, St. Paul, Minnesota, is worth visiting. It’s home to the Cass Gilbert–designed state capitol, the beaux arts St. Paul Cathedral, a bounty of museums, and well-regarded restaurants. You’ll also find the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area and Summit Avenue, the country’s longest stretch of Victorian-era homes.

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