While nearby Michigan is defined by four great lakes, Minnesota is best known for thousands of smaller bodies of water. Over 11,000 freshwater lakes pepper the landscape, making it a popular destination for fishermen, boaters and hikers seeking scenic escapes. Combine a trip to Minnesota’s wilderness with the cultural centers of Minneapolis and St. Paul, twin cities with modern sensibilities and myriad attractions.
Visit the Jeffers Petroglyphs to see carvings created 7,000 years ago and get a sense of the state’s ancient history. Dakota and Ojibwe tribes lived here historically, with fur traders arriving by the late 1600s. Minnesota gained statehood in 1858 and developed mining and timber industries.
Explore the modern metropolis of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Spend an evening at the Orchestra Hall or the Orpheum Theatre to experience the best of Minnesota’s arts scene. Families are welcome at attractions such as the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. The giant Mall of America in nearby Bloomington attracts visitors for great shopping and an indoor theme park and aquarium.
Flee the cities and escape to one of Minnesota’s more than 70 state parks, promising stunning scenery and wildlife. Hike along 50 miles (80 kilometers) of trails in Itasca State Park, where the Mississippi River begins. Join a white-water rafting trip down the St. Louis River in Jay Cooke State Park or watch for black bears near Bear Head Lake.
Rent a canoe to paddle along the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and see Canada and the U.S. on opposite shores. Voyageurs National Park is also best explored from a boat. Look for bald eagles and loons from your canoe.
Fly into Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and rent a car to explore Minnesota’s scenic byways. Traveling through the state can take extra planning in the harsh northern winters, when snowstorms are frequent. More than 20 ski areas take advantage of snowy conditions. Visit between late spring and early fall for exhilarating warmer-weather outdoor activities.