Fun things to do in Minnesota

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    MN Renaissance Festival
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    Mississippi from the Ford Bridge
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    MN Renaissance Festival
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Minnesota

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    Two Harbors Lighthouse

    by traveldave Updated Oct 16, 2010

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    Two Harbors Lighthouse was constructed in 1892 as a beacon to guide ships carrying iron ore and grain out of nearby Duluth. The red brick lighthouse is 78 feet (28 meters) tall and includes a lighthouse keeper's home. It was automated in the 1960s, and the original fourth-order Fresnel lens was replaced by a modern airport-style beacon. The Fresnel lens is now on display at the Inland Seas Maritime Museum in Vermilion, Ohio.

    Two Harbors Lighthouse was operated by the U.S. Coast Guard until the late 1980s. In 1998 it was transferred to the Lake County Historical Society, which runs the Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast on the premises. Proceeds from the bed and breakfast go toward preserving the historical lighthouse, which has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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    The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory

    by traveldave Updated Oct 16, 2010

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    Built in 1915, the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, formerly called the Como Park Conservatory, is the largest glass-dome garden in the Upper Midwest. It features rooms and gardens which highlight different varieties of trees and plants.

    The Palm Room is under the conservatory's tallest dome and contains more than 150 species of palm trees. The Fern Room showcases dozens of varieties of ferns in a hot and humid atmosphere. The Bonsai Gallery features many fine examples of the ancient Japanese art of miniaturizing trees. The Sunken Garden contains an amazing variety of colorful flowers and hosts five seasonal flower shows. The Japanese Garden celebrates the sister-city relationship between Saint Paul and Nagasaki. The North Garden contains plants and trees that humans use for food, pharmaceuticals, and building materials. And the Enchanted Garden is a butterfly garden where hundreds of butterflies flit among the flowers and plants.

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    Historic Fort Snelling

    by traveldave Updated Aug 7, 2012

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    After the War of 1812, the United States gained control of the Upper Mississippi River Valley by establishing a chain of forts and Indian agencies extending from Lake Michigan to the Missouri River. In 1819, the 5th Regiment of Infantry established a fort at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. Fort Snelling (today called Historic Fort Snelling) was completed in 1825 and named after its builder, Colonel Josiah Snelling.

    The soldiers stationed at Fort Snelling made roads, built a gristmill and sawmill, and cleared hundreds of acres for crops. For 30 years, the fort was the center of the region, and was a meeting place for local American Indians of the Ojibwe and Dakota tribes, and a trading center for trappers working the area.

    By 1851, the frontier had moved westward, diminishing the importance of Fort Snelling, which was demoted to a supply depot. In 1858, the year Minnesota became a state, Fort Snelling was sold to a land developer and was to be platted as a town site. However, with the outbreak of the American Civil War, Fort Snelling was reactivated and became a training center for Union troops.

    After the American Civil War, Fort Snelling became the headquarters of the Department of Dakota that stretched from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. Troops from the fort served in the Indian campaigns and in the Spanish-American War of 1898.

    During the Second World War, over 300,000 soldiers were trained at Fort Snelling in duties that included the operation of railroads and translating Japanese.

    After the war, the fort finally closed. In 1960, Fort Snelling was designated the state's first National Historic Landmark, and the old fort was rebuilt with public and private funds. Nowadays, visitors gain an understanding of early military, civilian, and American Indian life in the region. The Fort Snelling History Center offers films and exhibits about the fort's past, as well as the history of the Upper Mississippi River Valley.

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    Duluth Overview - FREE

    by MoonOogler Updated Aug 29, 2004

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    If you are passing through Duluth,MN. Stop at the rest stop that also advertises maps. (Thompson Hill Information Center) It has a spectacular panoramic view of Lake Superior & it's surrounding areas.

    Duluth is very hilly... so it is also very beautiful city to see at night... because it has so many lights.

    If you continue northward on Hwy. 61; take the
    North Shore Scenic Drive that follows Lake Superiors' shoreline. It is an incredibly beautiful road-trip through towering pine tree woods. (38 miles)

    You can also pull over at the designated spots to stretch your legs by walking down to the edge of Lake Superior. Can skip rocks, watch boats and seagulls, or look for agates.

    Duluth Overview
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    The State Capitol Building

    by traveldave Updated Jun 13, 2006

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    The Minnesota State Capitol Building is situated on a promontory overlooking downtown Saint Paul. It was designed by noted nineteenth-century architect Cass Gilbert. The inspiration for the Italian Renaissance Revival building was Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Construction on the capitol building started in 1893 and was completed in 1905, meaning that the State Capitol Building celebrated its centennial in 2005.

    The interior of the capitol features beautiful polished marble domes, arches, columns, and staircases. Many of the walls contain historical murals which depict important events in the history of Minnesota. The building's most prominent architectural feature is its large dome, which towers 233 feet (71 meters) into the air.

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    Lake Superior

    by traveldave Updated Feb 5, 2005

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    Lake Superior is a lake of superlatives. The largest of the five Great Lakes, it is also the largest body of fresh water on the globe. It exceeds its nearest rival, Lake Victoria in Africa, by about 5,000 square miles (12,950 square kilometers). It has a surface area of 31,700 square miles (82,103 square kilometers), and has a maximum depth of 1,333 feet (406 meters). It contains 2,935 cubic miles (12,234 cubic kilometers) of water, enough to sustain the flow of Niagara Falls for more than 100 years, and enough to contain all of the other Great Lakes plus three more lakes the size of Lake Erie.

    Lake Superior is also one of the most violent bodies of water in the world. Winter storms cause gigantic waves that have sunk scores of ships. Numerous shipwrecks are protected in bottomland preserves, and are accessible to recreational divers.

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    The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

    by traveldave Updated Oct 16, 2010

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    The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden was established in 1988 as a joint project between the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Walker Art Center. The garden features over 40 sculptures, including the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry (pictured here), set among 11 acres (four hectares) of footpaths, plazas, and landscaping.

    Located within the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the Cowles Conservatory features palm trees and other tropical plants, bringing a touch of the tropics to the frozen Minnesota winters.

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    The Mill City Museum

    by traveldave Updated Oct 16, 2010

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    In the 1990s, the Minnesota Historical Society completely renovated the then-abandoned Washburn A Mill that was at one time the largest and most technologically advanced flour mill in the world. The result of the renovation, the Mill City Museum, tells the story of flour milling and its impact on the growth of Minneapolis.

    From about 1880, and for the next 50 years, Minneapolis was the world's largest producer of milled flour, and was known as the "Flour Capital of the World" or "Mill City." Grain from the grain belt in the northern Great Plains and Canada arrived by rail to the Washburn A Mill, which ground enough flour to make 12,000,000 loaves of bread per day.

    After the First World War, flour milling began a gradual decline, and the Washburn A Mill was finally forced to close in 1965.

    Nowadays, visitors to the Mill City Museum can take a tour of the Washburn A Mill to learn about its history and architecture, as well as the impact flour milling had on Minneapolis. There are even samples of freshly baked bread in the Baking Lab.

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    The Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum

    by traveldave Updated Dec 1, 2010

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    The Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum was established in 1934 as a teaching museum for the University of Minnesota. It was named after a prominent Minneapolis businessman and philanthropist whose donations of funds and other support made establishment of the museum possible.

    The museum's permanent collection includes more than 17,000 works of art, with a focus on American modernism, ceramics, Mimbres pottery, and Korean furniture. The collection also features works from such early twentieth-century American artists as Georgia O'Keeffe and Marsden Hartley. Many of the museum's pieces can be viewed in a changing schedule of exhibits.

    Since 1993, the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum has been housed in a stainless steel building of jutting angles designed by internationally renowned architect Frank Gehry.

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    The Cathedral of Saint Paul

    by traveldave Updated Jul 7, 2005

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    The Cathedral of Saint Paul dominates Summit Hill overlooking the City of Saint Paul. It is the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

    Designed in the Renaissance style of architecture by French architect Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, its inspiration came from the churches and cathedrals of France. Construction started in 1907, the exterior was completed in 1914, and the interior was completed a year later in 1915. The dome is 307 feet (94 meters) high, the length is 307 feet (94 meters), and the width is 216 feet (66 meters).

    This building is but the fourth church of the same name since 1841. The first was constructed of rough logs in 1841 by Father Lucien Galtier on a bluff in a settlement then called Pig's Eye Landing. Father Galtier placed the chapel and the settlement under the patronage of Saint Paul, hoping that the town would adopt the name, which it did, and Pig's Eye Landing became Saint Paul. Two other churches, constructed of brick and mortar instead of logs, served for short periods as the Cathedral of Saint Paul.

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    Lake Superior North Shore Drive

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jun 12, 2004

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    Minnesota's fabled Scenic Highway 61 has been designated by the National Byway Center as one of the most beautiful drives in America. and it has also been named an All American Road. This breathtaking section of highway runs more than 154 miles from Duluth up Lake Superior's North Shore to the Canadian border. The lake is never far from view.

    Lake Superior gets its name from the fact that it is the northernmost of the Great Lakes. However, it is truly superior in every way - the biggest, deepest, coldest, and cleanest. This is the largest body of fresh water in the world. It contains one tenth of all the fresh water on earth - as much as all four other great lakes combined, plus three additional lakes the size of Lake Erie. It takes 199 years to replenish itself.

    Superior is approximately 350 miles by 160 miles in size with 2,800 miles of shoreline. It averages 500 feet in depth, and is 1,332 feet at the deepest point. With the entire surface frozen, (which has only happened twice in history), there would be enough room for every person on earth to spread out a 12' by 12' picnic blanket.

    The Lake is large enough to dramatically affect weather patterns in surrounding areas. Water temperatures never go above 40 F even in summer. Air temperatures along the shore are often ten degrees warmer in winter and 10 degrees cooler in summer than nearby inland areas.

    Don't rush up Hwy. 61. Along the way are numerous parks, waterfalls, lighthouses, quaint small towns, and other interesting features to explore.

    The Rugged Lake Superior Shore
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    The Superior Hiking Trail

    by bluecamper Written Sep 28, 2004

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    "A 205-mile long footpath that follows the rocky ridgeline above Lake Superior in northeastern Minnesota. It begins just north of Two Harbors, MN, and ends just before the Canadian border. The trail has 30 trailheads and 81 backcountry campsites making it ideal for both day hikes and backpacking."

    That's from the website.

    It's cool because it is free. There is a shuttle service (for a fee) that can get you back to your car or even resupply you if you're in it for the long haul. The association that created the trail has a guidebook and maps that make it easy to decide what parts to do. I just hiked the 15.5 mile stretch from Beaver Bay over the weekend. It was steep in places (think 2 miles an hour with a heavy pack) and you need good knees. But the views were fantastic. ---Rock overlooks of Lake Superior or inland Minnesota to see the fall colors on the trees and beaver ponds and lakes below. You share campsites and pretty much everyone you pass wants to hear where you're going and where you've come from. Because there are so many spur trails and overlaps with state park trails there are many dayhikers too.
    I walked over the tallest waterfall in the state (I never knew it existed) on the Baptism River. Plenty of water sources and friendly people and dogs. A hiker's dream!

    trail marker
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    Split Rock Lighthouse

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jun 19, 2004

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    Certainly one of the most photographed lighthouses anywhere, Split Rock Lighthouse was at the top of our itinerary when we made a circle trip around Lake Superior. Shipwrecks from a mighty gale in November, 1905, prompted the construction of this rugged landmark, atop a 130-foot cliff. Today the breathtaking site is preserved as a State Park. There is a modern Visitor Center, and tours are available for both the lighthouse and the restored home of the lighthouse keeper and his family. These offer a glimpse of life in a remote and beautiful setting among some of the world's most dangerous waters.

    The State Park is open mid-May through mid-October. Admission is $6 adults and $3 children. Admission also allows entrance into other state parks on the same day (like nearby Gooseberry Falls), or for a few dollars more you can get an annual pass to all Minnesota State Parks.

    Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior
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    Gooseberry Falls: Middle and Lower Falls

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jun 19, 2004

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    After passing under U.S. Hwy. 61 (see previous tip) the Gooseberry River divides four ways, into two middle falls and two lower falls. These two-tiered falls plunge a total of 60 feet to the last pool, and then the river meanders through a valley to Lake Superior. Several sets of stairs, two footbridges, and a boardwalk form a loop which completely encircles the four falls offering splendid views from every angle.

    Other ammenities in Gooseberry Falls State Park include 70 modern campsites, 3 picnic areas, and 18 miles of trails, for hiking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. The park is open year-round. Because of the moderating effects of Lake Superior it is said that temperatures here are generally 10 degrees F warmer in the winter and 10 degrees F cooler in the summer than inland areas of Northeastern Minnesota.

    Middle and Lower Gooseberry Falls
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    The Minnesota History Center

    by traveldave Updated Jul 8, 2005

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    Administered by the Minnesota Historical Society, the Minnesota History Center was completed in 1992. It brings together under one roof the most extensive collection of historical archives, collections of art and artifacts, and library materials related to the history of Minnesota.

    The Minnesota History Center also serves as a museum featuring interactive permanent exhibits, rotating special exhibits, large-scale objects, educational events, multimedia presentations, and a library where Minnesotans can research their family heritage.

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