It isn’t hard to find interesting activities in Minnesota. The entire state is filled with amazing natural wonders and fun outings. But it’s a little more difficult to find off-the-beaten-path attractions. They’re definitely worth visiting, but they just aren’t well-known enough to get a lot of buzz. That’s why we came up with this list of the coolest attractions in Minnesota that more people should visit.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Indian Mounds Regional Park - St. Paul
This small park in St. Paul is home to a set of ancient burial mounds. When you visit, you can walk along paved paths that offer close-up views of these 2,000-year-old structures. You'll have a chance to learn who built them, what they were used for, and what other artifacts were found nearby. It's an interesting walk back into the early history of Minnesota.
Address: 10 Mounds Boulevard, St. Paul.
2. Franconia Sculpture Park - Shafer
Whether you have a big interest in art or are just looking for a fun outdoor activity, Franconia Sculpture Park has what you need. Dozens of unique sculptures - many of them interactive - make up this 43-acre park. Thanks to a huge, colorful, crazy playground, Franconia is even fun for kids!
Address: 29836 St. Croix Trail, Shafer.
3. Jeffers Petroglyphs - Comfrey
Another historical site, this one is essential to anyone who has an interest in those who lived in Minnesota long before European settlers showed up. Tucked among open prairie, the petroglyphs feature 7,000-year-old carvings of deer, elk, humans, and other symbols. A more recent history is carved into the rock as well. The rock is crisscrossed with old wagon tracks from the 19th century.
Address: 27160 County Road 2, Comfrey.
4. LARK Toys - Kellogg
Often considered the #1 toy store in Minnesota, LARK Toys in Kellogg is great for both kids and adults. Kids will love the vast selection of current toys, and adults will enjoy strolling down Memory Lane, the store's collection of retro toys. Other attractions include a bookshop, mini-golf, llamas, and a cafe. And don't forget to ride the hand-carved carousel!
Address: 63604 170th Avenue, Kellogg.
5. Cannon Valley Trail - Goodhue County
The Cannon Valley Trail is nearly 20 miles of beauty in Goodhue County, Minnesota. It runs from Cannon Falls to Red Wing, winding through the trees along the peaceful Cannon River. The trail is a great spot for biking, hiking, or even rollerblading, with several rest areas along the way for picnics. The trail is especially beautiful in the fall.
Address: Find the map here.
6. Blue Mounds State Park - Luverne
Here's another prairie destination that you don't want to miss. Being tucked away in the furthest reaches of southwestern Minnesota, it's not surprising that not many people visit this cool attraction. But it really does offer some incredible prairie views that are unique to this part of Minnesota. If you crave something different from the lakes or the northern forests, the pink quartzite cliffs of Blue Mounds are your answer.
Address: 1410 161st Street, Luverne.
7. Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad - Duluth
Many people know about Duluth's North Shore Scenic Railroad, but there's another great train trip in town as well. The Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad travels along the St. Louis River, treating guests to gorgeous views of both water and tree. Passengers can even choose to ride in an open car to get the full experience of the surroundings. There are rides all year, but the train is especially gorgeous in the fall.
Address: 6930 Fremont Street, Duluth.
8. Quarry Park and Nature Reserve - Waite Park
Most locals know about Quarry Park, but many who don't live in central Minnesota aren't aware. But this park truly has something for everyone. Beyond its two famous swimming quarries, Quarry Park has great scuba diving, climbing walls, and fishing. It has miles of hiking across its 643 acres, which offer picnic areas, scenic overlooks, and glimpses of many animal species. It's a fantastic place to spend the day, and it'll only get better as the weather cools and the fall color starts to take over.
Address: 1802 County Road 137, Waite Park.
9. The Shed - Warroad
Most people haven't heard of this unique attraction in Warroad, Minnesota. With a name like The Shed, it doesn't bring anything particularly exciting to mind. But if you look past the name, you'll learn that The Shed is actually a collection of nearly 100 classic cars displayed in a 24,000-square-foot building. If you're a car fan, you'll love the variety of the collection and the care that has gone into keeping it pristine. Visiting hours do vary, so you'll want to check in on
before you visit.
Address: 44 State Avenue, Warroad.
10. Blue Devil Valley Scientific and Natural Area - Granite Falls
This spot really is off the beaten path, but it's one of Minnesota's coolest attractions - especially if you love wildlife. Being a
scientific and natural area
, there are no marked paths at Blue Devil Valley. Visitors must find their own trails through the sedges and grasses that make homes here. The area is an important bird area, and it's also the most likely spot to find the blue devil, the rarest of Minnesota's three native lizard species. If you go, keep an eye out for one of these blue-tailed beauties.
Address: 540th Street, Granite Falls.
11. Ramsey Park - Redwood Falls
We all know about Gooseberry Falls and Minnehaha Falls. Most of us are even aware of Minneopa or Winnewissa Falls. But Ramsey Falls at Ramsey Park in Redwood Falls, Minnesota, is often overlooked. The waterfall is just one of many attractions in this huge 219-acre park. It also features hiking trails, picnic areas, and even a zoo. While the waterfall might be the most dramatic sight at 45 feet, the entire park is well worth visiting.
Address: 99 East Oak Street, Redwood Falls.
Ever been to any of these coolest attractions? Let us know your favorite down below! For more great Minnesota activities, check out our list of the
10 best free things to do in Minnesota.