All Minnesotans can probably agree that our state is seriously amazing. No matter the season, there is always something to do or see. There are so many things, in fact, that it can be hard to decide what is truly worthy of our time. That’s why we came up with this list of 12 epic adventures to have in Minnesota before you die. They’ll take you outside where our state is at its best and give you incredible experiences you’ll never forget.
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. Hike to the Continental Divide.
Ever been to Savanna Portage State Park? Many have never even heard of it. The park was opened to preserve the Savanna Portage, an historic 6-mile canoe portage that crosses bog and forest. You can still hike the portage today. Do so, and you're in for an incredible view of the Continental Divide. This is where water begins to flow either east or west, and you can see it right in Minnesota.
2. Swim Minnesota's bluest lake.
We all have a favorite lake, but how many of us can say we've visited Deer Lake? The mineral content of this lake makes it turn a brilliant blue color on sunny days. It's so beautiful, in fact, that it has earned Deer Lake a special nickname: the Lake of Changing Colors. If you want to say you've been to Minnesota's bluest lake, you'd best visit Deer Lake.
3. Canoe to the Hegman Pictographs.
The Hegman Pictographs are Native American pictographs located in Minnesota's Boundary Waters. They are very well preserved, depicting a human with a moose and several canoelike drawings. You can only get there by boat - or by crossing the lake by foot when it is frozen - so a visit is sure to be an amazing adventure.
4. Search for cacti in Blue Mounds State Park.
Did you know Minnesota has native cacti? In springtime, you can find prickly pear cacti nestled into the brush of several state parks, including the beautiful Blue Mounds State Park. If you'd like to get a taste of the desert without leaving Minnesota, check it out.
5. Witness the rapids of the Kettle River.
The Kettle River is a tributary of the St. Croix River in East Central Minnesota. As it flows south, it develops moderate to heavy rapids that many people enjoy kayaking. The rapids ease as they flow further south, so you can still enjoy it if kayaking is not your thing. Banning State Park is an excellent place to see the river, with its deep potholes and lovely amber color. And if you're a fisher, note that the Minnesota's record largest fish ever was pulled from the Kettle River.
6. Hunt for Lake Superior agates.
Lake Superior agates get their beautiful color from the iron found in much of northern Minnesota. These beautiful red stones are easily found if you know where to look. And it may be worth it: many especially beautiful agates are worth a lot of money. At the very least, you could polish your favorite finds as a keepsake of your adventures.
7. Explore Minnesota's prairie.
The North Shore gets a lot of love, but what about Minnesota's prairies? Through much of southern Minnesota, huge fields of waving prairie grass give way to nothing but sky. It's a different, less dramatic type of beauty, but it is worth seeing if you're determined to see all that Minnesota has to offer.
8. Marvel at the pink rocks on Iona's beach.
Iona's Beach is a North Shore destination that many overlook. It's known for the unique pink rocks that blanket the Lake Superior shore. But that's not the only cool thing about this beach. The rocks make a curious tinkling sound as the waves wash ashore. Compared to the other beaches along Lake Superior, this place is pretty special.
9. Take in Minneopa Falls.
Why Minneopa Falls? Because this waterfall in Mankato is an underrated beauty of Minnesota. Most of us have seen Gooseberry and Minnehaha, but too many people live without ever catching a glimpse of Minneopa. With the beautiful stone bridge above the waterfall, it's certainly a sight to see.
10. Cross the famous swinging bridge at Jay Cooke State Park.
Though one of Minnesota's most popular state parks, there are still many who have never visited Jay Cooke State Park. With its miles of hiking trails, rocky river banks, and dense forest, that is quite the shame. This state park is definitely worth a visit in your lifetime - even if it's only to cross the iconic Swinging Bridge.
11. Explore the forgotten ghost towns of Minnesota.
Most of Minnesota's ghost towns are in the northern half of the state, where economic circumstances forced people to abandon their towns in search of new opportunities. Some have buildings and signs standing that you can still visit today. It's an interesting look at Minnesota's forgotten past, and definitely worth doing if you love history. Here's a
ghost towns road trip
to get you started.
12. Brave the cold to see a frozen waterfall.
With so many waterfalls and so much snow, Minnesota gets pretty interesting come winter. The flowing water becomes an amazing ice formation that you have to see to understand the beauty of. There's a frozen waterfall available in just about every every region of the state, so there are plenty of opportunities to get a glimpse of these beautiful wonders.