Minnesota Road Trips December 01, 2022
by Betsy Rathburn The Scenic Road Trip That Will Make You Fall In Love With The Beauty of Minnesota All Over Again
road trip from Minnesota is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of the state. While most out-of-towners associate our state with Minneapolis and St. Paul, there are so many more things to do in Minnesota beyond the Twin Cities. And even when you cut out the state’s other popular destination – the North Shore – Minnesota still offers plenty of beauty for locals and visitors to enjoy.
Today, we want to remind you why a Minnesota road trip is one of the best types of family-fun day trips. Below, you’ll find one of the most scenic drives in Minnesota that will make you fall in love with our state all over again. It will guide you to beautiful lakes, waterfalls, prairies, and more. Curious to know more? Read on to learn about the route so you can start planning your trip!
Because the Twin Cities and North Shore get so much attention, we decided to focus this trip on southern and southwestern Minnesota. This route covers about 260 miles and includes just over 5 hours of driving time. It would make for a great weekend adventure too!
1. Frontenac State Park
Our road trip begins on Minnesota’s eastern border, at Frontenac State Park. This beautiful park in Lake City includes spectacular views of the Mississippi River. More specifically, the hiking trails, scenic vantage points, and picnic areas look out over Lake Pepin. Visitors can climb up bluff trails, check out a historic stone quarry, look for wildlife in the woods, and enjoy the beautiful blufftop views. Take a look at
Frontenac State Park
to learn more about this Minnesota road trip stop.
Frontenac State Park, 29223 County 28 Blvd, Frontenac, MN 55026, USA
2. Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
After you’re finished at Frontenac, drive about 50 miles east to Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. Named after its lovely woods, which include sugar maple, oak, hickory, ash, elm, and basswood, Nerstrand is a great stop for nature enthusiasts. Wildflowers bloom in the spring and summer, and you can even see endangered trout lilies along a special boardwalk trail. Many don’t realize that there’s also a stunning waterfall hidden in the woods here. Aptly named Hidden Falls is a 20-foot waterfall that offers lovely views in any season. Learn why
Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
will be another highlight on your road trip from Minnesota.
Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, 170th Street East, Nerstrand, MN, USA
3. Minneopa State Park
Minneopa State Park
is home to one of Minnesota’s most well-known waterfalls! It’s about 60 miles west of Nerstrand Big Woods, and it makes for a perfect stop if you’d like to continue looking for waterfalls. Minneopa is much larger, with a double drop 50 feet into a sandstone gorge. Picturesque bridges make it look like something from a fairy tale, and a steep yet lovely hike will bring you down to the base of the falls. When you’re finished, drive through the bison area for a chance to see where in Minnesota buffalo roam!
Minneopa State Park Campground, Minneopa State Pk Campground, South Bend Township, MN 56001, USA
4. Lake Shetek State Park
Keep heading west for about 90 miles to
Lake Shetek State Park
, the next stop on your scenic drive in Minnesota. This is a little-known park near Minnesota’s southwestern corner. The little-known park is centered on Lake Shetek, a lovely body of water that offers boating, fishing, and swimming. There’s a sandy beach for summertime adventures, a boat landing, and even a fishing pier where people often pull in walleye, pike, perch, crappies, and catfish. The park even has an island that you can walk to via the Loon Island Causeway. This is a great place for adventure that many Minnesotans have never even heard of!
Lake Shetek State Park, 163 State Park Rd, Currie, MN 56123, USA
5. Pipestone National Monument
Most Minnesotans know that our state has a national park, Voyageurs National Park up north. But few realize that we also have a national monument.
Pipestone preserves quarries
used by many different Native American groups for centuries. They quarried pink quartzite from the area to make ceremonial pipes. Today, the quarries are still used by some groups, and they are still considered sacred. Visitors looking for things to do in Minnesota can see the quarries, hike along beautiful trails between gorgeous quartzite cliffs, and even see Winnewissa Falls, a little-known Minnesota waterfall!
Pipestone National Monument, Reservation Avenue, Pipestone, MN, USA
6. Blue Mounds State Park
South of Pipestone,
Blue Mounds State Park
has even more of the area’s pink quartzite cliffs. These unique cliffs - found in no other part of Minnesota - rise over a vast prairie. Prairie grasses wave in the wind, and wildflowers - and even prickly pear cacti - grow here. Visitors may hike along the cliffs, explore wooded areas, and even look for the bison that roam the prairie. Adventurous visitors can even do rock climbing while taking time out on their Minnesota road trip.
Blue Mounds State Park, 1410 161st St, Luverne, MN 56156, USA
7. Touch the Sky Prairie
Our road trip from Minnesota ends at a little-known part of the state. For some, it may be difficult to see the beauty of this flat, grass-filled prairie. But Touch the Sky’s quiet beauty will impress you if you look closely. The area preserves native tallgrass prairie and wildflowers. In the summertime, you may spot butterflies and other critters hiding among the greenery. And if explore, you can even find a rare
trickling through the grass!
Touch the Sky Prairie, Hardwick, MN 56134, USA
There you have it! What would you add to this road trip? Are there any other beautiful spots in Minnesota that you’re itching to visit? Let us know in the comments!
To help you prepare for your Minnesota road trip with your family, take a look at our
Road Trip Essentials Packing List & Guide. Here, you’ll find everything you need to plan for a comfortable, fun, and memorable adventure with your loved ones. And if you’d like to follow another beautiful journey, check out our waterfall road trip through Minnesota.
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The OIYS Visitor Center
Road Trip From Minnesota
December 04, 2022
What are some of the best scenic drives in Minnesota?
Along with the above road trip, some of the best scenic drives in Minnesota include the following routes:
Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway
Waters of the Dancing Sky Scenic Byway
Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway
Lady Slipper Scenic Byway
Edge of the Wilderness National Scenic Byway
Take a look at these
scenic drives in Minnesota to learn more.
What are some things to do in Minnesota?
Aside from taking a scenic road trip, there are many other things to do in Minnesota. Take a look at the following articles to get some ideas.
What are some other Minnesota road trips?
In addition to the southern road trip above, here are some other Minnesota road trips.