This Epic Road Trip Leads To 7 Iconic Landmarks In Minnesota
The Land of 10,000 Lakes is home to many famous places. From the Mall of America to the entirety of the North Shore, these icons of our state draw visitors from all around the country. Today, we want to share a road trip to seven of Minnesota’s most important iconic landmarks. While MOA and the North Shore didn’t quite make it onto this list, we are sure that you’ll enjoy visiting the following fascinating, beautiful, and entertaining Minnesota landmarks. Check it out:
The entire route goes from Lake City to Minneapolis, Minnesota, with several stops along the way. It crosses 83 miles and will take about 2 hours of driving. Because several of the destinations may take longer to fully enjoy, this would make a great weekend road trip! Check out the full route
1. Lake City
This road trip starts in the southern Minnesota town of Lake City. This small town has a charming downtown area with some lovely local businesses that you’ll likely enjoy browsing. But what sets Lake City apart from other small towns in Minnesota is its location on Lake Pepin. This lake on the Mississippi River is a busy spot in the summertime when many boats set sail on its waters.
Lake Pepin has a special claim to fame, one of many inventions that put Minnesota on the map: water skiing. Being that Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes, this popular water sport is now enjoyed across Minnesota and beyond. That’s why we felt this lake - and the popular town on its shores - was worthy of being visited as an iconic Minnesota landmark.
2. Barn Bluff
Next up, you’ll drive north from Lake City to the lovely town of Red Wing. The scenery along the way is beautiful so be sure to pay attention. If you have time, make a pit stop at the beautiful Frontenac State Park! When you arrive in Red Wing, hike up to Barn Bluff. This tall bluff rises high over the Mississippi River, offering beautiful views of the city below, as well as the Mississippi River and Wisconsin. When you’ve had your fill of the view, take some time to explore the town.
Red Wing is the home to another thing that put Minnesota on the map: Red Wing Pottery. There’s even a pottery museum where you can see some historic pieces in person, as well as several antique stores where you might be able to scoop up a piece or two for yourself!
3. Mickey's Diner
You’ll keep driving north from Red Wing, following the Mississippi River until you reach your next destination: an iconic Minnesota restaurant. While it’s not the oldest restaurant in the state, Mickey’s Diner is certainly one of the most recognizable.
This dining car opened in 1939 and has been going strong ever since. It opened in 1939 and has been a backdrop to downtown St. Paul events for decades since. While the business was forced to close for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mickey’s will continue to serve downtown diners. No matter what time of day you arrive, you’ll be guaranteed a fantastic meal!
4. Fort Snelling State Park
Fort Snelling has long been an important part of Minnesota history. The area has significance to the Mdewakanton Dakota people, for whom the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers held great importance for their culture and livelihood.
Later, when European settlers arrived, Fort Snelling became a military fortification. For these historic reasons, Fort Snelling is a Minnesota landmark that everyone should visit at least once. In addition to historic places, there are plenty of hiking and biking trails, fishing areas, and more.
5. Minnehaha Falls
Next, head into Minneapolis, where one of the state’s most famous waterfalls draws visitors from all around. There’s a reason the waterfall was immortalized in a famous poem, "The Song of Hiawatha," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: it is just that beautiful!
The waters of Minnehaha Creek flow over a 53-foot cliff, creating a truly remarkable view. Visitors can check it out from above or walk down to the base of the waterfall. Either way, this urban waterfall is simply beautiful - and well worth its place as an iconic landmark of Minnesota.
6. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
Head north for a few miles, and you’ll find yourself in the shadow of downtown Minneapolis. Just across from the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is home to one of Minnesota’s most legendary landmarks: Spoonbridge and Cherry. Sculpted by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, the sculpture - also a fountain - was installed in 1988.
After you get your photo op here, be sure to check out the garden’s many other interesting sculptures. Then, head inside the Walker Art Center to take in some fascinating and thought-provoking modern and contemporary art.
7. Mill City Museum
Not far from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is the Mill City Museum, where your road trip will end. This museum celebrates one of the things that put the Twin Cities on the map: flour.
Minneapolis was once the flour-milling capital of the world, with Gold Medal Flour one of its most famous creations. The famous Gold Medal Flour sign lights the night right outside! Mill City Museum is built in the ruins of a Minneapolis mill - ruins that can still be explored today by visiting Mill Ruins Park next door. This fascinating look at the city’s history is a truly wonderful way to spend a few hours of your time.
Have you visited these Minnesota landmarks? Which were your favorite? Are there any you’d add? Let us know in the comments, or suggest your favorites by filling out our
nomination form. And if you’re interested in some great places to go on Minnesota’s North Shore, check out our past North Shore road trip.
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Address: Lake City, MN 55041, USA Address: Barn Bluff, Red Wing, MN 55066, USA Address: Mickey's Diner, 36 7th St W, St Paul, MN 55102, USA Address: Fort Snelling State Park, 101 Snelling Lake Rd, St Paul, MN 55111, USA Address: Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis, MN 55417, USA Address: Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis, MN 55403, USA Address: Mill City Museum, 704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401, USA