With its 66 state parks, 10,000 lakes, and seemingly unlimited cultural opportunities, it’s hard to see every amazing place in Minnesota. In fact, it’s hard to know that some even exist! We all know about our most popular and iconic spots, like Gooseberry Falls or Mickey’s Diner. But how many of us have dug deeper to truly uncover Minnesota’s more underrated places? You may not have heard of these 11 underrated places in Minnesota, but we guarantee they’re worth visiting.
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. Ax-Man Surplus - St. Paul
Anyone who has ever visited this quirky store in St. Paul was blown away by the huge variety of items on its shelves. Everything from glass beakers to electronic components to craft supplies can be found here - and everything is a huge bargain. This underrated spot deserves every ounce of the love it gets from those who visit it.
Address: 1639 University Avenue, St. Paul.
2. Franconia Sculpture Park - Shafer
This weird and wacky park is a popular field trip spot for area schools. But don't let that stop you from planning a visit. It's a wonderful place for adults to stroll, too. The park covers many acres of land in Shafer, Minnesota, and its covered with amazing artwork. Many of the pieces, including a huge and colorful playground, are interactive. Guests are welcome to climb the art as they see fit! This underrated park is a wonderful spot to spend a warm afternoon.
Address: 29836 St. Croix Trail, Shafer.
3. Winnewissa Falls - Pipestone
Bigger waterfalls like Gooseberry and Minnehaha may get all the attention. But don't let that stop you from visiting one of Minnesota's most unique falls. Located at Pipestone National Monument in the southwestern corner of the state, this waterfall is a sacred spot for several American Indian tribes. The water flows over pink quartzite, making for an incredible sight. You can view it from the bridge below, or climb up a short set of stone steps to see the water from above. Either way, it's beautiful.
Address: 36 Reservation Avenue, Pipestone.
4. Salt Cave Minnesota - Minneapolis
The Salt Cave Minnesota is as beautiful as it is therapeutic. Immerse yourself in relaxation as you sit in a room lined in beneficial - and beautiful - Himalayan salt. The treatment is said to be good for those with respiratory problems, anxiety, skin problems, and allergies. Visit for a massage, yoga, or just to take in the calming atmosphere. You won't regret it.
Address: 4811 Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis.
5. Kawishiwi Falls - Ely
Another beautiful but underrated waterfall in the Land of 10,000 Lakes? The rushing rapids of Kawishiwi Falls in Ely, Minnesota. This spot is not as big as other waterfalls, but it has something else going for it: located in the Boundary Waters, those who visit are treated to one of the most secluded falls in Minnesota. The 1.5-mile trail passes through a quiet forest and leads to the unforgettable 70-foot drop of this little-known waterfall. Don't miss it!
Address: 444 Fernberg Trail, Ely.
6. Jeffers Petroglyphs - Comfrey
Jeffers Petroglyphs is the kind of attraction that you have to get up close to in order to really appreciate. Why? Because from afar, it looks like nothing but a patch of stone on an empty prairie. But up close, you'll see that the stone is carved with drawings and symbols - petroglyphs - that date back thousands of years. In fact, the its entire expanse is a record of human history in Minnesota. There are even old wagon tracks rutted into the surface from when European settlers expanded west.
Address: 27160 County Road 2, Comfrey.
7. End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum - Currie
This unique park in southwestern Minnesota is one of the most underrated places in the state. Even if you aren't a train enthusiast, you'll get a kick out of its historic steam engine, old rail line, and original turntable! The park is also home to historic buildings that will make you feel like you're in a turn-of-the-century village. All in all, it's an interesting place where entertainment and history collide.
Address: 440 Mill Street North, Currie.
8. Quarry Park and Nature Preserve - Waite Park
Central Minnesota around St. Cloud doesn't get a lot of love. But it's home to one of the most lovely parks anywhere. Quarry Park and Nature Preserve is home to miles upon miles of hiking trails, tall cliffs, and deep quarries perfect for swimming. It's a wonderful place to while away a summer afternoon. And it's equally wonderful in the fall, when the thick forest blooms with the color of changing leaves!
Address: 801 County Road 137, Waite Park.
9. Greyhound Bus Museum - Hibbing
Did you know the first Greyhound route started in Hibbing? That's why it's the site of the world's only Greyhound Bus Museum. This interesting spot is home to several old Greyhound buses, as well as other history of the company and its lines. You'll hear stories about bus drivers, learn about the history of the company, and see how the bus routes shaped Minnesota and beyond. It's an underrated spot that doesn't get much love, but it's an interesting place to spend a few hours wandering.
Address: 1201 Greyhound Boulevard, Hibbing.
10. Kilen Woods State Park - Lakefield
Given its location in extreme southern Minnesota, Kilen Woods State Park doesn't get too many visitors. But that's just part of its charm. This beautiful park is the perfect place to get away from it all while still immersing yourself in breathtaking natural surroundings. Prairie grasslands, creeks, and oak savannahs await those who love hiking, camping, and fishing.
Address: 50200 860th Street, Lakefield.
11. Ramsey Park - Redwood Falls
This huge park has been called the Little Yellowstone of Minnesota. Why? Because at 256 acres, it's the largest municipal park in the state. It is full of beauty, with trails, picnic areas, lovely campgrounds. But the highlight of any visit to Ramsey Park is Ramsey Falls. This waterfall plummets over jagged rock, creating a scene that looks unlike anything else in Minnesota. Given its beauty, it's strange that more people don't know about it. That's why this huge park is one of Minnesota's most underrated places.
Address: 99 East Oak Street, Redwood Falls.
Have you been to any of these underrated places? Do you have any others to add to the list? Share them with us in the comments below.