With 2016 coming to a close, it’s time to set our sights forward and focus on the coming year. Many of us already have big plans for career changes, big purchases, or dream trips. But there’s always room to make some smaller plans as well. This bucket list of 19 places you should go in Minnesota in 2017 will help you figure out some smaller goals, like local excursions and weekend trips.
1. Whistle Stop Bed & Breakfast
Who wouldn't want to sleep in a real train car? Those at Whistle Stop Bed & Breakfast in New York Mills, Minnesota, has several cars to choose from. Each is decorated with a vintage twist that feels true to the decades-old train cars.
2. Gooseberry Falls State Park
As one of Minnesota's busiest state parks, you've probably already been to Gooseberry Falls a time or two. But have you really experienced the entire park? Miles of serene walking trails in addition to the gorgeous falls await you in 2017.
3. Minnesota's Largest Candy Store
Every year, thousands of people make the trek to Minnesota's Largest Candy Store in Jordan, Minnesota. This huge store has everything you could possibly think of to satisfy your sweet tooth. Why not make 2017 the year you finally visit? The store opens for the season on Memorial Day weekend.
4. Wright County Swappers Meet
Since 1970, this enormous flea market gathers hundreds of vendors with unique finds to sell to buyers who want something a little different. Why not keep the tradition going for another year? The 2017 season begins on April 1.
5. Palmer House Hotel
This hotel in Sauk Centre is considered by many to be one of the most haunted places in Minnesota. Many chilling sightings have been recorded at this famous hotel, including some by professional ghost hunters. If you dare, book a stay to experience it for yourself.
6. Minneahaha Falls
One of the most beautiful nature spots in the Twin Cities is a must-see. If you haven't already visited this Minnesota landmark - and even if you have - there's no time like the present. The falls are beautiful in the summer to be sure, but they're worth seeing when they're frozen as well.
7. Val's Hamburgers
Val's Hamburgers is loved both by St. Cloud locals and people who have just passed through. The consensus among all is that the burgers in this classic roadside stand cannot be missed.
8. Shovel Point at Tettegouche State Park
With some of the bluest water in all of Minnesota, Shovel Point at Tettegouche State Park makes a wonderful day trip from Duluth. The lakeside cliffs and sparkling waves are one of the most gorgeous sights in all of Minnesota.
9. Mystery Cave
Did you know Mystery Cave is the longest cave in Minnesota? Stretching across 13 miles underground, its twists and turns have been delighting Minnesotans since its discovery in the 1930s. Many tours, including a fun flashlight tour, are available at the cave
10. Al's Breakfast
This Minneapolis landmark recently passed into new ownership, but little is expected to change at Al's. The tiny diner with just 14 seats should be on every Minnesota bucket list, starting with yours for 2017.
11. Eagle Mountain
If you've always wondered what Minnesota looks like from above, Eagle Mountain may be the best place for you to find out. As the highest point in Minnesota at 2,300 feet above sea level, it's not Mount Everest. But the gentle hike passing through untouched nature cannot be beat.
12. Lark Toys
Complete with a hand-carved carousel, Lark Toys is fun for both children and adults. And because the store is so massive, you get a new experience each time you go.
13. Hull-Rust-Mahoning Mine
If you've ever wished Minnesota was just a little closer to the Grand Canyon, this mine might need to go at the top of your 2017 bucket list. Often called the Grand Canyon of the North, this Hibbing mine is 3.5 miles wide and 600 feet deep. An overlook allows visitors observe the active mine at a safe distance.
14. Taylors Falls
Taylors Falls is a cute town with a charming downtown. But one of its most impressive features is its proximity to the St. Croix River. In the summer, riverboats offer tours of the river and surrounding bluffs. It's definitely worth a visit in 2017 to see interesting rock formations and enjoy a day on the river.
15. Blue Mounds State Park
In southwestern Minnesota, a little town called Luverne offers entry to one of Minnesota's most unique state parks. Blue Mounds has a landscape unlike anywhere else in Minnesota, with tall quartzite cliffs towering over grasslands. In early summer, prickly pear cactuses bloom.
16. Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad
This might just be one of the coolest train rides in Minnesota. The historic train travels through thick forests and alongside the St. Louis River. Fall is an especially popular - and beautiful - time to visit. Passengers can choose to ride in an enclosed train car or stay outside for the full view.
17. Granny Donut
This family-owned donut shop is one of the very best. With a casual atmosphere, reasonable prices, and a viewing window where you can watch donuts being made, Granny Donuts has it all. Don't forget to pick up an apple fritter or two on your way out.
18. Mill Ruins Park
Mills are such a huge part of Minnesota history that without them, our state would definitely not be the same. So it only makes sense to preserve history by turning mill ruins into a park. A visit to Mill Ruins Park in Minneapolis makes for a fun and unique day outside. As you can walk among the 100-year-old remains of an old flour mill, you'll be connected to the distant past. Also learn a little about Minneapolis milling history at nearby Mill City Museum.
19. St. Croix Scenic Byway
This road along the eastern border of Minnesota is a great way to explore the state in 2017. It takes you through some of Minnesota's most charming small towns. Along the way, you'll wind along twisting roads, catching beautiful glimpses of forest and river. And because it's only 124 miles long, it can easily be completed in a day or two.
What other places are you itching to visit in 2017? If you need more help planning your year, check out this list of
13 road trips to take in Minnesota.