From waterfalls to sweeping prairies, sparkling lakes to rugged cliffs, Minnesota has an incredible and diverse landscape that is just waiting to be discovered. While there may be too many stunning sights to see in one lifetime – the 10,000 lakes alone would take years to see – there are some of Minnesota’s most beautiful places that should definitely not be skipped.
1. Minnehaha Falls
This 63-foot waterfall is not only one of the most beautiful places in Minneapolis. It's also one of prettiest places in all of Minnesota. From above, you can get a look at Minnehaha Creek as it flows through the city. And if you walk the path below, a beautiful bridge offers incredible picturesque views.
2. Blue Mounds State Park
In southwestern Minnesota, Blue Mounds State Park is an overlooked - but still very beautiful - state park. The pink quartzite cliffs rise high above the prairie to offer an enchanting landscape that is much different from the rest of Minnesota. It's definitely worth visiting if you want to visit a lesser known part of Minnesota.
3. Gooseberry Falls
As one of Minnesota's most popular attractions, Gooseberry Falls could not be left off the list. The cliffs and forest that surround this North Shore destination are full of their own natural beauty. When you're done hiking, cool down near the rushing waterfall. On a warm day, you can even swim in the pool around it base.
4. Palisade Head
This stunning North Shore rock formation is not to be missed. At its tallest, Palisade Head rises over 300 feet above Lake Superior. It offers incredible views of the nearby Shovel Point. If you want to see for yourself, the cliff is accessible through hiking trails in Tettegouche State Park.
5. Black Beach
Black Beach may be Minnesota's most unusual beach. Its black sand, paired with the red cliffs nearby, make for an otherworldly landscape that must be seen to be believed. On a warm day, it's a lovely place to wade into the water and enjoy a perfect North Shore day.
6. Mystery Cave
If you're up for going underground, Mystery Cave State Park in southern Minnesota is an unusual attraction that you don't want to miss. A guided tour takes guests through dimly lit paths in the cave, where you will see interesting formations and get a chance to experience the cave in total darkness. At the end, you'll be led to a bright blue pool of water. The one-of-a-kind experience is truly magical.
7. Voyageurs National Park
Minnesota's only national park may be one of the most beautiful places in the entire United States. The forests and lakes that make up this park cover a vast area of northern Minnesota. It's so remote that most of the park is only accessible by boat. If you have a thirst for adventure, add this park to the top of your bucket list.
8. Minneopa Falls
Minneopa State Park is located right off of Highway 169 outside of Mankato. You may not have heard of it - there are many other more popular parks - but this overlooked spot is home to one of the prettiest waterfalls in all of Minnesota. Minneopa Falls is actually two waterfalls. The tallest drops 39 feet and is absolutely beautiful when viewed from the picturesque bridge that spans its river. If you're up for a workout, climb the stairs down to the base of the falls. There, you'll find interesting rock formations and an even more incredible view of the falls from below.
9. Split Rock Lighthouse
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is full of interesting history of this beautiful lighthouse, from when it was built to how it worked as it guided ships on the choppy waters of Lake Superior. But the lighthouse is best viewed from a distance, where you can truly appreciate the beauty of it where it stands on its high perch. Luckily, there are several wayside stops along Highway 61 to enjoy it.
10. Winnewissa Falls
A little north of Blue Mounds State Park, Pipestone National Monument stands as a fascinating place to learn about Minnesota history. It is a sacred place to many native people, some of whom still collect stone from the quartzite quarry to this day. A short hike through the park's main trail leads to many interesting formations throughout the park. But it is the beautiful Winnewissa Falls that is the star of the show. View the waterfall from the bridge below, or get an aerial view by climbing the stone stairs to its top. Either way, it's beautiful.
11. Great River Bluffs State Park
Southeastern Minnesota is also home to incredible beauty. The Mississippi River is already pretty, but the bluffs that surround it on this part of its journey south are breathtaking. In Winona, Great River Bluffs State Park is the ideal place to take it all in. You can climb high above the surrounding landscape to see the river flow between the tall bluffs. Tree-filled islands dot the river, and you can even see Wisconsin in the distance. Go in fall for an over-the-top beautiful experience.
12. High Falls of the Pigeon River
The High Falls of the Pigeon River is located in Grand Portage State park, well north of Duluth on the Canadian border. It might be far, but it's totally worth the drive. This waterfall is the highest in all of Minnesota, at 120 feet tall. After a short hike through thick northern forest, the sound - and then the view - of the falls will be totally awe-inspiring.
13. Itasca State Park
You can appreciate the Mississippi River in northern Minnesota, too. In addition to many hiking trails and thick forests, Itasca State Park is also home to the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Here, generations of Minnesotans have crossed the river by foot, a rite of passage that you won't be able to resist taking part in yourself. Afterwards, climb the park's tall fire tower to take in the landscape from above.
Are there any beautiful places in Minnesota that you’d add to the list? Let us know your favorite spots in the comments below!