Once overlooked, Minnesota has caught both national and international attention in recent years for everything from its burgeoning capital city to its charming small towns. Whether you visit for bike-friendly Minneapolis, the solitary nature of the Boundary Waters, or the hiking along Lake Superior, there’s simply no escaping the draw of this Midwest gem.

Lake Superior waves roll onto the shoreline at Split Rock Lighthouse

Photo By Dennis O’Hara/Shutterstock


When’s the best time to go to Minnesota?

Minnesota has something to offer during every season. Summer means boating and lounging at the lake, while winter is all about ice fishing, skijoring, and dogsledding. Fall brings apple picking and cider tastings, and spring is the start of patio season at any bar or restaurant with outdoor space. For some extra excitement, time your visit to the famed Minnesota State Fair, which runs annually from late August to early September.

How to get around Minnesota

Most visitors who fly into Minnesota will pass through the Minneapolis–St. Paul airport. Once on the ground, Ubers and Lyfts are plentiful, as are car rental options—apps make paying for parking a cinch. (To avoid a ticket or tow when you’re driving in winter, be sure to pay attention to parking restrictions when storms roll through.) Both cities also have good bus systems, as well as light-rail trains that connect their downtown areas with hubs like the Mall of America and the MSP airport.

Can’t miss things to do in Minnesota

- Anyone who travels to the Land of 10,000 Lakes and doesn’t spend some time on the water—especially the Boundary Waters or the vastness that is Lake Superior—would be remiss.

- Even if you’re not a city person, Minneapolis and St. Paul are also must-sees, as is Duluth. Then there’s the Mall of America—a sight to behold, if nothing else.

Food and drink to try in Minnesota

- In the past few years, Minnesota—particularly the Twin Cities and their surrounding areas—has exploded onto the national culinary scene with a range of exciting new chefs and restaurants. Still, visitors shouldn’t miss such classic staples as cheese curds, tater tots, and the Jucy Lucy (a cheeseburger with cheese inside the meat instead of on top; order it at Matt’s Bar & Grill in Minneapolis for the original experience).

- Minnesota loves its farmers, so anything raised locally or caught in a nearby lake is a must

- If you go to brunch, know that Bloody Marys here come with what’s called a “beer back,” meaning a shot of suds on the side.

Culture in Minnesota

In Minnesota, with its abundance of farms and quirky local foods, eating your way through the state is a worthwhile cultural pursuit. Breweries and distilleries are big, too, as are museums that focus on Native American history. Thanks to a range of state-funded resources, artists have been drawn to Minnesota, and you’ll find galleries, museums, and local music almost everywhere you turn. Also, “Minnesota Nice” is definitely a thing, so don’t hesitate to ask locals for directions or a favor if you need one.

Local travel tips for Minnesota

The thing that most visitors to Minnesota mess up is packing for the weather. Temperatures drop to well below zero in February but can soar to more than 100 degrees in summer thanks to the state’s central-continental location, so be sure to bring the right gear.

Read Before You Go
Resources to help plan your trip
The Twin Cities are well connected with footpaths, bike lanes, and public transportation, so you can enjoy the main landmark sites and the tastiest bites in three days. Spend two days getting to know Minneapolis and the perks and quirks of its various neighborhoods, and then slow down for a day in the more leisurely and charming Saint Paul.
The Twin Cities are at the cultural confluence of the historic and the hip, where family-run diners, indie rock shows, and street art are held in as high esteem as fine dining restaurants, the orchestra, and museums. Here there are all the bright lights you want, the nature you need, and the cheese-stuffed burgers you crave.
The best way to explore any city is by foot, so you can weave through the streets and stumble upon whatever comes your way. These are some of the best areas in the Twin Cities to get out and wander.
Classic and contemporary cultures meet in the Twin Cities, where indie rock shows and street art are held in as high esteem as the orchestra and museums.
Stay in downtown Minneapolis for modern amenities and immediate access to dining, shopping, and entertainment. The city center is also a transportation hub with easy access to trails, buses, and the metro, all of which will quickly get you into nature, neighboring districts, and nearby St. Paul.
Absorb the history of the Twin Cities at one of many museums and monuments, then revel in contemporary culture at galleries and theaters. Or get active and explore the parks and lakes by foot, bike, and boat in the summer, or snowshoe, sled, and skate in the winter. Minneapolis–St. Paul will keep you as busy—or relaxed—as you like.
The brisk air and colorful foliage of Fall turns into bitter cold and a constant coat of snow in the Winter. Weather is not a factor for locals so get creative with indoor cultural experiences, outdoor activities and warm food to soothe your soul.
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