The Essential Guide to Northeast Minnesota
Collected by Cinnamon Janzer , AFAR Local Expert
An expansive region of the state, Northeast Minnesota offers a little bit of everything, from small towns, art colonies, and regional eats to the pristine nature of the Boundary Waters and winter surfing on the shores of Lake Superior. There’s enough here to keep everyone interested for days, but the area also makes for a great addition to existing travel plans—it’s close to the Minneapolis–St. Paul airport, Wisconsin, and even Canada.
Ely, MN 55731, USA
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, referred to as the BWCA or simply “the Boundary Waters,” draws canoeists from around the world—and for good reason. Located on the Minnesota–Canada border, the area encompasses...
145 E Sheridan St, Ely, MN 55731, USA
A local favorite since 2015, Insula serves what it calls “fusion American dining.” Dishes, drawing on local ingredients, range from a French onion grilled cheese and classic cobb salad to flatbread pizza and beef bourguignon pot pie....
120 3rd Ave W, Grand Marais, MN 55604, USA
Artists from all over the country come to learn from the renowned teachers at the Grand Marais Art Colony. Nestled between Lake Superior and the Superior National Forest, the center offers studio instruction in painting, printmaking, clay, and...
Superior Hiking Trail, Grand Marais, MN, USA
The SHT, as it’s known to locals, is perhaps the most famous hiking trail in Minnesota—not to mention one of the most well-known in the United States. The footpath–only trail stretches for more than 310 miles from the...
2727 S Pokegama Ave, Grand Rapids, MN 55744, USA
Born in 1922 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Judy Garland went on to star in legendary movies like The Wizard of Oz and Meet Me in St. Louis. Today, she lives on through a namesake museum in her hometown, complete with the world’s largest...
17 7th St, Two Harbors, MN 55616, USA
Located in downtown Two Harbors overlooking Lake Superior, Castle Danger Brewery is a favorite for its “clean, balanced, approachable” beers that taste of the North Shore. A popular spot for locals and visitors alike, the brewery...
3300 London Rd, Duluth, MN 55804, USA
The most popular historic home in Minnesota, the 27,000-square-foot Glensheen Mansion features 39 rooms, beautiful 20th-century craftsmanship, and 12 acres of gardens—but that’s not why people visit. People come to see where Elisabeth...
522 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802, USA
Legend has it that Italian immigrant Rosa Brochi made her way to Minnesota in 1869 and opened a boardinghouse for lonely sailors in Duluth. She developed a legendary reputation as a hostess but, in 1944, returned to Europe to assist in the war...
222 E Superior St, Duluth, MN 55802, USA
At Zeitgeist Cafe, you’ll find classic comfort food commingling with local beer, handcrafted cocktails, and an extensive selection of wine and whiskey. In addition to french fries, which the restaurant claims are the best in town, the menu...
29836 St Croix Trail N, Shafer, MN 55074, USA
Located on 43 acres in the idyllic St. Croix River Valley, Franconia Sculpture Park is a popular day trip from the Twin Cities. Open from dawn to dusk 365 days a year, it’s completely free to explore—which may be why it sees more than...
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