The name ‘Minnesota’ comes from Dakota Indian words meaning ‘sky-tinted waters’, and the state’s abundance of lakes, rivers and streams makes Minnesota unique in the U.S. The headwaters of the Mississippi River are located in northern Minnesota, and the Mississippi flows more than 700 miles (1,000 kilometres) through the state before continuing its journey to the Gulf of Mexico. As proclaimed on auto licence plates, Minnesota is the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’—but in true local style, the number is understated. Minnesota actually has more than 12,000 lakes!
Don't leave without tasting...
Our tasty state fish, the walleye; you’ll find it prepared in many delicious ways. In St. Paul, the Tavern on Grand touts itself as the place to dine on walleye.
You might be surprised by...
The Minneapolis/St. Paul area has more theatre seats per capita than any place outside of New York City. Companies include the Tony Award-winning Guthrie Theater and the Children’s Theatre Company. Broadway touring shows play at the Ordway Center in St. Paul and the Historic Orpheum and State Theatres in Minneapolis. Examples of excellent theatre around the state include the Commonweal Theatre Company in Lanesboro, the Paul Bunyan Playhouse in Bemidji and the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona.
Top photo opportunities
- The restored 1910 Split Rock Lighthouse, on a rugged north shore cliff in Two Harbors, with a spectacular view of Lake Superior
- Itasca State Park, where you can walk across the mighty Mississippi River when it’s still just a gentle stream
- The 18-foot-tall lumberjack, Paul Bunyan, and his trusty companion, Babe the Blue Ox, in the town of Bemidji
- The Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture—of a giant silver spoon and bright red cherry—in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
- National Eagle Center, Wabasha.
The Walker Art Center is internationally renowned for its contemporary art collection, exhibits, performances, films and programmes with leading art world figures. Adjacent to it is the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, one of the largest urban sculpture parks.
- Akeley, the only place you can sit in the hand of lumberjack Paul Bunyan
- The 55-foot-tall Jolly Green Giant statue on Interstate 90 in Blue Earth
- The World’s Largest Mosquito statue in Effie
- The World's Largest Prairie Chicken statue in Rothsay, honouring local efforts to preserve this species (the statue weighs nearly 9,000 pounds)
- The large walleye statue in Garrison, on the shore of Lake Mille Lacs
- The largest ball of twine made by one man, displayed inside a gazebo in the town of Darwin.
Bring home wild rice! The grain is naturally abundant in shallow lakes and streams in northern Minnesota. Traditionally, wild rice is hand-harvested from a canoe, a method Minnesota’s Ojibwe Indians have been using for centuries.
Mall of America, the largest shopping and entertainment centre in the U.S., has more than 520 stores, 50 restaurants, 400 free events annually, an amusement park, aquarium, 14 film theatre screens and many other activities. Best of all, Minnesota has no sales tax on clothing and shoes.
In Stillwater, on the St. Croix River, several Victorian mansions are now cosy B&Bs, and there are a couple of historic inns in town, too. Browse through antique shops and a winery, and enjoy a paddleboat river cruise. In the evening, dine at excellent restaurants, followed by a ride on the river in the Gondola Romantica.
History happened here
In the 1930s a gangster-friendly St. Paul Police chief’s ‘leave-your-guns-at-the-border’ policy spawned an era when the city was a safe harbour for the likes of John Dillinger, Ma Barker and Baby Face Nelson. This story is told on the popular St. Paul Gangster Tour.
Take your pick from canoeing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, exploring Voyageurs National Park by houseboat, mountain biking at Cuyuna State Recreation Area, fishing on one of the 10,000 lakes—or, come winter, dog sledding or ice fishing.