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And that accolade is just one of many – one of the most fun states to visit; cutest small towns in the Midwest; best place to see Northern Lights; best scenic drives; top cities for sports fans; ideal destination for outdoor adventure.….the list does well and truly go on.
Minnesota is home to the Native American Sioux tribe (among many) and the name Minnesota comes from their language – Dakota which means "clear blue water.” For a state that has more lakes than any other – this distinction was spot on. Minnesota is also home to the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River and over 150 miles of shoreline with the largest freshwater lake in the world – Lake Superior.
Nearly 35% of the state is covered in forests, so plenty of nature to experience. Add in sweet towns and the mother of all retail emporiums – Mall of America and once again we have a holiday that will appeal to everyone!
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Welcome to the Twin Cities. Minneapolis and St Paul are separated by the Mississippi River and seven miles. It’s a dramatic urban setting with a fantastic skyline, big city architecture and amazing water views.
St Paul is the state capital and the quieter of the twins! The capitol building was completed in 1905 in the Beaux-Arts style and is surrounded by public art works. We highly recommend a guided tour.
Minneapolis, by contrast, is a bit more lively and whilst both cities offer exceptional dining – Minneapolis offers more nightlife. Minneapolis is also the professional sports hub – the state is proud to have a professional team in every major sport. Imagine seeing the Minnesota Vikings play American football or a Minnesota Twins baseball game – the stadiums alone are worth the visit.
Also not to be missed is a bike trip over Minneapolis’ most recognisable landmark - the Stone Arch Bridge. Closed to vehicles, the bike and pedestrian lanes provide an incredible panoramic vantage point of St Anthony Falls the only natural major waterfall on the Mississippi River.
Whilst in the area, Mall of America is less than 15 minutes away in neighbouring Bloomington. When we say you can easily spend the whole day – we honestly mean it! With nearly 500 stores and attractions like Nickelodeon Universe, SEA LIFE Aquarium, mini golf, laser tag, escape rooms and much more – you’ll be lucky to do it all in a day.
Distance: 155 miles
Time to head out of the city to the shores of Lake Superior. Duluth is an ideal base for any manner of water activity – grab a kayak or paddleboard or learn to sail. Nothing that strenuous? Enjoy a harbour cruise. You’re never far from a hiking trail anywhere in the city, so keep on land if you prefer.
Duluth is a cool town – it’s the birthplace of Bob Dylan and whilst it is a shipping hub many of the disused industrial buildings have been repurposed into food and drink spots. Perhaps you just grab a local brew and watch the ships go by. The Aerial Lift Bridge, stretching across the Duluth shipping canal, leads cargo ships into port from Lake Superior and lifts vertically in the air 135 feet. Feel free to get a closer walk by walking across the bridge.
Distance: 150 miles
We love a quaint town with an interesting backstory and in this case name too! Welcome to Bemidji in Minnesota’s Northwoods – known as 'The First City on the Mississippi.' The diverse group of settlers here started with Native American Indians, Scandinavians and even a famous lumberjack!
Legend has it that Paul Bunyan was responsible for Minnesota’s lakes as they were created by his footprints filling with water as he explored the state. You will find nods to this flannel clad icon across the state. In Bemidji, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox made their statue debut in Bemidji in 1937 and 1939. At 18-feet fall, you won’t miss your photo op with the burly lumberjack beside the shores of Lake Bemidji with a 10-foot statue of Babe by his side. The Visitor Center also has Paul’s giant-sized flannel shirt, telephone, wallet and toothbrush.
If you are visiting in the spring, you might even be lucky to witness Spring PowWow – predominantly hosted by the Ojibwe tribe, experience seldom seen native traditions of dress and dance styles accompanied by the beat of traditional drum circles.
Distance: 152 miles
Take your time and the road less travelled today. This short drive is ideal for stopping at as many of Minnesota’s lakes as you can. Stop in Pequot Lakes for lunch for quintessential small town American where the locals are “Minnesota Nice!”
Then it’s on to St Cloud for the night. The history of the city is steeped in granite – the first quarry was founded in the mid-1800s – and the population boomed. The Barden Park Historic District contains St. Cloud’s oldest city park, as well as residential properties, in one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods.
Distance: 80 miles
It’s just a short drive back to the Twin Cities for your flight home, so time for one last walk along the Mississippi River. We recommend walking the Mississippi Mile where you will be wowed by the scenery and leaving you wanting to come back time and time again. Until next time, Minnesota......
Unless you aren't ready to head home! All Bon Voyage holidays are tailored to your exact requirements. Call our team to discuss your ideal Minnesota holiday.