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Top 17 hidden gems to visit in Minnesota

  1. Split Rock Lighthouse State Park: Located on the North Shore of Lake Superior, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park not only offers scenic views of Lake Superior but also features a historic lighthouse that has been guiding ships since 1910. In addition, the park has hiking trails that offer stunning views of the shoreline and picnic areas perfect for a relaxing lunch break.
  2. Tettegouche State Park: Situated on the North Shore of Lake Superior, Tettegouche State Park is known for its breathtaking vistas, scenic overlooks, and rugged shoreline. The park features a variety of hiking trails, including a portion of the Superior Hiking Trail, as well as rock climbing, fishing, and camping opportunities.
  3. Gooseberry Falls State Park: One of Minnesota’s most popular state parks, Gooseberry Falls State Park is known for its stunning waterfalls and rugged shoreline. The park offers several hiking trails, including a portion of the Superior Hiking Trail, picnic areas, and a visitor center where visitors can learn about the park’s natural and cultural history. Birdwatchers will also find the garden a haven for spotting various bird species.
  4. Minnehaha Falls: Located in Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis, Minnehaha Falls is a popular destination for picnicking, hiking, and sightseeing. The 53-foot waterfall is a breathtaking sight, and the park offers hiking trails and picnic areas that are perfect for a day out with family and friends.
  5. Itasca State Park: As the headwaters of the Mississippi River, Itasca State Park is a must-visit for anyone interested in the natural beauty of Minnesota. The park features over 32,000 acres of old-growth forests, pristine lakes, and hiking trails. Visitors can also fish for trout, bass, and panfish, rent a bike, and explore the park’s scenic roads.
  6. Duluth’s Canal Park: One of the most historic areas in Duluth, Canal Park offers a variety of shopping, dining, and entertainment options, as well as stunning views of Lake Superior. Visitors can stroll along the scenic canal, watch the ships come in and out of the harbor, or even take a boat tour to explore the lake.
  7. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness: This wilderness area is a vast network of lakes and streams, covering over one million acres along the border of Minnesota and Canada. The site is perfect for canoeing and kayaking and offers endless opportunities for fishing, camping, and wildlife viewing. Visitors can even take a guided trip or rent equipment to explore the area independently.
  8. Lutsen Mountains: One of the premier ski resorts in the Midwest, Lutsen Mountains offers skiing and snowboarding opportunities and stunning views of Lake Superior and the surrounding mountains. The resort features over 90 runs, four mountains, and a variety of dining and entertainment options.
  9. Afton Alps: Just outside of the Twin Cities, Afton Alps offers a convenient location for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. The resort features over 50 runs and a variety of dining and entertainment options. Visitors can also take lessons to improve their skills or rent equipment if needed.
  10. Jay Cooke State Park: Tired of the hustle and bustle of city life? Head over to Jay Cooke State Park for some good old-fashioned outdoor fun. With hiking trails, fishing spots, and birdwatching opportunities aplenty, you’ll be able to experience the great outdoors like a proper outdoorsman. And in the winter, you can try snowshoeing and cross-country skiing – perfect for when the weather is properly nippy.
  11. The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area: Fancy yourself a bit of a history buff, do you? Then you’ll want to check out the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. With historic sites like Fort Snelling and the Mill City Museum, you’ll be able to take a step back in time and experience what life was like for the Victorians. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try hiking, biking, and scenic riverboat tours.
  12. Soudan Underground Mine State Park: Here’s a good park. If you’re a fan of history (and who isn’t?), you won’t miss the chance to take an underground tour of the mine and learn about the fascinating history of iron mining in Minnesota. And if you’re not one for exploring underground, you can still enjoy camping, hiking, and birdwatching in this cracking park.
  13. The North Shore Scenic Drive: This drive is a must-do for anyone looking to explore the beauty of Minnesota. With charming small towns, rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, state parks, waterfalls, and historical sites along the way, you’ll never run out of things to see and do. And if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you can also enjoy fishing, kayaking, and other outdoor activities.
  14. The Minneopa State Park: Did someone say bison? You heard that right! At Minneopa State Park, you’ll get the chance to see a bison herd roaming freely throughout the park. And if that’s not enough to get you excited, you can also take in stunning waterfalls, camping, hiking, and fishing opportunities.
  15. Park Point Beach: This 7-mile-long sandbar is the world’s longest freshwater sandbar, and boy, is it a sight to behold! With breathtaking views of Lake Superior, you’ll be able to enjoy swimming, kayaking, and windsurfing to your heart’s content. And if you’re feeling a bit peckish, you can also picnic on the beach. Just make sure to bring your own scones and tea.
  16. The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center: Get ready to be blown away by the massive ships passing through the Duluth Ship Canal at the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center. This center has interactive exhibits, and you can take a boat tour of the harbor to get up close and personal with these behemoths. Don’t forget to bring your camera and capture the perfect shot!
  17. The Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area: Calling all thrill-seekers! The Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area is the perfect place to get your adrenaline fix. With over 25 miles of mountain biking trails and the chance to try fishing, kayaking, and even scuba diving in crystal-clear lakes, this park is not for the faint-hearted. But if you prefer a more laid-back experience, you can still enjoy camping and hiking in this stunning location.