Travel Guide North America USA Midwestern United States Minnesota





© Sluggoaafa

The name Minnesota means sky-tinted water and is derived from the Dakota Sioux Indian word Mnisota. It has also been defined as clouded water which references the silt that gives the Minnesota River its milky appearance. The state has several nicknames including The Land of Sky Blue Water, Land of 10,000 Lakes, The North Star State and The Gopher State. The North Star State is taken from the state motto L'Étoile du Nord meaning Star of the North. The Gopher State was adopted as the territory was being considered for statehood because of the abundance of the five-striped gopher which can be found throughout. Minnesota was admitted into the Union in 1858 becoming the 32nd state. Nowadays, Minnesota has about 5.3 million inhabitants, most of them living in Minneapolis-Saint Paul.

The prairies of Minnesota were made famous in the Little House series of books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and more recently, the television program named after the Little House on the Prairie, which is the most famous of her tales. Other famous literary figures who have used Minnesota as a backdrop have been Sinclair Lewis (Main Street), Ole Rolvaag (Giants in the Earth), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (The Song of Hiawatha) and Garrison Keillor who has written several books about his fictional hometown of Lake Woebegone. He also hosts the radio broadcast A Prairie Home Companion which airs on National Public Radio.

Minnesota is home to well-known companies such as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (which became 3M Company in 2002), General Mills, Best Buy, Target and Cargill - the second largest privately-owned company in the United States. The Vermillion, Mesabi and Cuyuna iron ranges in the northern part of the state are also still in production.




Minnesota is the northernmost U.S. state apart from Alaska. Its isolated Northwest Angle in Lake of the Woods is the only part of the 48 contiguous states lying north of the 49th parallel. The state is part of the U.S. region known as the Upper Midwest and part of the Great Lakes Region of North America. The state shares a Lake Superior water border with Michigan and a land and water border with Wisconsin to the east. Iowa is to the south, North Dakota and South Dakota to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba to the north. With 225,180 km2 or approximately 2.25% of the United States, Minnesota is the twelfth-largest state. The state's high point is Eagle Mountain at 701 metres, which is only 21 kilometres away from the low of 183 metres at the shore of Lake Superior. Notwithstanding dramatic local differences in elevation, much of the state is a gently rolling peneplain. Two major drainage divides meet in the northeastern part of Minnesota in rural Hibbing, forming a triple watershed. Precipitation can follow the Mississippi River south to the Gulf of Mexico, the Saint Lawrence Seaway east to the Atlantic Ocean, or the Hudson Bay watershed to the Arctic Ocean. The state's nickname, The Land of 10,000 Lakes, is no exaggeration; there are 11,842 Minnesota lakes with considerable size. The Minnesota portion of Lake Superior is the largest at 3,896 km2 and deepest (at 390 metres) body of water in the state. Minnesota has 6,564 natural rivers and streams that cumulatively flow for 111,000 kilometres.[17] The Mississippi River begins its journey from its headwaters at Lake Itasca and crosses the Iowa border 680 miles (1,090 km) downstream. The Red River, in the bed of glacial Lake Agassiz, drains the northwest part of the state northward toward Canada's Hudson Bay. Approximately 42,900 km² of wetlands are contained within Minnesota's borders, the most of any state except Alaska.




Minneapolis-Saint Paul

Minneapolis and Saint Paul are the two largest cities in Minnesota and together form the metropolitan area known as Minneapolis-Saint Paul, or the Twin Cities. The two cities, located across the river from each other, are known for hockey and for the largest indoor mall in America, hosting over 520 stores, a amusement park, an underwater adventures, a waterpark, and attracting over 40 million visitors per year. It's also know as the "Icebox" of the nation for having such extreme cold temperatures.

Other Cities

Smaller cities include Brainerd, Ely, International Falls, New Ulm, Pipestone and Red Wing.



Sights and Activities

Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park is a United States National Park in northern Minnesota near the town of International Falls established in 1975. The park's name commemorates the voyageurs, French-Canadian fur traders who were the first European settlers to frequently travel through the area. The park is notable for its outstanding water resources and is popular with canoeists, kayakers, other boaters, and fishermen. The Kabetogama Peninsula, which lies entirely within the park and makes up most of its land area, is accessible only by boat. To the east of the National Park lies the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The park has several boat ramps and visitor centers on its periphery, though the main body of the park is only accessible by boat or, in the winter, by snowmobile, ski, or snowshoe. In 2016, the park hosted 241,912 visitors.

Other Sights and Activities



Events and Festivals


  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.



  • Super Bowl is the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, the Superbowl is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting. In 2018, Super Bowl LII was held in Minnesota, at the new U.S. Bank Stadium. This was the second time that a Super Bowl was played in Minneapolis, the northernmost city to ever host the event, after Super Bowl XXVI which was held at the Metrodome during the 1991 season.

Minnesota Vikings - NFL. The Vikings have won one NFL Championship, in 1969, before the league's merger with the American Football League (AFL). Since the league merger in 1970, they have qualified for the playoffs 27 times, third-most in the league. The team has played in Super Bowls IV, VIII, IX, and XI, though failing to win any of them.


  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic. Minnesota Twins - American League in MLB. The Twins originally played in Washington, D.C. (1901–60), and were known as the Senators before relocating to Minneapolis in 1961. The franchise have won three World Series titles (1924, 1987, and 1991) six AL pennants (1924 1925 1933 1965 1987 1991), and 11 West/Central Division titles (1969 1970 1987 1991 2002 2003 2004 2006 2009 2010 2019).


  • NBA Finals is the annual championship series of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The series was initially known as the BAA Finals prior to the 1949–50 season when the Basketball Association of America (BAA) merged with the National Basketball League (NBL) to form the NBA.

Minnesoa Timberwolves - NBA. The Minnesota Timberwolves last made the playoffs in 2018, when they lost the Western Conference First Round. They've been in the playoffs a total of 9 times in their 30 seasons.

  • WNBA Finals - The WNBA Finals are the championship series of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the conclusion of the league's postseason each fall. The series was named the WNBA Championship until 2002. The series is played between the winners of the playoff semifinals. At the conclusion of the championship round, the winner of the WNBA Finals is presented the championship trophy. The WNBA Finals has been played at the conclusion of every WNBA season in history, the first being held in 1997. Minnesota Lynx - WNBA. With four championships, the Lynx are tied with the Houston Comets for the most titles in WNBA history, and they have won more Western Conference championships than any other franchise.


  • NHL Stanley Cup is the championship trophy awarded annually to the National Hockey League (NHL) playoff winner. It is the oldest existing trophy to be awarded to a professional sports franchise in North America, and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) considers it to be one of the "most important championships available to the sport". The trophy was commissioned in 1892 as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup and is named after Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor General of Canada who donated it as an award to Canada's top-ranking amateur ice hockey club. Minnesota Wild - NHL. The Wild was founded on June 25, 1997, but did not start play until the 2000–01 season. The Wild were the first NHL franchise in Minnesota since the Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas in 1993.


  • U.S. Open Cup - MLS. The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, commonly known as the U.S. Open Cup (USOC), is a knock-out cup competition in American soccer. It is the oldest ongoing national soccer competition in the U.S. The 105th edition, held in 2018, was contested by 97 clubs from the two professional leagues sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation: Major League Soccer (MLS), and the United Soccer League.

Minnesota United FC - MLS. Minnesota United FC is an American professional soccer club based in Saint Paul, Minnesota that plays in the Western Conference of Major League Soccer. The club began play in 2017 as the league's 22nd club, and replaced the North American Soccer League (NASL) franchise of the same name. On August 27, 2019, the club traveled to Mercedes Benz Stadium to take on Atlanta United in the 2019 U.S. Open Cup final, Minnesota's first final appearance since joining MLS. The match resulted in a 2–1 Atlanta victory.

Other Events and Festivals

  • Frostbite Festival
  • Aquatennial The Minneapolis Aquatennial is the official civic celebration of the City of Minneapolis. Minnesota residents, workers and visitors have come to love and appreciate all that Minneapolis has to offer during the Aquatennial.
  • Minnesota Renaissance Festival The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is celebrating its 50th Season! Come and be a part of this long-standing tradition by visiting the festival grounds in Shakopee, MN.
  • Minnesota State Fair The “Great Minnesota Get-Together,” is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region. The fair attracts more than 2 million guests annually - held the 12 days leading up to and through Labor Day.
  • Saint Paul Winter Carnival Since 1886, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival has brought family-friendly events and community pride to Saint Paul and the Twin Cities metro area. Through city-wide special events, fun activities and more, the Saint Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation celebrates winter like only Minnesotans can!
  • Holidazzle Minneapolis The Mpls downtown council is excited to bring Holidazzle to Loring Park. As downtown Mpls’ premier holiday celebration, Holidazzle has delighted residents, visitors and downtown employees for years. In 2019, this tradition is again bringing family-friendly programming to Loring Park and is free and open to the public. You and yours are invited to join in the festivities!
  • Z-Fest Film Festival The Z-Fest Film Project is an annual Twin Cities based contest-style film festival that features original, seven-minute, short films made by local filmmakers. The contest typically starts in the fall and culminates in screenings and an awards gala in late February/March.
  • Annual Uptown Art Fair Join us for the 57th Annual Uptown Art Fair, featuring over 350 artists, fine food and beverages from over 20 vendors, family activities, outdoor beer gardens, a youth art fair and culinary arts competition.




The climate of Minnesota is typical of a continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. The state's location in the Upper Midwest allows it to experience some of the widest variety of weather in the United States, and each of the four seasons has its own distinct characteristics. The areas near Lake Superior in the Minnesota Arrowhead region experience weather unique from the rest of the state. The moderating effect of Lake Superior keeps the surrounding area relatively cooler in the summer and relatively warmer in the winter, giving that region a taste of a maritime climate.

Winter in Minnesota is characterized by cold (below freezing) temperatures and snowfall. Snow is the main form of winter precipitation, but freezing rain, ice, sleet, and sometimes even rain are all possible during the winter months. Common storm systems include Alberta clippers or Panhandle hooks, some of which evolve into blizzards. Annual snowfall extremes have ranged from over 432 centimetres in the rugged Superior Highlands of the North Shore to as little as 25 centimetres in southern Minnesota. Temperatures as low as -50 °C have occurred during Minnesota winters. Spring is a time of major transition in Minnesota. Early spring commonly sees snowstorms, but by late spring as temperatures begin to moderate the state can experience tornado outbreaks, a risk which diminishes but does not cease through the summer and into the fall.

Summer sees heat and humidity predominate in the south, while warm and less humid conditions are generally present in the north. These humid conditions help kick off thunderstorm activity 30–40 days a year. Summer high temperatures in Minnesota average between 28-29 °C in the south and around 25-26 °C the north, with temperatures as hot as 46 °C possible. The growing season in Minnesota varies from 90 days per year in the Iron Range to 160 days in southeast Minnesota. Tornadoes are possible in Minnesota from March through November, but the peak tornado month is June, followed by July, May, and August. The state averages 24 tornadoes per year. Minnesota is the driest state in the Midwest. Average annual precipitation across the state ranges from around 890 mm in the southeast to just 510 mm in the northwest. Autumn weather in Minnesota is largely the reverse of spring weather. The jet stream, which tends to weaken in summer, begins to re-strengthen, leading to a quicker changing of weather patterns and an increased variability of temperatures. By late October and November these storm systems become strong enough to form major winter storms. Fall and spring are the windiest times of the year in Minnesota.



Getting There

By Plane

Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) is the main gateway to Minnesota. It has dozens of airlines serving hundreds of destinations throughout the country and outside. Destinations include London, Cancun, Reykjavik, Orlando, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, New York, Anchorage, Las Vegas, Toronto, Tokyo, Puerto Vallarta, San Francisco, Vancouver, Los Angeles and Amsterdam. There are many more flights within the region and the US.

To/from the airport
Several large parking ramps are available for cars. Most other connections are made at the Hub Building and adjacent Transit Center, which has city and shuttle bus, taxi, light-rail, and rental car service.

  • Rail: The Metro Blue Line has stops at both the Airport Hub Buildings (Lindbergh Station/Terminal 1) and (Humphrey Station/Terminal 2). It connects the airport with downtown Minneapolis (Target Field) as well as with the Mall of America in nearby Bloomington, and operates as a shuttle service between the two airport terminals. Travelers can use the rail line to go between the two sites at all times. It is the only part of the line that operates continuously through the night (the rest shuts down for about four hours between 1:00am and 5:00am). Passengers going between the two terminals may ride free of charge, but those riding beyond the airport grounds must pay a standard fare.

If you'd like to ride between the two Cities, you may transfer at the U.S. Bank Stadium to connect to the Metro Green Line, which has stops from Minneapolis to the history Capital City of St. Paul. It travels along University Avenue, through the University of Minnesota campus, ending in St. Paul at the Union Depot.

By Train

Amtrak's Empire Builder, travels between Chicago, Illinois and Seattle, Washington, stopping en route in a number of places in Minnesota, including St. Paul/Minneapolis.

The Northstar Commuter Line offers service between Big Lake and downtown Minneapolis, stopping at stations in Elk River, Ramsey, Anoka, Coon Rapids and Fridley. It connects with Northstar Link bus service for service to and from St. Cloud, with Fabulous Friday midday trips.

By Car

The Interstate Highways in Minnesota are all owned and operated by the US State of Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) provides primary maintenance for all 921.621 miles of highway. There are no tolled miles on the Minnesota Interstate, with the exception of HOV lanes governed by the MnPASS program. The system is made up of three primary routes, four auxiliary sections, including two spurs and two loop sections, as well as one of three split sections remaining in the United States, I-35E and I-35W

I-94 is an East-West highway. Coming from Hudson, WI, through the Twin Cities, then travels northwest to Fargo, ND. It is approximately 259 miles (or 417Km)
I-90 is another East-West highway. Coming from La Crosse, WI, travels west to Sioux Falls, SD. It is approximately 275 miles (or 443Km)
I-35 is a North-South highway, which splits into an East-West highway around the cites of Minneapolis (I-35W) and St. Paul (I-35E), then reconnects. It starts from Mason City, IA, to Duluth, MN. It is approximately 220 miles (or 354Km)

When traveling along I-94 from Wisconsin to North Dakota, you can by-pass the Cities and city traffic, by going around Minneapolis & St. Paul via I-694 (northern beltway) and I-494 (southern beltway)

Leaving the city of Minneapolis, there is I-394, an East-West highway which does have tolled HOV lanes during certain rush hour times. It is approximately 10 miles (or 15Km)

There are multiple other 'highways' around the state that MnDOT will often divert traffic to when working on the major Interstate highways.

By Bus

Greyhound offers buses throughout the US.



Getting Around

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

Minnesota has a number of National Scenic Byways which offer a great way to explore the state crossing beautiful landscapes. Mostly, there are lots of national parks, state parks or monuments along the way and it's generally a better alternative than the faster but boring Interstate Highways.




Traditional Minnesotan food is generally of the hearty meat & potatoes variety found all over the Midwest, but, as you might expect from The Land of 10,000 Lakes, with more of an emphasis on fish. Two locally popular fish are walleye, with fine, firm, white flesh, and lake trout, with firm, pinkish flesh vaguely similar to salmon.

Lutefisk is a popular dish brought to Minnesota by Norwegian immigrants. Made from dried cod reconstituted in caustic lye, it is an acquired taste, to say the least. This dish is more often brought out at Christmas time, in church basement suppers all over the state. For the less adventurous, there is lefse, a kind of tortilla-thin flatbread made with potato flour that can be used in a variety of ways, but is usually slathered with butter and sugar and rolled up into a tube.

If you are in the Twin Cities area, you can find almost any kind of ethnic cuisine you desire, especially along Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis, popularly known as "Eat Street". St. Paul has a large southeast Asian population, and there is a large East African population spread throughout the Twin Cities, but centered mostly in Minneapolis--the Safari Restaurant (Somali), the Blue Nile (Ethiopian), and the Holy Land Deli (Middle Eastern) are three well-known restaurants catering to those communities, along with countless hole-in-the-wall places along Franklin, Nicollet, and Central Avenues.




As in the rest of the United States, the drinking age is 21. Minnesota has an ingrained drinking culture that is prevalent even in rural areas. Bars and restaurants that serve liquor may do so until 2AM seven days a week, although not all do (especially on Sunday through Thursday), and some municipalities may enforce an earlier closing time.

Unlike most other states, you cannot buy alcohol in a grocery store or convenience store, unless it is 3.2 beer, which is a low-alcohol beer containing only 3.2% alcohol by weight (4% alcohol by volume). Some grocery stores don't even bother selling 3.2 beer even though they are allowed to, a testament to the state's rather prevalent drinking culture.

If you want regular beer, wine, or liquor, but don't want to drink it at a restaurant or bar, then you must go to a liquor store. Per state law, liquor stores are allowed to operate M-Sa 8AM to 10PM, and Su 11AM to 6PM. Local jurisdictions are allowed to greater restrictions as they see fit. For example, Sunday sales were only legalized at the state level in 2017, and some towns have opted to keep the prohibition on Sunday sales. Some cities and towns may operate municipal liquor stores and prohibit private ones. Despite this puritanical approach to alcohol sales, even rural towns have a fairly active drinking culture (the cliche of "more bars than churches"). Identification is checked less often than in other states, though it happens more frequently in areas with a high amount of college students or tourists.




Hotel and Motel Chains

There are dozens of hotel and motel chains, ranging from budget to top end. Allthough they are not the most charming accommodations, they usually have a very decent midrange service with good rooms and are generally good value. At least you know what to expect and in some cases they are either the only or the best option in the area. Some of them include:


Quick Facts


Saint Paul
Largest city
87,014 sq mi (225,365 km²)


as well as Peter (11%), dr.pepper (3%), Isadora (3%), Lavafalls (2%)

Minnesota Travel Helpers

  • Sluggoaafa

    I've lived in the Twin Cities area for over 20 years. If I can't answer your questions right away, I can definitely look it up and get back to you! The Twin Cities is very bike friendly (yes, even all year 'round), plenty of trails and of course lakes to walk around. Great theater, places to eat, and plenty of professional sports teams to quench your thirst!

    Ask Sluggoaafa a question about Minnesota

This is version 57. Last edited at 9:13 on Nov 8, 19 by Utrecht. 29 articles link to this page.

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