Traveling through America takes us to some pretty amazing places. Every state in this beautiful country has something unique to offer. From beaches to forests, skyscrapers to historic sites, the US has it all. We often get asked “where is your favorite place?” This question is rather impossible to answer because we love so many places that we have been. Here are our 10 reasons to love Minnesota (not necessarily in order).
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People Are Awesome
One of the unexpected things we have learned from this full-time travel adventure is that people are awesome, kind, friendly, and interesting. This seems especially true for Minnesota. While camped in the Namidji State Forest we met another group of fellow campers.
They had set up camp next to us while we were gone visiting Duluth and we are lucky they did. They gave all three kids a ride on their quads, then they even let us plug into their generator so we could enjoy another night of free camping. This is just one example of how great Minnesotans are. I could go on, but you should go find out for yourself.
Great Camping Spots
Not only are the people awesome, but above all the camping is great. There are so many amazing places to stay in an RV in Minnesota that I can’t begin to tell you about all of them. We found several free spots, one of them being the above mentioned Namidji State Forest.
It’s a terrific place to park an RV. The clearing we found was large, had plenty of wood around to build a fire, and the best part was picking all the fresh wild raspberries we could eat!
Some of our other favorites include Fox Lake Campground, Kawishiwi River Wayside Park, and a free parking area in Silver Bay near several beautiful state parks. Check out more of our favorite camping spots around the country by clicking here.
If canoeing through the Boundary Waters is not on your bucket list, add it, because it is definitely one of the great reasons to love Minnesota. This system of lakes in northern Minnesota takes you through some beautiful lake country all the way into Canada. No motors are permitted in the Boundary Waters which makes it peaceful and relaxing.
Taking a canoe through these waters is something you can’t experience anywhere else. The beauty of the land will take your breath away! Load up some gear, pack some food, and take some time to explore this incredibly beautiful area. There are many islands dispersed throughout where you can do some primitive camping, just remember to leave it better than you found.
Land of 10,000 Lakes
When you use this slogan while conversing with anyone from Minnesota they will probably laugh and tell you that there are actually more than 10,000 lakes. They are proud of this fact and for good reason. These lakes are some of the most beautiful places you will ever see.
It seems like everyone that lives in this state owns some kind of watercraft, usually more than one. There are endless opportunities to enjoy the water; fishing, swimming, canoeing, and so many other recreational things to do in and around water. With so many lakes you are never far from one, so go out and enjoy these beautiful blue waters! The lakes alone make plenty of reasons to love Minnesota.
Traveling is a great way to learn new things and in Minnesota we did just that. Duluth is a port town located on Lake Superior and we discovered it is actually the busiest port on the Great Lakes, who knew. Duluth’s Canal Park is right on the water and gives everyone a chance to watch the huge cargo ships coming and going.
There is also a free museum, Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, where you can learn more about the building of the canal and some of the history of the ships. We were able to participate in a free ranger program where we learned about some of the shipwrecks that happened. Kids and adults alike enjoy watching the Aerial Lift Bridge go up and down as boats come and go. Our kids were so enthralled watching the largest ship on the Great Lakes coming through the canal.
A free bus will take you to several locations in town. From Canal Park you can take a stroll down Canal Park Dr. and explore the many shops and restaurants. Lake Superior Art Glass was a favorite of ours, we stood outside and watched the glassblower make a beautiful vase right before our eyes. We had to drag the kids away.
Take a short walk down the pier to get a great Instagram photo next to one of the lighthouses. Hopping across the Fountain of the Wind is another fun activity that makes for great photos. Duluth is a small town with lots of opportunities for affordable family-friendly entertainment.
State Parks Make More Reasons to Love Minnesota
Minnesota has over 60 state parks, so needless to say, we did not visit them all. However, the parks we explored were some of the best we have been in and we hope to go back and see more! They divide the parks by region and we spent our time in the pine-lands state parks.
Split Rock Lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls State Parks are located on the North Shore and are some of the most popular in the state and for good reason. Beautiful waterfalls, well maintained hiking trails, gorgeous views of Lake Superior, and the Gitch Gami Bike Trail that connects the two are just some of the things that make these two parks so popular.
The oldest state park in Minnesota is Lake Itasca. This place is a very popular camping destination and an excellent place to cool off in the summer with more than 100 lakes. There is a wonderful visitors center where you can get Junior Naturalist books.
By completing the activities and participating in some programs, kids can earn a very cool patch. Each region has a different patch and the books can be completed in any park within the region. Our kids have done these programs in state parks all over the country and Minnesota’s have been by far the best so far.
Headwaters of the Mississippi
It is hard to imagine being able to walk across a river as enormous as the Mississippi, but if you travel to Minnesota you can do just that. The headwaters of the Mississippi can be found in Lake Itasca State Park. They have created a bridge made of large rocks where you literally walk across the Mississippi River.
It is a fun experience and they have a cool sign carved in wood that makes for some great photo ops. Our kids had a blast crossing back and forth across the rocks, and then splashing around in the pool that is the beginning of such a huge river. One which we have crossed many times on our travels through America.
The Beautiful Scenery
Trees, lakes, flowers, waterfalls, historic buildings, what’s not to love about the beautiful scenery in Minnesota? We took too many pictures of the incredible landscape to share them all. Voyageurs National Park offers breathtaking lake views. Hiking the Split Rock River Trail gave us the opportunity to hike along a clear river and up some unique waterfalls. It was an unforgettable experience.
The state capitol building was recently restored and is one of the most elegant in the country. The Stone Arch Bridge near St. Anthony Falls is not only beautiful, but has stunning river views as you walk along it. I could go on and on about all the places we were able to enjoy Minnesota’s scenery. It is definitely one of the main reasons to love Minnesota!
St. Paul and Minneapolis are Reasons to Love Minnesota
Known as the Twin Cities, St. Paul and Minneapolis are amazing places that have so many family-friendly things to do it will be hard to get bored here. Our goal is to take our children to see every state’s capitol building, so of course we had to tour Minnesota’s.
It is a beautiful building and with its recent restoration is definitely worth visiting. Part of the tour will take you to the roof where you can pose with the gold gilded chariot and take in some amazing views of the city. Inside you might enjoy the wonderful artwork or admire the architecture. Downstairs check out the Lego model of the capitol! In this building you can see the pride that Minnesotans have in their state.
Between these two cities there are many wonderful museums that are great for families. Science Museum Minnesota, Minnesota History Center, Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Bakken Library and Museum are all awesome places to take the kids. The History Center and The Bakken Museum are loaded with hands on, interactive exhibits the whole family will enjoy. You could spend all day admiring the beautiful works of art in the Institute of Art. Plan for plenty of time to explore if you go because you will likely want to spend longer than you think.
If you’re looking for some free family fun in the Twin Cities, take a tour of the St. Paul Cathedral. The architecture of this historic building is amazing. There are some beautiful statues inside, as well as stained glass and an impressive dome. Go downstairs and check out the small museum displays, plus they also have a Lego model (which we volunteered to clean)!
You can also take a stroll down by St. Anthony Falls, the only natural waterfall on the Mississippi River. There is a National Park Visitor Center where kids can get a Junior Ranger book and earn a badge.
A Viking Ship
Moorehead, Minnesota is an unlikely place to find a viking ship, but if you visit the Hjemkomst Center that is exactly what you will find. In the late 70’s and early 80’s a teacher from the area decided he would build his own viking ship and sail it across the ocean.
While building the ship took him much longer than he had anticipated, it was an incredible undertaking. Unfortunately, he passed before the ship was ready to sail, but his children took on the responsibility in his place. They sailed the ship through the Great Lakes to the Atlantic, all the way to Oslo, Norway.
It was a difficult and dangerous journey, but they made it. The museum houses the actual ship that they sailed as well as a stave church replica. It is a great place to visit to discover the determination and creativity of some of the people of Minnesota, did I mention that they are awesome!
The stave church was another interesting story. This style of building is quite rare and there are only a few examples left of it in the world. One of these being in the Minnesota town of Moorehead.
We are so lucky to have had the opportunity to see and experience so much of Minnesota. Please share with us your reasons to love Minnesota, we’d love to hear from you. Thanks for reading!