Take Your Pick
Angle Inlet, MN
Northernmost Point
Northernmost Point of Contiguous US - The only way to get to the Northern Most Point of the Contiguous US by car is to go through Canada. This little piece of Minnesota called the Northwest Angle is surrounded by water on one side, and Manitoba and Ontario Canada on the others. It is the only location in the lower 48 states that is north of the 49th parallel. Customs to and from the area is a hassle, but once there enjoy some great fishing, pay a visit to Fort St Charles (a reproduction of the 1700s trading post), find real arrowheads on the beach, or hang out at the most northerly Post Office. There is also a 9 hole golf course right next to the Post Office.
Austin, MN
Spammy and Socko
SPAM Museum - The SPAM Museum is 16,500 square feet of everything you ever wanted to know about the canned meat SPAM. The first thing you learn from the "spambassadors" is that the word SPAM is the combination of the two words "spiced" and "ham". Who knew? From there you meet Spammy the SPAM mascot, then educate yourself at the Cyber Dinner, catch an informative short film, see Monty Python's SPAM skit, and then test your canning skills on an assembly line. After touring and munching on all of the "spamples" you can eat, head to the gift shop and pick out any of a number of really great SPAM gifts. I got a pair of shorts for Jes that say "SPAM" across her cute monkey butt.
Bemidji, MN
Paul and Babe
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox - There are Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues all the way from Maine to California, but no state has more than Minnesota. One of the most photogenic was created in 1937 and is located on the shore of Lake Bemidji. This 18 foot tall, two and half ton Paul Bunyan statue was built for the 1937 Winter Carnival and later teamed up with his colorful ox Babe in 1939. It is located right next to the Bemidji Chamber of Commerce which houses a few notable Paul Bunyan artifacts. And if you need to see more of Paul and Babe, head to nearby Akeley or Brainerd.
Bloomington, MN
Theme Park in the Mall of America
Mall of America - If shopping, eating, visiting a Nickelodeon Universe theme park, catching a movie, going to LEGO Land and having a blast at the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the USA is your thing, then you've come to the right place. The Mall of America has over 500 stores and 50 restaurants in its enormous 4 million square foot building (with plans to expand in the near future). The best part, if you are a fun monkey, is the Nickelodeon Universe theme park, with several roller coasters, a log chute, and a bunch of carnival style rides. The best part, if you are a shopaholic monkey, is the wide variety of specialized stores. The mall attracts more than 40 million visitors a year, making it Minnesota's number one tourist and shopping attraction.
Blue Earth, MN
White Snow on a Green Giant in Blue Earth
Jolly Green Giant - In the valley of the Jolly - HO HO HO - Green Giant, stands an enormous scantily clad statue. This 55 foot tall fiberglass Jolly Green Giant is the 8th tallest statue in the United States and he welcomes visitors to the small town of Blue Earth (Blue Earth is only a stone's throw from Le Sueur where the Green Giant Vegetable Company was founded). The giant can easily be spotted from the interstate, and is a must-see for roadside attraction enthusiasts like me. Now, I didn't see Little Green Sprout anywhere, but he must be around somewhere.
Darwin, MN
Just Four Short Hours Away!!!
Second Largest Ball of Twine - Clark Griswold in National Lampoon's Vacation said to his family, "Boat leaves in two minutes or perhaps you don't want to see the second largest ball of twine on the face of the earth, which is only four short hours away?" Well, that Second Largest Ball of Twine he was referring to is in Darwin Minnesota. Wound by Francis Johnson who spent four hours every day for 39 years working on this masterpiece which was once the reigning champion of large balls of twine (the ball in Cawker City, KS now holds the title).
Duluth, MN
I Didn't See the Signs
Canal Park - Duluth is a city built onto an 800 foot bluff overlooking the largest and most tempestuous Great Lake - Lake Superior. Located on Lake Superior and a gathering place for locals and tourists is the charming Canal Park. This park features the famous Aerial Lift Bridge (a 385 foot bridge that raises a platform to allow boats to pass under), the Great Lakes Aquarium and Freshwater Discovery Center (an all-freshwater aquarium), the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, and the 1910 North Pier Lighthouse. All the sites and parks are linked by the Lakewalk boardwalk.
Ely, MN
There are Real Wolves Too
International Wolf Center - The International Wolf Center was established to teach the world about wolves and advance the wolf population. The facility contains a theater, Wolves and Humans exhibit, a classroom, and a Little Wolf exhibit. The main attraction though is a 1.25 acre enclosed wolf den that can be viewed from inside the center. From here, several wolves can be spotted playing or relaxing in the sun.
Garrison, MN
Walleye Capital of the World
Mille Lacs Lake - The license plates in Minnesota proclaim this as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" and it is also known as the "Land of Sky Blue Waters". Whatever the case, at the center of it all is Mille Lacs Lake, the second largest lake in Minnesota (behind Lake Superior) and one of the most popular. Fishing of course takes center stage. Catch bass, muskie, northerns (pike), and walleye (the area bills itself as the walleye capital of the world). And fishing isn't limited to just the summer months. In winter over 5,500 fishing shacks popup on the frozen lake filled with frost-bitten angles looking for a bite.
Harmony, MN
This Place has Fossils and Formations
Niagara Cave - Niagara Cave is one of the largest caves in the Midwest and features a fantastic 60 foot flowing waterfall. The cave was formed by the running waters of underground streams (which still flow) and was once home to dinosaurs over 400 million years ago. It opened to the public in 1934 and in addition to the waterfall are, Paul Bunyan's Bed, a wedding chapel which has married over 400 couples, and an echo chamber. It is a good little hike, which takes you down 200 feet below the surface and traverses nearly 500 stairs.
Hibbing, MN
Open Pit Mine, Dylan and Greyhounds
World's Largest Open Pit Mine - Hibbing is home of the Largest Open Pit Iron Ore Mine in the World which is more than three miles long, two miles wide and 500 feet deep. Nearly 1.5 billion tons of earth (iron ore and waste rock) have been removed from the 2,000 acre pit. It is said that nearly 1/4 of the iron ore used in WWI and WWII to make anything from ships to bombs was mined here. Originally opened in 1895, the mine still operates to this day. A small museum and observation house at the top of mine offers a slide presentation featuring photos from the early days of mining. Hibbing is also the birthplace of Bob Dylan and the Greyhound Bus industry.
International Falls, MN
Ready to go Canoeing
Voyageurs National Park - There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy at Voyageurs National Park. During the long Minnesota winters, enjoy snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or this monkey's favorite, snowmobiling. And during the few days of summer take a hike over 1 to 3 billion year-old rocks or hop aboard a canoe, kayak or boat and explore the area's 30 freshwater lakes. Follow the same routes used in the 18th and 19th centuries when this area was a major fur gathering place. At that time "voyageurs" or French-Canadian conoemen, trapped and moved beaver pelts between Canadian Provinces in these waters.
International Falls, MN
Tough to Tackle Bronco
Koochiching Historical and Bronco Nagurski Museums - Located in the same building, the Koochiching Historical and Bronko Nagurski Museums features the county's historical artifacts, and memorabilia of its most famous resident, Bronko Nagurski (1908-1990). The Koochiching Museum documents Native American and European settlements with authentic clothing and tools. The Bronko Nagurski Museum features a 15 minute film of "football's greatest player" (with actual game footage) and displays dozens of photos and personal articles of this line crushing fullback.
Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden - The "Spoonbridge and Cherry" sculpture created by the husband and wife team of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen is the centerpiece of the 11 acre Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Nearly 50 permenant and temporary pieces make up the entire outdoor exhibit, including the functional Irene Hixon Whitney Footbridge crossing over I-94. The garden is operated by the Walker Art Museum, a premere modern art museum featuring works by Yoko Ono, Roy Lichtenstein, Edward Hopper and Donald Judd.
Moorhead, MN
Hopperstad Stave Church
Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center - The Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center is a tribute to the area's Scandinavian heritage. In the museum is a replica of the Hjemkomst Viking Ship, which sailed in 1982 for 72 days and 6,100 miles from Duluth, MN to Bergen Norway. On site is the full scale replica of the Hopperstad Stave Church in Vik Norway (the original was built around 1140 AD). And the newest addition, the 4,000 square foot Red River Valley Exhibit detailing the origins of what is now Minnesota.
Soudan, MN
Above the Underground Mine
Soudan Underground Mine State Park - The Soudan Underground Mine State Park is a historical site with some crazy mind blowing futuristic stuff going on. The mine began operation in 1882 and is considered Minnesota's oldest, deepest and richest iron ore mines. Above ground are several buildings and structures including a dry house, headframe, drill shop and engine room. Below ground there are two tours available; the Historic Underground tour which descends a half mile into the ground and is very interesting; and the Physics Lab tour where experiments with Neutrinos and Dark Matter are performed which will cook your noodle.
St Paul, MN
Raising of the Flag at Fort Snelling
Historic Fort Snelling - Fort Snelling was completed in 1825 with its primary purposes being to deny commercial use of American rivers by the British (the fort protected both the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers) and protect Native American land from unauthorized use by non-Native Americans. Today costumed guides greet visitors at the gate and start each day with the Morning Parade - a ceremonial raising of the flag. On the grounds are a small school, the commanding officer's house and several barracks.
St Paul, MN
The History of Minnesota
Minnesota History Center - A combination of constantly changing films, exhibits, maps, music and interactive displays are used to bring alive the intriguing story of Minnesota at the Minnesota History Center. Past and present displays include; "Minnesota's Greatest Generation" a tribute to the group of people from the depression and WWII era; "MN150" featuring 150 people, places and things that make Minnesota a great state; and "Grainland" a box car and model grain elevator. Performances are held throughout the year at the center, which focus on the region's history.
St Paul, MN
The Cathedral of St Paul
Cathedral of St Paul - Set upon the highest point in downtown St Paul, the Cathedral of St Paul which was completed in 1915, is a French Renaissance inspired structure that still opeartes as a Roman Catholic Church. The interior of the 186 foot high and 76 foot in diameter dome is sculptured plaster overlaid with gold leaf and contains 24 stained glass windows. Statues, fine artwork, and meticulously detailed marble make the cathedral a great place to visit and a fantastic place to worship. On March 25, 2009 this impressive cathedral was honored with a designation of being a shrine to the Apostle Paul by the United Staes Conference of Catholic Bishops. It is easy to see why the city of St Paul took its name from the title of this building.
St Paul, MN
The Capitol of 10,000 Lakes
State Capitol Building - Completed in 1905, the Minnesota State Capitol Building was designed by an up-and-coming 35 year-old architect named Cass Gilbert. His design includes an extraordinary unsupported dome modeled after St Peter's Basilica in Rome. It is the second largest unsupported dome in the world, after the Michelangelo Basilica. On the outside of the building is a gold sculpture with four horses representing the earth, wind, fire and water. The inside contains beautifully designed artwork and sculptures.
Winona, MN
Art on the River
Minnesota Marine Art Museum and Great River Bluffs State Park - Highway 61 from La Crosse, WI north along the Mississippi River is a stunning and picturesque drive. Along the way be sure to stop at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum and Great River Bluffs State Park. The museum focuses on marine art with works by Claude Monet, Winslow Homer, and Thomas Cole to name a few. Exhibitions, like a river, continue to flow through ensuring you will never step into the same museum twice. The nearby state park offers some very scenic views with sheer cliffs and domed bluffs.