WHAT TO DO IN MINNESOTA, BY REGION
We are known for our 10,000 lakes! Well, actually 11,842 (10+ acres) lakes, but we don’t need to get technical. And all that water makes Minnesota a perfect vacation destination. So while you are planning your Minnesota vacation take a look at what each region has to offer. There are so many things to do in Minnesota. This is a very small list. But…. It is a good one. Find one that’s best for you and your family. Then visit Community of Minnesota Resorts to find a Minnesota Resort for your lodging needs.
- Park Rapids Area - One of the greatest rivers starts right here in Minnesota. The headwaters of the Mississippi is a must stop when you are in this region. Day passes to Itasca State Park start at $7.oo a day. Take a walk across the Mississippi as it journeys on its 2,552-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico.
- Grand Rapids & Iron Range - This place has a lot going on in all of Minnesota’s seasons from winter skiing to summer skiing. Something to check out in this area is Hawkins Mine Pit, the very mine that established Nashwauk as the first mining community to develop in Itasca County. Crowning Central Avenue sits the Hawkins Mine Overlook. The City of Nashwauk recently replaced the entire Overlook with an ADA compatible structure that allows everyone to enjoy the beautiful views.
- Bemidji Lakes - Legends tell us all about Paul Bunyan and Babe his blue ox. You know that’s how we got all our lakes right? Make sure to take a picture with Paul himself while visiting Bemidji which is surrounded by 400 fishing lakes including Lake Bemidji, Lake Plantaganet, Cass Lake, Lake Andrusia, Kitchie Lake, Blackduck Lake, Leech Lake, Lake Winnibigoshish and Wolf Lake.
- Brainerd Lakes Area-If you need a break from the many lakes in this area make sure you take in some history and learn more about trains at The Northern Trackers Club in Cross Lake or visit Croft Mine. Looking for a winter event? Check out the ice fishing extravaganza. This annual event has 10,000 plus anglers and all ages are welcome.
- Otter Tail County - Otter Tail County is home to 1,048 of the 10,000 lakes in Minnesota. With so much water there is certainly plenty to do. They are also host to 21 towns with a population of 13,000 or less. Each town has a unique vibe and offering, all with a laid-back lake feel. Tourism has been a part of this area for well over 135+ years. If you want to know about this county’s history be sure to visit the Otter Tail Historical Society located in Fergus Falls MN.
- Alexandria Area - What’SUP?! The town of Alexandria is surrounded by a chain of lakes making this your perfect SUP (stand-up-paddleboard) destination. They even host the Big-Ole-SUP-Athon. And who is Big Ole you ask? Make sure to check out this larger-than-life Viking. Check out Must-Do Summer Fun in the Lakes Area - Explore Alexandria Minnesota for more fun things to do in the Alexandria Area.
- Detroit Lakes Area-Are trails and two wheels your thing? The Detroit Lakes area is a great fit for you. Here you have biking options from scenic rides to adrenaline filled trails. Mountain biking is one of the top things to do in this area for a Minnesota Vacation. And don’t forget to visit in the winter for some winter trail fun on cross-country or downhill skis.
- Leech Lake Area-A must stop in this area is the Chippewa National Forest which is home of the largest nesting population of Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states. The Forest has a rich history, ranging from prehistoric times to early logging era and CCC days.
- Central Lakes Area- Want to catch a show? How about a water ski show? The Little Crow Ski Team out of New London, MN puts on a weekly show almost every Friday night during June, July and August. Start times are 7:30pm in June and July and 7:00pm in August.
- Voyageur County-Now you are up north! Pack your bike to visit this region and take a ride on the Rainy Lake Bike Trail. The 10 mile scenic bike trail begins in International Falls and ends at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center in Voyageurs National Park, the only National Park in Minnesota. Check out International Falls Area Attractions for more to do in the area.
- Vermillion & The Ely Area -This region is home to the Boundary Waters. While canoeing and true roughing it in a tent might not be your thing the area has other lodging options but you can take a day canoe trip in the 1 million plus acres of wilderness.
- Lake of The Woods - If you visit the Lake of the Woods Tourism website You will read WELCOME TO WALLEYE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD! So if you want some serious Minnesota fishing this up north area is the place for you. And don’t worry if you can’t make the trip during the summer months, fishing is a must all year around up here.
- Mille Lacs Lake Area -This area is host to one of the state’s largest lakes, Mille Lacs Lake with 132,500-acres. It has always been popular for its walleye fishing but was named one of the top best smallmouth bass fishing lakes in the U.S. by Bassmaster. Find more info about this region at Lake Mille Lacs.
- Gunflint Trail - Highest, Largest, Tallest! Cook County is known for the world’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Superior and also Minnesota’s tallest mountain peak at Eagle Mountain and the state’s highest waterfall in Grand Portage.
- North Shore - We hope you have time to hop in the car and cruise the North Shore Scenic drive. This drive begins in Duluth and sweeps the shores of Lake Superior with plenty of breathtaking stops and friendly communities along that way. The total route is a 142 mile drive.
- Mississippi Headwaters- Another region where the walk across the Mississippi is not far. A day trip to Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, Shooting Star Casino, and Itasca State Park are all nearby.
- Red River Valley- The Red River is the second largest northern flowing river in the lower 48 states. And like so many Minnesota bodies of water you can do some serious fishing “On the Red”. Here is your opportunity to do some Catfishing. The Red is home to the Midwest’s biggest channel catfish, often coming in at 20 or more pounds, as well walleye, northern pike and more than 70 species of fish. Want to hear more? Visit Remember the Red River Valley | Explore Minnesota .
- Twin Cities Area and South -This area has Minneapolis-St. Paul as the center. (In rural MN we call it just “the cities”.) If you are using the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport to get to your destination make sure to take a day or even two to visit this city. Find out more at The Best Things To Do In Minneapolis.
Submitted by Karen Senger
Photo Credit: Joe’s Lodge,
Cedar Point Resort
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