I’ve lived in Minnesota since 2016, so I feel like I can speak on its beauty now.
So many Minnesotans (and Americans for that matter) tell me that they “just haven’t had the time” to explore their own state, or that I’ve “seen more of Minnesota than they have in twenty years.” That breaks my heart! We’ve got a world of excellence and mystery right at our doorstep, and we should explore it.
To help with this, I think I’m going to suggest a few places that you absolutely must visit whether you’re a Minnesotan or not. Do it. You won’t regret it.
Here is my list.
- Split Rock Lighthouse: Just outside of Duluth, you’ll find one of the most famous lighthouses in the country. Shipwrecks in Lake Superior in the early 1900s prompted its immediate construction. Their website explains, “A November gale that wrecked nearly 30 ships in 1905 prompted this rugged landmark’s construction. When the U.S. Lighthouse Service completed Split Rock Light Station in 1910, it soon became one of Minnesota’s best known destinations.” You can get more of the history on it here. This lighthouse holds a special place in my heart because it was the very first one I’d ever seen.
- Mayo Clinic: Alright, I’ve got a bias here – but! You really need to see the architecture in this famous Rochester, Minnesota hospital. I hope you don’t ever need a hospital, but if you do, this one is one of the best! While you’re hear take note of the subtle differences between the Gonda and Mayo buildings, or Plummer building… all of them have their own aesthetic. This hospital wouldn’t exist if a tornado didn’t almost take Rochester out completely in 1883. What happened was, in their words, “a devastating tornado strikes the Rochester region, injuring so many that the Mayos ask Franciscan sisters to serve as nurses. Mother Alfred Moes, founder of the Sisters of St. Francis, proposes to build and staff a hospital if Dr. W.W. Mayo will provide medical care.” He did provide that care, and his sons (William and Charlie) carried on the practice. The rest is history.
- Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: That “weird” spoon and cherry thing? Yeah, you’ll find it here. If you’re near Minneapolis, visit the sculpture garden. There are a lot of pieces of artwork to look at in the garden, and in the art center itself. Winter might not be the best time to visit, but otherwise it’s a must see!
- First Ave: If you’re a music fan, this is an iconic space that you need to visit. Prince made it famous in Purple Rain, but since then it’s been a legendary venue all on its own. It wasn’t always a music venue though. It first opened in 1937 as a greyhound bus station. It became a venue in 1968. Any night of the week you can catch awesome shows. If you’re an Instagrammer, I highly recommend taking a shot next to the famous “stars” on the building one – especially Prince’s. Oh, and it’s haunted. Creep freaks unite!
- National Eagle Center: Right along the Mississippi River, we’ve got a gem of a place to check out in the National Eagle Center. Eagles are rehabbed here, and wild eagles flock to it outdoors nearby. You can find it in Wabasha. Each of the resident eagles come with their own incredible story too. Want a sneak peak? The webcam is live now!
Have you visited any of these places in Minnesota already? Got any favorite ones? I can’t help but mention the entire North Shore too (think Gooseberry Falls and the Two Harbors area) – it’s worth the drive! If you haven’t seen these places that Minnesota has to offer, check them out!