Minnesota is one of the Midwestern states known for its unique natural beauty. It is also home to the largest lake in the United States, Lake Superior.
People visit Minnesota to see breathtaking views, explore its lively cities, and feel the atmosphere of cutesy towns.
There are plenty of landmarks in this state that are worth visiting, and here is a list of the ten most famous places that should be on your must-visit list:
Famous Landmarks in Minnesota
1. Split Rock Lighthouse
One of the most famous landmarks in Minnesota that attract thousands of tourists is Split Rock Lighthouse located along the North Shore of Lake Superior, 20 miles northeast of the town of Two Harbors.
It was constructed in 1905 after catastrophic shipwrecks and the death of many crew members. It had been serving as a lighthouse for many years until 1982 when it was turned into a national historical site.
Nowadays, it is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world. Today, the lighthouse is maintained by the Minnesota Historical Society. You can visit Split Rock Lighthouse every day and take a tour through the summer season.
2. Mall of America
The Mall of America is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the US. It is located in Bloomington, MN, which is only 15 minutes from MSP International Airport and Minneapolis Downtown.
It is the largest shopping and entertainment destination in the county that features over 520 stores, 50 restaurants, numerous family attractions, an indoor Nickelodeon theme park, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, the Escape Game, the Lego Store, and more.
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It also hosts over 400 annual free events, including music performances, celebrity appearances, book signings, various exhibitions, concerts, etc.
It is a perfect place for spending valuable time with your family because there are plenty of events for families and children as well, including Toddler Tuesdays.
3. James J. Hill House
The James J. Hill House is a historical landmark appreciated for its unique architectural style and historical significance.
This landmark is located in Saint Paul, MN. It is a Gilded Age mansion that was constructed in the 1880s.
It was built by the builder of the Great Northern Railway James J. Hill. The mansion features a 100-feet long reception hall, 13 bathrooms, a two-story art gallery, 22 fireplaces, and 16 chandeliers.
Inside the house, you can see a unique and amazing art collection, antique family furniture, hand-carved woodworking, and a pipe organ.
There is also a gift shop on site, where you can buy books and souvenirs relating to the railroads. You can visit James J. Hill House from Thursday to Sunday and take a one-hour tour to learn more about the mansion and the Hill family.
4. Historic Fort Snelling
Fort Snelling is a former United States Army post that was named a National Treasure in 2016. It was designed by Colonel Josiah Snelling and overlooks both the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers.
It was constructed by the American Army, and the construction was completed in 1819. During the American Civil War, Fort Snelling served as a key training center for American recruits and soldiers.
It also played a vital role during the Second World War as it was used as a Military Intelligence Language School to train American army personnel in Japanese. It has also been a place of military service for Native Americans, including tribes in Dakota.
Today, the fort is maintained by the Minnesota Historical Society and serves as an educational establishment. It is also a living history museum and a popular tourist attraction.
5. Minneapolis Institute of Art
Minneapolis Institute of Art (also known as MIA) is a government-funded arts museum located in the heart of Minneapolis, MN. It is home to over 90,000 works of art that represent 5,000 years of world history.
It is also one of the largest museums in the United States, and it is internationally recognized. The mix of works is huge: from world-known Rembrandt and Matisse to exhibitions of local contemporary artists.
You can see works from all cultures and ages, including rare Chinese jade, French impressionists, collections of photographs, prints, and even travel exhibits.
There is also an area outside where you can see a unique collection of sculptures. The best thing about this museum is that it is free to visit.
6. Gooseberry Falls State Park
Gooseberry Falls State Park is a state park of Minnesota located 39 miles from Duluth. It is one of the most popular and visited parks in the state.
It is a great place for families and outdoor enthusiasts who like such outdoor activities as biking, hiking, and camping. There are also many other activities that you can do in the park with your family and friends.
The park has 18 miles of trails, including the trails along the Lake Superior and Gooseberry River shorelines. The best time to visit the park to enjoy its stunning views is early October when leaves turn red, orange, and yellow.
However, October is not the only month when you can visit this place, because the park is open year-round.
7. Pipestone National Monument
Pipestone National Monument is located in southwestern Minnesota and is one of those landmarks that has spiritual meaning to American Indians.
Many Native American tribes have oral traditions that connect them to this landmark, and some of them have been writing about Pipestone National Monument since the 1600s. Officially, it is affiliated with 23 tribes across the United States.
There are certain things you can also see and do around Pipestone National Monument. There is a 3/4-mile trail leading through the park, Tall Grass Prairie with rare plant species that you can walk through, incredible and stunning Pipestone Rock Formations that are worth seeing, and beautiful Winnewaasa Falls.
8. Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
It is one of the last free zoos in the United States that is home to various animals and plants. It is a great place to spend a day with a family that will overwhelm and impress you with unique experiences.
At Como Park Zoo, you can see such exotic animals as polar bears, giraffes, gorillas, sea lions, orangutans, tigers, and others. There is also a unique tropical exhibit that will allow you to experience the sounds, smells, and sights of a rainforest in South America.
There are also stunning conservatory gardens with tropical gardens, seasonal flower shows, orchids, ferns, and a unique Japanese garden.
There are also unique programs and classes for all ages, during which you can learn more about nature and animals. The zoo is open 365 days a year, from 10 AM to 6 PM.
9. Lake Vermilion-Soudan
If you want to see one of the most scenic lakes in the United States, you should definitely visit Lake Vermillion and its Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park at the site of the Soudan Underground Mine.
It is located south of the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It has 32 sites with 30/50 amp electric hookups, 3 group campsites, and 8 camper cabins.
You can take a virtual tour to learn more about mining history in the region. There are also underground tours telling about local mining communities and the story of iron mines.
If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you will like this area too, because there are plenty of trails, a magnificent shoreline, and stunning overlooks to see.
There are also a lot outdoor activities for you, including canoeing, kayaking, picnicking, boating, biking, and wildlife viewing. The park is open year round.
10. Minnesota Zoo
The Minnesota Zoo is located in Apple Valley, MN, and it is one of the greatest family adventures in the state. It is only a few minutes away from Mall of America and it is open year-round.
You should visit this place if you want to spend valuable time with your family, you love animals, and you are a fan of the outdoors. There are trails throughout the zoo where you can see otters, brown bears from the Russian Coast, Amur tigers from Asia, Gazelles, Moose, and more animals.
There is also a tropics trail that you can take to experience a real atmosphere of a rain forest with its beautiful orchids and lush foliage.
If you visit the Minnesota Zoo in spring, you will have a unique opportunity to see the annual Farm Babies and to learn what farm life is like in Minnesota with pigs, chickens, cows, sheep, and more.