Visit all seven Minnesota regions and discover the diverse attractions offered by each unique region in Minnesota. Each of these areas in has a distinct geography and unique attractions.
The most commonly defined regions are the Twin Cities, the St. Croix River Valley, the Arrowhead, the Central Lakes area, the Red River Valley, Prairieland, and Bluff Country.
Each will offer you a unique Minnesota vacation experience. Minnesota hotels in every area are ready to host your Minnesota getaway.
Minnesota Maps > available for every region of the state and for specific activities like fishing, hiking, biking and finding the best roadside attractions.
The Minnesota Twin Cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis are often referred to as simply "The Cities" by residents of the state. However, the two cities are quite distinct from each other.
We have lived for more than 30 years in the capitol city of Saint Paul in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood. This wonderful city is known for its culture, its well preserved late-Victorian architecture, the beautiful mansions along Summit Avenue, and its early Irish and German Catholic roots.
Mark Twain visited St. Paul in 1882 on his trip up the Mississippi. He said:
"Saint Paul is a wonderful town. It is put together in wonderful blocks of honest brick and stone, and has the air of intending to stay." ~Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi
Minneapolis with its broad boulevards, easily navigable grid layout, and modern downtown architecture, remains more connected to its Scandinavian/Lutheran heritage. My grandfather, on my father's side, was a Minneapolis police sergeant in the 1930's and 40's. My grandmother worked for the Burma Shave company when it was uncommon for women to work full time outside the home.
Both cities have a wealth of water: the Mississippi River, many lakes and, as well, creeks and waterfalls all lie within their borders. Many of these are connected by parkways in the Chain of Lakes and the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway. All of this provides for wonderful outdoor activities without leaving the urban area.
The Central Lakes Minnesota region is less than a two hour drive from the Twin Cities. This region is truly Minnesota's playground.
Some central Minnesota visitor attractions include:
Visit these Central Lakes Minnesota Region Towns:
The Arrowhead Minnesota region, so called because of its pointed shape, is located in the northeastern part of the state. The Arrowhead Region is quite rugged and dotted with hundreds of lakes and borders the Lake Superior North Shore. Minnesota visitors will want to explore:
Some of the cities in the Arrowhead are:
The Red River Valley region of Minnesota is named for the Red River of the north which flows up to Canada along the western border of Minnesota. On the edge of the great plains, the Red River Valley was once swathed in tall prairie grass as far as the eye could see.
Moorhead adds a touch of big-city life to the Red River Valley. It is home to two colleges, a symphony orchestra, opera company, community theater and an art museum. Especially interesting is the Hjemkomst Heritage Center, home of a replica Viking ship built by a local teacher and sailed from Duluth to Norway. This is a rich agricultural region, however the hills and valleys also include wonderful recreational areas. You will enjoy visiting:
Outdoor activities abound in all of these areas, including wildlife and bird watching, fishing, river tubing, and snowmobiling. Catch a glimpse of a moose in the wild, as well as beaver, deer and a wide variety of birds.
In a state known for thousands of lakes, countless miles of streams and rivers, and thousands of acres of wetlands, this Minnesota region presents to travelers a very unique landscape. Resembling the great open spaces of the Dakotas more than the forested hills of eastern Minnesota, it doesn't seem as if Prairieland belongs to the state. What you will see when you visit Minnesota's prairieland:
Some towns within the prairieland include: Montevideo, Mankato and Luverne.
Nestled between Minnesota and Wisconsin in a picturesque valley, the St. Croix River flows between bluffs of limestone and sandstone, beginning as a narrow gorge with steep vertical walls, then slowing and widening into the scenic Lake St. Some of the attractions that draw Minnesota visitors year-round to the St. Croix Valley:
In the southeastern Minnesota region corner, visitors will find a landscape not found anywhere else in the state. Along the Mississippi River, limestone bluffs tower above the valley floor, looking like sentinels. Much of this land resembles parts of the Appalachians or Ozarks, and it has a more southern climate than any other area in Minnesota.
The western edge of Bluffland is flat to mildly rolling farm country, and as you drive east to the Mississippi River, the landscape becomes much more rugged and dramatic. This is a landscape of rolling plains and spectacular valleys. Some highlights of a visit to this part of Minnesota should include:
Our Cities in Minnesota Page will give you great ideas about what you can see and do in the large cities and small towns all across the state.
There is no better exploration of these unique regions of Minnesota than the book The Seven States of Minnesota: Driving Tours Through the History, Geology, Culture and Natural Glory of the North Star State. Pick up a copy in your favorite book store.
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Take advantage of our Minnesota online vacation planning resources page. Ask questions about Minnesota tourist attractions and lodging options. We are happy to respond with tips and ideas.