The Seven States of Minnesota
Enjoy Minnesota Vacations in All of These Unique Travel Destiantions
Visit all seven Minnesota regions and discover the diverse attractions offered by each unique region in Minnesota. Each of these areas in Minnesota 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 as well.
Minnesota vacation planning begins with the decision about which unique region of Minnesota offers the vacation experience you are looking for.
Minnesota hotels in every area are ready to host your Minnesota getaway.
Each of Minnesota's regions holds special memories and stories for us. Both sides of my family of origin settled in differant parts of the state. Our roots are Irish, German and English.
My Irish/English father's family spent most of their lives in the Twin Cities area, especially in Minneapolis.
My mother's family were German farmers. Some of the family farmed in the northen Minnesota region of the state and others in the southern Minnesota region.
My husband's Scandinavian family roots are within the farming traditions of the northern and central Minnesota regions. His large extended family is scattered thoughout 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.
Minnesota Vacation Spots will take you to all seven regions in Minnesota and suggest some of the best Minnesota vacations in each area.
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. Our family has deep roots in both.
We have now lived for more than 25 years in the capitol city of
Saint Paul. 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. Some of the top things to see and do in the Twin Cities:
- Bell Museum of Natural History
- Historic Fort Snelling
- Historic Murphy's Landing
- Mall of America
- Minneapolis Institute of Arts
- Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
- Minnesota History Center
- Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
- Paddleford Packetboat Company
- Science Museum of Minnesota
- St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail
- Steamboat Minnehaha
- Summit Avenue in St. Paul
- Walker Art Center
The Central Lakes Minnesota region can be reached by a two hour or so drive from the Twin Cities. This region is truly Minnesota's playground. Going north on any summer weekend, you will see many RVs or motorhomes and vehicles pulling a boat or a camping trailer. Winter treks will include vehicles carrying snowmobiles or four-wheelers.
The Central Minnesota region is historically significant as a possible place of early American exploration by the Vikings in 1362, 130 years before Christopher Columbus. Some central Minnesota visitor attractions include:
Visit the Central Lakes Minnesota region's playground towns and cities:
- The Kensington Runestone, a controversial stone with words supposedly written by the Vikings, that was found in a city southwest of Alexandria.
- Unique geographic features around Lake Christina, including the Seven Sisters Prairie on the north side of the lake, which is a group of seven, glacially-produced knolls. Lake Christina is an important stop for many species of waterfowl during migration.
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:
Red River Valley
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:
- East Grand Forks offers great fishing and is noted for its catfish - 15-20 pound fish are not uncommon.
- Thief River Falls is the center of action amid a network of hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails. The machines are even manufactured here and Arctic Cat offers tours of its plant. There’s also a system of Riverwalk paths linking five parks and a "pioneer village" of shops and log houses built by early settlers of the area.
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 an 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.
- Prairieland covers southwestern and west-central Minnesota and contains the headwaters of the Minnesota River and some of the most intensively farmed land in the state.
- Panoramic views of fields of row crops stretching to all four horizons. Broken only by the occasional farm with its silos or island of trees, this vast landscape exists in an area where nature can be both cruel and kind.
- Dozens of species of prairie grasses and wild flowers.
- Minnesota Wildlife in abundance.
St. Croix Valley
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:
- Towns that allow you to go back in time, like Marine-On-St. Croix and Afton.
- Historic rivertowns like Stillwater Minnesota, a treasure that time forgot.
- Lovely Taylors Falls
- Spectacular scenery in some of Minnesota's most beautiful State Parks.
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:
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