There are Minnesota roadside attractions you will miss if you stick to our best known vacation spots. Add some adventure with side trips to a few of these little known attractions.
As you drive the highways and roads be on the lookout for unique Minnesota roadside attractions. These are often wonderful monuments to the legends that are part of Minnesota history. Sometimes they are representations of an animal or fish that is identified with Minnesota. Others are museums, objects, statues or art that is unique to a town or region.
The statue of the Jolly Green Giant, at 55-feet tall, is one of the largest Minnesota roadside attractions. The giant can be found in Blue Earth, MN and is a reminder of Minnesota's agricultural resources.
From the back cover of the book, Monumental Minnesota: A Guide to Outdoor Sculpture: "Minnesotans have in the past century honored heroes and public figures, created mythic and heroic town symbols, funded abstracts on public streets and walkways, and now find themselves surrounded by a growing forest of sculpture carved by the chainsaw. Minnesota has more than 620 different pieces of outdoor sculpture, located in 150 different communities."
These monuments commemorate Minnesota's real, and imagined heroes from a statue of the Finnish hero, St. Urho, located in Menagha, MN to the legendary Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe commemorated in Bemidji, Brainerd and other Minnesota towns.
Chief Kandiyohi stands near the Kandiyohi, MN courthouse, Big Ole, the Viking graces downtown Alexandria, Hermann the German overlooks New Ulm, and a 26-foot tall Smoky the Bear "lives" in International Falls.
Vining, Mn is one of the smallest towns in the state...only 84 residents at last count...yet it boasts the largest collection of outdoor sculptures per resident of any city in the world!. Artist Ken Nyberg is a modest man who makes no attempt to promote his creations and you have to know where to go to find them. Ken's other claim to fame is as the father of NASA Astronaut Karen Nyberg. Vining is located on Highway 210 near Battle Lake. It is a great side trip if you are camping at Glendalough State Park. Here is a link to more about Ken Nyberg's Sculptures
There are quite a few books about the roadside attractions in our state. My personal favorite is Minnesota Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff by Russ Ringsak with Denise Remick.
It lists not only the statues and monuments along the road but also "not-to-be-missed" places like the Frank Lloyd Wright gas station in Cloquet. Pack this for day trips to lots of memorable Minnesota attractions.
If you are a resident of Minnesota, you will be laughing out loud as the authors introduce you to the neighbors you never knew you had and take you to places you never knew existed—right in your own backyard! If you are in Minnesota on vacation, be sure to visit some of the most wild and wacky places and things the North Star State has to offer!
Find out where there is an art gallery of underground graffiti, an eight-story-tall Iron Man sculpture, and some beautifully designed, architectural oddities.
The World's Largest Boot in Red Wing
Fishing, and fish, are obvious symbols of life in Minnesota and you will find them represented across the state. Several areas claim to be the "Walleye Capital" of the world and have the Minnesota State Fish roadside art to prove it. An entire restaurant in Bena, Mn is in the shape of a Muskie. Detroit Lakes claims the title of "Sunfish Capital" and Aitken, Mn holds a Fish House Parade on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Bass Henge....Minnesota's answer to Stonehenge! This sculpture is the creation of Joe Gaustefeste and his wife Yvette Jorneau. Joe has been the principle bassist for the Chicago Symphony for more than 40 years. The 21 steel basses are ensconced on 14 foot tall pedestals. They are set along a clef-shaped walkway along the Rainy River about 40 miles west of International Falls.
This photo below is of the "world's largest prairie chicken" and is located in the small Northern Minnesota town of Rothsay. Many of the roadside attractions in Minnesota are "the world's largest" of some type of animal, fish or bird.
We have collected a few more stories and photos of unusual Minnesota attractions on the Little Known Minnesota page. There is so much more to share. Please grab your camera when you head out on the roads of Minnesota and add stories and photos of your discoveries.
Minnesota has lots of roadside art,statues and symbols of our state's history, people and legends and some rather weird and humorous unusual attractions. Share a story about what you have seen along the roads and highways. If you have a photo, share that as well!
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
The Pelican Rapids Pelican
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A man named Ken Nyberg has created the most amazing collection of huge sculptures in the tiny, tiny town of Vining, MN. There is a giant coffee cup …