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Little Known Minnesota Hidden Gems

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Visit little known Minnesota hidden gems. These are Minnesota roadside attractions that many visitors never find.

Most family vacation destinations in Minnesota include beautiful family vacation resorts, cabins, and dozens of state parks and many other top family vacations spots.

Little Known Minnesota

If you are a first time visitor it makes sense to visit the Minnesota vacation spots that make our state one of the top vacation areas in the world.

However, it's also so much fun to discover some of the Minnesota attractions others rarely see.

There are hundreds of small town museums and attractions that are dedicated to a piece of Minnesota's past.

As well, we have an amazing variety of Minnesota roadside attractions, folk art and quirky sights. 

Backroads & Byways of Minnesota: Drives, Day Trips & Weekend Excursions

The Spam Museum is the only museum entirely dedicated to canned meat!

Only in Austin, Minnesota can you find a shrine to SPAM, the world-famous canned meat produced by the Hormel Food Corporation.

This little known Minnesota museum is a must for Spam lovers who can learn exactly what goes into it, the role it played in winning WW II, and how it became a pop culture icon.

We offer some great Spam recipes on our Minnesota recipes pages and, as well, a bit of history about Spam.

Take a day, or the weekend, and enjoy one of many Minnesota road trips.

The Hjemkomst Center and Museum

Explorer's Guide: Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes

Little Known Minnesota Attractions

While we were raising our children near Audubon, MN, Robert Asp, in 1973, began building a replica of a Viking ship in nearby Hawley, MN. The Hjemkomst was modeled after a Norwegian ship found south of Oslo that dated from about 950 A.D. called the "Gokstad."

My husband loved to find a reason to go to the lumberyard in Hawley and just "have to" stop by and watch the progress of this amazing project. He spent so much time with Robert Asp that he was invited to go along on the ship's voyage.

Because of family obligations, my husband declined the adventure and was not aboard when the Asp family and friends set sail on the voyage that began on Lake Superior and ended 6100 miles from Duluth, MN in Bergen, Norway on July 19,1982.

The ship is now on display at the Hjemkomst Center and Museum in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Little Known Minnesota

The Runestone Museum

Did Vikings from Scandinavia make it all the way to Minnesota in the mid 14th century? That question has boggled the minds of scholars for decades.

At the center of the debate is the Kensington Runestone, a slab of rock discovered in 1898 on the Olaf Ohman farm near Kensington, Minnesota.

The rock is inscribed with a runic message that supposedly proves a Viking existence in the area.

It can be viewed at the Runestone Museum in Alexandria where visitors can decide for themselves whether or not it is a hoax.

If you enjoy unusual and off-beat attractions, get a copy of Minnesota Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff

Harmony Minnesota Amish Tours

Harmony, Minnesota and the surrounding area, is rich in history, culture and heritage of the Amish Community.

Harmony's Amish community is the largest in Minnesota and is strictly "Old Order" Amish, meaning that the people are very private and have strong Christian convictions that bind their community together, enabling them to resist the ways of modern society.

They began their move to the Harmony area in 1974 and have grown to about 100 families with three church "districts" and seven one-room schools.

Amish Tours will guide you through this beautiful rolling countryside where Amish farmers may be seen working in the fields with horses and horse-drawn equipment. Their buggies may be seen tied to hitching posts in town.

Many Amish families sell their crafts and baked goods to visitors to the area.

While you are in Harmony, be sure to take a tour of Niagra Cave.

Scenic Driving Minnesota

Little Known Minnesota Amish

Jeffers Petroglyphs

Jeffers Petroglyphs is an amazing area of Southern Minnesota where you can tour ancient Native American carvings of animals, birds, and more in large slabs of quartzite.

While you are in the area, be sure to also visit Pipestone National Monument.

Minnesota Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff will guide you to all those roadside attractions and photo ops!

Train Museums

The Jackson Street Roundhouse tucked away a mere two blocks from I-35E on Pennsylvania Avenue, St. Paul, is home to The Minnesota Transportation Museum.

Little Known Minnesota Museums

The roundhouse was part of the historic Jackson Street shop complex which was founded just after the civil war. On the site of the first railroad maintenance shops in Minnesota, the Minnesota Transportation Museum is bringing railroad history to life! Learn about the industry that once dominated commerce, employed tens of thousands, and is today experiencing a revival.

Entrance costs $10 for adults, $8 for children or $35 for a family (two adults and two to four children). For more details, call (651) 228-0263

Minnesota Family Weekends

Little Known Minnesota Museums

The Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum is located in Bandana Square, a historic Twin Cities railroad building at 1021 Bandana Boulevard East, Suite 222 in Saint Paul.

See detailed model panoramas of railroads in the Twin Cities during the 1930s, '40s, and '50s.

This is great family entertainment for young and old alike...an impressive sight and well worth your visit.

The building that houses the museum was constructed in 1885 and once housed a Northern Pacific Railway repair shop.

Kids love this place!

Mississippi River Museum

The Mississippi River Museum is located within the Science Museum of Minnesota. This Mississippi River Visitor Center is the place to learn about the natural history of the river and get information about events and recreational opportunities on and along the river.

The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices

The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices is also located within the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Their website trumpets: "Devious Displays of Quackery, Fraud, Deceit and Deception -- the largest collection of medical chicanery and mayhem ever assembled under one roof !!!"

This little known Minnesota museum houses the world's largest display of quack medical devices on loan from the American Medical Association, the Food and Drug Association, and other sources.

They offer hands-on demonstrations with devices dating back to 1790.

Minnesota Twine ball

The Twine Ball Museum in Darwin, MN is a favorite stop for those who are up on the more obscure little known Minnesota attractions. The museum has just one exhibit: the largest ball of twine ever built by one person.

Francis A. Johnson began his project in 1950 and wrapped twine for four hours every day for 29 years. The result is a ball eleven feet in diameter that weighs 17,400 pounds!

It is currently housed in a plexi-glass gazebo that offers views from all sides. It's worth a trip to little Darwin to see this little known Minnesota attraction.

Minnesota Roadside Attractions highlights the roadside attractions that are tributes to an area's products like the iconic Jolly Green Giant statues at Le Seuer and Blue Earth, the little-known sculpture park in Vining, Mn and other monuments to our legends.

There are still some little known Minnesota places we want to visit. We often take a day or two, grab a map or guidebook and take to the road to explore some little known Minnesota hidden gems.

Read reviews of what other travelers love to see on a Minnesota vacation.

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Little Known Minnesota Related Pages:

Minnesota Roadside Attractions

Minnesota Tourist Attractions

Minnesota Attractions

Minnesota Attractions Continued

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Minnesota State Parks: From Afton to Zippel Bay