Minnesota Regions 
The Seven States of Minnesota 

Minnesota Regions

The seven Minnesota regions are sometimes called the "7 States of Minnesota." Discover the diverse geography and attractions offered by each unique region in Minnesota. 

Every region offers you a different Minnesota vacation experience. 

The most commonly defined regions are the Twin Cities, the St. Croix River Valley, the Arrowhead, the Central Lakes area, the Red River Valley, Prairie land, and Bluff Country.

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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

Twin Cities Minnesota Tourist Attractions

Minnesota Regions

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. As you might guess, this area is the most visited of our Minnesota regions.

We have lived for more than 30 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.

Some of the finest hotels in the state are found in the Twin Cities. 

Minnesota's art and culture is well represented in these cities by a wealth of museums including the Minnesota History Museum and the amazing Science Museum of Minnesota.

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 -  two of the best road trips anywhere. All of this provides for wonderful outdoor activities without leaving the urban area. 

Central Lakes Minnesota Tourist Attractions

The Central Lakes Minnesota region is less than a two hour drive from the Twin Cities. This region is truly Minnesota's playground. Visit these Central Lakes Minnesota Region Towns:

Regions of Minnesota

Arrowhead Minnesota Tourist Attractions

Minnesota Regions

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:

Cities in the Arrowhead include:

Minnesota hotels in every area are ready to host your special Minnesota getaway.

Red River Valley Minnesota Tourist Attractions

Minnesota Regions

The Red River Valley 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.

This may be the least visited of Minnesota regions. Here is why you should not miss it. 

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.

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.

Prairieland Minnesota Tourist Attractions

Minnesota Regions - Prairieland

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:

  • 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.
  • Blue Mounds State Park  located in the Southern Prairie region in the southwestern corner of the state near Luverne and Pipestone.
  • Lac Qui Parle State Park      
  • Minneopa State Park
  • Pipestone National Monument - Watch artists craft traditional pipes from the pipestone found only in this area.
  • Jeffers Petroglyphs - Tour amazing quartzite carvings made by historic Native American tribes.
  • 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.

Some towns within the prairieland include: Montevideo, Mankato and Luverne.

Minnesota Maps > available for every region of the state and for specific activities like fishing, hiking, biking and finding the best roadside attractions.

St. Croix River Valley Minnesota Tourist Attractions

Minnesota Regions

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:

Bluff Country Minnesota Tourist Attractions

Minnesota Regions Bluff Country

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.

Rochester is a logical starting point if you want to do a tour of this region. 

Some highlights of a visit to this part of Minnesota should include:

Cities in Each Minnesota Region

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 our Minnesota regions.

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