Enjoying the drive

16 of the Best Day Trips from Minneapolis You Need to Take

Day Tripping for me has always been a fun way to see a new city. There is little commitment, very little planning involved, not like a big road trip. I started my first Day Trip to Taylors falls and was instantly hooked.

All you need is a tank of gas and a sense of adventure and you can be off. Minnesota has so much to offer. Using the Twin Cities as a home base, you can get all over the state. Today I’m sharing some of my favorite day trips from Minneapolis to take this summer.

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Minnesota Day Trips from Minneapolis

Excelsior MN | 27min away

Port of Excelsior

Excelsior MN is a great place for a quick day trip. This charming town is located on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, offering stunning scenery and plenty of recreational activities. Boating, fishing, and kayaking are popular pastimes, and the nearby beaches provide a perfect spot for swimming or sunbathing.

I often jump over to Excelsior for a quick trip to the downtown area because of the variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries, as well as a lovely park with walking paths and a pier. We’ll take a bike through town and get some ice cream. Or watch dog sledding in the winter!

See all the fun things you can do in Excelsior: Fun Things to do in Excelsior MN: Escape the Ordinary

Stillwater MN | 32min away

Stillwater MN

Stillwater Minnesota is everyone’s favorite day trip from Minneapolis because of its quick escape feel, but it packs so much history and things to do in the charming small town, you won’t want to leave. Starting out with the endless hiking possibilities along the riverside. The St. Croix River runs right along the historic downtown.

Many take their personal watercraft and enjoy the water. Or spend some time shopping on Main Street. Get a bite to eat at one of the many fine-dining restaurants. Or jump on a trolley and take a tour of downtown Stillwater. See the full post here. or make a weekend of it and check into one of these great places to stay: 13 Beautiful Places to Stay in Stillwater MN

Hastings MN | 34min away

Hastings MN

Hastings is an amazing town just south of the Metro. The biggest draw is the Vermillion Falls. It’s a 35-foot waterfall along the Vermillion River. The town also has great hiking opportunities and bike paths.

Hastings sits alongside the Mississippi Riverfront. Take some time shopping downtown, visit the Lock and Dam or head over to the top of Schaars Bluff in Spring Lake Park Reserve and watch for birds of prey. You’ll have a great time exploring the city. See the full post here.

Northfield MN | 44min away

Caron Park

Northfield is a fun town with a lot of history. Known for the famous failed James-Younger Gang bank raid. Today they embrace history. The historic downtown is charming as ever and there are great eats everywhere you turn. Take a trip to the Cowling Arboretum and get lost in their labyrinth.

Eat some soft serve ice cream from The Blast Northfield and eat it alongside the Cannon River. Or find the Caron Park waterfalls. The town is so much fun; you don’t want to miss out on it. See the full post here.

Faribault MN | 50min away

Where the Tilt-A-Whirl was first invented, Faribault is one of those small towns you’d love to call home. Take a walk through Nerstrand Big Woods State Park and enjoy the waterfalls.

Bring your bike and ride through 39 miles of paved trail on the Sakatah Singing Hills Trail. Get a canoe or kayak and the nearby water. There are great wineries and distilleries in the area, as well as a cheese cave and Faribault Woolen Mills. The town is a lot of fun to explore.

Mankato MN | 50min away

Mankato Bison
Bison Drive Minneapoa State Park in Mankato

In south-central Minnesota, Mankato is a fun day trip from Minneapolis. Mankato has extensive cycling trails. Paddle along the Red Jacket River and see Devils Gulch. Stop at Minneopa State Park and view the waterfall.

They are also home to a Bison Drive experience. Downtown Mankato has a great shopping area with amazing restaurants. But what sets apart Mankato’s downtown is the art hidden on every street. See the full post here.

Taylors Falls MN | 57min away

Things to do in Taylors Falls MN

When I think of a Minnesota Day Trip, Taylors Falls is always first on my mind. They are the quintessential small town, packed with adventure. Starting out at Interstate State Park, explore the geological potholes, some big enough to stand in. Cool off at Wild Mountain Water Park or get on the Paddle Boat or a Kayak down the St. Croix River.

Stop at one of the four different wineries in the area. Take a train ride from Osceola or even find the Waterfall hidden 10 minutes outside of town. When you are hungry, don’t forget to stop at the Drive-In for a treat. Taylors Falls is perfect to get out hooked on day tripping. See the full post here.

Owatonna MN | 1hr 2min away

Owatonna is another fun small town to explore in Southern Minnesota. They are home to the largest free county fair in the state. There is the RAD Zoo, with all kinds of different reptiles. You’ll also find the Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum and the village of yesteryear. If you need a pick-me-up, head over to the healing waters of Mineral Spring Park. Owatonna is a great stop for a different type of MN day trip.

Red Wing MN |1hr 4min away

Things to do in Red Wing MN

Red Wing is a fun town for outdoor lovers. This Minnesota day trip location has biking, hiking, and riverfront views. Start your day off with a stop at the top-rated bakery in Minnesota, Hanisch Bakery. Hike to the top of Barn Bluff for a stunning view of the Mississippi River and Red Wing.

Shop in the historic downtown and see the world’s largest Boot in Red Wing Shoe Company. And stop into the Anderson Tower Art Center & Sculpture Garden, the home of the creator of Puffed Rice Cereal. Red Wing is amazing, really. You could make an entire weekend of it. See the full post here.

St Cloud MN | 1hr 10min away

Leftovers from Mining

St Cloud MN and its surrounding communities are so much fun to explore. The town has a metropolitan feel with activities spread throughout the neighboring towns.

There are great bike trails, hiking, fine dining and so much more. The kids will love getting to go to Quarry park and swimming. The adults will love the dining options. You can’t go wrong. See the full post here.

Wabasha MN | 1hr 38min away

National Eagle Center in Wabasha

Wabasha is a great day trip from Minneapolis. They are the fictitious home to a couple of Grumpy Old Men, though not much of the film was filmed there. I recommend going in fall during peak fall colors because you can drive along the great river road the whole way.

Wabasha is home to the National Eagle Institute, where you can watch rescue eagles and learn more about them. Then get some holiday shopping done for the kids at Lark Toys. It’s a phenomenal toy store just south of Wabasha. See the full post here.

Little Falls MN | 1hr 43min away

Things to do in Little Falls MN

Little Falls, Minnesota is another fun day trip from Minneapolis. The town attracts thousands in the fall because of its art fair. But for the rest of the year, the small town is relaxed. With its fishing museum and a small zoo, there’s plenty to do. You can also see the boyhood home of Charles A Lindberg at the State Park.

This is a great place to have a relaxing time at. On your way out of town, stop into the Minnesota Military Museum for one of the largest exhibits you’ll see of Macro artifacts, like tanks and planes. See the full post here.

Brainerd MN | 2hr 9min away

Ready Set Zip at Minnesota Zipline Adventures in Brainerd

Brainerd has been a playground for people from Minneapolis for a long time. This lake town attracts anglers from all over the cities. But there are also four-wheeling and Zipline adventures. You can play some mini-golf or even have Paul Bunyan welcome you by name to the amusement park.

Brainerd makes for a great Day Trip from Minneapolis. See all the fun things to do there: 38 FUN Things to do in Brainerd Minnesota

Lanesboro MN | 2hr 9min away

Bike the Root River Trail

My favorite destination to day-trip is Lanesboro. This riverside town has so much to offer. Bring your bike and travel through the prettiest area of Minnesota, the Root River Trail.

This flat trail has great scenery and small towns to explore. Find an outfitter and float down the Root River on an inner tube. Or stop in the neighboring Niagara Cave. This cave is bat-free and has a 65-foot waterfall inside. See the full post here.

Winona MN | 2hr 9min away

Birds Eye of Winona

Winona MN is at the southeastern Minnesota tip of the state and makes for a great day trip. Start off with a trip to Bloedow’s Bakery and get some breakfast. Then hike to the base of Sugar Loaf Bluff.

Spend some time in the park and let the kids play at ‘Every Kids Dream Park’ or watch the barges come down the river. You can also go to the Minnesota Maritime Museum and see a Picasso, Renoir, and a Van Gogh. See the full post here.

Duluth MN | 2hr 19min away

Keep Smiling Falls

Duluth is a great destination to explore. There is a small zoo. You can watch the tall ships come in to Canal Park. Watch the lift bridge. Explore the Glensheen Mansion. Do some shopping. Lunch at Grandma’s Restaurant.

Stop into the Depot for a Scenic Train Ride, or just explore old train cars. Visit the water park, or use Duluth as a base camp for adventures further up the North Shore. See more great things to do in Duluth by clicking here.

Tips for a Successful Day Trips From Minneapolis

Plan, plan, and plan again. If there is one thing I’ve learned about Day Trips from Minneapolis, it’s all about having a great plan. With only a short time in an unfamiliar place, you may only get one chance to do it right. Information is the key. Start with where is the best place to get breakfast. From there, find an interesting hike, followed up with lunch and an afternoon adventure. Leave room for shopping and exploring on your own.

For lunch, I always make a list of two or three places to eat at. In the cities, I can easily find a place to eat before noon. In small towns, Breweries and pubs don’t open their doors until noon. And some small towns just have different hours. If you have a few options, you are bound to find something that works for you.

Plan trips around community events. If you are a member of my email community or follow along on Instagram, you’ll see some of the best activities around town. This will help you plan your next adventure.

Day Trips from Minneapolis don’t always require you to spend a lot of money. It’s the reason I started Day Tripping. We’d pack a lunch and explore a town for a day. Now I usually budget a trip to a town at $100. This is enough money to get breakfast, lunch, and light shopping for a family of four. If you can manage it, I recommend getting at least one meal in town and to make it feel like a true vacation.

For more tips on building your vacation budget, take a look at: How I Afford to Travel with a Family using simple proven secrets.

What are you waiting for?

Are you ready to get in the car and make this happen? Seriously, don’t stress out. Start off small, gather the family, or go it solo. The best part about day-tripping is the spontaneity of it all. You won’t believe what you’ll find when you get to some of these day trips from Minneapolis.

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