Minnesota State Capitol Tours

What is Minnesota known for? 30 things you didn’t know!

If you’re wondering to yourself, “What is Minnesota known for?”, then take a seat because this Minnesota native has got you covered. After living here my entire life, I can tell you firsthand that the North Star State has plenty to boast about.

While many tend to overlook it, Minnesota is actually known for numerous impressive things. Minnesota has a lot to offer, including natural beauty, cultural richness, diverse landscapes, and famous inventions.There are countless reasons why it’s a state worth visiting.

Let’s dive into the top things that make Minnesota so remarkable and earn its reputation.

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What Minnesota is Best Known For?

The one thing Minnesota is best known for? Its staggering amount of glistening lakes. With over 10,000 lakes dotting its vast landscapes, it’s no wonder Minnesota is affectionately called the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”

But its abundance of pristine waters is only the beginning of what makes Minnesota a state worth knowing. Keep reading to learn what else Minnesota has become renowned for.

Top things Minnesota is known for

In no particular order, here are some of the things I think about, and even miss a little when I leave my home state.

Lakes, Rivers, and Outdoor Adventures

If you’re looking for a place to enjoy the outdoors, Minnesota is the place for you! With over 10,000 lakes and countless rivers, you’ll never run out of places to explore.

From the stunning Lake Superior and the Mississippi River.

To the picturesque Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Lake of the Woods. The natural beauty is simply breathtaking.

Rainy Lake Island with Trees

The Twin Cities aka Minneapolis and St. Paul

You wouldn’t know it, but there are other “Twin Cities”, but in this part of the country, you say Twin Cities and everyoen knows what they are talking about.

Minneapolis and St. Paul, also known as the Twin Cities, are the cultural center of Minnesota.

They are home to world-class museums and theaters. You’ll also find up-and-coming restaurants and shopping.

Mayo Clinic

Minnesota is also home to the Mayo Clinic. It is one of the most respected medical institutions in the world.

With a reputation for excellence in patient care, the Mayo Clinic attracts patients and medical professionals from around the globe.

When I was a kid, I went shopping in a small town near Rochester. We saw some members of the Saudi Royal Family there. My mom told me the king was receiving treatment at the Mayo Clinic. After that, I kind of knew it was a big deal.

The Mall of America

When people come through Minnesota, the first question people ask is, should I visit the Mall of America?

If shopping is your passion, you won’t want to miss the Mall of America in Bloomington. It is the largest shopping mall in the United States.

With over 5.6 million square feet of retail space, 520 stores, and numerous attractions, the Mall of America is a shopper’s paradise.

Plus we have tax-free shopping on all clothing!

JW Marriot


MN is home to a few sports teams; but the roar at a Hockey Game is like nothing you’ll ever experience.

We play on ice anywhere you can find it. And in Eveleth MN, you’ll find the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Why Eveleth? That’s because they have produced more Hokey players to make it to the major leagues than anywhere else.

Hockey is a big part of life in Minnesota, from youth leagues to professional teams like the Minnesota Wild and college teams like the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

The North Star State

Minnesota’s nickname, the North Star State, has a special meaning.

It represents the state’s position as the northernmost point of the contiguous U.S.

You can visit it in the Northern Angel and that in itself is a journey either by boat, or through Canida!

Bob Dylan

Minnesota is home to a few famous people, including Bob Dylan. It is the birthplace of Bob Dylan.

He was born in Duluth and considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Dylan’s impact on music and culture is still felt today, and his legacy.

The St. Paul Winter Carnival

Winter can be long and cold in Minnesota, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth celebrating! The St. Paul Winter Carnival is a beloved annual event that dates back to 1886.

This event brings people from all over to compete in snow sculpting, beard growing, parades, fishing tournaments, and more.

It is also where they created one of the first Ice Castles built in the United States. So if you have one in your home state, you have Minnesota to thank!

St Paul Winter Carnival

The Land of 10,000 Lakes

Minnesota’s nickname, the Land of 10,000 Lakes, is no exaggeration. Well, the actual number is closer to 11,842.

You can find a lake in every corner of the state. Literally, I’ve been to each corner and been quit surprised to find them where you wouldn’t expect.

These are all natural lakes too brought to you by the glaciers.

You’ll find people fishing, boating, and swimming in all of them.

I know people from Wisconsin love to claim they have more, but they like to claim a pond is a lake.

Paddleboard on a Lake

The Headwaters of the Mississippi River

The largest river in the Uniting States passes right through Minnesota, but it also gets its start here too.

You can walk on a steppingstone path across the start at Itasca State Park

People in the states along the Mississippi River love to share their river stories and know exactly where it all begins.

Things to do at Itasca State Park

Cold winters and snowy weather

While the cold winters and snowy weather in Minnesota may seem daunting to some, they are part of what makes the state unique and charming.

There’s something special about bundling up in warm clothes and enjoying the winter wonderland that Minnesota becomes during the colder months.

From skiing and snowboarding to ice fishing and snowshoeing, you’ll find Minnesotans don’t hibernate in the winter.

The iconic “Minnesota Nice” attitude

If there’s one thing that Minnesotans are known for, it’s their friendly and hospitable nature. It’s known as “Minnesota Nice”.

This attitude is characterized by a willingness to help others and a general sense of kindness and generosity.

Those that leave Minnesota don’t realize how true this is, until they leave the state. Trust me, it’s a real thing.


Prince, the late, great musician, was born in Minneapolis and lived and performed in the city for much of his life.

He was known for his unique style and boundary-pushing music, and his influence can still be felt in the Twin Cities’ music scene today.

Fans of Prince can visit his former home and studio, Paisley Park in Chanhassen, which has been turned into a museum showcasing his life and legacy.

Paisley Park

The Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair is one of the largest and most popular state fairs in the country, attracting over two million visitors every year.

Held annually in late August through Labor Day, it’s the best 12 days of summer.

The fair is known for its mix of food (including the famous deep-fried cheese curds), live music, agricultural displays, and carnival rides.

The only other fair that rivals in attendance is Texas, but it holds its fair over more days, making Minnesota’s the Largest in my opinion.

It’s a beloved tradition for many Minnesotans, who look forward to attending every year.

The MN State Fair

Scandinavian heritage

Minnesota has a rich history of Scandinavian immigration. Most residents today still have ties to their Scandinavian roots.

This heritage is celebrated throughout the state with festivals, museums, and cultural events.

Visitors can learn about the traditions and customs of Norwegians, Swedes, Finns, and Danes in places like the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis or the Norsk Hostfest in Minot.

Target Headquarters

Target, one of the largest retailers in the United States.

Many don’t realize it was founded in Minneapolis. 

You can visit the original Target store, which still stands in downtown Minneapolis. 

The world-renowned Guthrie Theater

The Guthrie Theater is one of the premier theaters in the country.

Known for its innovative productions and world-class performances, the Guthrie has been a cultural hub for the Twin Cities since it was founded in 1963.

Visitors can catch a play or take a tour of the theater, which offers stunning views of the Mississippi River and the city skyline.

The University of Minnesota

Known for its world-class research and innovative programs, the University of Minnesota is consistently ranked as one of the top public universities in the country.

They are consistently working on new things, including the creation of the fan favorite, Honeycrisp Apple. 

Visitors can explore the campus and take in its beautiful architecture, or attend one of the many events and lectures offered by the university.

Honeycrisp Apple

fall foliage

Fall in Minnesota is a beautiful sight to behold. While almost everywhere with trees can claim fall colors, Minnstoa is absolutely breathtaking.

As the weather cools down and the leaves begin to change colors, the state transforms into a vibrant canvas of oranges, yellows, and reds.

The beautiful fall foliage can be seen throughout the state, but particularly in northern Minnesota, where the trees are plentiful, and the scenery is breathtaking.

Minnesotans, like myself, stay glued to the Fall Color Finder reports and are ready to head out to witness it firsthand.

It’s the perfect time to take a hike, go on a scenic drive, or visit a pumpkin patch.

The Best Trekking Poles for Hiking

MN Zoo in Apple Valley

Another popular attraction in Minnesota is the Minnesota Zoo, in Apple Valley. This zoo is home to a wide variety of animals, including tigers, bears, wolves, and more.

Visitors can get up close and personal with the animals through behind-the-scenes tours, feedings, and animal encounters.

MN Zoo Dolphin
MN Zoo Hosted Dolphins from another Zoo during 2023

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is home to the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture.

The garden is a 19-acre park that showcases more than 40 works of art. The best part is, it’s free!

It’s a great place to spend an afternoon, taking in the beautiful artwork and enjoying the peaceful surroundings.

BlueCock - Walker Sculpture Garden

Pual Bunyan

Minnesota is also known for its rich folklore. This includes the legendary character of Paul Bunyan and his trusty companion, Babe the Blue Ox.

This tale is a staple of Minnesota’s history and has been passed down through generations of Minnesotans.

To honor this legend, there are massive statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox all around the state.

You can find Paul at the Mall of America, in Northern Minnesota and many other places.

When you are out and about, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for this giant!

Akeley Largest Paul Bunyan

Art Museums

Minnesota has a vibrant arts scene that is home to some of the country’s top museums and galleries.

Two of the most renowned art institutions in the state are the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

The Walker Art Center is a contemporary art museum in Minneapolis.

It is one of the largest art museums in the country, boasting over 90,000 works of art.

If you ever have some time, stop into the Minneapolis Institute of Art. They have a mix of everything and are free. When it’s too cold to be outdoors, it’s where I take my family.

Minneapolis Institute of Art

Minnesota Timberwolves NBA team

Sports fans in Minnesota are proud of their NBA team, the Minnesota Timberwolves. The team is based in Minneapolis and was founded in 1989.

While the Timberwolves haven’t yet won an NBA championship, the team has a dedicated fan base and has produced some of the league’s most exciting players over the years.

The classic “hot dish” casserole dish

No trip to Minnesota is complete without trying the classic “hot dish” casserole.

This hearty dish is a staple in Minnesota homes and is often served at potlucks and family gatherings.

The classic version is made with ground beef, cream of mushroom soup, and tater tots, but there are countless variations to try.

“The North Shore” of Lake Superior

Ask a Minnesotan what they are doing this summer, and they’ll say, “I’m headed to the North Shore”.

While the rest of the country might think you are talking about Hawaii, in Minnesota, it’s a whole other love affair.

The North Shore of Lake Superior is one of Minnesota’s most picturesque regions. Know for its natural rugged cliffs, stunning waterfalls, and pristine beaches. 

There is a deep-rooted history of iron ore. 

I often make multiple visits a year up there, but never go a year without seeing the shoreline.

Visitors hike, camp, fish, and boat along the shore. You can also hunt for agates or even go zip lining.

Palisades Head
Palisades Head

Judy Garland

Fans of the iconic actress and singer Judy Garland won’t want to miss visiting her home.

Located in Grand Rapids, you can see moments from her life and career.

You can see the house where she grew up and take a tour.

The museums made recent news on the tale of the stolen Rubey Red Slippers. Stolen over 20 years ago, the theif was recently caught.

The shoes were on loan to the museum and are now with their original owner. But you can still see so many amazing things in the home.

My favorite was the carriage from the Wizard of Oz. The carriage was also used by Abraham Lincon.


Juicy Lucy cheeseburger

One of the most amazing changes to a cheeseburger happened in Minnesota. The Juicy Lucy.

The burger is made by stuffing a patty with cheese before cooking, creating a molten, gooey center.

There are many variations of the Juicy Lucy to try at restaurants across the Twin Cities, but the original can be found at Matts Bar.

The Juicy Lucy

The Minnesota Vikings NFL team

Minnesota is home to the NFL team, the Minnesota Vikings. The team was founded in 1961 and has a passionate fan base known for their “Skol” chant.

While the Vikings have yet to win a Super Bowl championship, they have made it to the big game four times.

They have also produced some of the NFL’s greatest players. You can find their training camp in Eagan.

Grain Belt Beer

Minnesota has a long history with beer, and one of the most famous brands to come out of the state is Grain Belt Beer.

The beer was first brewed in Minneapolis in 1893 and became a beloved regional brand.

Though the original brewery has since closed, the brand has been revived and is still enjoyed by beer lovers across the country.

General Mills

MN is also home to General Mills. It is one of the largest manufacturers of breakfast cereals, baked goods, snack foods, and more.

The company owns popular brands like Cheerios, Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Häagen-Dazs, and Pillsbury.

You can find their corporate headquarters here, as well as many production facilities.

We have a production facility next to my neighborhood in Chanhassen, and we can smell the production. My husband and I have a game of “guess what they are making today”. It is usually amazing sweet smelling cereal.

Come and Explore Minnesota

Minnesota has so much more to offer than just its nickname as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” After living here my whole life, I can say with confidence that this state has plenty to be proud of.

There are so many great reasons why Minnesota has earned its reputation over the years.

So next time you’re wondering “what is Minnesota known for?”, remember it’s so much more than just lakes.

If you ever get the chance to visit the North Star State, you’ll quickly see for yourself everything that makes Minnesota a place worth knowing and celebrating.

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