Minnesota is a state in the Midwest of the USA. The 12th largest state in the country, it is commonly referred to as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes". The state is home to many native American reservations, and is a center of Scandinavian culture.
|Twin Cities |
The state's dominant urban area, with Minneapolis, Saint Paul and their vicinities
|Northwestern Minnesota |
The borderland to Canada, with plains and forest and the Headwaters of the Mississippi River.
|Northeastern Minnesota |
The North Shore of Lake Superior, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Duluth.
|Southern Minnesota |
Rolling farmland, the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, and Rochester.
- 1 St. Paul, the capital and second-largest city, with a historic-looking state capitol.
- 2 Bloomington, home of the Mall of America, and the only IKEA in the state.
- 3 Duluth, the primary city in northeastern Minnesota and gateway to the North Shore and Arrowhead Region.
- 4 Mankato, the hub of the smallest metropolitan area in Minnesota.
- 5 Minneapolis, the largest city in the state and the center of the "North". Extremely rich in culture and diversity.
- 6 Northfield, on the Cannon River with the motto "Cows, Colleges, and Contentment" and the annual "Defeat of Jesse James Days" celebration.
- 7 Pine City, the primary city in the East Central region, equidistant to Minneapolis and Duluth, and home to the Snake River Fur Post.
- 8 Rochester, the primary city in southeastern Minnesota and a global destination for health and wellness, home to the Mayo Clinic.
- 9 St. Cloud, the largest population center in the State's central region.
- 1 Boundary Waters Canoe Area
- 2 Flandrau State Park
- 3 Itasca State Park
- 4 Pipestone National Monument
- 5 Voyageurs National Park – Minnesota's only national park, commemorating the French–Canadian fur seal traders
Minnesotans generally present a cheery, genial attitude ("Minnesota nice") and may be caught off-guard when people don't reciprocate. Minnesotans' cheery attitude combined with a sing-song accent contrasts them with their fellow Midwesterners. Also, Minnesota represents a rare left-wing presence in the Midwestern United States, famously described in the book Main Street by Minnesota author Sinclair Lewis as Mr. Stowbody, "Trouble enough with these foreign farmers; if you don't watch these Swedes they turn socialist or populist or some fool thing on you in a minute." In fact, these Swedes and foreign farmers did turn socialist, forming the Farmer-Labor Party in 1918, electing three successive governors, four senators and eight US representatives, until it merged with the Minnesota Democratic party in 1944. The state maintains liberal leanings and is home to the second largest LGBT population in the US. Combine Minnesota's cultural eccentricities with its beautiful forests and lakes and you have a gem for any tourist in the Midwestern US.
Unlike many other US states that sport several major urban centers, most of Minnesota's urban culture is centered in the "Twin Cities" of Minneapolis and St. Paul, which effectively form one large city divided into separate political areas. Although other urban centers exist in Rochester and Duluth, the centralization of population, wealth, and political power in the Twin Cities makes visiting "the Cities" a very different experience than the rest of the state.
The stereotypical Minnesotan dialect as popularized in the film Fargo is more prevalent in northern (Iron Range) and rural parts of the state than it is in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. In fact, in the metropolitan area, the accent is rarely noticed by visitors, much less the locals. The dialect is characterized by long vowels and a slight inflection (especially Os as found in the word "boat"). The sing-songy intonation is less common with each generation removed from the Scandinavian ancestors. Some Native Americans (primarily Ojibwe) have an accent of their own.
In addition to a unique dialect, Minnesota also has several phrases and colloquial expressions that can be overheard somewhat frequently. These are most frequently heard in the northern parts of the state, and are rarely heard in urban areas. These include:
- Uff-da – Norwegian exclamation meaning "Off it!" Typically used as a response to surprising or exasperating circumstances.
- You betcha – You bet/of course.
- Yah sure – I agree. Sometimes used in conjunction with "You betcha". "Yah sure you betcha".
- Don-cha-no – Meaning "Don't you know". Used at the end of sentences as a sort of emphatic phrase. "Sure is cold outside, don-cha-no!".
- Hot dish – Casserole.
- Oh yah – Yes.
- Oh, for [adjective]! - "Oh, for cute" or if you went sledding last weekend one might say "oh, for fun!" ("Oh, for silly; oh, for funny; oh, for crazy") - the word "for" is used in place of the standard word, "how." - "Oh, how fun!"
- Choppers – Leather mittens with wool inserts, used for the really cold days.
- Tuque – [Pronounced "Tuke"] or *Stocking cap (Knitted winter hat).
- Boughten – Adjective for a store-bought item, as opposed to home-made, as in 'boughten bread.'
- Sled – Slang term for a snowmobile.
- Popple – Aspen or poplar tree, one of the most common trees in northern Minnesota and important part of the logging industry.
- A forty – 40 acres (about 16 hectares), or quarter-mile by quarter-mile of land, a derivative of the Public Land Survey (PLS) system.
- Acrost – Scandinavian influenced regional pronunciation of "across."
- Up north – Usually refers to anywhere that is north of the Twin Cities or where the person is at that time. ex.- Up north to Ely [while in Duluth].
- Whipping Shitties – Braking suddenly in an icy parking lot while the steering wheel is turned sharply causing the vehicle to spin.
- Skol – From the Swedish term skål, a common drinking phrase used when clinking glasses together, such as "Cheers", "Salud", or "Chin Chin." Also used in their song for the Minnesota Vikings American football team, "Skol Vikings."
- Snus – A Swedish word for wet snuff, a tobacco variety common in the North.
- schnort – ("Would you like a schnort?) an extra splash or shot of whatever your drinking, schnapps, whiskey, rum. usually hard alcohol.
- The Cities – (The Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul). For those living outside "The Cities" it is rare to refer to Minneapolis or St. Paul individually. Instead, the collective name is typically used.)
- Outstate – Used to describe non-metropolitan (i.e., non-Twin Cities) Minnesota. Also sometimes known as "Greater Minnesota".
- Duck Duck Grey Duck – A version of "Duck Duck Goose."
Three Interstate highways travel through Minnesota. I-90 and I-94 travel east-west, while I-35 travels north-south. Highway 2 travels through the state. Several other national and state highways also travel through the state.
The Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP IATA) is a major hub for Delta Air Lines and has many international flights to Europe and Asia, while smaller international airports exist in Duluth (DLH IATA), Rochester (RST IATA), and regional airports in Saint Cloud (STC IATA), Brainerd (BRD IATA), Bemidji (BJI IATA), Thief River Falls (TVF IATA), Hibbing (HIB IATA), and International Falls (INL IATA).
For rail travel, there are Amtrak stations in La Crosse (Wisconsin), Winona, Red Wing, Saint Paul, Saint Cloud, Staples, Detroit Lakes, Fargo (North Dakota), and Grand Forks (North Dakota). These are served by the Empire Builder daily, which runs from Chicago to Seattle/Portland.
For bus travel, Minneapolis is served by Greyhound and Jefferson Lines (popular for intrastate travel). Megabus also stops in downtown Minneapolis and downtown Saint Paul, with direct service to Chicago, Madison, and Milwaukee.
Metro Transit offers bus and light rail services to the Twin Cities and their surrounding suburbs. Average fare for either service is typically $2 ($2.50 for the peak times of 6AM-9AM and 3PM-6:30PM.) The fare buys the rider a pass that can be used to ride on or transfer to any Metro Transit bus or train for 150 minutes. The Duluth Transit authority offers bus and trolley service to the Twin Ports area.
Senior citizens and individuals with a disability are able to ride the buses and light rails for a reduced fair of $1 upon verification.
The relatively new light rail service offers a visitor-friendly line that connects the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), the Mall of America, the Warehouse District, and downtown Minneapolis among other places.
Information on transit can be found here.
If your vehicle can run on E85, you can save money by using E85 instead of gas—however, if you have a "flex fuel" vehicle that can run on any gasoline/ethanol combination from E0 (pure gasoline) to E85, you're likely to get 20–25% lower fuel economy when running on E85 than on standard gasoline, which in Minnesota is 10% ethanol. The mileage loss will vary with the actual composition of E85, which differs seasonally (winter blends of "E85" are actually 70% ethanol). There are over 350 stations that sell E85.
- The Walker Art Center and adjacent Sculpture Garden, near downtown Minneapolis, is one of the "big five" modern art museums in the United States.
- The Minnesota Children's Museum in St. Paul is an exciting, immersive world and a hands-on, stimulating environment for children six months to 10 years old.
- The Science Museum of Minnesota in downtown Saint Paul.
- Valley Fair in Shakopee is a theme park located in Shakopee that includes 6 roller coasters, a water park and an assortment of family rides.
- Summit Avenue in Saint Paul is home to the nation's largest stretch of Victorian-style homes. The east end is anchored by the St. Paul Cathedral, and the West end by the University of St. Thomas. Other notable homes on Summit Ave. include the Governor's mansion, and the James J. Hill house.
- Canal Park is a neighborhood where plenty of stores line the streets
- Enger Tower and Park provides panoramic views of Duluth and the Twin Ports area, and boasts lovely and distinct gardens.
- Glensheen Mansion is a locally famous "haunted" mansion and historic estate.
- The Great Lakes Aquarium is devoted exclusively to freshwater exhibits
- Lake Superior Zoo has hundreds of animals and exotic species.
- Karpeles Manuscript Museum
- The Downtown Waterfront District
- The Mayo Clinic is an internationally-known medical care facility.
- Soldiers Field is a memorial dedicated to Minnesotan and American veterans.
- Pipestone National Monument. Home to Native American petroglyphs.
- Tenney, the smallest incorporated city in America, with a population of 6.
- Grand Marais, a small town on the upper tip of the Arrow Head of Minnesota, Grand Marais is about 2.4 hours northeast of Duluth by car. Grand Marais maintains a beautiful lake-front and such local novelties as World's Famous Donuts, Sivertson's Gallery, Sven & Ole's, and The Angry Trout. During the day tourists enjoy walking around town and experiencing the northwood's culture as well as walking out on the old rock formations that create the semi-natural harbor, skip a few stones and live the true north life.
- Pine City, a small rivertown in east central Minnesota, Pine City is about one hour northeast of Minneapolis by car. The town is surprisingly interesting with enough to do (museums, restaurants, shops, etc.) to keep from getting fidgety. Oh, and it the first rural community in the U.S. to have held a gay pride, held annually to this day.
- Red Wing, 60 miles from the Twin Cities, is a very nice rivertown. If you visit, make sure to climb Barn Bluff, the large hill to the south of town. Red Wing is home to the Red Wing Shoe Company, and visitors can watch the famous boots being made on-site. Red Wing is also a sort of gateway to the bluff country of southeastern Minnesota.
- Minneapolis means "City of Lakes" and is home to an impressive array of recreational lakes. Lake Nokomis, Bde Maka Ska (Lake Calhoun), Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake, and Lake Harriet are just a few that make up the city's waterfronts. Many have biking/running/walking trails, or canoe/paddleboat/kayak rentals.
- Quarry Hill Nature Center in Rochester provides recreational activities, cross country skis, and snowshoes.
- Itasca State Park. Itasca State Park in Outstate/Greater Minnesota is home to the Mississippi River headwaters at Lake Itasca.
- Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Part of the Superior National Forest.
- [dead link] Minneapolis Aquatennial.
- St. Paul Winter Carnival.
- Minnesota Irish Fair.
- Svenskarnas Dag. One of the biggest Swedish festivals in the US, Svenskarnas Dag is held on the 4th Sunday in June at Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis. The day includes many traditional Swedish events such as the raising of the Midsommer Pole, singing and dancing, a morning church service and the crowning of Queen Midsommer. Authentic Scandinavian gifts and food are available for purchase.
- Grandma's Marathon. One of the top road races in the Midwest, attracting over 9,000 runners each June in Two Harbors and Duluth.
- State Fair. Probably the biggest and best attraction is the annual state fair. Twelve days ending Labor Day includes such notable moments as the crowning of Princess Kay of the Milky Way (who, along with her court of runners up, will become busts carved out of a life size block of butter), farm animals of all kinds, any kind of food on a stick (make sure to try a Pronto Pup corn dog) as well as evening concerts from well-known bands. Tickets cost $11 for adults and $8 for kids at the gate. It opens at 6AM and closes at midnight; 10PM on Labor Day.
- Minnesota Renaissance Festival. Running weekends and Labor Day in August and September, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival boasts the highest attendance of all Renaissance festivals in the Midwest. Like most Renaissance festivals, it is host to a myriad of stage and street acts, jousting events, an
- Karl Oskar Days. In a cute Minnesotan-Swedish village, Lindström, known as "America's Little Sweden". 45 minutes northeast on 35E from Minneapolis. A celebration of Swedish Author, Vilhelm Moberg's book of "The Emigrants," detailing the lives of Swedish immigrants to Minnesota.
In Minneapolis/St. Paul, sports fans can take in games of the Minnesota Twins MLB Baseball, Vikings of NFL football, Wild of NHL hockey, the Timberwolves of NBA basketball, the Lynx of WNBA basketball, Minnesota United FC of MLS soccer, the Saints minor league baseball, and the various Minnesota Golden Gophers teams of the University of Minnesota sports.
- Ordway Center. A musical and theatrical venue in downtown St. Paul, home of the Minnesota Opera, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra,and Schubert Club.
- Orchestra Hall. Is home to the Minnesota Orchestra.
- Guthrie Theater. Opened in 1968, with a new multistage theater center built along the Mississippi river in 2006. The Guthrie is a nationally renowned performing space.
- First Avenue. An eclectic mix of music and entertainment. The building was originally a Greyhound Bus terminal and was converted into a concert venue in 1968. In the 1980s, First Avenue was a regular performing space for Prince.
- Canterbury Park is a horse race track & card club casino in Shakopee. The card club is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Mall of America in Bloomington is the nation's largest indoor mall boasting over 500 shops, and an indoor amusement park.
Traditional Minnesotan food is generally of the hearty meat & potatoes variety found all over the Midwest, but, as you might expect from The Land of 10,000 Lakes, with more of an emphasis on fish. Two locally popular fish are walleye, with fine, firm, white flesh, and lake trout, with firm, pinkish flesh vaguely similar to salmon.
Lutefisk is a popular dish brought to Minnesota by Norwegian immigrants. Made from dried cod reconstituted in caustic lye, it is an acquired taste, to say the least. This dish is more often brought out at Christmas time, in church basement suppers all over the state. For the less adventurous, there is lefse, a kind of tortilla-thin flatbread made with potato flour that can be used in a variety of ways, but is usually slathered with butter and sugar and rolled up into a tube.
If you are in the Twin Cities area, you can find almost any kind of ethnic cuisine you desire, especially along Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis, popularly known as "Eat Street". St. Paul has a large southeast Asian population, and there is a large East African population spread throughout the Twin Cities, but centered mostly in Minneapolis--the Safari Restaurant (Somali), the Blue Nile (Ethiopian), and the Holy Land Deli (Middle Eastern) are three well-known restaurants catering to those communities, along with countless hole-in-the-wall places along Franklin, Nicollet, and Central Avenues.
State liquor laws
As in the rest of the United States, the drinking age is 21. Minnesota has an ingrained drinking culture that is prevalent even in rural areas. Bars and restaurants that serve liquor may do so until 2AM seven days a week, although not all do (especially on Sunday through Thursday), and some municipalities may enforce an earlier closing time.
Unlike most other states, you cannot buy alcohol in a grocery store or convenience store, unless it is 3.2 beer, which is a low-alcohol beer containing only 3.2% alcohol by weight (4% alcohol by volume). Some grocery stores don't even bother selling 3.2 beer even though they are allowed to, a testament to the state's rather prevalent drinking culture.
If you want regular beer, wine, or liquor, but don't want to drink it at a restaurant or bar, then you must go to a liquor store. Per state law, liquor stores are allowed to operate M-Sa 8AM to 10PM, and Su 11AM to 6PM. Local jurisdictions are allowed to greater restrictions as they see fit. For example, Sunday sales were only legalized at the state level in 2017, and some towns have opted to keep the prohibition on Sunday sales. Some cities and towns may operate municipal liquor stores and prohibit private ones. Despite this puritanical approach to alcohol sales, even rural towns have a fairly active drinking culture (the cliche of "more bars than churches"). Identification is checked less often than in other states, though it happens more frequently in areas with a high amount of college students or tourists.
Perhaps the biggest danger is the weather. Given that the state has a continental climate, Minnesota often experiences extreme temperatures. The weather can be quite nasty, so prepare and plan accordingly.
Thunderstorms and tornadoes
During the spring and summer seasons, the state (particularly its southern region) has the tendency to experience violent thunderstorms which do, on occasion, spawn tornadoes. It is a good idea to pay attention to weather conditions during these seasons to maintain an awareness of any potential for these severe storms to occur. Keep in mind that weather conditions change very quickly, and therefore, frequently updating yourself in regards to the conditions is something to consider while traveling to or through the state during the spring/summer seasons.
Refer to the Tornado safety page for more information.
When traveling outside major metropolitan areas during winter months it is advisable to take extra blankets or warm weather gear in the event of an accident or mechanical difficulties. One rule of thumb for native Minnesotans is to always have your vehicle's gas tank at least half full during the winter months. The high temperatures during the winter are typically in the 10-30 °F (-10–0 °C) range, but can go below zero a few weeks during the winter. Native Minnesotans are taught to bundle up and wear layers during the winter at a very early age. You might also note that unlike many other states, Minnesotans are quite accustomed to driving on icy and snowy roads. Furthermore, the Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicles has a great number of snowplows that clear and salt roads after snowstorms. Therefore do not be surprised if businesses and schools remain open even after a heavy snowfall.
In winter months, make sure to check the ice thickness before going out on a frozen lake or pond. Do not park your vehicle on a lake or pond unless it is deemed safe by the local DNR officers. Never walk on river ice. It may appear safe but may not be thick enough to support your weight, due to the river current flowing underneath.
Minnesota - the land of 10,000 Lakes - has beautiful wilderness and camping sites. It is home to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW or BWCA), a 1,090,000-acre (4,400 km²) wilderness area within the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota (USA). Northwest of the BWCA is Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota’s only national park. There are also numerous state parks.
See also Camping in the United States.
- North Dakota - Minnesota's western neighbor is America's least visited state, but its isolation provides opportunities for uncrowded visits to the state's hills and lakes, badlands, plains, and old frontier forts.
- South Dakota - Home to such natural and cultural wonders as Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park and Mount Rushmore, Minnesota's neighbor to the southwest offers a surprising amount for travelers to see and do.
- Iowa - Rural Iowa is Minnesota's southern neighbor and provides the opportunity to explore America's agricultural heartland.
- Wisconsin - "America's Dairyland" borders Minnesota to the east.
- Michigan - The Upper Peninsula offers wilderness areas similar to those found in Northeastern Minnesota and can be reached by heading east across Lake Superior.
- Ontario - Northeast of Minnesota, Northern Ontario covers 90% of the actual land mass of Ontario but only holds 6% of its population.
- Manitoba - Minnesota's northwestern neighbor is known for its prairies, agriculture, culture and history.