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Minnesota is known for many things, including a mannered culture of “Minnesota nice” that is the subject of so much analysis and debate that it has its own Wikipedia page. Getting to know the real Minnesota can be foreboding to some because of the cold, but the state’s treasures are well worth the effort. So put these 10 things to do on your Minnesota bucket list and enjoy the adventure!

10. Minnesota Marine Art Museum

Minnesota Marine Art Museum(image via Wikimedia)

The Minnesota Marine Art Museum is dedicated to explorations of the human relationship with water. While that might sound limiting to some, the truth is that water—from the allure of the sea to charming dockside scenes—has long been a fascination for the artistically inclined. MMAM holds works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, Gauguin, O’Keefe, and more, and the thematic cohesions draw the wildly varying styles together in a powerful presentation.

9. Mall of America

Mall of America in Minnesota(image via Flickr)

Of course, there are other large malls in the U.S., but the Mall of America is far and away the biggest. Almost a city unto itself, the Mall employs over 11,000 people, hosts 40 million visitors every year, and boasts 8 acres of skylights. The gigantic monument to commerce also boasts a 1.2 million-gallon aquarium and its own theme park. You could lay 258 Statues of Liberty inside the mall—though it would make it a little harder to get from Macy’s to Sears.

8. Minnesota North Shore Scenic Drive

Minnesota North Shore Scenic Drive(image via Flickr)

The “North Shore” here refers to the north shore of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area. Starting in Duluth’s Canal Park and running up to Grand Portage, the road winds through the cliffs and forests of the lakeside, passing through seven state parks, a historic 1910 lighthouse, and more.

7. Go Skiing at Lutsen Mountains

Go Skiing at Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota(image via Flickr)

If the Minneapolis Skyway is your ticket to avoiding the Minnesota cold, then Lutsen is your ticket to embracing it. The alpine air in this family-friendly resort is crisp and bracing. With nine lifts of various snow sports and a training facility, you certainly won’t be lacking in things to do.

6. James J. Hill House

James J. Hill House(image via Wikimedia)

The James J. Hill House is actually the second home that the railroad magnate had in St. Paul. He moved into the fashionable neighborhood when he needed more room for his art and sculpture collection. The house is much more tastefully done than you might imagine after reading that previous sentence, though. Its Richardsonian Romanesque style emphasizes large, strong stone blocks and sturdy construction. Most of the detail is poured into the woodwork, which is gorgeous. The home has passed through a couple of hands over the last century, but it’s still pretty close to its original state, making for a great tour.

5. St. Paul Farmers’ Market

St. Paul Farmers’ Market(image via Facebook)

The St. Paul Farmers’ Market is an institution that dates back to 1854. That’s right—1854. The vendors are friendly, and the food and flowers are fresh. Even in the winter, the market moves indoors and keeps right on going.

4. Walk Through the Minneapolis Skyway System

Walk Through the Minneapolis Skyway System(image via Flickr)

The Minneapolis Skyway is…well, “walking path” doesn’t really begin to describe it. It’s a series of footbridges that connect the second and third floors of buildings across downtown Minneapolis. All in all, there are eight miles of skyway, connecting buildings across 69 city blocks. It’s a great way to shop and explore downtown without having to step out into the cold. Also, there aren’t many downtown attractions that inspired classic songs by the Replacements.

3. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in Minnesota(image via Flickr)

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is one of the largest urban sculpture gardens in the country, with 40 permanent installations and many other temporary pieces. Of these, perhaps the most famous is the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry, a larger-than-life spoon that just out into a small pond created by husband and wife artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The Walker Art Center manages the area alongside the city’s parks and recreation department.

2. Eat a Jucy Lucy at Matt’s Bar and Grill

Eat a Jucy Lucy at Matt’s Bar and Grill

Matt’s Bar & Grill started in 1954 as a neighborhood eatery famed for the “Jucy Lucy,” a double-thick burger with a slice of cheese stuffed into the middle. Word of the burger spread through Minneapolis quickly. Somewhere in the shuffle, the restaurant made a spelling error they decided to stick with for the next 60 years—they say that if it’s spelled correctly, you might be eating a ripoff.

1. Minnehaha Regional Park

Minnehaha Regional Park(image via Flickr)

There are plenty of city parks across the country, but few can boast their own waterfall. Minnehaha Park doesn’t just have any fall. Minnehaha Falls has captivated artists and poets from Alexander Hesler to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who used it for The Song of Hiawatha. The park also holds many historical homes, exhibits, and statues. When the falls become frozen in winter, the beauty is just as powerful but in a completely different way.


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