There is far more to Minnesota than lakes and cold. This remarkable state is chock full of hidden gems, some of which even the locals have yet to discover.
We have highlighted several of the best spots below, along with tips for making the most of these amazing destinations.
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is a captivating outdoor art space located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Spread across 11 acres, this renowned garden is a unique fusion of nature and contemporary art, featuring over 40 sculptures by various artists, including the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture. Visitors can wander through beautifully landscaped grounds, engage with thought-provoking artwork, and enjoy the serene atmosphere, making it a must-visit cultural and recreational destination in the heart of the Twin Cities.
Hidden Falls Regional Park
The iconic Minnehaha Falls get all the attention and for good reason: they are absolutely stunning and provide a year-round outdoor escape in the heart of the city. These falls can get busy at times, however, making them less ideal for those seeking a more serene experience.
Thankfully, an excellent alternative can be found nearby: the lovely Hidden Falls Regional Park. A bird watcher’s paradise, this peaceful park is home to a charming spring-fed waterfall, which is highly underrated.
Orfield Laboratories – Quitest Places in the World
Peace and quiet may not always be within reach at Minnehaha, but there are other ways to find the silence you crave without leaving Minneapolis. When in doubt, check out the Orfield Laboratories — also known as the quietest place in the world.
Boasting a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records, this anechoic chamber has the unique ability to absorb sound, to the point that it’s highly trusted by all kinds of manufacturers as they strive to test sound quality. Tours are available and include up to twenty minutes in the chamber.
Weisman Art Museum
Many University of Minnesota students are vaguely familiar with the Weisman Art Museum, which presents a distinct contrast to the many conventional buildings on campus. It is impossible to miss, due to its unusual architecture.
This gem is not well-known beyond the campus, however, and doesn’t typically attract as much attention as the Walker Art Center (home of the iconic Cherry Spoon). That’s a shame, as the contemporary artwork within the U of M’s resident art museum is truly compelling.
The admission is free and the art on display is thought-provoking. Set aside time to examine the exhibits and to take pictures outside.
Flandrau State Park
Sizable expanses of sand are few and far between in Minnesota and, when locals discover a decent spot, they make a point of visiting as often as they can. For this reason, many of the state’s most beautiful beaches tend to also be the most crowded.
Flandrau State Park offers the best of both worlds, however: an amazing sand beach with room to roam. Flandrau also has all the typical state park staples: hiking trails, gorgeous picnic spots, and much more.
Winona’s Boathouse Neighborhood
There’s a lot to love about Winona, which is home to some of Minnesota’s most beautiful bluffs. If you’re eager to find a truly unique spot in town, however, you’ll head for its little-known community on Latsch Island.
Home to several memorable water-based structures, the boathouse neighborhood is definitely worth a visit as you explore Winona. It is a lifestyle like no other, and you cannot possibly understand what makes it so special until you see it in action.
Don’t be confused by this cave‘s name, as it is not located anywhere near the famed Niagara Falls. It’s impressive in its own way, however, as it features a sizable underground waterfall and ceilings that soar as high as 100 feet.
Located in Harmony (near the Iowa border), this cave is best experienced during a guided tour, which involves a mile-long hike, hundreds of stairs, and most impressively, a subterranean wedding chapel.
Split Rock Lighthouse
Technically speaking, this Minnesota hot spot doesn’t qualify as hidden — it’s one of the North Shore’s most distinctive and memorable structures. That being said, many people visit just for the picture and neglect to truly embrace the Split Rock experience. There is far more to this attraction than the iconic photo with the lighthouse in the background.
At this historic destination, you’ll find a visitor center that tells the story of the lighthouse and details Minnesota’s history of shipwrecks. Don’t forget to check out the hiking trails, which are rugged but also, wonderfully scenic.
Embrace Minnesota’s Hidden Gems
There is truly something for everyone in Minnesota, where scenery, artistic talent, and ingenuity abound. Go beyond the expected and explore the state’s little-known destinations to get a true feel for Minnesota’s distinct culture.
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