Travel

The Great Minnesota Bucket List: Amusing Adventures

Load up the car with kids, sunblock, a camera, and binoculars, and go play.

Voyageurs National Park

Be a Lazy Voyageur


Look for the Lake Kabetogama Walleye, the world’s largest walleye, between Ray and International Falls, and pay homage to The Voyageur, near Crane Lake, which honors the French-Canadians who arrived in 1635.

Pile into a houseboat, pontoon, or other comfort craft for a relaxing and breathtakingly scenic trip through Voyageurs National Park, the least visited national park in the United States. Other than the access paths, there are no roads.

Modern-day voyageurs navigate 84,000 acres of water on Crane Lake, Rainy Lake, Lake Kabetogama (cab-a-toga-ma), Namakan Lake, and 26 other lakes via motorboats, sailboats, canoes, and kayaks in summer, and by snowmobile, cross-country skis, or snowshoes in winter. It’s free, although overnight permits are required.

» WHERE TO STAY


Pitch a tent at one of 200-plus campsites. Or pull up a chair on the veranda at Kettle Falls Hotel, where Charles Lindbergh and John D. Rockefeller once stayed. 12977 Chippewa Tr., Kabetogama, 218-240-1724

Be sure to stop in at Nelson’s Resort on Crane Lake on a Thursday, when it serves a Swedish smorgasbord featuring homegrown garden vegetables. 7632 Nelson Rd., Crane Lake, 218-993-2295




Get Out on the Lake


Warm or cold, wet or frozen, it’s your duty as a Minnesotan to make the most of the Twin Cities’ greatest lakes.

Swim, dive, play sand volleyball, fish, or canoe at beautiful Shady Oak Beach.

Launch a boat at the public boat launch on the small but lovely Christmas Lake (map).

Rent a pontoon from Excel Boat Club on St. Alban’s Bay and spend a memorable day on Lake Minnetonka.

Watch (or compete in) weekly sailing races and regattas at the Lake Harriet Yacht Club.

Rent a paddleboat or canoe at Lake Nokomis, Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, or Como Lake.

Float On


Play hooky from camps and commitments on a lazy summer day. Leave your smartphone in the car, settle into an inner tube, and crack open cans of ice-cold sweet tea as the river swirls, eddies, and carries your clan downstream for a few blissful hours.

CANNON RIVER

Welch Mill Canoeing & Tubing 651-388-9857

ROOT RIVER

Root River Outfitters 507-467-3400

RUM RIVER

Country Camping Tent & RV Park 763-444-9626

ZUMBRO RIVER

Bluff Valley Campground 800-226-7282


Savor Handmade Sweets


Stop for a warm chocolate-covered donut, a bottle of sparkling orange soda, or another handcrafted local treat to ensure sweet vacation memories.

CINNAMON ROLLS

School House Café, McGregor, 218-768-2403

COFFEE CAKE

The Backerei & Coffee Shop, New Ulm, 507-354-6011

ICE CREAM SUNDAES

The MinneSoda Fountain, Park Rapids, 218-732-3240

DONUTS

Bloedow Bakery, Winona, 507-452-3682

LICORICE

Kenny’s Candy, Perham, 218-346-2340

CARAMELS

Knudsen’s Caramels, Red Wing, 651-385-0800

SODA

Spring Grove Soda Pop, Spring Grove, 507-498-3424

PIE

Betty’s Pies, Two Harbors, 218-834-3367

Go Wild


INTERNATIONAL WOLF CENTER

Have a howling good time when you spend a weekend at a Wolf Family Rendezvous Slumber Party. 1396 Hwy. 169, Ely, 218-365-4695

HOUSTON NATURE CENTER

Meet Alice, the resident great horned owl, before exploring other curiosities. 215 W. Plum St., Houston, 507-896-4668

NATIONAL EAGLE CENTER

Watch wild bald eagles soar over the Mississippi. 50 Pembroke Ave., Wabasha, 651-565-4989


Think Big


PELICAN IN PELICAN RAPIDS

The world’s largest pelican is 15.5 feet tall and a perfect 5:1 scale model of a real pelican.

CHIEF BEMIDJI IN BEMIDJI

He was originally carved by a Dane named Gustav Hinsch in 1898, and in 2011, city leaders voted to replace him.

OTTER IN FERGUS FALLS

On the shores of Grotto Lake, a giant otter welcomes visitors to the hub of the Ottertail Empire.

IRON ORE MINER IN CHISHOLM

Standing 35 feet tall on a 45-foot base, “Iron Man” is the third largest sculpture in the United States after the Statue of Liberty and the St. Louis arch.

LOON IN VERGAS

This 20-foot, 6,500-pound replica of the Minnesota state bird sits on the shore of Long Lake.

JOLLY MR. TACONITE IN SILVER BAY

He represents the dream that taconite would save the Iron Range.







Marvel at a Waterfall


HIdden Falls, Temperance River State Park
It’s hard being a waterfall in this state, churning, frothing, and splashing while lakes get all the love. These stunning waterfalls deserve your attention.

120 ft.

HIGH FALLS OF THE PIGEON RIVER, Grand Portage State Park

60 ft.

HIGH FALLS OF THE BAPTISM RIVER, Tetttegouche State Park

53 ft.

MINNEHAHA FALLS, Minnehaha Park

50 ft.

DEVIL’S KETTLE FALLS, Magney State Park


39 ft.

MINNEOPA FALLS, Minneopa State Park

35 ft.

VERMILLION FALLS, Hastings

35 ft.

UPPER GOOSEBERRY FALLS, Gooseberry State Park

30 ft.

RAMSEY FALLS, Alexander Ramsey Park

25 ft.

UPPER FALLS OF THE BRULE RIVER, Magney State Park

15 ft.

HIDDEN FALLS, Temperence River State Park

 

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