Minnesota is a state in the Midwest of the USA. Known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, it technically has well over 15,000. The northern tip of Minnesota that juts into Lake of the Woods is the most northern point in the lower 48 states of the United States.
- St. Paul, the state capital and second-largest city.
- Duluth, the primary city in northeastern Minnesota and gateway to the North Shore.
- Minneapolis, the largest city in the state.
- Pine City, the primary city in East Central Minnesota and home to the North West Company Fur Post.
- Rochester, the primary city in southeastern Minnesota and home to the Mayo Clinic.
- St. Cloud
- Mall of America in Bloomington
- The Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley.
- Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska
- Boundary Waters Canoe Area
- Flandrau State Park
- Itasca State Park
- Lake Superior
- Pipestone National Monument
- Voyageurs National Park
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 3 successive governors, four senators and eight US representatives, until it merged with the Minnesota Democratic party in 1944. The state still 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. 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)
- Lutefisk (A traditional Scandinavian food of dried white fish soaked in lye.)
- Choppers (leather mittens with wool inserts, used for the really cold days)
- Twenty below (shorthand for 20 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit), or -30'C (without windchill), which is when choppers start becoming necessary)
- Tuque [pronounced "Tuke"] or *Stocking cap (Knitted winter hat)
- Sorels (brand name of preferred winter boots, leather/rubber exterior, felt inserts)
- 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])
- Parka (A very warm winter coat)
- Whipping Shitties (Breaking suddenly in an icy parking lot while the steering wheel is turned sharply causing the vehicle to spin)
- Skol (Originally 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".
A soft drink is typically called 'pop', rarely soda - even in newspaper advertisements. If you ask for a "coke" you will receive a regular Coca-Cola, you will not be asked "What kind?".
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 (IATA: MSP) is a major hub for Delta Air Lines, while smaller international airports exist in Duluth (IATA: DLH), Rochester (IATA: RST), and regional airports in Saint Cloud (IATA: STC), Brainerd (IATA: BRD), Bemidji (IATA: BJI), Thief River Falls (IATA: TVF), Hibbing (IATA: HIB), and International Falls (IATA: INL).
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 $1.75 ($2.25 for the peak times of 6:00-9:00 am and 3:00-6:30 pm.) 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.
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.
If your vehicle can run on E85, you can save money by using E85 instead of gas—however, you should be aware that 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 (varies according to the season, and the percentage of ethanol in standard pump gasoline). There are over 350 stations that sell E85.
- Walker Art Center. And adjacent Sculpture Garden, near downtown Minneapolis.
- Minnesota Children's Museum, 10 West Seventh Street, St. Paul, MN 55102, ☎ . T-Th, Sat & Sun: 9AM to 5PM Fri: 9AM to 8PM Mon: 9AM to 5PM (Memorial Day-Labor Day). At Minnesota Children's Museum, kids will have a blast discovering an exciting, immersive world that arouses their curiosity, increases their understanding, and ignites an appreciation for learning. Each of the Museum’s seven galleries is uniquely designed to provide a hands-on, stimulating environment for children six months to 10 years old. Roving "funstigators" engage kids in fun and interactive smart play as they blow bubbles, toss balls, play with finger puppets, and provide a variety of stimulating play experiences for children of all ages. $8.95, Children under 1: Free.
- Science Museum of Minnesota. In downtown Saint Paul.
- Guthrie Theater
- Valley Fair. A theme park located in Shakopee that includes 6 roller coasters, a water park and an assortment of family rides.
- Canterbury Park. A horse race track & card club casino located in Shakopee. The card club is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Live horse racing runs in summers, normally Thursday through Sunday, beginning May 15th, and ending August 30th. Famed for hosting the Claiming Crown semi-annually, a series of races with $600,000 in purses for claiming horses. Live racing is a much more family oriented event, with a playground and pony rides usually offered on Sundays.
- Mall of America. Located in Bloomington, is the nation's largest indoor mall boasting over 500 shops, and an indoor amusement park.
- Summit Avenue, located 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.
- Minneapolis means "City of Lakes" and is home to an impressive array of recreational lakes. Lake Nokomis, 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.
- Canal Park
- Enger Tower
- Glensheen Mansion. Locally famous "haunted" mansion.
- Great Lakes Aquarium. Devoted exclusively to freshwater exhibits
- Lake Superior Zoo
- Karpeles Manuscript Museum
- Historic Waterfront District.
- Mayo Clinic. An internationally-known medical care facility.
- Itasca State Park. Home to the Mississippi River headwaters.
- Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Part of the Superior National Forest.
- 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 is one of two rural communities in the U.S. with an annual gay pride.
- Red Wing, situated only 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 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. Is 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 6 am and closes at 12; 10 pm 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. Located in a cute Minnesotan-Swedish village, Lindström, MN, known as "Americas Little Sweden". Located 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.
- Twins - MLB Baseball. The Minnesota Twins currently play in the newly built state-of-the-art Target Field in downtown Minneapolis.
- Vikings - NFL Football.
- Wild - NHL Hockey.
- Timberwolves - NBA Basketball.
- Lynx - WNBA Basketball.
- Swarm Men's Lacrosse.
- Saints Baseball.
- Ordway Center. Is 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. Was first opened in 1968, with a new multistage theater center built along the Mississippi river in 2006. The Guthrie is a nationally renowned performing space. Recent performances have included "God of Carnage" and "West Side Story."
- First Avenue. Offers 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.
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.
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, 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. Although liquor stores are plentiful, they have uncommon hours that visitors should be aware of: First, liquor stores are closed on Sundays in accordance with the law, meaning that you cannot purchase any alcohol for home consumption on that day (bars and restaurants can serve alcohol on Sundays). Also, liquor stores are generally required to close fairly early (10pm or earlier). Unlike some states, the bars here generally won't sell liquor "to go". This is less of a problem if you are near the border of a neighboring state with less restrictive liquor laws. Residents of the Twin Cities region have been known to make the short drive to Wisconsin on Sundays to purchase alcohol. 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.
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.
Minnesota also can have very cold winters and very warm, humid summers. Be sure to pack accordingly.
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 10-30 degree 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 plenty of state parks.
- 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 - The Cheese State borders Minnesota to the east.
- Michigan - The Upper Peninsula offer wilderness areas similar to those found in Northeastern Minnesota and can be reached by heading east across Lake Superior.
- Ontario - Located 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.