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Minnesota – In the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes

Minnesota is the northernmost US state aside from Alaska. The Land of the Ten Thousand Lakes welcomes its visitors on the one hand with one of the most fascinating metropolitan areas in the Midwest, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. In addition, Minnesota also houses unspoiled woodlands, major waterways and crystal lakes. This natural side of the state reminds of the not-so-long-gone past when the region was a major logging and agricultural center of the US.


Minnesota was originally settled by various Native American tribes, most notably the Dakota. European settlement saw first French fur traders and later the English. The Minnesota territory was (and is) divided into an eastern and western part by the Mississippi. With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, both parts, within today’s state boundaries, were in possession of the US. It was not until 1858 that Minnesota was admitted to the Union.

Logging and farming were traditionally major contributors to the state’s economy. In the late 1800s, iron-mining grew significantly in importance. Minnesota remained a largely agricultural region and was hard-hit by the Great Depression. Post-1945, the state became a center of technology.


Minnesota’s climate is a continental one and therefore brings about extreme temperature changes between winters and summers. Generally, winters are blisteringly cold and summers very warm.


Minnesota can be separated into three natural areas. The west and southwest is dominated by grassy prairies, the eastern part houses the Big Woods forestland, and the north is where you find the large boreal forest. Minnesota’s habitat is extremely rich and diverse. The state has the most timber wolves outside of Alaska. Black bear and moose are among other prominent species. A great variety of fish swarm the state’s lakes and rivers: Bass, walleye, northern pike, brook, and rainbow trout, to mention only a few.

Twin Cities

That Minnesota is nowadays anything but a rural or village-dominated state is revealed to everyone who visits the Twin Cities metropolitan area. It is made up of the ever-competing cities Minneapolis and St. Paul and the surrounding suburbs. This vibrant urban area is the cultural center of the Upper Midwest. The Twin Cities are especially well-known for their rich array of theaters, orchestras, museums, and other cultural and entertainment facilities.

But the Twin Cities are a bustling spot in many other regards too. Be it professional sports, science, nightlife or natural recreation: Minneapolis and St. Paul is where you find it all. Minneapolis offers some of the best shopping opportunities in the nation (have you heard of the Mall of America?), along with great lodging and culinary delights. The historic Mississippi waterfront offers a glimpse into the past.

If St. Paul is a less hectic place compared to its twin sister, it is certainly for the benefit of visitors. St. Paul is an ideal getaway for families and those looking for romantic relaxation rather than urban stress. Victorian mansions, cozy jazz clubs, historic sites, and a great number of museums are present in St. Paul.

The North & Northwest

Lumberjack legends come true in this area where Mother Nature is still largely unspoiled. The northern and northwestern region is home to the largest of the purported 10,000 Minnesotan lakes and also feeds the Mississippi. The prairies meet the extensive woodlands. Land activities include hiking, biking, and golfing, while on water there is a similar variety of choice: Boating, rafting, canoeing, and of course fishing.

The Mississippi, third longest river worldwide, begins in Minnesota, among the pine tree landscapes of Itasca State Park. The region is ideal for outdoor activities. Lakeside resorts like Park Rapids, Detroit Lakes or Bemidji are good bases for fishing. But it is not all nature. In Park Rapids, Akeley, and other towns, visitors find vibrant music and art communities as well as many fascinating museums and historic sites.

Along the Canadian border, the vast Lake of the Woods welcomes visitors. With more than 10,000 islands scattered across its water and 65,000 miles of shoreline, it is certainly a place that deserves some time to be explored. The region is popular both summer and winter. Ice-fishing is a popular pastime in the cold months. Could it be a coincidence that the snowmobile was invented in the region as well, in Roseau? The Northwest Angle is the northernmost spot of the continental United States.

The South

The scenery in Southern Minnesota is quite different from the north. Instead of extensive woodlands, the region is made up of vast farmlands, but of course also a great many lakes. The Minnesota River Valley winds its way through beautiful farmland and settlements with a distinct ethnic flavor. Take New Ulm, for example, where the German heritage is all but visible. Sleepy Eye and other places are named in remembrance of the Dakota tribes of the region.

Easily bigger than the Minnesota River is of course the mighty Mississippi. Along its course, many scenic villages and river towns invite for a cozy stop-over. These include Winona, Wabasha, Lake City, and Red Wing. Biking is great in the region, for example on the Cannon Valley Bike Trail. Civilization is not far away from the Old Man River. The major city of the region is Rochester, famous for the local Mayo Clinic. The city is a good place if you are looking for a convenient and modern accommodation.

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