The vast and sprawling continent of North America is replete with wonderful places to visit. Every state has its attractions and there's so much variety from place to place. This is what makes choosing a vacation in the USA difficult. Choice is a fine thing, but too much of it can be stressful!
Think vacation destinations and the obvious come to mind: the fun and colour of Florida with its fabulous family attractions and stunning beaches; the amazing diversity of California where anything goes and some of the world's most fascinating cities are located; the amazing metropolis that is New York City, one of the most popular cities in the world, and the magnificent historical sites in the likes of Texas or Pennsylvania, Maine and many other wonderful locations.
So why are we recommending you go to Minnesota, and in particular Northern Minnesota? Because sometimes it's the overlooked gems that provide the most satisfaction and despite what the guide books say about other states, Northern Minnesota is a diamond of a place to take a vacation.
About Northern Minnesota
One of the northernmost states of the USA, Minnesota has a border on the shores of Lake Superior - the largest of the Great Lakes - and is known as the 'Land of 1000 Lakes'. Known for its beautiful scenery and varied landscapes, this is a place that is rich in ancient and more recent history.
Minnesota is special in geological terms. Here you will find some of the oldest rocks known to exist. Gneiss, an igneous rock, of around 3.6billion years of age has been found in this fascinating state making it a scientifically important world site.
So what has Minnesota got to offer as a vacation destination? Well, the northern section features many fabulous places to stay such as Loon Lodge which is a great example of the friendly and comfortable accommodation that the state is known for, and there's nothing quite like the sore of Lake Superior for a view that you simply cannot get elsewhere. This is not the place to come for wild fairground rides and over-commercialised attractions. This is a place where you can enjoy a relaxed break in wonderful destinations that are as stunning as it gets.
Where to Visit in Northern Minnesota
Minnesota will not appear on your usual lists of the best places to visit in the USA but that's not to say it shouldn't. There's plenty here to keep you interested, especially if you're interested in history. The 'twin cities' of St Paul's - the state capital - and Minneapolis are charming old-world cities that display a wealth of interesting architecture. This is where the mighty Mississippi, perhaps the greatest of North America's rivers, begins its mammoth journey across the country.
What is there to see in Minnesota? Visitors to the northern region should not pass up the chance to take in the North Shore Scenic drive. This is a spectacular route from which you get to see the magnificent waters of Lake Superior, many wonderful waterfalls and pass through some of the most famous parks in the region. Stop and check out Split Rock Lighthouse or spend a day in the wonderful environment of the Portage State Park, one of the longest established in the state.
Voyageurs National Park is the place to go to experience a truly unspoilt wilderness, a place untouched and unchanged for as long as can be remembered. Take a boat out or go fishing on the lake or lean about the French-Canadian Voyageurs - after whom the park is named -who plied their trade in fur here, arriving in massive canoes made from the bark of the birch tree. Unique history such as this makes the place very special.
If you want to go shopping you can't miss the simply mass Mall of America, located one the edge of St Paul and still one of the biggest malls in the USA if 500 shops and a collection of restaurants, bars, theatres and cinemas isn't enough then you'll never be satisfied! These are just a few of the many attractions in Northern Minnesota and elsewhere in the state, and it truly is an original place to visit.
Food, Drink and Recreation
If you're someone who likes to sample the local cuisine, you'll be interested in what Minnesota has to offer at its many restaurants and cafes. Forget your traditional American food, the dishes here are all about the local staples such as Wild Rice. Not a rice at all but actually a grass seed, you will find it in just about everything from burgers to pancakes, not forgetting the Wild Rice soup which is rather delicious.
Also popular are dishes including morel mushrooms which are widely grown across the state, and you cannot leave Minnesota without tasting one of their famous blueberry muffins, which are now honoured by the state. You'll find restaurants serving local, national and international fish and meat dishes too, but if you're looking for something exciting as a state drink, you'll be disappointed. The Minnesota state drink is milk! After all, this is one of the great dairy product states of the USA.
That's not to say you'll find the local bars are without something a little stronger, as there are plenty to choose from among the cities and even in the smaller towns where you will be given a warm welcome.
Try Minnesota for Your Next Vacation
Northern Minnesota really is an overlooked gem if you're looking for somewhere relaxing, interesting and original. It's beautiful too, with rolling landscape and magnificent rivers, and while not offering the exciting appeal of the more popular tourist centres, the bonus is you'll never find any of Minnesota's many attractions over-run.
Every now and then it pays to explore a part of the USA that may not have crossed your mind. Northern Minnesota is one such place, and we promise you won't regret taking the time and opportunity to visit this unique slice of American wonder.