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21 Beautiful Places to Travel in Minnesota in 2021

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2020 brought way more local travel than most of us planned and for that I am grateful! I was able to check out places that had been on my list for awhile and discover or rediscover some of the beauty of my home state.  A travel trend I predict will remain even after the pandemic calms is more local exploration.  To help build up your 2021 local travel list, below I share 21 places to travel in Minnesota in 2021!

1. Cuyuna Lakes Area

The Cuyuna Lakes Area and the main street of Crosby was one of my favorite trips of 2020.  I have always been drawn to really blue bodies of water and the mine lakes in the Cuyuna Area are the most turquoise I’ve seen in the state! Read more here about all the highlights to see in this region! I think Cuyuna will be one of the most popular places to travel in Minnesota in years to come.

2. Mora

About 80 minutes north of Minneapolis, Mora is a beautiful town in the countryside.  The highlight here is a visit to Sapsucker Farms which makes delicious cider and has great trails you can hike in the summer and snowshoe in the winter! En route, you can stope in Cambridge for shopping and a meal at Leader (which gets great reviews and has been on my list for a while!)

3. New Ulm

The most German town in Minnesota, New Ulm is an absolute gem.  Highlights include Schell’s Brewery, walking the main street and vising Turner’s Hall which has an incredibly rich history! Read all about our summer time visit here.

4. St. Cloud

At just over an hour from Minneapolis, St. Cloud is the perfect day trip.  You can visit the beautiful old quarries (and even swim in them in the summer!), sip on cider at Milk and Honey and stroll the quaint and perfectly manicured riverside gardens.  Check out all the details here.

5. Northfield

Northfield is one of the best day trips from the cities with a popular state park nearby (Nerstrand), a fun main street to shop and dine, and unique pizza farms and bike trails.  Check out all the details here to plan a fun day trip

6. Winona

While a little further at 2 hours from Minneapolis, Winona is definitely worth the drive. You may even want to make it a weekend trip.  From hiking the bluffs to enjoying the main town, to doing a quick drive across the border to cruise the Great River Road, it’s incredibly scenic.  It’s also a quicker day trip from Rochester; read about it here!

7. Grand Portage

Grand Portage, located at the Canada border, is as close as we got to leaving the country in 2020.  It’s one of the most beautiful parts of the state with the hike at Mt. Josephine and the highest waterfall in the state.  More details on it can be found in our top stops along the North Shore listed here.

8. Grand Marais

Grand Marais has an east coast feel but with a special Lake Superior twist and is an absolute top destination for many Minnesotans.  There are so many activities – from hiking, to paddling to shopping and trying new restaurants and breweries – it’s one of the best places to travel in Minnesota.  Read about our trip that included Grand Marais here and the top places to eat/drink here!

9. Mesabi Range

After visiting Cuyuna, the Mesabi range is now on my list to explore more mine lakes, mountain bike and enjoy great hiking. Until we can visit, check out more details on this gem location here.

10. Pipestone

About 3.5 hours west of Minneapolis, Pipestone Minnesota is well known for its Native American significance and beautiful hiking. It would be a perfect stop on a trip to South Dakota or a great trip on its own.  Read more about what you can do in Pipestone here.

11. Lanesboro

One of the most beautiful spots in southern Minnesota, Lanesboro is well worth a trip! We loved biking the beautiful and well-known trail there this fall and would love to go back to stay overnight soon!  I would bring our paddleboards to paddle the river too. The main street has great shopping and cafes to enjoy. It’s the perfect day trip from Rochester too – read more here!

12. Rochester

Speaking of Rochester, it’s one of the most interesting cities in Minnesota.  The internationally respected medical community aside, there’s a ton to explore here including great breweries, restaurants, and hiking.  Read all the details here! Rochester is also a great base for day trips – read about them here.

13. Red Wing

The perfect day trip or overnight trip is Red Wing. It’s a historical town filled with charm, shopping and hiking and you can still watch trains go through on the railroad.  It’s also a great base to visit Frontenac State Park or ski at Welch Village in the winter.  Read our day trip highlights here.

14. Stillwater

Stillwater has been one of my favorite day trips since I was young.  There’s so much to do alongside the Mississippi River including shop the historical main street, dine at delicious restaurants, bike the beautiful trails (including the pedestrian bridge to Wisconsin!) and it makes a great staycation.  This winter, Stillwater is bringing out all the works to make a magical experience – read more here! Check out all the details on our fall staycation here and you’ll see why it’s one of the best places to travel in Minnesota.

15. Ely

Ely is a gorgeous part of the state any time of year. From visiting Bear Head Lake State Park, to dogsledding in the winter, it’s the perfect place to get in touch with nature.  Check out this list of the top 10 things to do in the area, including the Boundary Waters!

16. Minneapolis

There’s always something new to discover where you live. Whether it’s a new café, specialty shop or space to enjoy nature, Minneapolis is constantly evolving. Check out my Minneapolis guide here to see if you can find something new to explore!  Also check out 5 reasons to book at Staycation at Hotel Ivy.

17. Duluth

Whether you make it a day trip or a longer trip, Duluth is the perfect getaway.  From historical sites like Glensheen Mansion, to hikes along Lake Superior, to delicious restaurants and cideries, there are so many great places to explore.  Read about some of the stops we made in the area here, and some of my favorite food stops here!

18. Carlton

Many have heard of Jay Cooke State Park but not as many know the history of the surrounding area Carlton.  It’s truly magnificent history as the St. Louis River was important to the Native Americans who lived in the area.  Later days, the railroad ran through the area and made it an important hub.  We stayed in Carlton (read more about the B&B here) and I’d highly recommend spending a couple days at least in this area!

19. Alexandria

Alexandria has a ton to do – from Carlos Creek Winery to golfing, biking and hiking, it’s a fun weekend getaway.  Recently, luxury grain bin accommodations have become popular that look amazing! Read more about things to do in Alex, here.

20. Taylor’s Falls

No matter the season, Taylor’s Falls is stunning and one of my favorite day trips.  I love hiking, paddling and enjoying cafes in the area. Read more here!

21. Bemidji

Last but certainly not least is Bemidji! From the headwaters of the Mississippi River, to the Bemidji Woolen Mill to the iconic Paul Bunyon and Babe statutes, there are many historical and fun things do to. It’s also the perfect spot for bikers as the longest continuous rail trail in Minnesota is in Bemidji.  Check out all the details here.

How many of these cities have you been to?! There are so many great places to travel in Minnesota – let me know if I’ve missed your favorite spot in the comments.

Check out all my Minnesota Guides here! Ready to explore outside of Minnesota? Read my US guides here.

Happy Planning!

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  1. Alena on January 25, 2021 at 21:43

    Great round up!

  2. Melissa on January 28, 2021 at 07:14

    Oh my goodness! What an awesome list, Sara! Minnesota has so many beautiful places. I can’t wait to check these out one day 🙂

    • Planet with Sara on January 28, 2021 at 18:46

      Thank you, Melissa! There are so many beautiful spots, you’ll have to visit!

  3. Denise on February 7, 2021 at 14:49

    What a comprehensive guide to Minnesota! Can’t wait to come visit you and Ryan when this covid is over 🙂

    • Planet with Sara on February 12, 2021 at 12:35

      Thank you, Denise! Can’t wait until then!

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