Minnesota is NOT a Flyover State

Traveling Feb 04, 2012 2 Comments

In looking at the maps of other traveling families, I’ve noticed something disturbing. It seems that there is a dead zone for travel right where we live. Why is no one traveling to Minnesota? I’ve even seen maps where families go from South Dakota south to Iowa and over to Wisconsin. What is going on?

I’m here to tell you that if you miss Minnesota, you’re missing a lot. Sure, we have a big mall. But the truth is that most of us who live here don’t even go there on a regular basis. And sure we have some brutal winters, but our summers are amazing and if you miss them, you’re missing one of the best parts of the country. There’s so much to see I can’t possibly list it all, but here’s a run down of our favorites!

1. The lakes. We truly are the Land of 10,000 Lakes. They’re everywhere. Minneapolis is known as the City of Lakes, but even if the city isn’t for you, northern Minnesota has more lakes than you can shake a fish at. Lake Superior has some of the most magnificent shoreline in the country.

2. The camping. We have beautiful State Parks and National Forests. Some are within 30 minutes of our downtown areas and are quite remote. We have other campgrounds too. Lots of them.

Enjoying the solitude of the BWCAW in a Wenonah

3. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA). If you’ve never been to an area of the world where no motorized vehicles are allowed, you’ll be amazed at the quiet. And the stars. And the crystal clear water. Sure, you might have to canoe a bit, but your camping here can range from completely do-it-yourself to fully guided, from day trips from your RV to week-long adventures where you may not see another person.

4. Nisswa. Just north of Brainerd lies a tiny own where you can spend an entire weekend entertaining yourself. Blow a  week’s worth of allowance at the Trading Post, satisfy your candy cravings at the Chocolate Ox,  take in turtle races during the week (turtles provided), tour an historic railroad museum, or set off on your bike on 50 miles of paved rail-to-trail –  just a few of the ways to experience small town USA.

5. Bemidji.  Gateway to the headwaters of the Mississippi at Itasca State Park. Who would have guessed a river the size of the mighty Mississippi would start as a babbling stream? Kids have a blast wading and floating in a small stream that they typically think of as a wide and fast moving river.

6. Red Wing. In southeastern Minnesota, this Mississippi River town lies in a unique and beautiful corner of the state that was untouched during the last Ice Age.  You’ll find high bluffs, deep valleys, limestone caves, and crystal-clear trout streams.  If shopping is more your interest, this area is also a mecca for antique and pottery hunters.

7. Grand Marais.  This northeastern Minnesota port town and artist colony comes alive in the summer. On the shores of Lake Superior and gateway to the eastern side of the BWCAW, Grand Marais is a vibrant town with treasures to be found around every corner. Traveling up scenic Hwy 61 from Duluth, you’ll see yellow bumper stickers on cars making a pilgrimage back to Sven & Ole’s Pizza, a Minnesota icon where a popular dish is a giant Italian pie topped with wild rice. Make sure to stop at Betty’s Pies and Gooseberry Falls along the way.

8. Ely. Home to the International Wolf Center and gateway to the more popular (and crowded) western side of the BWCAW. The Chocolate Moose (get it?) serves amazing food and local outfitters are ready to supply tools, equipment, or clothing you might need for a trip into the Wilderness.

These ideas are just OUTSIDE the big cities – there’s enough going on there to keep you busy, as well.

What are your favorite Minnesota attractions?  We’d love to hear about it!


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Tracie is an Assist U Virtual Assistant who loves that she can take her business along on family road trips. Traveling in Lewis, her trusty Ford Flex, Tracie works while her husband Bret drives and three teenage children experience America as it should be - from the backseat. Along with their giant poodle, the family takes extended trips pulling Clark, their short, comfy travel trailer.


  1. Thanks Tracie, what a valuable article. I have to admit, I would have seen Minnesota as a “fly over” state before reading your article. Sounds like there are a lot of fun things to do on a family vacation. And it’s even drivable from St. Louis (where we are)!

  2. Tracie

    Jennifer –

    We love St. Louis. We went there on our way to Hilton Head two years ago (we sort of went the indirect route!). Glad you hear you’ll come to our beautiful state some day! Let me know if you need recommendations!


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