Edit ModuleShow Tags

5 Unusual Minnesota Attractions

We all love Mall of America and Minnehaha Falls, but these five out-of-the-ordinary state attractions provide relief from the norm


Published:

A guide giving a tour to people at the Soudan Mine.
Soudan Underground Mine

photo by MNDNR Staff


Everyone knows the usual suspects when it comes to entertainment in Minnesota. But believe it or not, there are things to do outside of people watching at the Mall of America, debating the meaning a certain painting is trying to convey at the Walker Art Center, or guzzling down brew at the 30,000 breweries pouring their latest concoctions. Don't believe me? Check out five not-so-ordinary attractions in the state.

Anechoic Chamber

There’s no doubt we’ve all sat through some pretty awkward situations where you could hear a pin drop—I’m looking at you, job interviews from my past, poorly timed jokes, and watching a nervous Leonardo Dicaprio draw Kate Winslet like one of his French girls with my mom, grandma, and aunt. But have you ever been in a place so quiet you can hear your own heart beat? That’s exactly what you’ll get at Orfield Laboratories’ Anechoic Chamber. Recognized as “The Quietest Place on Earth” by Guinness World Records, the reticent room registers at a silent -9.4 dBA (decibels A-weighted)—perfect infant hearing is 0 dBA. I can already hear my tinnitus driving me insane.

Largest Ball of Twine

If the giant Paul Bunyan statue in Bemidji had a giant cat, this would be its giant toy. Weighing in at 9 tons—large adult male African elephants only tip the scale at 7 tons—and 12 feet in diameter, this sphere of string in Darwin, Minnesota, is the world’s largest twine ball rolled by one man. (There's a larger ball in Cawker City, Kansas, but that one is added to by visitors.) Started by Francis A. Johnson in his basement in 1950, the ball took nearly 30 years to become the size it is today, and it might have been even bigger if Johnson hadn't passed away.

Salt Lake

And no, we’re not talking Utah. We’re talking about its lesser-known cousin on the border of Minnesota and South Dakota in Lac Qui Parle County. Right around 300 acres in size, Salt Lake is the state’s only alkaline wetland, is roughly one-third as salty as the ocean, and is a paradise for our feathered friends as more than 150 species of birds have been spotted on the lake’s salty shores. Because of this biodiversity, avid bird watchers flock (pun intended) to the lake every spring for the Salt Lake Birding Weekend to spot species such as trumpeter swans, Say’s Phoebes, cattle egrets, and more.

Drive a Tank

History buff? "Call of Duty" fan? Power hungry? Whatever your fancy, you can bring it to life at this adrenaline-packed attraction. Drive a Tank puts you in the driver seat of these high-powered military vehicles—sans boot camp. Choose from a number of packages with optional upgrades such as machine gun firing, car crushes, and driving through a mobile home. Destruction is just a drive to Kasota away.

Soudan Underground Mine

The forests of Lake Vermillion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park is where you’ll find this underground adventure. Visitors will dive a half mile under the Earth’s surface via cage before traveling another ¾ mile on rails to reach the last mined location before the mine was closed in 1962. One interesting fact to note: The Soudan Mine houses one of the state’s largest bat hibernacula—upward of 15,000 bats shack up here for the winter. 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

Learn about the contributing writers.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Travel Blog

Plan a Trip to Roanoke, Virginia

This East Coast visit comes with history, a burgeoning craft beer scene, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Appalachian Trail, and more

Cannon Falls Wine & Art Fest

Taste Minnesota wines and ciders, browse through local art vendors, and eat delicious food at Cannon Falls Wine & Art Fest, July 21-22

Day Trip to Taylors Falls

A Taylors Falls day trip made up of beautiful river views and a classic malt shop.

Record Store on Wheels

Like a food truck, but for music—and debuting this Sunday at Open Streets Minneapolis

Green Thumb Gardens

The 2018 Hennepin County Master Gardener Learning Garden Tour flaunts its foliage July 14

Best Caves of Minnesota

Explore Minnesota’s man-made and natural curiosities this summer

Amble Over to Afton

While you’re in Afton for Selma’s, stay a while and check out the state parks, historic buildings, quaint downtown, and more

Take a Trip for (Frozen) Treats

Grab a scoop from the state’s oldest ice cream shop in Afton: Selma’s Ice Cream Parlour

Journeys: A Minnesotan’s Happy Place

Time wasted at the lake is time well spent

Journeys: The Start of Adventure

To prep for wilderness canoe trips, Les Voyageurs brings campers out on the Mississippi River

Top 5 Instagram Spots Along the Mississippi River

Bluffs, hiking trails, and waterfalls make for beautiful summer photos

Summer Sunburn Solutions

Six ways to beat the burn

Brews and Views at the Hopped Up Caribou Festival

There's no better place to tie the knot than at a craft beer festival, and if you're not into that, you can cliff climb, too

A Day Trip to Hudson

St. Croix River views, hiking trails at Willow River State Park, and quaint downtown eats await in Hudson
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags