Explore Minnesota’s essential history as you discover significant places and people that helped shape our state’s one-of-a-kind story. The Minnesota Historical Society has historic sites and museums across the breadth of Minnesota, telling the history of Native American cultures, important industries, famous individuals, transformational events, and how all of these make Minnesota the unique place it is. Take an in-state road trip or series of weekends to tour these key places – or other sites that inspire you – and come away with a sense of Minnesota’s amazing history and insights into who we are today.
Scroll through the gallery below to find ideas for the perfect itinerary for Minnesota history lovers.
The Forest History Center brings to life a recreated 1900s-era logging camp and floating cook shack moored on the Mississippi River. The site also includes a 1930s forest ranger’s cabin, fire tower, self-guided trails and a visitor center with interactive exhibits about Minnesota’s forests.
2. Jeffers Petroglyphs, Comfrey
Jeffers Petroglyphs features more than 5,000 ancient rock carvings, or petroglyphs, set amid the prairie grasses. The carvings of buffalo, turtles, thunderbirds and humans tell the stories of Native American ancestors spanning more than 7,000 years.
3. Lower Sioux Agency, Redwood Falls
The Lower Sioux Agency, established by the U.S. government in 1853, is the site where the U.S.-Dakota War broke out in 1862. A visitor center and self-guided trails interpret agency and Dakota history. The Lower Sioux Agency is managed by the Lower Sioux Indian Community.
4. Historic Fort Snelling, Twin Cities Area
Historic Fort Snelling, Minnesota’s first National Historic Landmark, resides on Dakota homeland at the confluence of rivers known as Bdote. The restored fort and visitor center present the stories of those who crossed paths here over centuries—from the Dakota, Ojibwe, and enslaved people, to fur traders, immigrants, and soldiers.
5. James J. Hill House, St. Paul
The James J. Hill House was completed in 1891 as the home of James J. Hill, builder of the Great Northern Railway, and his family. A National Historic Landmark, the 36,000-square-foot Gilded Age mansion is open year-round for guided tours, art exhibits and special events.
6. Mill City Museum, Minneapolis
Mill City Museum, built within the ruins of the Washburn A Mill, a National Historic Landmark, chronicles the flour milling industry that fueled the growth of Minneapolis. The museum features an 8-story Flour Tower ride, hands-on exhibits, and breathtaking views of the Minneapolis riverfront.