A Minnesota summer wouldn’t be complete without a historic adventure, whether it’s a family road trip, weekend getaway with friends, or a staycation that lets you get to see your hometown in a whole new way.
Each site offers unique insights into Minnesota’s past and present, whether exploring the lives of lumberjacks; learning about present-day Native American culture and how history shaped it; stepping into the world of famous Minnesotans; or taking in spectacular views.
Here are must-see historic sites to include in your summer plans, depending which way your wandering eye is turned:
Up North: Split Rock Lighthouse
The crown jewel of the North Shore of Lake Superior, the Split Rock Lighthouse historic site is a top Minnesota destination. The site boasts stunning views from its perch atop a massive cliff. Visitors can climb the lighthouse, tour the homes of the lighthouse keepers, and learn about the industry and people of the Great Lakes.
Also: Further west, see Forest History Center in Grand Rapids. Driving up from the Twin Cities? The Snake River Fur Post near Pine City is on the way.
Lake Country: Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post
Learn about Ojibwe culture past and present at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum, which tells the story of how the Ojibwe came to Northern Minnesota; shares traditional practices in the Four Seasons Room; offers frequent demonstrations and hands-on activities; and immerses visitors the proud and tumultuous history of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe that continues to this day.
Also: In Little Falls, south of Brainerd, visitors to the Charles Lindbergh House and Museum can learn about the life and complex legacy of famed Minnesota aviator in his childhood home.
Southwestern Prairie: Jeffers Petroglyphs
See some 5,000 sacred rock carvings, some up to 7,000 years old, made by ancestors of today’s Native Americans. These carvings tell us something about those earliest visitors and have helped archaeologists and historians understand what life was like for humans in North America thousands of years ago.
Also: Sites related to the US-Dakota War of 1862 help visitors learn about that important and challenging time, including Fort Ridgely, Lower Sioux Agency, and the Birch Coulee Battlefield.
Twin Cities: Historic Fort Snelling
Fully reopened for the first time in two years following a major revitalization project, Historic Fort Snelling tells many stories through many voices in one place. From prehistoric visitors to the site, to the 19th century fur trade, to the military history of the site, to its lasting impact on Native American communities up to this day, Fort Snelling is a crossroads of history.
Also: Be sure to stop by the Minnesota History Center, Oliver Kelley Farm, Mill City Museum, JJ Hill House, and State Capitol for a full history fix.
Looking for more?
There is still more adventure waiting for you! Learn about these and other historic site on the Historic Adventures MNHS site. You also can purchase a membership online—members get FREE access to all MNHS sites and discounts on purchases.