Clockwise from top Courtesy of Loring Pasta Bar, Gunflint Trail photo courtesy of Explore Minnesota, Bemidji Symphony Orchestra courtesy of Creative Pear Graphic Design, courtesy of Water Park of America, courtesy of Larsmont Cottages on Lake Superior.
How do you prefer to pass the time when you’re on vacation? The type of traveler you are has a huge influence on where you go and what you do. We highlight five travel personalities and Minnesota destinations that fit those styles.
What type of traveler are you?
Artsy: Artsy travelers appreciate art, dance, music, writing, and theater. They enjoy cities with a rich artistic history and a lively cultural scene.
Family: Family travelers value sharing experiences with their loved ones, and will customize their trip around the interests of the very youngest family member to the very oldest to ensure everyone has a good time.
Outdoorsy: Outdoorsy travelers enjoy action and off-the-beaten path adventures, and are as equally at home sleeping in a tent or yurt as they are staying at a hotel. They prefer to be immersed in Mother Nature and seek out outdoor activities.
Celebratory: Celebratory travelers like to party, socialize, and meet new people. They become energized at weekend festivals and fun events.
Romantic: Romantic Whether it’s a honeymoon, anniversary, or just an excuse to say “I love you,” romantic travelers often look for special amenities to help their partner feel spoiled and appreciated.
Artsy: If you don’t think of St. Cloud as an arts mecca, think again. The city’s many options for art lovers include the Downtown St. Cloud Art Crawl on March 18, music and dance performances at the Wirth Center for the Performing Arts (adjacent to St. Mary’s Cathedral), and live shows at the 800-seat Paramount Theatre, part of the Visual Arts Center that also features a three-gallery exhibition space and gift shop—all within walking distance of 20 restaurants and the Beaver Island Brewing Co.
Paramount Theatre. Photo Courtesy of Paramount Theatre
Family: In the spring, central Minnesota offers plenty to do with fewer crowds than the busy summer months. Stay at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria (think 38,000-square-foot indoor waterpark, movie nights, campfires, and horse-drawn sleigh rides), go snowtubing at Andes Tower Hills in nearby Kensington, where the world-famous Kensington Runestone was discovered, then visit the Runestone Museum back in Alexandria to see what all the fuss is about.
Outdoorsy: Outdoor enthusiasts visiting the Mille Lacs area appreciate a network of snowmobile trails for miles of uninterrupted travel, mountain biking at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, and the unique Kite Crossing Festival March 4-6, presented by Grand Casino Mille Lacs. According to the event’s website, “Over the past 12 years, the Kite Crossing on Mille Lacs has attracted the world’s best male and female snow kite athletes to compete in its grueling 28-mile race across the frozen expanse of Lake Mille Lacs. Races are on either a wakeboard type board and regular alpine skis, with a large kite ‘sail’ harnessed to the riders for wind power. Minnesota has the largest and most active snow kite community in the nation, competing in an event that is one of the most visually spectacular events in the state.”
Kiteboarding on Lake Mille Lacs. Photo courtesy of Mille Lacs Area Tourism
Celebratory: There are a few ways to celebrate spring in central Minnesota: In Crosslake at the “Find Your Charm in Crosslake” 42nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Celebration March 4 (Blarney and Malarkey Pageant), March 5 (Grasshopper Hop), March 10 (treasure hunt), and March 12 (tethered hot air balloon rides, Clover Dash 5K, parade and after-party); at Grand Casino Mille Lacs (the Oak Ridge Boys perform March 26); or during the 87th Opening Party at Madden’s on Gull Lake April 22-24, celebrating the kick-off to the golf season. The weekend will include a welcome reception, hammerschlagen, a golf contest at Pine Beach East and West, bonfires, and happy hours.
Romantic: Reconnect with your significant other through romance packages available at Grand View Lodge, Breezy Point Resort, and Cragun’s Resort, all in the Brainerd Lakes area.
Sleigh Rides are Available at Grand View Lodge. Photo courtesy of Grand View Lodge
Artsy: The location of the state’s longest lived art colony—the Grand Marais Art Colony, opened in 1947—is bound to appeal to the artsy traveler. Not only is there beautiful natural scenery in this scenic small town, located at the northern tip of the state (one of the best views of Lake Superior is from Artists’ Point, an island-like outcropping of rocks jutting into the lake), but also an abundance of art colony workshops, classes at the North House Folk School, and art galleries and gift shops in town.
Grand Marais Art Colony is perfect for the artsy traveler. Photo courtesy of Grand Marais Art Colony
Family: Named for its supply of iron ore, the Iron Range is an educational family vacation spot. The kids can learn about Iron Range topics at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm (underground and open pit mining, the taconite process, logging, and geology, to name a few), see how loggers lived at the turn of the century at the Forest History Center in Grand Rapids (and climb the 10-story fire tower!), and tour the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, home to the “world’s largest authentic hockey stick.”
Outdoorsy: Outdoorsy travelers who like the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness will find similarly beautiful scenery at Voyageurs National Park, near the town of International Falls. The park is unique in that it’s a water-based national park (four big lakes and 26 smaller ones), and the only way you’ll get to the main body of the park in winter is by snowmobile, skis, or snowshoes, or by boat when the ice thaws.
Celebratory: Celebrate the season (and good food and music) by stopping at Fitger’s Brewhouse in “America’s Best Town” of Duluth (thanks, Outside magazine, for the honor) for a growler on your way to the DuLutsen North of North Music & Ski Festival March 18-23 at Lutsen Mountains. On your way home, check out Bent Paddle Brewing Co., Canal Park Brewing Co. or Vikre Distillery, located in Canal Park.
Musicians perform at Papa Charlie’s in Lutsen. Photo Courtesy of Stephan Hoglund Photography
Romantic: There’s good reason that so many people choose to get married or plan their honeymoon on the North Shore—the natural beauty of the area is incredibly romantic. Stay at Larsmont Cottages on Lake Superior in Two Harbors, Lutsen Resort, or Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior in the Lutsen-Tofte area for luxury accommodations and special romance packages. Head to the lake to witness an early morning sunrise when the sky turns a pretty, fiery hue.
Bluefin bay on Lake Superior. Photo courtesy of Bluefin bay on Lake Superior
- Artsy: The Bemidji Sculpture Walk is a nod to the community and the local artists in town, giving visitors a true feel of the city’s spirit and history. The sculptures change every year and will take you from one end of downtown to the other (a walking map is available at the tourist information center). Also appealing to the artsy set? The Bemidji Symphony Orchestra and the free nonprofit Watermark Art Center (formerly the Bemidji Community Art Center).
Bemidji Symphony Orchestra. Photo Courtesy of Creative Pear Graphic Design
Family: The Moorhead area, about 3.5 hours from the Twin Cities, is home to several family-oriented attractions, including the Comstock House Victorian home, built in 1883, the Hjemkomst Center, complete with a 76-foot-tall replica Viking ship, and the Rourke Gallery and Art Museum. Another favorite family destination is the MSUM Regional Science Center, home to a Planetarium with special programming for all ages.
Comstock House in Moorhead. Photo Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society
Hjemkomst Replica Viking Ship. Photo courtesy of Hjemkomst Center
Outdoorsy: As the headquarters of Arctic Cat (the North American powerhouse snowmobile and ATV manufacturer), Thief River Falls takes great pride in the sport of snowmobiling. Within the city, there’s more than 500 miles of groomed trails interconnecting to more than 1,500 miles of trails in northwest Minnesota. Many food and fuel stops along the trails welcome all riders. You can also snowshoe or hike on 48 acres of wooded trails, or follow a portion of the 200-mile Pine to Prairie Trail for spectacular birding during the spring migration.
Celebratory: There are more casinos in northwest Minnesota than any other part of the state, perfect for a birthday, anniversary, or wedding celebration. Try your luck at Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen and Bagley, Palace Casino & Hotel in Cass Lake, Seven Clans Casinos in Thief River Falls, Red Lake, and Warroad, or Northern Lights Casino Hotel and Event Center in Walker.
Romantic: Book a romantic getaway in the Detroit Lakes area, home to Detroit Mountain, featuring a beautiful new lodge, re-designed mountain for skiing and boarding, and trails for mountain biking. The Lodge on Lake Detroit, Best Western Plus Holland House, and AmericInn Lodge and Suites know how to cater to couples.
Artsy: The Minneapolis Saint Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership says it best. According to their website, “Minneapolis-Saint Paul is one of the world’s undisputed cultural capitals. It supports many fine art museums, two full-time professional orchestras, an internationally renowned opera company and hundreds of theatrical, musical and comedy troupes. It’s also the third-largest dance market in the nation. Four significant culture icons—the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Walker Art Center, Weisman Art Museum, and the Minneapolis Central Library—each completed major renovations in the last few years.” There’s seemingly always something playing on a stage in the Twin Cities area. After seeing a show, head over to the Loring Pasta Bar in Dinkytown. Since opening in 2001 in the shadow of the University of Minnesota, the restaurant/nightclub has combined stunning visual splendor, awe-inspiring architecture, and good cuisine and entertainment (at university-friendly prices).
Weisman Art Museum. Photo by Nattapol Pornsalnuwat
Family: Head to the southern suburb of Bloomington for a massive indoor theme park, Lego Imagination Center, and Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium—and that’s just a fraction of what you’ll find at Mall of America. Venture outside of MOA, and popular family-friendly spots in the city include The Works Museum, an interactive museum of engineering for kids 5-12, and the Water Park of America, home to the tallest water slide in the country.
Nickelodeon Universe, Mall of America. Photo courtesy of the Mall
Outdoorsy: The St. Croix River Valley, one of only eight waterways designated as a “National Wild and Scenic River,” is considered one of the best canoeing rivers in the nation. This time of year, it’s home to snow tubing, skiing, and boarding at Wild Mountain in Taylors Falls, and in Hastings, you can go alpine skiing or boarding at Afton Alps and hiking in Afton State Park.
Celebratory: When you think of Minnetonka, Excelsior, Victoria, and Waconia, you might not immediately think of craft beer, wine, and spirits. But that’s all changing with the addition of the Minnetonka-based Lucid Brewing, the taproom at Excelsior Brewing, Enki Brewing in Victoria, and in the growing suburb of Waconia, Waconia Brewing Co. on the shore of Lake Waconia, J. Carver Distillery, and three wineries: Schram Vineyards Winery and Brewery, Parley Lake Winery, and Sovereign Estate Vineyard and Winery.
Romantic: USA Today recently crowned St. Paul the “Best Romantic North American Getaway” in its readers’ poll, edging out cities like Naples, Santa Fe, San Francisco, and New Orleans. The city’s architecture and history, skyline, riverside location, and accommodating service personnel all play a role in making the city über romantic. Dine in a Cathedral Hill restaurant, see a show downtown, schedule a cozy sleigh ride, and then head to the award-winning St. Paul Hotel or new Intercontinental for the night.
Artsy: Art buffs shouldn’t miss Winona, home to a nationally renowned art museum, live theater, and popular music and film festivals. The Minnesota Marine Art Museum features the “River Life” David Eberhardt exhibit this spring, and the multi-venue Mid West Music Fest April 28-30 will be the place to discover Minnesota’s next big acts, as well as see performances by local favorites like Jeremy Messersmith and Charlie Parr.
Midwest Music Fest in Winona. Photo by Shannon Porter Photography.
Family: Follow the Mississippi River south to Red Wing, where families can check out the “biggest boot in the world” at the Red Wing Shoe Store and Museum (20 feet tall!). Downriver at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, you can stand four feet from trained eagles during a daily live eagle program, watch eagles through two-story floor-to-ceiling windows, or pose outside with a statue of Chief Wapasha. (Go during the Grumpy Old Men Festival on February 27 for the Ice Shacks ‘n Plaid Parade, minnow races, and Grumpy Plunge.) About five miles south of Wabasha, in the nearby town of Kellogg, you’ll find LARK Toys (LARK stands for Lost Arts Revival by Kreofsky), where kids and adults can ride on a hand-carved basswood carousel, then peruse nostalgic and intricate wood-carved toys before trying a block of the best fudge south of the Twin Cities.
National Eagle Center in Wabasha. Photo courtesy of National Eagle Center
Outdoorsy: About three hours south of the Twin Cities is Marshall, one of the fastest-growing cities in the southwestern quadrant of the state (historically known as the home of Schwan’s Ice Cream). When there’s snow, get out your snowshoes, sleds, or cross-country skis and head to Garvin County Park, Camden State Park, Liberty Park, or Independence Park before stopping in at Brau Brothers Brewing Co. for a pint.
Celebratory: The third-largest city in the state offers so much more than the Mayo Clinic. Plan a weekend getaway to Rochester and visit the 38-room Mayowood Mansion, the Plummer House of the Arts (built by an impressive Mayo doctor who is credited with inventing the record keeping system), and the Heritage House, showcasing the way of life more than 125 years ago. The city is also experiencing a craft beer renaissance, with Forager Brewing, Grand Rounds, Kinney Creek, and LTS (Life’s Too Short) Brewing Co. all offering something unique for craft beer fans.
Romantic: The “bed and breakfast capital” of Minnesota, Lanesboro is the perfect place for a romantic getaway. Stay at the colorful Habberstad House B&B (built in 1897), just six blocks from downtown, Anna V’s (built in 1908), or the Historic Scanlan House, a Queen Anne built in 1889. While visiting, dine at Pedal Pushers Café before seeing a performance at the Commonweal Theatre.
Habberstad House B&B in Lanesboro. Photo Courtesy of Habberstad House B&B