Stop by any Minnesota gift shop and you will see the most popular postcard images: the Spoon and Cherry sculpture in Minneapolis, a sunset over a lake, the Mall of America, or perhaps Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. These are all accurate representations of Minnesota culture, but there are some lesser-known images and landmarks sprinkled throughout the state that might make you want to stop the car.
The World’s Largest Ball of Twine: Beginning in March 1950, Francis A. Johnson spent four hours everyday for 29 years rolling twine. He ended up with the world’s largest ball, measuring about 12 feet in diameter and weighing 17,400 pounds. You can see this big ball protected in a brown gazebo in Darwin. (Interesting fact: In 2009, Martha Stewart named this ball one of her official “Good Things” and Weird Al Yankovic even sang about it in a song appropriately called “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota.”)
The Big Otter: If he weren’t made of metal and concrete, you would want to cuddle with this giant cutie. Otto the Otter (150 feet tall and 40 feet long) is perhaps the most adorable statue in Minnesota. He can be found in Adams Park in Fergus Falls, which is part of Otter Tail County.
The World’s Largest Loon: Looking over Long Lake in Vergas is the world’s largest loon statue. Vergas uses Minnesota’s state bird as the theme for their yearly celebration they call Loony Daze where there is live music and dances, fishing competitions, bingo and even loon calling contests.
The Giant Mosquito: Sitting by a lake as the sun sets is a common serene image of the perfect Minnesota night. But what you don’t see are people swaying arms and swatting away dozens of blood-sucking mosquitos. In Effie, a 6-foot long statue of this pesky critter sits by the welcome sign, paying homage to the battles Minnesotans endure with mosquitos summer after summer.
The World’s Largest Hockey Stick and Puck: Minnesota is the state of hockey, so it makes sense that we have the world’s largest freestanding hockey stick (110 feet long, weighing 10,000 pounds) and hockey puck located in Eveleth, the same town where the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Museum is located.
The Man With No Pants: Pierre the Voyageur in Two Harbors appears to wear moccasins, leg warmers and a shirt. At 20-feet tall, perhaps he could not find trousers to fit him because Pierre remains pantless. Don’t worry; his shirt is long enough to cover his backside.
The Fishes: In the land of 10,000 lakes a favorite pastime in Minnesota is to fish and this is well represented by the more than 10 fish statues around the state, including walleyes (in Baudette, Rush City, Garrison and Kabetogama), trout (Preston), lutefisk (Madison), muskies (Nevis and Isle) and panfish (New Prague). One of the most famous fish in Minnesota is the 65-foot-long open-mouthed muskie in Bena, next to the Big Fish Supper Club. This was made famous when it appeared in the opening credits of National Lampoon’s Vacation.