- Save the Date for the 67th Annual Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener
It’s that time again to mark your calendars for the 2014 Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener. This year's event will be held Thursday, May 8 through Sunday, May 11 and hosted by the Brainerd Lakes Area Chamber and Grand View Lodge, as event headquarters.
- Minnesota Tourism Industry 'Visits' Duluth
The 2014 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference will focus on marketing trends and tactics for an industry that generates nearly $12.5 billion in sales annually in Minnesota.
Minnesota Travel Highlights
The following are some of the distinctive highlights that Minnesota offers as a travel destination. They are among the great travel stories that Minnesota has to tell. In addition to these, check out the featured news ideas for the current year, also on this site.
Minneapolis-St. Paul Packed with Fun Finds
Lonely Planet included the Twin Cities among the top 10 U.S. destinations for 2013, and Travel + Leisure named Minneapolis among the hottest travel destinations internationally for 2013. The Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area has garnered attention for its vibrant music scene, creative chefs, bike-friendly trails, exciting theaters and excellent art museums. Families are drawn to the Twin Cities for its kid-friendly museums, zoos and amusement parks. This metro area is also noteworthy for its many lakes, parks and greenways. Check out the 2013 travel news on this site for what's new in the Twin Cities this year.
Minnesota Is Where the Mississippi River Gets its Start
More Miles Here Than in Any Other State
The iconic Mississippi River begins as a tiny stream flowing out of a woodland lake in Itasca State Park, in northwestern Minnesota. Visitors can walk across the headwaters in the park. The Mississippi arcs across northern Minnesota, flows south through the heart of Minneapolis-St. Paul, and forms the state's southeast border below tall, wooded bluffs. More than 575 miles of the river wind through Minnesota, more than in any other state. Along the way are several historic sites, scenic parks, museums, charming river towns, bike trails and a cycling route, and the riverfront districts of downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Mall of America: Largest Shopping and Entertainment Complex in U.S.
Located in Bloomington, Mall of America is the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the U.S. under one roof, with more than 500 stores, 60 restaurants, 14 movie theaters, Nickelodeon Universe indoor amusement park, Sea Life Aquarium, mini-golf and other attractions. During its 21 years, the mall has been an international shopping destination, drawing 42 million visitors a year. Close to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, the mall is easy to get to from a large number of hotels. In 2013, the first hotel linked to Mall of America by an indoor skyway opened. The upscale, luxury Radisson Blu is a 13-story, 500-room hotel with "an edgy, fashion-forward aesthetic." Recent and upcoming shop openings at the mall include Swim 'n Sport, Ruum American Kids' Wear, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Victorinox Swiss Army and Foreign Exchange, featuring clothing inspired by different cultures.
Two Natural Treasures Offer Wilderness Experiences:
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park
Along the northern border with Canada, Minnesota has two national treasures. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) is the only federally protected canoe area in the country, with more than 1,300 lakes offering canoeing and campsites. This paddle-only area offers an increasingly rare experience, the chance to visit an area almost untouched by civilization. Area outfitters provide visitors with canoes, camping equipment, provisions and instructions in wilderness camping.
Voyageurs National Park is the only freshwater-based national park in the United States; boating is the primary method of exploring this park that centers around several large lakes. Tour boats are an easy way to experience the park. There are resorts and campgrounds on the perimeter of the park, and many rent motorboats. Houseboat rentals offer the unique opportunity to explore the park while enjoying the comforts of a floating cabin. Fishing and wildlife-watching are two popular activities in the park.
Minnesota Offers Excellent Golfing
Golfers in Minnesota enjoy top-notch course designs, affordable green fees, and a season that stretches from spring through fall. Minnesota is the only state to have hosted every one of the 17 championships conducted by the U.S. Golf Association, including the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. In 2016, Minnesota will host the Ryder Cup, at Hazeltine in Chaska. According to Golf Digest, Minnesota is home to some of the top courses open to the public: The Quarry and The Legend, both at Giants Ridge in Biwabik; The Classic at Madden's Resort, Brainerd; Deacon's Lodge at Breezy Point Resort, near Brainerd; Cragun's Legacy courses, Brainerd; and The Wilderness at Fortune Bay, Tower. All are destination courses with on-site lodging. Several "golf trails" make it easy to explore several courses in the same area.
Eagles, Wolves and Bears the Focus of Three Wildlife Centers
On the banks of the Mississippi River in the southeastern river town of Wabasha, the National Eagle Center showcases the hundreds of migrating and wintering eagles in a sparkling new facility, including five resident eagles that can no longer survive in the wild. The eagle-watching deck has spotting scopes and binoculars for visitors. In Ely, a town in the heart of the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota, are two other centers dedicated to animals of this region: the International Wolf Center and the North American Bear Center. Both have exhibits and the opportunity to watch their featured animals in their natural habitats.
Numerous Sites Profile Minnesota's Indian Heritage
Minnesota is home to Dakota and Ojibwe, and the history and heritage of these American Indians is the focus at several historic sites and museums. The Pipestone National Monument (in the southeast corner of the state) is the site of quarries that for centuries have been the source of the red stone used for making peace pipes and a variety of tokens. Today, visitors can watch artisans quarry the stone and carve it into pipes and other objects. Also in southern Minnesota, the Jeffers Petroglyphs are ancient stone carvings, messages left behind in the prairie by long-ago peoples. Several sites along the Minnesota River, including the Lower Sioux Agency near Redwood Falls, tell the tragic story of the U.S. Dakota Conflict of 1862. The Mille Lacs Indian Museum, a state historic site near Onamia, focuses on the culture of the local Ojibwe people, as does the Bois Forte Heritage Center near Tower. Grand Portage National Monument at the northeast tip of the state focuses on the era of Indian and voyageur fur trade.
Scenic Byways Explore Minnesota
Minnesota has designated more than 2,500 miles of roads as scenic byways to help visitors discover the state's wide variety of landscapes: countryside dappled with lakes, the north woods, tumbling waterfalls, ribbons of prairie, rolling bluffs, city parks and winding rivers. The 21 Minnesota Scenic Byways offer plenty of reasons to stop along the way and visit historic sites, art galleries and antique shops, hiking trails, and much more. North Shore Scenic Drive, which travels along the rugged shoreline of Lake Superior, is designated as an All-American Road. Six are National Scenic Byways, including the Great River Road and Grand Rounds – one of only two urban byways in the nation.
Minnesota Travel News for 2014
World-Class Art Scene Adds Color to 2014
Minnesota's art scene adds to the state's natural beauty, and several major exhibits are in store for 2014. At the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, paintings, sculptures and prints by Henri Matisse will be on display Feb. 23 – May 18. Also in Minneapolis, the Walker Art Center will present the first major museum exhibition of Edward Hopper's drawings (March 15 – June 22). In nearby Chanhassen, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is now home to a sculpture garden with more than 20 contemporary works. And in southern Minnesota, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona debuted a 2,500-square-foot gallery – among those on display are recent acquisitions from some of the world's most prominent artists, including, Paul Gaugin and J.M.W. Turner, as well as works from the existing European collection by Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne and Renoir.
Passport to Minnesota Wines
With more than 40 wineries scattered throughout the state, it can be hard to pick which ones to visit. The Passport to Minnesota Wines, a new program from the Minnesota Grape Growers Association, makes vineyard hopping a little easier – and easier on the wallet. For $25, the passport grants the holder tastings at 10 wineries of their choice, many of which also offer tours and live entertainment. The passport can be used during a one trip, or spaced out over multiple visits; the passport doesn't expire until you've used all 10.
State Parks & Trails Welcome Beginners
Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources State Parks and Trails Division recently launched a unique learning program for those who've never camped, canoed, and gone fishing. The "I Can!" program offers first-timers hands-on instruction in up to five outdoor activities: camping, archery, fishing, canoeing or rock climbing. Equipment and any required permits are included in the nominal fee, and advance registration is required for most programs. All activities take place at designated state parks and offer fun for the whole family.
Geocaching on the Paul Bunyan Trail
Geocaching – the high-tech scavenger hunt game played around the world – is the newest way to explore the 112-mile Paul Bunyan Trail. More than 1,000 caches are hidden along this popular paved trail, which extends from central Brainerd to northern Bemidji. Experienced and novice geocachers can hike, bike, jog or rollerblade between caches, or travel by snowmobile in winter.
Barbie Brings Dreamhouse to Mall of America
Opening Spring 2014
"Barbie The Dreamhouse Experience" is an immersive and interactive installation bringing the iconic Barbie toy to life for fans of all ages. Guests will have the opportunity to discover different rooms, living areas and to explore the 30,000 square feet of this larger-than-life version of Barbie doll's Dreamhouse for a one-of-a-kind experience. Guests will be "transported" to each floor of the house via a virtual elevator inspired by the real Barbie Dreamhouse elevator. The Dreamhouse also includes more than 350 Barbie dolls.
Motorcycling Minnesota's Scenic Byways
May – Oct. 2014
Motorcyclists can discover the state's 21 scenic byways (more than 2,500 miles and 4,000 kilometers) from a new perspective. A new website – Highways, Byways and Back Roads – features trip videos, maps and travel info for planning your own motorcycle ride and sharing your stories from the road. Featured routes include the Great River Road, Minnesota River Valley and North Shore scenic byways, with links to lodging, dining and attractions along the way, as well as current road conditions and weather reports. Go for a ride, and then add your reviews and photos when you get back to inspire fellow bikers.
BIG Bugs Invade Minnesota Zoo
May 24 – Sept. 1, 2014
The Minnesota Zoo will host a BIG, first-of-its-kind exhibit in summer 2014, called "Big Bugs!" The exhibit highlights the invasion of thirteen oversized, animatronic bugs along the zoo's Northern Trail, and includes a live bug display, plus other unique and interactive elements. The supersized bugs move through the use of pneumatics (systems operated by compressed air) and a few bugs are interactive, including a bombardier beetle that sprays water. The exhibit is free with paid zoo admission and will reveal a bug's life and why they're important.
Discover a New Breed of Dino
March 1 – Aug. 24, 2014
"Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana," will feature 20 fully articulated dinosaur specimens from unusual locations in the Southern Hemisphere, and will be the third North American stop, and only the second in the United States. Based on new, groundbreaking research from scientists around the world, "Ultimate Dinosaurs" reveals a new breed of dinosaurs that evolved in isolation in South America, Africa and Madagascar – dinosaurs that are unfamiliar to most in the North Hemisphere. "Dinosaurs Alive!," a giant screen film that follows preeminent paleontologists as they uncover evidence that the descendants of dinosaurs still walk and fly among us, will run in the museum's Omnitheater.
Shipwrecks Come Alive at Duluth Aquarium
Opening July, 2014
The ambitious new exhibit, "Shipwrecks Alive!" will launch next July at Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth. It will give visitors a new appreciation for shipwrecks; featuring items and depictions from shipwrecks including the S.S. America, which sank in the Isle Royale's Washington Harbor of Lake Superior in 1927, and the San Francisco Maru, a World War II Japanese transport ship.
Minneapolis to Host Major League Baseball All-Star Game
July 15, 2014
The 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be the 85th edition bringing together the best players, as selected by the fans, from the competing National and America Leagues. In addition, a three-day extravaganza built around America's favorite pastime includes the All-Star Futures Game, consisting of two teams of talented prospects – one of young players from the United States and the other of young players from all other nations; the All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game; and a Home Run Derby Contest. All events will be held at Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins. This marks the third time that Minnesota has hosted the All-Star Game.
Twin Cities Premium Outlets to Open in Eagan
Opening Aug. 2014
Twin Cities Premium Outlets, a new upscale outlet mall will be located just minutes from Mall of America, in Eagan, MN. The outlet mall will feature 100 stores, including brands such as Asics, Calphalon, Cole Haan, Crabtree & Evelyn, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Puma, Saks Off Fifth, Swarovski, Tommy Hilfiger and more. In addition, there will be a food court and common areas, as well as adjacent restaurants, a park, hotel and public transportation access. This will be the second Premium Outlet location in Minnesota's metropolitan area, joining a sister facility, Albertville Premium Outlets.
New Light Rail Line Connects Minneapolis to St. Paul
Opening Summer 2014
Minnesota's "twin" towns will soon join forces via light rail transit. The Central Corridor Line (also coined the Green Line) will link downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis, and connect to the existing Hiawatha Line (Blue Line). The 11 mile route will begin at downtown St. Paul's Union Depot Station, serve the Minnesota State Capitol, and run along University Avenue and the Midway area of St. Paul before entering Minneapolis via the University of Minnesota campus and TCF Bank Stadium. The Central Corridor Line will join the Hiawatha Line in downtown Minneapolis, which ends at Target Field. Trains will begin running late summer 2014.
Festivals & Events
Minnesota boasts many noteworthy festivals and events throughout the year, giving residents and visitors alike the opportunity to participate in a kaleidoscope of activities. Every corner of the state showcases spectacular events, highlighting the heritage and culture of the region, ranging from German Oktoberfest festivities, ice fishing adventures to American Indian powwows. Visit with colorful fur traders at Big Island Rendezvous in Albert Lea, or experience one of the largest state fairs in the nation in St. Paul. Minnesota festivals and events offer a unique experience for everyone.
In addition to the sampling of festivals listed below, hundreds of other events take place throughout the state. For more information, please visit the exploreminnesota.com events page.
Saint Paul Winter Carnival
Jan. 23 – Feb. 2, 2014
Long known as the nation's oldest winter festival, since 1886 the Carnival has provided indoor and outdoor fun while reliving the ancient legend of springtime's triumph over winter. The celebration features 75 events including parades, ice and snow carving competitions, ice skating, golf on ice and singing contests.
International Eelpout Festival, Walker
Feb. 20 – 23, 2014
This festival is a tradition steeped in ice angling on Leech Lake for one of the ugliest bottom-dwelling fish. The 34th Annual International Eelpout Festival attracts more than 10,000 participants and visitors to the tiny town of Walker, Minn., (pop. 1,500) for three days in February. Several activities are held throughout the weekend, including the 10th-annual Polar Pout Plunge, curling, bull riding, auto ice racing, rugby and a fishing show. Always a spectacle, this bucket list-worthy adventure has increasingly drawn national attention, including "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship, St. Paul
Feb. 20 – 22, 2014
The Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship makes its way to St. Paul, Minnesota, for the third year in a row in 2014 as one of five stops around the world. Two hundred of the toughest, fastest, ice cross downhill racers will go head-to-head through a downhill course full of mind-and-body-bending jumps, turns and slides – all against the backdrop of the historic Cathedral of Saint Paul with more than 100,000 spectators. Admission is free.
Grand Celebration Pow Wow, Hinckley
June 20 – 22, 2014
This American Indian event is the largest powwow in the Midwest with more than 1,200 dancers, drummers and singers from nearly every tribe in the USA and Canada participating. In addition to watching the dances, visitors learn about American Indian traditions, eat traditional food and purchase handmade crafts.
The Judy Garland Festival, Grand Rapids
June 13 – 15, 2014
2014 marks the 38th annual Judy Garland Festival and furthermore, the 75th anniversary of "The Wizard of Oz." The Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, MN is planning a major celebration of this revered film and its iconic star, born Francis Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids in 1922.
Scandinavian Hjemkomst & Midwest Viking Festivals, Moorhead
June 27 & 28, 2014
This authentic Scandinavian event features dancing, entertainment, booths and food celebrating the heritage of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The festival takes place at the Heritage Hjemkomst Center, home of the Viking ship that sailed from Minnesota to Norway in 1982.
Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Minneapolis
July 15, 2014
In its 85th year, the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be held at Target Field in Minneapolis, home of the Minnesota Twins. This marks the third time that Minnesota has hosted the MLB All-Star Game.
Bayfront Blues Festival, Duluth
Aug. 8 – 10, 2014
One of the largest outdoor music festivals in the Midwest, the 25th annual Bayfront Blues Festival showcases nearly 30 national performances on two concert stages. Additional weekend events include a Moonlight Mardi Gras Cruise and live blues performances at nearly 20 Duluth nightclubs. The event takes place in Canal Park on Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world.
Minnesota Renaissance Festival
Aug. 16 – Sept. 28, 2014
Journey back in time to a 16th-century European village at the 43rd-annual Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, MN. The popular festival dons 120 European food booths, live jousting, elephant rides and belly dancing. Plus, an abundance of artisans, selling everything from 16th-century attire, pottery and hand-blown glass to real battle axes. The event welcomes more than 300,000 people each year, becoming one of the largest renaissance festivals in the country.
Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul
Aug. 21 – Sept. 1, 2014
The Great Minnesota Get-Together features world-class entertainment, agricultural exhibits, horse shows, a rodeo, arts and craft displays, amusement park rides, a daily parade and food of every variety, often served on a stick! The event attracts almost 2 million visitors each year.
Big Island Rendezvous & Festival, Albert Lea
Oct. 4 & 5, 2014
This celebration of history during the fur trade period of America (1650-1840) and early frontier America features music performances by groups from throughout the U.S. and Canada, hundreds of tents and campfires with more than 1,000 living history re-enactors carrying on daily life as it would have been more than 200 years ago. Demonstrations of colonial crafts, Native American skills and pioneer life are showcased throughout the festival so you can try your hand at rigid heddle weaving, spinning and spoon carving, or watch a gunsmith create a work of art.
Oktoberfest, New Ulm
Oct. 3 & 4; 10 & 11, 2014
This old world celebration features live local, regional and European entertainment, along with plenty of great German food and locally brewed August Schell's beer. The festival also boasts musical entertainment, including New Ulm's famous Concord Singers, German brass bands, polka bands and more, and was even ranked one of "10 great places to celebrate Octoberfest" by USA Today Travel.
Bentleyville Tour of Lights, Duluth
Nov. – Dec., 2014
Tis' the season for holiday tradition filled with family, friends and celebration on the shores of Lake Superior at Bayfront Festival Park, home to the largest holiday display in the Midwest. Bentleyville Tour of Lights is a magical display of nearly three million lights and the tallest Christmas tree in the U.S. (twice the height of New York City's famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree). Admission to Bentleyville Tour of Lights is free to the public.
Travel Industry News
News about the Minnesota Tourism Industry
2014 Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener
The 67th Annual Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener will be held Thursday, May 8 through Sunday, May 11 in the Brainerd Lakes Area Chamber and Grand View Lodge, as event headquarters. The Brainerd Lakes Area has a long tradition as a Minnesota fishing destination, and is well-known for great golfing, premier bike trails, shopping, numerous resorts, lodging and lakes. The Historic Grand View Lodge, located on Gull Lake in Nisswa, offers deluxe lodging accommodations for up to 1,000 people, award-winning golf, spa services, great dining and more.
The event is being hosted by Governor Mark Dayton and coordinated by Explore Minnesota Tourism, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the host community. Fishing is a key part of one of the largest sectors of our economy, tourism. The 2014 Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener will spotlight fishing and the many recreational and travel opportunities in the Brainerd Lakes Area. If you are member of the media, please consider joining Gov. Mark Dayton, local residents, dignitaries, various media and local community hosts for a “grand” fishing opener experience in the Brainerd Lakes Area!
Pedal Minnesota Promotes the Great State of Biking
Minnesota has perhaps the best collection of paved bike trails anywhere in the country. These scenic trails can be found throughout the state, from the heart of Minneapolis to the suburbs of this metro area, and from the rolling rural countryside to the north woods. A partnership of several government agencies and private organizations, called Pedal Minnesota, is encouraging bicycling in Minnesota. It was launched in 2012, and includes a website dedicated to many different aspects of biking. The newest edition of the Minnesota Biking brochure, part of the Pedal Minnesota promotion, features about 30 paved trails throughout the state, several prime mountain biking areas, and on-road touring, including the Mississippi River Trail route. The brochure can be viewed or ordered online at: exploreminnesota.com. More information can be found at www.pedalmn.com.