25 Famous Landmarks in Minnesota You Should Visit

12 min read
A downtown skyline with tall buildings and greenery in front
Minnesota has many cities full of various exciting landmarks, like Minneapolis

When looking at a map of the US, do you ever find yourself wondering: "What is Minnesota famous for?" If so, look no further! Minnesota is famous for its stunning landscape, friendly residents, and many unique attractions, like the Mall of America.

Other famous landmarks in Minnesota include Saint Anthony Falls, the only waterfall on the Mississippi River, and the St. Croix Boom Site, the location of a significant 19th-century lumber boom. In addition, the North Star State has an array of national and state parks, historic homes, and so much more!

Read on to discover all the best landmarks and attractions in this Midwestern state to visit.

  • 25 Minnesota landmarks

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25 Minnesota Landmarks

Minnesota Landmarks Map

A map of Minnesota landmarks. Use the map to explore all of the points of interest.

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A large red ship with white text that says "William A Irvin"
The William A Irvin Museum is housed in a ship built in the 1930s

William A Irvin Museum

During the first half of the 1930s, a new fleet of freighter ships sailed through the Great Lakes region. The SS William A. Irvin was one of the ships leading this fleet. The ship's contribution to American history earned it a National Historic Landmark accolade in 1989.

Since her retirement in 1978, the ship has been refurbished and transformed into a museum stationed in Duluth. Visitors can walk the halls of the ship and imagine what it would have been like to be on the ship in the early 20th century.

The Historic Congdon Estate

The Glensheen Mansion, also known as the Historic Congdon Estate, was once the home of the prestigious Congdon family. The mansion opened to the public in the 1970s and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

History and art lovers are fascinated by the mansion's Jacobean architecture and design. Those who love mystery are also drawn to the house by the 1977 murder of Elisabeth Congdon.

During a visit, you can explore the home and grounds. You can also learn more about the house's history and significant events that have occurred there.

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A modern glass building with a sign that says "Mayo Clinic"
The Plummer Building was constructed in 1928 and is owned by the Mayo Clinic

The Plummer Building

The Mayo Clinic is one of the most prestigious medical centers in the United States. One of the institute's buildings is also one of the most famous places in Minnesota.

The Plummer Building has been the clinic's defacto symbol since 1928. Initially, it was the beating heart of the medical center and was designed to streamline patient care without sacrificing architectural beauty and design.

Though the building no longer takes patients, it has become the clinic's academic and administrative activities center. However, visitors are still welcome to take tours and admire the building and its history!

A waterfall flowing into shallow water with stones, surrounded by cliffs
Tettegouche State Park houses many beautiful waterfalls and dense woodland

Tettegouche State Park

Geological events, like volcanic eruptions and glacial activity, initially created Tettegouche State Park thousands of years ago. Over the years, the park has developed its natural landscape, resulting in the stunning 9,346-acre park you see today.

In the past, Native Americans fished within the park in the spring and summer months. It has also been a resource for lumber companies. In 1979, its beauty and history were recognized on a state level when the area became a registered state park.

Visitors to the park enjoy hiking, wildlife watching, rock climbing, and more. You can find many forest trails that will take you through dense woodland and past beautiful waterfalls. You will also see animals, from white-tailed deer and beavers to moose and black bears.

A modern arched bridge over a shallow waterfall against some tall buildings
Saint Anthony Falls have maintained their beauty despite the urban development nearby

Saint Anthony Falls

Surprisingly, the Mighty Mississippi River has a primarily flat trajectory. There aren't any significant dips in its path to the ocean. The exception to this rule is Saint Anthony Falls in Minnesota.

Located on the edge of downtown Minneapolis, these falls have maintained their natural beauty despite urban development nearby. As a result, the waterfall is a must-see attraction if you visit the state's capital!

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One of the most famous landmarks in Minnesota is the Mall of America
The Mall of America is one of the most famous landmarks in Minnesota

Mall of America

The Mall of America has been an iconic landmark since 1992. It is the largest mall in the western hemisphere and the ninth-largest worldwide. Due to these accolades, it has become one of the most famous places to visit in Minnesota.

Without this attraction, the entire Hennepin County would likely see fewer visitors! You might be surprised that it only took three years to build this massive mall that houses over 520 stores. There are also numerous other attractions like a small theme park, an aquarium, and a comedy club.

St. Croix Boom Site

Minnesota's history is steeped in timber, thanks to the natural forest landscape in much of the state. Due to that fact, the St. Croix River was home to one of the biggest lumber booms in America from 1856 to 1914.

Over time, the timber market slowed and moved elsewhere, particularly when the beauty of St. Croix began to be recognized. The location of this timber boom, the St. Croix Boom Site, is now a scenic byway on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can wander along the byway next to the St. Croix River, admiring the views.

An area of shrubbery next to rugged brown cliffs under a partly cloudy sky
Pipestone National Monument is an ideal place to go hiking

Pipestone National Monument

The Pipestone National Monument may seem like any other clay-based stone you can find in nature. However, due to being easy to carve into, the native Sioux people often used the stone to create religious talismans, making it a notable landmark in the state.

The pipestone and its cultural significance got the monument on the National Register of Historic Places. After seeing this iconic stone, you can explore the park surrounding it. It is the ideal place to go hiking and spend some leisurely time in nature.

Sinclair Lewis Boyhood Home

Sinclair Lewis didn't know what the future had in store for him when he was born in Sauk Centre in 1885. However, he used his hometown to inspire his first novel, which catapulted him into the writing world.

Thanks to his Minnesota ties providing him with ideas, he became the first American Nobel Prize winner for literature. Today, you can visit his boyhood home and see where the famed novelist grew up.

Now one of the most famous sites in Minnesota, it's been fully restored and is complete with authentic antiques. When visiting, you can explore the home and learn more about the author's life and works.

A hill with rugged stones on it surrounded by trees
Ellsworth Rock Gardens is easily accessible from Voyageurs Nation Park

Voyageurs National Park

As one of the largest areas of land in the state, Voyageurs National Park is considered by many to be Minnesota's most famous natural landmark.

You'll likely need to plan a whole day to visit this park. Thanks to its numerous waterways, islands, and miles of forest, there's plenty to do and see.

Those that visit the park can hike, kayak, and spot wildlife, among other outdoor activities. In addition, Ellsworth Rock Gardens and Kettle Falls are easily accessible from the park.

St. Croix State Park

As the largest state park in Minnesota, St. Croix State Park, or St. Croix Recreation Demonstration Area, is a must-visit for outdoor adventurers.

The park sits next to the Kettle River and part of the St. Croix River. If the name sounds familiar, that's because the St. Croix Boom site is located within the park's boundaries!

Whether you want to go camping or explore for the day, St. Croix State Park is well worth visiting during your Minnesota vacation.

An arched stone bridge over water with tall buildings to the side
Stone Arch Bridge, constructed in 1883, is one of Minnesota's most famous landmarks

Stone Arch Bridge

Once an essential route for trains crossing the Mississippi, the Stone Arch Bridge symbolizes industrialization and engineering prowess. Constructed in 1883, it is the only stone bridge crossing on the entire river and the second oldest in the US.

Therefore, it's no surprise that Stone Arch Bridge has become one of Minnesota's most well-known historical sites. You can freely walk or bike across the bridge, enjoying the views as you cross.

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A river with trees on one side and a city skyline on the other under a clear blue sky
Saint Paul is one of the cities where you can see the Mississippi River in Minnesota

Mississippi River

Spanning over 2,000 miles from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi is the longest river in the USA. It is also one of the most famous rivers in the world.

Minnesota's portion of the mighty river gives you a different experience than other states. Whether you take a boat tour or a walk along the river, if you're in Minnesota, you must see the iconic Mississippi River.

Mississippi National River & Recreation Area

While Minneapolis and Saint Paul feature many bustling city areas, that doesn't mean there aren't spaces to enjoy some peace in nature. The Mississippi National River & Recreation Area, which sits within both cities, offers some tranquility.

Whether traveling alone or with a family, this landmark has something for everyone. At the visitor center, you can learn about the area's nature and the Native American history related to America's longest river. Alternatively, you can go for a walk or kayak on the river.

A lighthouse on a cliff with some green and bare trees next to blue water
Split Rock Lighthouse was built to bring sailors safely to the harbor during storms

Split Rock Lighthouse

One of the most photographed famous landmarks of Minnesota is Split Rock Lighthouse. The lighthouse's beauty, no matter the season or time of day, is already enough to make you want to visit.

However, it also has a dramatic history that intrigues countless tourists yearly. Lake Superior, where the lighthouse stands, was the location of numerous shipwrecks. After over twenty ships sank in a single storm, the lighthouse was built to bring sailors safely to the harbor.

When visiting, you can learn more about the benefits of the lighthouse and events throughout its history. Of course, you can also admire the stunning coastal views around the lighthouse.

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A building with many windows and a red sign that says "Mill City Museum"
You can learn about the flour milling industry at Mill City Museum

Mill City Museum

Once the home of the largest flour mill in Minnesota, Mill City Museum offers you a unique look at Minneapolis history. You will learn about the city's founding and how it grew to its current state.

Other things to learn about include the flour milling industry and its importance to the city's economy. You can also see the old mill factory, which gives a unique character to the museum.

A white capitol building with a staircase outside and two statues in front of it
The Minnesota State Capitol is one of the most important buildings in the state

Minnesota State Capitol

If you find yourself in Saint Paul, you must see the Minnesota State Capitol on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. As the seat of the Minnesota government, it's one of the most important buildings in the state.

The current State Capitol opened in 1905 and has been recognized by the Minnesota Historical Society as one of the most culturally significant buildings in the state. Tours are available for those that want to learn more about the building and politics in Minnesota.

Peavey–Haglin Experimental Concrete Grain Elevator

Though Minnesota has plenty of natural landmarks to attract tourists, you can't forget about another big part of the state's economy: farming. The state's booming agricultural ties inspired the Peavey-Haglin Experimental Concrete Grain Elevator, also known as the Nordic Wave Elevator.

In 1899, Frank Peavey and Charles Haglin worked to design this alternative to the typical wooden storage options that often caught fire. Today, farms across the country use their design to store food for their livestock.

Due to its significance, the Peavey–Haglin Experimental Concrete Grain Elevator is also one of the most well-known Minnesota state landmarks.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Visitors looking for a little reprieve from the bustle of the city have to plan a trip to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The garden covers 11 acres with plenty of room to walk around and relax. However, its artistic nature makes it different from other parks in the area.

Throughout the park, you will find over forty permanent sculptures and many temporary artworks in different clearings on the property. One of the most prominent pieces in the garden is the "Spoon Bridge and Cherry" sculpture that has become a symbol of the city.

A boat on a river winding through green trees under a partly cloudy sky
300 acres of Interstate State Park sit in Minnesota, with the rest in Wisconsin

Interstate State Park

When you are close to the border of two states, it is not always easy to know which one you're in. That is sometimes the case when in Interstate State Park! This state park opened in 1895 and is located in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The majority of the park falls on the Wisconsin side of the border. However, nearly 300 acres of the park sit in Minnesota. The park is perfect for hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, and wildlife watching.

James J. Hill House

When construction was completed in 1891, the James J. Hill House was the largest mansion in Minnesota. It had countless rooms and ornate decor in every corner, making it a symbol of decadence. Today, it is one of the most renowned historical landmarks in Minnesota.

Though it remained a family home for three decades, it never ceased to draw attention from the public due to its cultural importance and ornate nature. Those visiting today can learn more about railroad magnate James J. Hill and the house's history.

Lake Superior

The Great Lakes of the United States are famous worldwide. However, only one of them gets the title of the world's largest freshwater lake. That's Lake Superior.

Interestingly, this lake holds ten percent of the world's surface water! With a stat like that, it's impossible not to be in awe of such a place.

Cities across the state depend on the lake as a water source. It is also a much-loved attraction, being the ideal place to boat, kayak, and more.

Three hut-shaped houses surrounded by green grass under a partly cloudy sky
Historic Fort Snelling was used to protect the waterways around Saint Paul

Historic Fort Snelling

Saint Paul might be a big city now, but it wasn't always. Building the jewel of Ramsey County took a lot of effort over the years. That includes keeping the Mississippi River safe when trade and settlements became a more permanent part of the local economy.

Historic Fort Snelling was home to the area's military presence thanks to its sheltered location. Nestled on a hilltop, soldiers could keep a watchful eye from the fort on the Mississippi and other rivers around Saint Paul.

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A brown wooden vernacular house with a gray roof sitting on grass next to trees
The Grand Portage National Monument celebrates the Ojibwe Native Americans

Grand Portage National Monument

Of all the National Historic Landmarks in Minnesota, Grand Portage National Monument is the best at taking you back in time. This monument celebrates the culture of the Grand Portage Anishinaabe, or Ojibwe Native Americans, and their treaties with the US.

You can feel as though you're an early Minnesota settler through authentic pieces of history and accurate recreations. Locals highly recommend visiting the monument, particularly when re-enactment events are scheduled.

A cascading waterfall flowing down a rocky cliff surrounded by autumn trees
Gooseberry Falls State Park is a stunning place to go hiking

Gooseberry Falls State Park

If you're looking for adventure in the great outdoors, Gooseberry Falls State Park is the place for you. While it certainly attracts its fair share of visitors, locals would argue that it's one of the least touristy parks. That means you can feel like you are off the beaten path when visiting!

You will also have plenty to do when in the park. Between hiking, camping, skiing, and more, if you love being outside, you'll be able to spend a fun-filled day here.

In Summary

As you can see, there are many famous Minnesota landmarks to visit for all types of travelers! Nature lovers can enjoy spending time in state parks or partaking in water activities on the Mississippi or Lake Superior.

In addition, history and culture enthusiasts can visit various museums, monuments, and historic sites. Even families will have a great time checking out Minnesota's most famous landmark, the Mall of America.

This article was edited by Alli Sewell.

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Written by Gabrielle T

ggtraveler1213 WRITER Hi! I'm a lover of all things travel and culture. I'm originally from the USA, but I've lived in Italy for over a decade! I'm always ready to pack my bags, get my passport, and head out on an adventure!


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