Statues of folklore characters Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe, can be found in Bemidji, Minnesota. (Jonathunder/Creative Commons)

Visiting the United States? There are 50 states to see. If you like shopping, the great outdoors and learning about wildlife, Minnesota is where you should go!

Welcome to Minnesota! The “land of 10,000 lakes” is also the starting point of the Mississippi River.

You can really chill here, since low temperatures average minus 25 degrees Celsius (minus 14 degrees Fahrenheit) in the winter, but why not take advantage of the seasonal weather by riding in a horse-drawn sleigh? And at any time of year, you can visit Minnesota’s state and national parks, where you might spot black bears, wolves, moose, elk and bald eagles.

Whatever’s on your itinerary, be sure to visit the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, where you can find the country’s largest sculpture garden, stroll down Grand Avenue, dine at excellent restaurants, enjoy opera and theater performances, and take in the latest exhibitions at the Walker Art Center or the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

As you venture across the state, don’t forget to check out some amazing roadside attractions. In Bemidji, you’ll be greeted by monumental statues of America’s mythic lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe.

Read more about Minnesota and check out the other 49 states. If you need a visa to visit, here’s how to get one.

(State Dept.)

Bright lights, big city

The Minneapolis Riverfront District is an urban paradise, where you can refuel at trendy cafés when you’re not hunting for treasures at elegant stores and locally owned boutiques. If you’re a bibliophile, take a tour of the Open Book center, where you can watch how books are printed and bound. And discover the city’s vibrant theater scene by attending live performances at the State Theatre, housed in an Italian Renaissance-style building, or the Guthrie Theater, which has its own resident acting company.

Downtown Minneapolis, seen at night (Thinkstock)

Shop till you drop!

The Mall of America, located in Bloomington, takes up 452,000 square meters, encompassing over 520 stores, 50 restaurants, 14 film-theater screens, an aquarium and an amusement park. It welcomes 42 million visitors each year (that’s more than Disney World, Graceland and the Grand Canyon combined). A bonus: Minnesota has no sales tax on clothing and shoes!

An interior view of the Mall of America (Mono P / Wikimedia Commons via Flickr)
An interior view of the Mall of America (Mono P/Creative Commons)

The call of the wild

If you want to experience a unique thrill, visit the International Wolf Center, near Ely. It’s an educational center that supports the survival of wolves, with hands-on exhibits, demonstrations of wolf-tracking methods, and much more.

A gray wolf pauses near a birch tree. (Thinkstock)

Scenic beauty

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, on a rugged north-shore cliff in Two Harbors, has a spectacular view of Lake Superior. The park is home to the restored Split Rock Lighthouse, built in 1910.  Also, explore the park’s hiking trails, spend the night at one of the local campsites — but bring your own supplies!

Minnesota’s Split Rock Lighthouse, overlooking Lake Superior (Jonathunder/GFDL)

Famous faces

Who says the U.S. doesn’t have royalty? Pop music star Prince was born and raised in Minnesota. His music blends multiple genres and is known as funk rock. Bob Dylan, folk-rock music singing and songwriting legend, is also from this state. One of his most notable songs, “Blowin’ in the Wind,” has been covered by multiple artists.

Picture yourself here …

… at Lake Minnetonka, a popular recreation spot in Minnesota! When it does get warm, locals enjoy water sports, boating, fishing or having a picnic on one of the lake’s three islands.

Steamboat on a lake, as seen from a pier (© Greg Ryan/Alamy stock photo)
The historic steamboat Minnehaha cruises Lake Minnetonka in the summer. (© Greg Ryan/Alamy stock photo)

Did you know?

Water skis were invented in Minnesota in 1922 by Ralph W. Samuelson and were first used on Lake Pepin. Today, there are over 11 million water skiers in the U.S. and 900 water skiing competitions every year. Whether you’re a beginner or professional, you can have fun gliding along one of Minnesota’s many thousands of lakes.

A boat pulls a water skier. (Thinkstock)