A famous aviator, a great American author, a logger who became larger than life – Minnesota has a wealth of culture and folklore as well as fresh air wilderness and trendy shopping centers. Also known as the North Star State, Gopher State and Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota is full of historic and natural wonders. Discovering them is easy. Paddle, cruise or row across its bountiful lakes; cruise Minnesota’s many scenic highways; or bike along historic pioneer trails. Then pause for these day trip stopovers.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

Charles A. Lindbergh House
1620 Lindbergh Drive S.
Little Falls, MN 56345
(320) 616-5421

Born in Detroit, legendary aviator Charles Lindbergh spent his boyhood on a small farm in central Minnesota. As a youth, he decided to apply his exceptional engineering skills to aviation science. Aviation in the Roaring Twenties was the equivalent to today’s high tech breakthroughs. It brought Lindbergh fame in 1927, when he made a historic non-stop flight across the Atlantic. Since then, he has been immortalized as The Spirit of St. Louis, the aircraft in which he made the transatlantic flight. His home in Little Falls, Minnesota is full of memorabilia, providing a glimpse into Charles A. Lindbergh himself.

Paul Bunyan Land
17553 State Highway 18
Brainerd, MN 56401
(218) 203-4442

Depending on the season, you can bike, snowmobile or cross country ski along 100 to 120 miles of trail in Northern Minnesota. Extending from Crow Wing State Park to Lake Bemidji State Park, the Paul Bunyan trail is the longest in Minnesota. The trail connects to the charming towns of Baxter and Bemidji, where you can grab a cup of fresh coffee. Due to high volume traffic, this trail is constantly repaved and repaired. During the spring and summer, certain trail sections might be closed due to scheduled maintenance. Visitors are advised to call the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources (218-203-4442) for scheduled closings or a guide to different trail locations.

Related: Best Family-Friendly Getaways Near Minnesota

Paul Bunyan Historical Society And Museum
Main Street, behind Paul Bunyan statue
Akeley, MN

The towns of Bemidji and Brainerd both claim mythical lumberjack Paul Bunyan as their folklore hero. A strapping 26-footer, Paul Bunyan sprung from the collective imagination of loggers who spun tall tales. Thanks to the PR acumen of writer William B. Laughead, the fictional giant lumberjack became an advertising icon for a lumber company. But Bunyan developed into a real-life folk hero for many. Blaze the Paul Bunyan trail or tour the Paul Bunyan Historical Society and Museum to learn more about how Paul Bunyan entered history as an American legend.

Sinclair Lewis Home
810 Sinclair Lewis Ave.
Sauk Centre, MN 56378
(320) 352-5201

Perhaps best remembered for Elmer Gantry, a searing novel about faith and hypocrisy, author Sinclair Lewis was a canny observer of his time. The narcissism, conformity and self-righteousness he witnessed persist today. Defined as a social satirist, Lewis was a savvy social commentator. His contributions to modern literature can be seen in his literary work and from his home in Sauk Centre, Minnesota.

(credit: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Lakes for Recreation

The Land of 10,000 Lakes is famous for fishing, beaches and boating. With so many lakes to choose from, a day trip would be incomplete without a day of recreation at a popular lake resort. These lakes are favorite spots for visitors who want to enjoy a day on the water or explore the lakeshore:

  • Lake Superior – kayaking, boating and fishing.
  • Big Detroit Lake – fishing and water recreation
  • Lake Minnetonka – cruises, boating, natural history, lake resorts
  • Lake Waconia – cruises, resorts, boating, fishing, regional park

Minnesota has many guides for visitors who want to fish, boat or swim.

For swimming: Best-Lakes-for-Swimming
For boating or fishing: Travel-Guide-to-the-Best-Lakes-in-Minnesota

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Linda Cameron has written home design, home improvement and lifestyle articles for The Boston Globe and City Shopper Magazine. She has related interests in the building industry, travel, real estate and financing. She is a contributor to Examiner, House Spot, Techsling and Behance, covering topics on career, people, businesses, education and technology.