Scenic Minnesota has a lot to offer for those who choose to pause and appreciate. Check out these venues where you can view five outstanding panoramas in Minnesota. This list does not include historic favorites: the IDS Center in Minneapolis and the First National Bank Building in St Paul. Unfortunately, both these landmark observation decks are no longer open to the public.
818 South 2nd Street
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Dates: Open daily 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Guthrie Architecture Tour Dates: First Saturday of the month at 9:00 a.m.; third Saturday at 10:00 a.m.
Price: Adults $17, Students And Seniors $12.
Without a doubt, Minnesota’s newest and most beautiful observation deck is the cantilevered lobby at the new Guthrie. This 178 foot long cantilevered deck stretches 30 feet from the building face. Windows on the bridge walls frame the view of many historical landmarks in the vicinity. One can admire the Mississippi River, the Stone Arch Bridge, the falls, surrounding landscape, the Gold Medal Flour sign and an urban park. The edifice side is lined with windows that are angled and made of reflective silver. They serve to magnify each view with four-way reflections. Night viewing is fantastic with the twinkle and glow of city lights. Architect, Jean Nouvel and the theater created this space accessible by the public during Guthrie business hours. Guthrie staff recommends calling in advance to ensure the space is not reserved for special events.
Forest History Center: 100 Feet
2609 County Road 76
Grand Rapids, MN 55744
Dates: Open Sat. and Sun. Labor Day through June. Open Daily 10:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. June 15 thorugh Labor Day.
Price: Adults $10, Seniors And College Students $8, Children Five Through Seventeen $6.
Kids love to climb up this tower and win a “Squirrel Card” endorsed by “Tower Man.” Be forewarned that access is limited to kids six years of age and up if accompanied by an adult. Fourteen-year-olds can take the trek alone. It is a 180-step climb up 100 feet, which is 10 stories. At the top, a live interpreter explains how rangers looked out for fires and how they sent word on its location. The entire logging camp re-enactment from the 1900s is packed with historical lore and practical environmental teachings.
Foshay Museum And Observation Deck: 447 Feet
821 Marquette Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Dates: Thur. through Mon. from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., closed Tues. and Wed.
Price: Adults $8, Seniors $5, Teens and Students $5, Children Under 12 Free.
It’s unlikely that any of today’s readers were among the 25,000 invited to the 1929 grand opening of this premier downtown skyscraper. It remained the tallest building in Minneapolis through 1972. The Foshay tower, modeled after the Washington Monument, is a testament to engineering technology, architectural design and Art Deco of the 1920s. The view is magnificent and the free telescopes at each corner of the observation deck allow you to explore downtown from a new perspective. The Tower is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Great River Bluffs State Park: 500 feet
43605 Kipp Dr.
Winona, MN 55987
Price: $25 Year-round state-wide vehicle permit; $5 One-day vehicle permit
Approximately 20 miles southeast of Winona is a small state park with over six miles of trails that lead to a series of bluffs. Hikers will find the most scenic views of the Mississippi from steep-sided bluffs near highway 61. Kings Bluff offers a more grandiose view of the entire area from a higher altitude but farther back from the river. Watch for eagles, hawks, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, turkey buzzards, and many species of songbirds and waterfowl.
Eagle Mountain: 2,301 Feet
Eagle Mountain Trail
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Superior National Forest
Price: BWCA entry point fee $6.00.
While there are no observation decks on the top of Eagle Mountain, climbers can see Lake Superior to the South, the Brule Lookout Tower to the Northwest and views of lakes and hills to the North. This is the highest natural elevation any person can attain in Minnesota. The entire seven mile climb up and down may take from three to eight hours, depending on your endurance. Near the top are two vantage points and a marker declaring this the highest point in Minnesota.
Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for Examiner.com, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at Examiner.com.