15 Must-Visit Road Trip Destinations From Minneapolis

Escape Cadet Staff

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An Exploration into Minneapolis Road Trips

Ever wonder where the road could lead from Minneapolis? Well, I certainly did. Being the curious soul that I am, I started on virtual road trips, hunting for routes that lead to charm and adventure – and eventually started driving them on my own!

As your friendly guide, I’ll tease your wanderlust with my findings. Ready for a little road trip? I assure you, the surprises are well worth it!

Let’s buckle up and hit the road.

1. Duluth, Minnesota

red roof house over body of water

Sitting along Lake Superior, Duluth offers an abundance of outdoor fun. As a hotspot for adventurous spirits, one can spend the day hiking or biking through the picturesque trails.

The lakefront is another area to explore. With a stunning waterfront, your time in Duluth can be as calm or as exciting as you wish it to be. Whether you prefer a serene morning walk or a full day of exploration, Duluth has got you covered. It’s a place that truly brings the beauty of the great outdoors to life.

2. Ely, Minnesota

Ely is a small town in Minnesota. Considered the gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), it’s a prime destination for adventure seekers. Ely provides an ideal starting point for those looking to explore the untamed beauty of the BWCAW.

This boundless wilderness is a water network of over a thousand lakes and streams, famously known for its canoe routes. No motor vehicles are allowed there, so canoeing is not just an option, it’s the rule. So, if you’re an outdoor enthusiast in search of tranquility or an adrenaline rush alike, paddle your way into the unspoiled wilderness of the BWCAW from Ely, Minnesota.

For additional information, feel free to visit the official Ely, Minnesota website.

3. Madison, Wisconsin

Located in the heart of the U.S, Madison, Wisconsin, is a must-visit city. With a bustling cultural scene, there’s always something interesting to do. From music festivals to theatrical performances, art galleries, and museums, Madison, Wisconsin, never disappoints.

You can also pay a visit to the stunning state capitol building. It’s not just significant as the hub of political matters, but it’s also a symbol of architectural beauty. Remember to replace your wide-eyed fascinations with a composed admiration as you absorb the rich history that each stone echoes. A trip to Madison, Wisconsin, is undeniably a wonderful mix of culture, politics, and heritage.

4. Door County, Wisconsin

Let’s talk about Door County, a gem in Wisconsin’s crown. Nestled on a peninsula, this region is brimming with awe-inspiring landscapes that will undoubtedly take your breath away. Think vibrant fall colors, serene winter snowscapes, spring blossoms, and sun-soaked summer days.

But it’s not just the natural beauty that beckons. Door County is a paradise for wine lovers, housing some of the state’s best wineries. Imagine sipping on a glass of perfectly aged, local wine while soaking up an unforgettable sunset view. Sounds incredible, right.

The waterfront dining scene here is also something to write home about. With local, fresh produce being the star of the show in every kitchen, each meal turns into a culinary experience. And, there’s nothing quite like dining al fresco with the soothing sound of water in the background. Trust me, it’s an experience you don’t want to miss. Check out the official Door County website for much more refined insights.

5. Chicago, Illinois

white and brown city buildings during daytime

If you’re visiting the Windy City, one of the must-dos is to explore Chicago’s rich architectural heritage by taking a boat tour. The city’s river and lake provide unique perspectives to view the city’s stunning architecture. River cruises offer a chilled-out way to learn about the history of buildings like the Willis Tower and the Tribune Tower by experienced docents. It’s definitely a unique way to sightsee.

Another highlight is shopping along the Magnificent Mile. This bustling area of Chicago is known for its wide range of stores – from mainstream, affordable shopping to exclusive, high-end boutiques. There’s something to suit everyone’s taste and budget. As you weave in and out of the shops, you’ll also find plenty of eateries offering a variety of cuisine – perfect for refuelling after a busy day of retail therapy.

6. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, known as the brewing capital of the United States, is a dream destination for beer enthusiasts. This proud city hosts a myriad of breweries, from historic staples to trendy new microbreweries. Each offers a unique palette of flavors tailored to cater to the eclectic tastes of beer aficionados.

Some breweries stand as landmarks in the city’s rich history, speaking volumes of Milwaukee’s brewing heritage. Others represent the future, introducing inventive brewing methods and unique blends. The city’s breweries are more than just places to grab a pint – they are a significant part of the city’s character and charm.

Whether you’re a fan of lagers, ales, or stouts, Milwaukee has something for you. So why not plan a brew-tour and taste what this city has to offer. Please remember to enjoy responsibly.

7. Black Hills, South Dakota

The Black Hills of South Dakota is an outdoor adventurer’s dream and a history enthusiast’s treasure trove. This notable mountain range is known for its dense forests, rugged trails, and an abundance of wildlife just waiting to be explored.

One of the hills’ most famous landmarks is Mount Rushmore, a historic monument sculpted right into the mountainside featuring the faces of four U.S presidents. But the adventure doesn’t stop there. When you’re in the Black Hills, you’re never far from the next great discovery. Be it the sprawling caves, scenic byways, or the charming towns dotting the region, there’s always something for everyone


8. Kansas City, Missouri

When you think of Kansas City, Missouri, a couple of things might immediately spring to mind. First, it’s a hub for jazz music, a place where the rhythm runs deep and the soundscapes are as rich as they come. Numerous local establishments thrive on the lively jazz scene, making KCMO a music lover’s paradise.

And then there’s the barbeque that Kansas City is famous for. A melting pot of flavors, the city hosts countless BBQ joints where you can relish diverse and mouthwatering dishes. Don’t forget about the Country Club Plaza too. This beautiful district, modeled after Seville, Spain, is a shopping paradise and an architectural beauty.

9. Badlands National Park, South Dakota

brown mountain

When it comes to breathtaking rock formations, wildlife, and sunsets, Badlands National Park in South Dakota should be on your bucket list. The park is home to vast landscapes filled with sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended beautifully with the largest protected mixed-grass prairie in the United States.

As you traverse through the park, you might get a chance to observe a variety of wildlife including bison, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and coyotes. A trip is not complete without witnessing its quintessential striking sunsets painting the sky in hues of pink, purple, and red. Simply unforgettable.

10. Red Wing, Minnesota

If you’re searching for a charming city that embodies small-town America with a sprinkle of history and nature, look no further than Red Wing, Minnesota. The quaint city is home to a historic downtown filled with unique shops, eateries, and stunning architecture. At the heart of the city, the Pottery Museum stands as a testament to Red Wing’s rich clay industry history.

But arguably, the real gem of Red Wing is Barn Bluff, an iconic landmark providing breathtaking views of the city and beyond. Whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, or simply seeking a weekend escape, Red Wing, Minnesota has something to offer for everyone.

11. Fargo, North Dakota

It might surprise you to know that Fargo, North Dakota has a vibrant arts scene. Talented artists from different disciplines are making their mark on the cultural landscape of this city. From individual exhibitions to community art projects, there’s so much to showcase the creative spirit of Fargo.

Historically, Fargo is fascinating. The city is dotted with structures that tell captivating stories of yesteryears. Get immersed in its architectural richness and uncover the enigmatic past that still lingers in these magnificent edifices.

And when you think of dining in Fargo, think diversity. Whether you’re developed a taste for fine dining or love exploring street food, Fargo’s food scene does not disappoint. But, don’t just take my word for it, come on over to Fargo and experience it for yourself.

12. Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, Minnesota

Visiting Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area is like stepping into an adventurer’s dream. Tucked into the heart of Minnesota, this gem offers a plethora of activities. All centered around the serene and beautiful local lakes.

You can get into just about anything here. Mountain biking, fishing, scuba diving, canoeing, the list just goes on and on. The best bit. All this action doesn’t take away from the peaceful nature of the landscape. Instead, it simply adds to the allure.

So why wait. Plan your trip today and jump start your adventure in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area.

13. Stillwater, Minnesota

You know, Stillwater, Minnesota has a charm that’s hard to resist. It’s known for its scenic, walkable downtown area. This quaint town thrives at a slower pace, allowing residents and visitors alike to truly take in its historic atmosphere.

The town hasn’t forgotten its roots. In fact, it enthusiastically showcases them. Many Victorian homes have been meticulously restored and preserved. This nod to history not only enhances the town’s aesthetics but also adds to its character, making a stroll through its streets feel somewhat akin to stepping back in time.

14. Pipestone National Monument, Minnesota

When visiting Pipestone National Monument in Minnesota, you’re immersing yourself in more than just a lush landscape. You are stepping into centuries of indigenous history. This nationally protected area offers a potent glance into the past traditions of Native American culture.

The monument holds significant spiritual value for many tribes. Native Americans have extracted the red pipestone – used in sacred ceremonial pipes – from this land for over 2,000 years. It’s an awe-inspiring experience to walk the same paths and feel a palpable connection with history.

15. Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin

a large rock formation

As a nature lover, the first place that comes to my mind when thinking of a great escape is Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin. Nestled amidst the Baraboo Hills, this place has a charm like no other. It simply makes you appreciate what Mother Nature has to offer.

Picture yourself hiking on the picturesque trails, swimming in the clear blue waters, or fishing to your heart’s content. Remember, the fun doesn’t end there. This place is a hotspot for camping too. If I can describe Devil’s Lake in one word, it would definitely be a ‘haven’. So, what are you waiting for. Pack your bags, bring your adventurous spirit, and let nature’s beauty bewitch you.

For more information, visit the official Devil’s Lake website.

Exploring the Midwest: Summing Up

With the diversity of landscapes and activities, the Midwest offers you a cornucopia of experiences to explore. Whether it is the enigmatic outdoor fun of Duluth, Minnesota, the tranquil Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Ely, or the cultural kaleidoscope of Madison, Wisconsin, you are sure to find something that intrigues you.

Paddle through Door County’s wineries, dive into the architectural wonders of Chicago, and get a beer at Milwaukee’s famous breweries.

Don’t miss the historical narratives of the Black Hills and the jazz rhythms and succulent BBQ of Kansas City. Traverse the unique terrain of Badlands National Park, explore the quaint charm of Red Wing and immerse yourself in the vibrant arts scene of Fargo. The Midwestern states are brimming with unique and memorable adventures just waiting to be discovered.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

What is there to do in Duluth, Minnesota?

Duluth is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. You can hike or bike through picturesque trails, or explore the tranquil yet vibrant waterfront.

What could I possibly enjoy in Ely, Minnesota?

Ely is the gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. As such, it offers one the chance to explore this natural beauty. Remember, here, canoeing isn’t just an option, it’s the rule!

What is unique about Madison, Wisconsin?

Madison, Wisconsin, offers a fascinating blend of culture, politics, and heritage. From music festivals to theatrical performances, and a visit to the state capitol building, you won’t be short of things to do.

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