16 Best Day Trips From Minneapolis (for All Seasons!)

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Are you looking for the best day trips from Minneapolis? This guide is here to help!

Are you planning your trip to Minneapolis last minute?

Be sure to book your accommodation and tours from Minneapolis ahead of time to ensure availability!

🇺🇸 Top Minneapolis tours you may like:

  1. Moose Lake Triple Cross Dune Buggy Adventure (top-rated!)
  2. Saint Paul Gangster Tour (another recommended option!)
  3. Minneapolis Private Riding & Walking Tour
  4. Historic Cave Tour

🛌  Top lodging recommendations in Minneapolis:

  1. Rand Tower Hotel (excellent location!)
  2. InterContinental Minneapolis (near St. Paul Airport)
  3. Holiday Inn Express Hotel (has a pool!)

🚗  Looking for the best way to get around Minnesota? Click here to check rental car rates for MN!

If you’re spending some time in Minneapolis, it’s definitely worth checking out the nearby area in beautiful Minnesota to truly get a taste of all the landmarks, activities, and more.

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the best Minneapolis day trips, perfect if you plan to stay there for a while.

Best day trips from Minneapolis
Best day trips from Minneapolis

We have also included a few amazing weekend trips if you have more than one day!

Best Day Trips From Minneapolis

1. Stillwater

Location: Minnesota
Distance from Minneapolis: 34 minutes (25.7 miles)

Stillwater is where Minnesota was born in 1838 and is located on the scenic St. Croix River.

The Minnesota destination welcomes you to go shopping, lodging, and dining in a town that has been named one of America’s most picturesque towns by USA Today.

It’s especially exquisite during the winter season when you can experience the ski trails, holiday boutique shopping, and romantic winter escapes.

Stillwater, MN
Stillwater, MN

Being one of America’s most picturesque towns, there are many things to do and see while enjoying the scenic views the town has to offer.

During the summer, they have many outdoor festivals, boating, historic sightseeing, and patio dining.

Visit Stillwater for an amazing time spent either alone or with family and friends in the great outdoors, enjoying the wonderful views and interacting with amazing nature.

2. Owatonna

Location: Minnesota
Distance from Minneapolis: 1 hour and 1 minute (65.2 miles)

Owatonna, although not that well known, is a hidden gem that has healing waters, architectural landmarks, and a very rare state orphanage that has been turned into a museum open to all to visit.

One of the major architectural sites here is the Farmer’s National Bank, also referred to as an architectural jewel box.

It was designed by the famous Louis Sullivan, also known as the father of skyscrapers.

The building looks just like a jewel box and even has windows that reflect like jewels.

As far as the healing waters go, you can drink the legendary healing waters at Mineral Springs Park.

The legend comes from Native American history as there was a legend that a Native American princess fell ill, but then when she drank from those very waters, she was cured.

Even the name, Owatonna, stems from the Native American name for “straight river.” Visit Owatonna and discover all its mysteries for yourself! 

3. Iona’s Beach Scientific and Natural Area (SNA)

Location: Minnesota
Distance from Minneapolis: 3 hours and 7 minutes (197.1 miles)

Iona’s Beach Scientific and Natural Area is a unique place to visit. Unlike other beaches that are covered in golden sand, this beach is covered with pink rocks.

You can even hear the rocks “sing” as the waves crash along the shore!

Iona's Beach Scientific and Natural Area
Iona’s Beach Scientific and Natural Area

Please keep in mind that the beach is designated as a scientific and natural area, which means that you cannot collect any of the plants, rocks, or other natural belongings.

Another popular activity for people who wish to visit the beach is birdwatching, as the area is home to 13 species of warblers.

You can also access a variety of hiking trails near the site, most notably the Gitchi Gami State Trail.

Address: 3548 MN-61, Two Harbors, MN 55616

4. Bemidji

Location: Minnesota
Distance from Minneapolis: 3 hours and 38 minutes (215.6 miles)

Bemidji was known as the first official town on the Mississippi River.

The town was founded by European Americans who first settled there in the late 1800s.

Today, there are many things to do and see in the city, making it the ideal weekend escape (perhaps just more than a day trip!).

For example, you can visit the Headwaters Science Center, which is a great place for both young children and adults.


Here, you can learn about science and engage in some hands-on activities, such as holding a snake or checking out the 210-gallon saltwater aquarium.

One of the best places to eat if you’re going to stop by is the Wild Hare Bistro and Coffeehouse.

For example, they have blueberry muffins made with wild rice.

They also have hearty soups and salads, so whatever you choose, this restaurant will never cease to amaze you.

5. Red Wing

Location: Minnesota
Distance from Minneapolis: 1 hour and 4 minutes (54.6 miles)

Whether you like to explore the great outdoors, go shopping, eat at great restaurants, or just hang out with your friends and family, Red Wing has got it all!

One of the activities that is most popular in the area is paddling. You can book an adventure at the Broken Paddle and enjoy the scenic views of Red Wing.

There are also eagle tours, where you will be able to check out the bald eagle population that lives along the Mississippi River.

Red Wing
Red Wing

Fishing is also fairly popular in the area for the locals as well as visitors, so if you’re into fishing, Red Wing is a great place to go.

Red Wing also happens to be a great place to go camping.

If you’re a history buff, be sure to check out the Aliveo Military Museum where you can learn about segments of American history from the Civil War to the Vietnam War.

6. Jeffers Petroglyphs

Location: Minnesota
Distance from Minneapolis: 2 hours and 20 minutes (138.9 miles)

At Jeffers Petroglyphs, you can check out around 5,000 ancient carvings of various stories and legends of the ancient Native American tribes.

This unique location tells the ancient history of Minnesota, where you can check out the carvings that share images of humans, animals, and tools.

It’s estimated that some of the petroglyphs are as old as 9,000 years, with the most recent being approximately 250 years old.

Jeffers Petroglyphs
Jeffers Petroglyphs

When you visit, you can start off at the Visitor Center and move on to the tour of the carvings between Memorial Day and Labor Day. You can also check out the exhibits and presentations.

Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children ages 5-17, senior citizens, veterans, active duty soldiers, and college students. For children ages 4 and under, admission is free.

Address: 27160 Co Rd 2, Comfrey, MN 56019

7. Taylors Falls

Location: Minnesota
Distance from Minneapolis: 1 hour and 4 minutes (54.6 miles)

Adventure awaits you at the St. Croix Valley! Mainly for those who are interested in doing outdoor activities, Taylor Falls of the St. Croix Valley is an exceptional place to set up camp and go hiking and boating.

The most amazing thing to do in this area would definitely have to be going on winter night hikes!

You can also go shopping at the malls or go have some amazing food and support local businesses by both shopping and eating out.

Taylors Falls - Linda McKusick - Shutterstock
Taylors Falls – Linda McKusick – Shutterstock

This underrated town is definitely worth visiting if you’re in the area. However, let’s not forget about Taylor Falls itself.

The park is a geological phenomenon that was produced by a flood of water from a melting glacier which carved potholes.

It’s very fun for both children and adults as children can climb up on the rocks and adults become fascinated with the wonder that is nature. 

8. Pipestone National Monument and Park

Location: Minnesota
Distance from Minneapolis: 3 hours and 22 minutes (196.8 miles)

Named after the red pipestone that was found at the site, Pipestone National Monument and Park are considered sacred grounds for local tribes.

The pipestone was used to carve the pipes that local Native American tribes used to say their prayers.

At Pipestone National Monument and Park, you can explore the cultural demonstrations, exhibitions, and special films offered here, as well as take part in self-guided tours.

You can also engage in the hands-on activities available for both children and adults from spring to fall.

Pipestone National Monument and Park
Pipestone National Monument and Park

Then, there are films with demonstrations where you can learn more about the spiritual and cultural significance of the site.

You can also take walks in the park and see a waterfall, historical markers, and wildlife.

Pipestone National Monument and Park is also well-known for the special events it holds, so make sure to stay up to date on its website if you want to be a part of it all!  

Address: 36 Reservation Ave, Pipestone, MN 56164

9. Red Cedar State Trail

Location: Wisconsin
Distance from Minneapolis: 1 hour and 14 minutes (70.3 miles)

This trail is ideal if you’re trying to explore different kinds of terrain. It is 14.5 miles long and goes through Irvington and Downsville.

The Red Cedar State Trail passes by marshland bottoms, prairies, farmlands, and forests, and you also get to see some very unique rock formations along the way.

On the trail, if you wish to go biking or cross-country skiing, please remember that you need to have a required state trail pass to do so.

The trail is open between 6 AM to 11 PM, so feel free to stop by anytime you want during any season, as there are many activities despite the weather.

In the winter, it’s also a popular place for snowmobiling.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the small waterfall that you’ll pass north of Dunnville, which will prove to be a great reward for the long trip!

As far as admission goes, you don’t have to pay a fee unless you want to stay for a trail pass.

10. New Ulm

Location: Minnesota
Distance from Minneapolis: 1 hour and 34 minutes (93.9 miles)

New Ulm is a little town that’s heavily influenced by Germanic culture. As New Ulm is influenced by German culture, they also appreciate beer greatly.

They even have an exquisite brewery called the August Schell Brewery. There, you can find the closest thing to authentic German beer made in the United States.

In fact, the August Schell Brewery is the second-oldest family brewery in the US!

New Ulm - EWY Media - Shutterstock
New Ulm – EWY Media – Shutterstock

You can also check out the Brown County Historical Museum where you can learn more about the history of New Ulm.

Some neat items that you can see at the museum include household items from Germany and an operator switchboard.

Be sure to also climb to the top of the Hermann Monument, which commemorates the Germans’ victory over Rome. When you climb 100 steps, you will capture stunning views of New Ulm and the surrounding area.

11. Mantorville

Location: Minnesota
Distance from Minneapolis: 1 hour and 18 minutes (77 miles)

Whether you’re an absolute history buff or a nature enthusiast, Mantorville has got it all.

Old School Cafe is where you should start the day off in this small town. It’s the perfect spot for a traditional breakfast and coffee. Some of the best items on the menu include scones, muffins, and eggs.

What makes this spot unique is that it is built in a former schoolhouse.

If you enjoy the arts, you can also check out the Art Guild, where you can see unique pieces of jewelry, furniture, and paintings for sale made by local artists.

Mantorville - Akerri - Shutterstock
Mantorville – Akerri – Shutterstock

For those who have a sweet tooth, you’ll find heaven at the Chocolate Shoppe, a mother-daughter founded store where you’ll get to try hand-dipped chocolate and homemade caramel

If you are visiting during the summer, make sure to visit the Mantorville Theater Company. During the summer, they are famous for their melodramas that are entertaining for all ages.

Finally, you can take a Historic Walking Tour of the town, where you will be able to check out 28 historical locations like the Grand Old Mansion.

12. Lake Pepin

Location: Minnesota
Distance from Minneapolis: 1 hour and 14 minutes (65.3 miles)

Into water sports? Then Lake Pepin is for you! Lake Pepin was the city in Minnesota where water skiing was invented.

It is also one of the world’s best places for sailboats, so if you’re into sailing and you happen to be in Minnesota, make sure to stop by Lake Pepin.

Lake Pepin
Lake Pepin

It also forms the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Even if you’re not into water sports or sailing, you can still visit the lake and walk around the shores, go swimming, or visit the nearby shops, stores, and awesome restaurants.

When in Lake Pepin, one of the greatest places to stay definitely would have to be the Villa Maria with its Victorian-style architecture and cozy feel.

13. Quarry Park & Nature Preserve

Location: Minnesota
Distance from Minneapolis: 1 hour and 9 minutes (70.9 miles)

Quarry Park & Nature Reserve is nearly 663 acres and has much to offer to all those who appreciate and love nature. Some of the natural features include the open prairie, wetlands, and scenic woodlands.

There is also very rich plant life as there are many different kinds of types of trees from oaks to aspens.

Along the trails, you can also find exhibits from the granite industry and swimming quarries.

Quarry Park & Nature Preserve
Quarry Park & Nature Preserve

The park is open year-round from 8 AM to half an hour past sunset.

When the season is right and the ski trails are groomed, the park is open until 10 PM for cross-country skiing.

Daily entrance permits are $5, or you can get an annual permit for $25. 

Address: 1802 Co Rd 137, Waite Park, MN 56387

15. Brainerd

Location: Minnesota
Distance from Minneapolis: 2 hours and 7 minutes (126.7 miles)

Brainerd, also known as Minnesota’s Playground, is as cool as its name sounds! 

Here, you will get to explore over 500 lakes, nature trails, public parks, and beaches.

There are so many activities to partake in when you visit Brainerd, including boating, jet skiing, hiking, and more.

One of the most popular places for hiking is the Paul Bunyan State Trail, which is great even when covered in snow.


Here, you can go cycling, rollerblading, and hiking, and in the winter, snowmobiling is the way to go!

You can also visit Gull Lake, the perfect place to go fishing, swimming, water skiing, or simply lounging on a hot summer day.

For those who want an adrenaline rush, be sure to check out the nearby Brainerd Zip Line Tour, where you can whizz across Pillsbury State Forest and admire the gorgeous sites.

Families should also be sure to check out Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, which features a unique pirate theme, as well as a nearby go-cart track for those looking for extra fun.

16. Alexandria

Location: Minnesota
Distance from Minneapolis: 2 hours and 2 minutes (132.1 miles)

Once in Alexandria, explore the authentic life of the small town. First, be sure to visit the Alexandria farmers’ market to check out freshly grown foods and help out local farmers.

If you want to do something with the entire family, you can visit the Arrowwood Indoor Waterpark in Alexandria.

There, children and adults alike have fun sliding down the waterslides and cooling off in the summer.

Alexandria - Sam Wagner - Shutterstock
Alexandria – Sam Wagner – Shutterstock

If you’re an adrenaline junkie or you just like to solve mysteries, make sure to check out Escape Room Alexandria where you and your friends can try to solve puzzles.

For those who enjoy craft beer, be sure to check out Copper Trail Brewing, which prides itself on the fresh beer prepared for visitors.

And if you’re into more outdoorsy activities, visit the Central Lakes Trail, where you can view the beautiful scenery and go snowmobiling in the winter.

Where to Stay in Minneapolis

If you’re looking for the top options for places to stay in Minneapolis, here are some of our top picks:

  1. Rand Tower Hotel (excellent location!)
  2. InterContinental Minneapolis (near St. Paul Airport)
  3. Holiday Inn Express Hotel (has a pool!)

Did we miss any of the best day trips from Minneapolis?

Let us know your favorite Minneapolis day trips in the comments!

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Are you looking for the best day trips from Minneapolis? This guide lists several diverse Minneapolis day trips (plus a couple amazing weekend ones). Read more! | MN day trips | Day trips in MN | Weekend trips from Minneapolis | Minneapolis weekend trips | Minneapolis weekend getaways | Things to do in Minneapolis | Places to visit near Minneapolis | Minneapolis itinerary | What to do in Minneapolis

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