Minnesota is a state in the Midwest region of the United States of America. The name “Minnesota” comes from a Dakota Sioux word meaning “clear blue water”. There are many things that Minnesota is known for, including its countless lakes, love for hockey, and natural landscape. But there are also some lesser-known things about this state that make it unique.
What Is Minnesota Known For?
Minnesota is known for its diverse landscape, with forests, prairies, and lakes. The state is often called the Land of 10,000 lakes, referencing the large amount of lakes in the region.
Minnesota is also famous for being the home of Mall of America, the largest shopping mall in the United States; and its outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, fishing, and winter activities. Other notable attractions in Minnesota include the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Walker Art Center, and the Mayo Clinic.
Here are some of the most famous things that Minnesota is known for and what makes the state special.
Food Minnesota Is Famous For
Juicy Lucy Burgers
Burger lovers out there, you won’t want to miss out on Minnesota’s famous Juicy Lucy! This mouth-watering burger is made by stuffing a generous amount of melted, molten cheese inside a beef patty, which oozes out with every delicious bite.
It is said to have originated at Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis. The 5-8 Club in Minneapolis also claims to have created the burger. Both bars continue to serve the burgers and the debate continues regarding over who really invented it.
Nevertheless, you will find many places serving this beloved food from Minnesota. And they each have their variations to it, so that’s an excuse to try multiple joints.
The Juicy Lucy is a must-have when visiting Minneapolis. It’s a messy burger, so be prepared with extra napkins, but its certainly worth it!
Tater Tot Hotdish
Tater tot hotdish one of the most popular foods in Minnesota, made out of tater tots, ground beef, and cream of mushroom soup. The crispy tatertots give the dish a satisfying crunch, while the creamy filling underneath makes it a perfect, hearty meal.
The casserole-style dish is the ultimate crowd pleaser, and you will commonly see it in family dinners and gathering. That sense of community around the dish is what makes it such a cultural icon within the state. There are even regular Tater Tot Hotdish competitions held each year.
If you’re looking for a tasty and filling meal that is suited for sharing, tater tot hotdish is a great option.
Wild rice is a delicious and unique ingredient that is special to Minnesota, so much so that it’s the state grain.
This is a staple food of the indigenous people in the region and has been around for a long time. Best things is wild rice actually grows naturally in the shallow waters of lakes and rivers and is still hand-harvested by some Native American communities, particularly the Ojibwe tribe.
Wild rice has a grassy, earthy flavor and a slightly chewy texture that makes it a versatile ingredient in a wide variety of dishes. It is also considered a healthy food, with good balance of protein and fiber.
In Minnesota, wild rice is celebrated with an annual Wild Rice Festival, where locals and visitors can sample various dishes made with wild rice and learn more about its history and cultural significance in the region.
Yes! We are talking about famous canned meat – SPAM! However, the brand is more than just food here in Minnesota, it’s almost a way of life considering how many people have tried this food product.
The small town of Austin, Minnesota is home to the Hormel Foods Corporation, which produces millions of cans each day!
SPAM was first introduced in 1937 and there is a reason why it has become such a beloved food that Minnesota is known for. For one, it is super versatile. You can fry it up, bake it, or even grill it for a tasty meal. It is also great for making other dishes like SPAM fried rice or wrapped with Nori for a sushi-like experience.
In addition, it’s long-lasting and shelf-stable, making it a great option for camping trips or emergency food supplies.
With all that popularity, there is even a SPAM Museum that you can visit in downtown Austin. It is free admission; you can learn about the history of the product and see a few wacky SPAM-themed exhibits.
So whether you’re a die-hard SPAM fan or just curious about this quirky Minnesota tradition, there’s no denying that SPAM holds a special place in the hearts (and stomachs) of Minnesotans.
When it comes to coffee in Minnesota, move over Starbucks; because the local favorite here is Caribou Coffee!
For a coffee experience that embodies the warmth and friendliness of the state, this chain which was founded in Edina, Minnesota in 1992 is the preferred choice by Minnesotans. And they are pretty successful as well, with over 700 stores worldwide.
So if you are visiting its state of origin, make sure to stop by a Caribou Coffee and check out their menu. You will find your classic favorites like cappuccinos and espresso but also special flavors such as mint mocha, salted caramel, and campfire mocha.
Want something cold to cool off the heat? Check out their signature coolers featuring a range of ice-blended beverages.
And it’s not just about the coffee at Caribou; it’s also about the cozy atmosphere. Many of their locations feature comfy seating areas, perfect for curling up with a good book or catching up with friends.
History, Culture, And Traditions Minnesota Is Known For
North Star State
Minnesota is known as the “North Star State” because of its location as one of the northernmost states in the contiguous United States. The nickname was adopted in 1861 as Minnesota became a state just before the American Civil War.
The state’s motto “L’Etoile du Nord” actually means “Star of the North”. The North Star is also an iconic symbol on the Minnesota state flag.
Due to its geographical location, the state also experiences cold winters with temperatures often below freezing.
When it might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to Minnesota, the state has a long and rich French history dating back to the 17th century. It’s got some très intéressant tales to tell!
French explorers, fur traders, and missionaries arrived in the region that’s now Minnesota, leaving a lasting mark on its history.
Many place names in Minnesota have French origins, such as Mille Lacs County and Saint Paul, which was named in honor of the French Apostle Paul.
Famous French explorer Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut played a major role in establishing trade relations with the Native Americans in the 1670s. And that is why the city of Duluth was named after him.
There are also French festivals held in Minnesota each year, such as the Chautauqua & French-Canadian/Métis Festival. While cultural events like Festival of Nations encourages the showcase and celebration of various ethnic roots.
Land Of 10,000 Lakes
As mentioned before, Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes. In actuality, there are around 11,842 lakes in Minnesota that are larger than 10 acres.
The largest lake in Minnesota is Lake Superior, spanning 31,000 square miles and even into Canada. It is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area.
Meanwhile Red Lake is the biggest, located entirely within the boundaries of the state. It is a popular destination for fishing and recreation.
Other large lakes in Minnesota include Mille Lacs Lake, Leech Lake and Lake of the Woods. There are also many smaller lakes and ponds located throughout the state.
These bodies of water provide opportunities for swimming, fishing, boating, and other outdoor activities that Minnesota is known for.
In the winter, many of these lakes freeze over, offering a whole new set of recreational opportunities. Ice fishing, ice skating, and snowmobiling are just a few of the activities that Minnesotans enjoy on their frozen lakes.
One of the amazing features that have spawn from the frigid winter cold in Minnesota are the Skyways. These elevated walkways connect buildings in downtown areas, allowing people to move about freely even during the coldest and snowiest of winter days.
As you can imagine, they have become a well utilised and loved feature of Minnesota’s urban landscape. In fact, there’s estimated to be over 8 miles of skyways in just Minneapolis alone, these architectural marvels are an essential part of the city’s identity.
Best of all, they are not just pathway connectors. While you are walking through them, you’ll find shops, restaurants and more that offer everything from made-to-order sandwiches to custom tailored clothing. No more braving the elements to check out the local scene.
The skyways are not only practical but also iconic. It’s easy to see why they are a big part of the culture, and popular destinations for a leisurely stroll or shopping.
Minnesota State Fair
The Minnesota State Fair is one of the largest state fairs in the USA, attracting millions of attendees. It is held annually like an end of summer tradition, and is known for food, rides, attractions, and animals.
Since its founding in 1859, this “Great Minnesota Get-Together” has drawn in visitors from far and wide to enjoy a variety of family-friendly activities ranging from livestock shows to carnival rides and live entertainment.
One of the highlights for us is definitely the famous Minnesotan foods on offer. You will find vendors serving up everything from traditional fair favorites like corn dogs and funnel cakes to unique Minnesota-inspired dishes like deep-fried cheese curds and walleye cakes.
The State Fair also hosts competitions where people can have some good, old, competitive fun. Overall, it’s a lively and festive atmosphere, and many Minnesotans look forward to attending every year. If you are lucky enough to be visiting during that time, this is one event not to miss.
Minnesota is known for its cold and snowy winters. While some may find it challenging, many Minnesotans embrace the season with enthusiasm and creativity.
In all fairness, the cold season does bring out some of the best the state has to offer. From snowmobiling and snowshoeing in the north woods, to winter carnival delights and ice fishing spots along lakes and rivers throughout Minnesota.
One of the most iconic winter traditions in Minnesota is the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, which takes place every year in late January. The carnival features ice sculptures, parades, live music, and a variety of winter sports and activities.
If you are visiting during winter, make sure to bundle up in your warmest coat, hat, and gloves; but also don’t let it stop you from experiencing the fun and magic of Minnesota in the season.
This is definitely something to know if you are visiting from outside the state.
“Ope” is a sort of cute and rather endearing word often used by Minnesotans to express a mild apology, such as to excuse oneself when bumping into someone or making a small mistake.
It is a small but significant part of the unique culture in the state, and almost second nature to the locals. They might not even know they are using it, unconscious that foreigners might not know what it means.
But this is actually one of the warm gestures or ways Minnesotans show politeness and respect for others. It’s a reflection of the friendly and welcoming culture that Minnesota is known for.
Home To Major Corporations
Although Minnesota is not as well known as an economic or innovation powerhouse compared to some other cities, it is still home to some of the most influential and successful businesses in the United States.
Companies like 3M, Target, Best Buy, and General Mills are among the major corporations with headquarters based in Minnesota. These established companies contribute significantly to the state’s economy and also help create job opportunities within the ecosystem.
That said, Minnesota has been on sort of a roller coaster ride when it comes to transforming itself into a startup and entrepreneurship hub. This is certainly an area that they will look to improve on.
The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States and Minnesota is known for having one of the largest populations of these majestic creatures.
Eagles can be spotted year-round in Minnesota, but the best time to see them is during the winter months when they are more active. They migrate to the state, looking to build their nests and raise their young.
Minnesota loves its majestic bald eagles, and you can catch these beautiful birds soaring through the air, perched high up in trees, or even swooping down to snatch fish from the water. Many nature reserves and parks offer guided eagle-watching tours
Some of the best places to see bald eagles in Minnesota are Wabasha and Red Wing. And if you are really out of luck, you can always see some in the National Eagle Center who are caring for some injured birds.
Ethnic Groups Minnesota Is Known For
The Hmong community in Minnesota is certainly one to look out for! The people belongs to an ethnic group from Asia, primarily Laos, Vietnam, and China, who were forced to flee their homelands due to war and persecution.
This vibrant and culturally diverse population has been a part of Minnesota for over 45 years and their presence is truly one-of-a-kind. They have grown to become an integral part of the state’s cultural fabric.
From their traditional art and clothing to delicious cuisine, this group brings with it a rich culture full of color, flavor, and excitement! The Hmong community is particularly known for their intricate crafts and needlework, as well as passionate music and dance.
With the challenging past that they have faced, the community is are also widely recognised for their resilience in the face of adversity.
The Hmong New Year celebration, usually takes place in December. If you are lucky to be visiting during that, it is a great event to check out many of their cultural traditions.
Many visitors and foreigners probably aren’t aware that Minnesota is home to one of the largest Somali populations in the United States. You’ll find pockets of Somali culture nestled in neighborhoods like Cedar-Riverside in Minneapolis and St. Cloud, where colorful markets, aromatic spices, and the rhythmic beats of traditional music fill the air.
This important ethnic community has left an indelible mark on the state’s cultural landscape, offering a little slice of Somalia right here in the Midwest.
Of course, one of the main things to not miss is the cuisine. Somali food is a delightful fusion of flavors, drawing influences from Arabian, African, and Indian traditions. You’ll likely find them at local Somali-owned cafes or food trucks.
Beyond all the finger licking goodness, the warm nature of the people is particularly welcoming. If you’re lucky, you might even get invited to a cup of traditional Somali tea; it’s a big part of culture for connecting and sharing moments, as well as forming bonds and friendship. It’s these powers of diversity that reminds us of the joy of cultural exchange.
Sports Minnesota Is Famous For
State Of Hockey
Minnesota is known as the “State of Hockey” because of its love and support for the sport. Ice Hockey is the official state sport of Minnesota. The first organized game of Ice hockey in the USA was played in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1883.
The State of Hockey is home to the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, as well as many college and high school teams. There are also several minor league teams in Minnesota. The University of Minnesota has one of the most successful college hockey programs in the country. They have won 5 NCAA Division I National Championships and have produced many NHL players.
Hockey can be experienced by attending a game, or by playing at one of the many outdoor rinks in Minnesota.
Minnesota is known for having some of the best fishing in the USA. After all, the state boasts over 10,000 lakes including the Mississippi River, Lake Superior, Lake of the Woods, Muskeg Bay, and thousands more sources of water.
The fishing in Minnesota ranges from walleye, northern pike, and panfish, to big game fish like lake trout and chinook salmon. There are opportunities for fisherman of all experience and skill levels.
Almost all necessary equipment can be rented at fishing supply stores, resorts, and fishing lodges in the state. You can also get guides for fishing trips as well, if necessary.
Fishing in Minnesota isn’t just about the catch, it’s actually a full immersive outdoors experience. Take in the stunning beauty and sounds of nature, and enjoy the peacefulness of being out on the water.
With Minnesota’s long winters and heavy snowfall, it’s no surprise that snowmobiling is a popular activity here. There are more than 22,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails in Minnesota with plenty up for exploration.
Most of the trails are in the northern part of the state, where it gets more snow and winters tend to be longer. However, there are also trails in the southern part of the state that are open for snowmobiling.
They can take you through picturesque forests, over frozen lakes and rivers, and through charming small towns.
One of the special features here is that the border between Minnesota and Ontario is open to snowmobilers. This means you ride across the state border into Canada. However, you will need Snowmobile Trail Permits for both Minnesota and Ontario in that case.
It is also important to note that riders do need to have a valid license to snowmobile in Minnesota.
Cities And Travel Destinations Minnesota Is Famous For
The “Twin Cities” of Minneapolis and Saint Paul are the 16th largest metropolitan area in the United States. The two cities are separated by the Mississippi River and connected by several bridges. Together they offer a big city experience with all the amenities while still maintaining a midwestern charm.
There is an abundance of things to do in the Twin Cities. Visit one of the many museums, catch a professional sporting event, go shopping, or take in a show at the world-renowned Guthrie Theater.
Minneapolis is known for having one of the largest sculpture gardens in the country; and the Walker Art Center is a must-visit for any art lover. St. Paul is home to the historic Summit Avenue, which has some of the most beautiful and well-preserved Victorian homes in the country.
The Chain of Lakes offers boating and swimming in the summer months and ice skating and cross-country skiing in the winter.
Foodies will love the Twin Cities too. You can find almost any cuisine you want, from traditional Minnesota hot dish to fusion street food. This is also where you can find the Juicy Lucy burger!
Grand Marais, Minnesota is a magical destination on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The charming town, surrounded by natural beauty outdoor, offers plenty of cultural attractions and opportunities for adventure.
Tourists flock to this unique destination for its great restaurants and pubs, fun activities like kayaking, sailing and SUP boarding, plus an array of outdoor festivals throughout the year.
One of the main draws of Grand Marais is undoubtedly its stunning location on the shores of Lake Superior. You can take in panoramic views of the lake from the historic lighthouse or relax on the beach and listen to the soothing sound of the waves.
Outdoor enthusiasts will love the endless opportunities for hiking, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing in the surrounding wilderness. The nearby Gunflint Trail is popular amongst visitors looking for a true Northwoods experience.
In addition to its natural beauty, Grand Marais has a thriving arts and culture scene. Visitors can explore galleries, attend music festivals, and experience local theater productions.
You can probably see why Grand Marais has been recognized as America’s Coolest Small Town once you spend some time here. This gem that Minnesota is known for is a great getaway.
The Iron Range
The Iron Range is a region in Minnesota that is known for its iron ore mining, and is still an important part of the economy today. The rich deposits of iron ore that have been mined there for over a century explains the rationale behind the name.
However, the Iron Range is much more than just a mining region. It’s also home to a vibrant community of hard-working people who have built a unique culture and way of life.
It is also known for its beautiful scenery, including the North Shore of Lake Superior, boreal forests, and thousands of lakes.
The Iron Range is a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking, camping, boating and fishing, are some of the popular and thrilling activities you can enjoy in the region. The people sure know how to take advantage of the miles of forest trails and numerous lakes.
That said, there are many state parks and recreation areas in the Iron Range. In the winter, this place becomes a wonderland of snow and ice, with opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing.
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a large wilderness area in northeastern Minnesota. It is known for its pristine and breathtakingly beautiful nature that offers plenty of canoeing, fishing, and outdoor opportunities.
Spanning over a million acres, there are more than 1,200 miles of canoe routes and over 2,000 campsites. This makes it a popular spot for backpacking, camping, and day hiking. Simply put, it is a nature lovers’ paradise.
Nestled within the crystal-clear lakes, towering pine trees, and lush forestry are an incredible range of wildlife that calls this stunning region home. If you are lucky, you might be able to spot some of them, but make sure to only observe from safe distances.
As you can imagine, there is more than one way to explore this amazing vast area. From kayaking to trekking on foot, you can choose your preferred way of immersing in the serenity of the wilderness.
Famous People From Minnesota
Bob Dylan is one of the most famous musicians in the world and he is from Minnesota. He was born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota in 1941. Bob Dylan started his musical career in the early 1960s and has released many albums of folk, rock, and blues music.
Some of his most famous songs are “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” and “Like a Rolling Stone.” Bob Dylan has won many awards including the Nobel Prize in Literature. He is also considered one of the most influential musicians of all time.
Judy Garland, one of the most iconic Hollywood stars of all time, is a famous Minnesota personality. She was born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota in 1922.
Garland rose to fame with her role as Dorothy in the classic film “The Wizard of Oz” and went on to become one of the world’s most beloved actresses and singers. Her name is even imprinted on two stars at the Hollywood Walk of Fame (for motion pictures and recording). And though she’s no longer with us today, her memory lives on in her hometown.
Garland’s childhood home in Grand Rapids is now a museum that celebrates her life and career. You can see her bedroom, which has been restored to look like it did when she lived there and explore exhibits that showcase her costumes, personal items, and memorabilia.
Paul Bunyan is a giant lumberjack who is said to have lived in the woods of Minnesota. The legend of Paul Bunyan started in the early 1900s and has become a part of American folklore.
There are many stories about Paul Bunyan and his exploits. He is said to have created the Grand Canyon by dragging his ax behind him. He is also said to have created Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes by stomping his feet into the ground.
Whether Paul Bunyan is a real person or just a legend, he is still an important part of Minnesota culture.
Architecture And Landmarks Minnesota Is Famous For
Port Of Duluth – World’s Largest Freshwater Port
Duluth is a city in Minnesota known for its scenic views, outdoor activities and most importantly the world’s largest freshwater port – The Port of Duluth-Superior.
The Port of Duluth is a hub for maritime activity and exploration! It has been around since the 19th century and serves as a major international trading center.
In fact, it is one of the busiest ports in the entire United States handling over 35 million tons of cargo each year. Some of the interesting products that go through here are actually iron ore, coal, grains, and limestone.
Being the world’s largest freshwater lake harbor, it’s no surprise that this port offers visitors breathtaking views of ships navigating the waters, bustling warehouses, and hundreds of docks loaded with goods waiting to be unloaded.
One of the most unique structures of the Port of Duluth is the Aerial Lift Bridge, which spans the entrance to the harbor. This iconic bridge is an engineering marvel that can raise and lower to accommodate large ships passing underneath.
In addition, there are plenty of parks and trails along the waterfront. This makes for a great place to explore and enjoy the outdoors, all while admiring the grandeur of Lake Superior and the surrounding nature.
The Mall Of America – Largest Mall In The US
The Mall of America is the largest mall in the USA located in Bloomington, Minnesota. The mall attracts 40 million visitors per year and is larger than 78 football fields.
In addition to being a shopping paradise that features over 500 stores, this colossal mall even has an indoor theme park, an aquarium, and a mini golf course. This makes it a great place to visit for a day of fun even if you are not interested in buying anything.
That said, the mall also hosts many special events, such as fashion shows, celebrity appearances, and live music performances throughout the year. You can see why even people from outside the site drive in to visit.
Best of all, the mall is also located close to many other famous landmarks in Minnesota, including waterparks, wildlife refuge, and even IKEA (if you want more shopping)!
Voyageurs National Park
A true natural gem that Minnesota is known for, is none other than the Voyageurs National Park. Featuring dramatic landscapes and stunning views, the park is home to four interconnected lakes that were once used for transportation by French-Canadian fur traders.
You can explore its vast network of waterways by canoe or kayak while admiring the soaring cliffs, shimmering lakes, and lush forests that make up this amazing area
It comes as no surprise that such pristine nature comes with its fair share of diverse wildlife, including bears, moose, wolves, and beavers. You might even catch some otters playing in the water while kayaking through the area.
While summer is obviously a popular time for the outdoors; winter brings about its own wonders. If you are lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis as this is a prime viewing location for the Northern Lights.
Spanning over 600 miles, the mighty Mississippi River crosses multiple states including Minnesota. It is not just a famous landmark in the United State but also a source of pride for Minnesotans.
In addition to being part of the stunning natural landscape for recreation and enjoyment, the river also a vital part of Minnesota’s economy, providing transportation and industry for the state.
The Mississippi River also an important region that have witnessed the state’s history and cultural development. From the Native American tribes who have lived along its banks for centuries, to the European explorers who first ventured inland from the river’s mouth.
The natural environment is also home to an incredible array of wildlife, including bald eagles, river otters, and even sturgeons!
Dinkytown is a vibrant and quirky neighborhood located near the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. As a bustling hub of activity with a unique personality, it is popular hangout place for students, artists, and musicians.
One of the things that makes Dinkytown so special is its eclectic mix of businesses. Some of the most interesting includes coffee shops and bookstores with old-school charms, as well as vintage clothing stores and record shops.
As you stroll around the district, keep a look out for the funky and colorful murals adorning some of the buildings. They certainly add to the neighborhood’s distinct character and atmosphere. Buzzing with life and energy, this is certainly one place to check out in Minneapolis.
Discover More Of What Minnesota Is Known For
These are just a few of the things that make Minnesota a great place to visit. From its vast forests and pristine lakes to its bustling cities and friendly people, there are many things that Minnesota is known for and famous for.
It is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and activities such as trekking, fishing, and hunting. It is also a state filled with interesting culture and history. Be sure to spend some time in this Midwest state to discover all that Minnesota is known for.
FAQ About Minnesota
What is Minnesota known as?
Minnesota is most commonly known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” due to the abundance of lakes found throughout the state. The other term or nickname that is often used is the “North Star State.”
What are 5 facts about Minnesota?
These are some quick statistics, but you can get more fun facts about Minnesota here.
- Capital: Saint Paul
- Population: 5.5 Million (21st Populous State in the U.S)
- Land Area: 86,943 sq mi / 225,180 km² (12th Largest in the U.S)
- Nickname: The North Star State
- Abbreviation: MN
What is the culture of Minnesota?
Minnesotan culture is a diverse one that reflects its Scandinavian, German, Irish, Native American, and Hmong heritage, among others. These have all contributed significantly to the state’s development into the modern world. Of course, the state’s culture is also shaped by its geographical location, climate, economy, music and arts that influences people’s behaviors and perspectives.
What is Minnesota like?
Minnesota is a great blend of city and nature. Since there is the four seasons here, you can really experience different sides of both urban and country areas throughout the year. The people here tend to be more friendly and welcoming than the mega big cities. Small towns typically have better local vibes as with most places.
There’s plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures, but also places to relax and enjoy the modern life within the cities.