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12 of the Best Vacation Spots in Minnesota

Minnesota is a state of everything, a state of contrasts, of cities and mountains. If you are looking for luxury or ruggedness, for the city, or the lakes, for a family resort, or a sophisticated hotel stay, Minnesota has it all. And you can use what is offered to have the best times, if you know just which are the best vacation spots in Minnesota.

Winnewissa Falls at one of the best vacation spots in Minnesota
Winnewissa Falls at Pipestone National Monument

1. Calumet Inn

First on the list of best vacation spots in Minnesota is Calumet Inn. If you are looking for the perfect mix of the old and the new, then Calumet Inn in Pipestone will meet all your expectations. Priding itself on the antique feel of the inn and of some specifically preserved rooms, the inn brings a modern touch to the original part of the building, dating back to 1887.

Nearby, you can view such wonderful attractions as the Winnewissa Fall (in Pipestone National Monument) and the largest pipe in the world.

Pipestone itself contains many fascinating examples of buildings built from Sioux quartzite, the characteristic stone of the area. Calumet Inn, itself, is one of the original buildings made from this stone.

After a busy day, you can step back in time to be greeted by the old world lounge, or relax over a drink in the atmospheric basement bar.

2. Chase on the Lake

This resort is on the shores of Leech Lake in Walker, Minnesota. Here, you can experience the uniqueness of an authentic Minnesota lake experience.

Chase on the Lake is open year-round and there are always plenty of things to do. In summer, the lake is your playground. In winter, imagine standing out on the frozen lake ice fishing.

If you want the luxury of being looked after, then you can stay in one of the hotel rooms. If you want a little more independence, the condo suites are for you. They are all self-contained, with a full kitchen, bedrooms, and a living room. There is also an on-site restaurant if you prefer to eat out.

The experience is not only about the resort and the lake, though. Right on your doorstep is the special town of Walker, where the people wait to greet you with open arms.

You can visit Portage Brewing Company, hike in the Shingnobee Recreation Area, or visit a community farmer’s market. All you need to do is to make the choice.

3. Embassy Suites by Hilton Minneapolis

This Downtown Hotel offers you the full modern experience of a big city hotel. It is stylish and modern and the rooms offer convenience, luxury, and relaxation.  Breakfast is included and is made to order, so you can really indulge your tastes.

WiFi is available throughout the hotel, which has amenities like a pool and a fitness center, so you can have the complete experience.

Access to the rest of Minneapolis via the Skyway system is simple, as the hotel is situated on the system itself. It is also one mile from the Target Center, where you can attend a range of events, including, concerts and sporting events.

Practically on the hotel’s doorstep is Target Field, home to the Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team.

4. Grand Marais

Rocks and lighthouse on lake
Beautiful pier on the lake in Grand Marais, one of the best vacation spots in Minnesota

On the shore of Lake Superior in Cook County, Grand Marais waits for you. Situated on a doubled-harbor stone outcropping, the town reaches out into the lake, inviting you to enjoy both the lake and its own beauty.

Characteristic of the town is a strong arts community. You can visit the Art Colony and various galleries to soak in the beauty of artistic vision and creations.

In the town, you can choose from a range of accommodation, from hotels to camping – to nearby mountain lodges.

The Harbor House King Suite offers a view of Lake Superior and of the harbor and lighthouse that stand opposite.

The Grand Marais Campground and Marina had both modern camping and RV facilities. It is pet-friendly, so you won’t have to leave your furbabies at home. There is direct beachfront access from the campground.

Nearby, in Lutsen, is the Caribou Highlands Lodge. The position in the Sawtooth Mountains gives you different views, as you climb into the mountains. The lodge offers spacious rooms and comfort.

5. Grand Portage

You cannot go further north in Minnesota than Grand Portage. The State Park is right up against the Canadian Border. Embracing its history, the area is managed by the Ojibwe Tribe, the native inhabitants of the area.

Watch as the Pigeon River runs through the park and falls a number of times, forming a number of impressive waterfalls. You will gape at High Falls, the highest waterfall in the state.

Unfortunately, the Grand Portage State Park is for day visitors only, but nearby you will find Points Unknown Guest Suite. This is the place for an off-the-grid vacation you will remember forever. You will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of riding on a dog sled in winter. Summer activities include paddling and hiking.

If you are looking for a more modern, sophisticated vacation, there is always the Grand Portage Lodge and Casino. You can relax here and watch the views of Lake Superior, without having to lift a finger, except to raise a glass to your lips.

6. Hewing Hotel

If you are looking for a completely luxurious vacation option, from our list of the best vacation spots in Minnesota, then the Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis will fit the bill.

The architecture is especially interesting: the hotel unashamedly celebrates its origins as a farm implement warehouse and marries this with the best of modern tastes and amenities. The whole atmosphere of the hotel combines history and progress.

The rooms are exceptionally equipped, with details ranging from a Bluetooth clock radio, through local literature, to Faribault Wooden Mills throws on the beds.

One of the unique features of the hotel is the food, which is all locally sourced. You can enjoy this in the hotel’s unique restaurant, Tullibee, which is inspired by the abundance of lakes and woods in the area.

7. Historic Hutchinson House

Are you ready for the historic heart of Faribault combined with the embrace of now?

On the historic side of Faribault, not far from Big Woods, you will find the historic Hutchinson House, a beautifully restored Queen Anne Victorian house with a very long history, of which the owners are proud.

From afar, you will see the distinctive tower, which is like a beacon to the warmth of this hotel. As you approach the house, the wrap-around porch conjures images of afternoon teas and evenings spent at the lazy end of a day. The original furniture reminds you of the days gone by, while the luxury of the rooms envelops you in the appeal of modernity.

Waterfall over rock outcropping
Hike to a breathtaking waterfall in Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, one of the best vacation spots in Minnesota.

The fantastic array of the buffet breakfast sets you perfectly for days full of hiking in the Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, or visiting historic sites, such as the Faribault Woolen Mill. You can also spend your energy on a biking trail, or be astounded by the outstanding architecture in the town.

8. Hoot Owl Resort

In Waubun, Minnesota, Hoot Owl Lodge nestles between Hoot Owl Lake and Pickerel Lake. This one of our best vacation spots in Minnesota offers the best of activities. Guests enjoy swimming in the summer and snowmobiling in the winter; hiking in the spring and hunting in the fall.

The resort has 12 lakeside cabins, which are all housekept, so you can be completely self-sufficient and have a vacation away from everyone and everything.

Alternatively, you can also go to the lodge, which has a variety of entertainment options, including ping pong and board games. It also has WiFi.

The lakes offer you the opportunity to take part in water activities that you may never have heard of, let alone tried. Or you can just relax on the beach.

9. Itasca State Park

In the beautiful Itasca State Park, you will find Douglas Lodge, built-in 1905. The warmth of the timber that exudes from the structure built in the true old lodge style brings you into its embrace.

For those who want a little more privacy, there are individual cabins, that are self-contained. For those who wish to rough it a bit, there are beautiful camping sites.

Perhaps the greatest attraction of the park is the origin of the Mississippi River. From these small beginnings, the water runs to form the magnificent river of legend. Learn all about the river and its origins at the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center.

The mountains and rivers offer endless opportunities for hiking and fishing. For those seeking a little competition and personal goals, geocaching is also an option.

10. Lake Minnetonka

If you have not experienced the variety and fascination of a large city lake, you have not been to Lake Minnetonka.

The range of different experiences that are offered in the area will keep you busy for days. Just one of these is the Back Channel Brewery, which is a hidden attraction. To get there can be an adventure of its own: don’t just drive, be a bit more adventurous and take a boat.

What you cannot miss is the steamboat Minnehaha, which runs on the lake. It has quite a history, being built in 1906, then sunk in 1926, In 1980, it was raised from the bottom of the lake, refurbished, and sailed again in 1996.

Lake Minnetonka offers a family-friendly holiday, with its inlets and hidden areas just waiting to be explored.

11. Maplelag Resort

This is THE place for a complete, comprehensive winter experience with the family. The resort offers tasty food and plenty of opportunities for enjoying some good skiing.

Maplelag Resort is in Callaway, in the Northwest regain of Minnesota and is firmly planted on our list of best vacation spots in Minnesota.

The focus is on enjoying the isolation that the mountains offer. There are no TVs, video games, or phones in the rooms. Rather than being cooped up in your room, get out and take in skiing or snowshoeing. The resort also offers a range of family activities.

What stands out about Maplelag is the focus on FOOD!

Practically everything is bottomless: cookie jars, tea, coffee, hot chocolate – all of which is available all day, every day. The meals are all made fresh and reflect inspiration from all over. The food is wholesome and will fill you up after a long day out on the slopes.

12. Stillwater

Small town busy streets
Stillwater, Minnesota

On the St Croix river, you will find the oldest city in Minnesota: Stillwater. The very streets are soaked with a sense of history, which conjures up an atmosphere of days gone by.

Stillwater offers the closeness and appeal of a small town, but also the buzz of a big city, as it is close to Minneapolis and St Paul. The town has won various awards over the years, including ‘America’s most picturesque small town’ and ‘Best Minnesota Weekend Getaway.’

There is a variety of accommodation available, from the Water Street Inn to the SpringHill Suites by Marriott.

The Water Street Inn is the only hotel on the river, with spectacular river views from the balconies. The historic atmosphere of the town is echoed by the tin ceiling in the lobby and the period furniture.

The SpringHill Suites by Marriott are conveniently located 6kms from the Boone Pickens Stadium. The units all have a kitchenette, so you can dine in, or choose from a myriad of restaurants in the town. To give you a good start to the day, breakfast is available as a buffet.

Minnesota is calling….

Minnesota is calling you, and now you know what is on offer. Give yourself a real treat and take in as much of the state as you can and visit a few of these best vacation spots in Minnesota.

After you visit one of the best vacation spots in Minnesota, please let us know what your favorite part of the trip was. We’d love to hear from you!

Ready for more Minnesota advice, info, and guides? Whether you’re a local or a passerby, discover the best of Minnesota that our great state has to offer!

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