What comes to mind when someone asks you, “What is Minnesota famous for?”
See if these 21 Minnesota facts surprise, amaze, or prove that you’re the Minnesota expert you’ve suspected yourself to be all along!
Historical Facts About Minnesota
1. Humans have occupied Minnesota for at least 12,000 years!
The earliest archaeological sites in Minnesota have documented Paleo-Indians as the very first people in Minnesota. They are also considered the first people who set foot in the Americas.
While there isn’t much archaeological evidence of Paleo-Indians, there is one exception. The Browns Valley Man is the best preserved human remains found in the state back in 1933.
2. Native Americans were the first to use waterways in Mississippi more than 1,500 years ago.
Minnesota’s native people first settled around the area of the Mississippi River Basin back in the 4th millennium BC but started using the river for waterways only around 1,500 years ago. The waterways were used for hunting food, transportation, and trading with other tribes.
3. Many countries claimed Minnesota before it became part of the USA.
Another interesting fact about Minnesota is that the French were the first Europeans who arrived in Minnesota. In 1679, French explorer Daniel Greysolon claimed the area. The region was the center of a power struggle among European settlers since it provided trade opportunities.
France lost some control over the region in 1762 during the Seven Year War when they had to give part of it back to the British. Right before the war ended, Spain took control of France’s territory west of the Mississippi River, which included Minnesota. They controlled the area until 1802, after which it was returned to the French.
In 1803, the USA purchased the entirety of Louisiana from France, giving them control over present-day Minnesota. But it did not officially become a state of the United States until May 11, 1858.
Facts About Minnesota Culture
4. Minnesota is home to America’s largest mall.
The 5.6-million-square-foot mall is still impressive! Bloomington Mall of America is the largest mall in the United States. The place is so huge that it can fit 7 Yankee Stadiums inside! The mall is located around 15 minutes from downtown Minneapolis and Saint Paul and is one of the world’s most visited attractions, receiving almost 40 million visitors annually.
The mall consists of 520 stores and 50 restaurants. It also houses the largest indoor theme park in the States and an aquarium with nearly 4,500 sea creatures.
5. Minnesota has an official state beverage, muffin, butterfly, mushroom, and more.
The official state beverage is milk since the region is responsible for over 9 billion pounds of milk annually. It also declared that the blueberry muffin was the official muffin of the state back in 1988.
Have your fill of state symbols by visiting this page.
6. Minnesota has rich fine art and performing arts culture.
The metropolitan regions of Minneapolis and Saint Paul are known for some of the best art museums in the country. A few of the most famous museums include the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Walker Art Center, the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, and the Science Museum of Minnesota. Because of this, the Twin Cities are also often called the art capital of the Upper Midwest.
The state isn’t behind in performing arts either. This great state is home to some of the leading youth theaters in the country. A testament to Minnesota’s dedication to performing arts is the fact that Minneapolis-Saint Paul ranks second to New York when it comes to the number of theater seats per capita.
Facts About Minnesota Geography
7. The northmost point of the contiguous US is in Minnesota.
Minnesota has an area known as the “Northwest Angle,” which is the northernmost part of all of the contiguous states. Yes, this includes Maine. There is only one way to reach this area without leaving the country: you need a boat to cross the Lake of the Woods. To reach this area by land, you have to go through Canada first!
8. Minnesota’s state capital was first named “Pig’s Eye.”
Present-day Saint Paul was once a small village that went by the name Pig’s Eye. The name came from Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant, one of the first settlers in the area who was a French-Canadian whiskey trader. Pierre the trader was also known locally for making the best moonshine!
Later on, Pig’s Eye was renamed Lambert’s Landing, and finally Saint Paul. The area gradually became a city that was declared the state capital when Minnesota achieved statehood in 1858.
9. Minnesota’s nickname is not an exaggeration.
Minnesota is often called the “land of 10,000 lakes,” one of the Minnesota facts that some people find hard to believe. The truth is actually more amazing since there are over 11,000 lakes!
Based on information from the Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota has exactly 11,842 lakes. Many of the lakes are named Long, Mud, Bass, Rice, Horseshoe, Round, Island, Twin, Spring, and Johnson.
Famous People From Minnesota
10. Iconic singer and songwriter Prince
Regarded as one of the best musicians and songwriters of all time, Prince was born and brought up in Minnesota. Born to a family of musicians, he reportedly wrote his first song at the age of 7. His first foray into performing music was when he started his first band in Minneapolis Central High School, Grand Central.
The singer received a recording contract from a Minneapolis businessman when he was only 17. After a long and illustrious career, Prince was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
11. Singer, songwriter, and activist Bob Dylan
Duluth, Minnesota saw the birth of a legendary singer-songwriter back in May 1941. Minnesota native Robert Allen Zimmerman would later rise to fame as Bob Dylan.
Regarded as one of the greatest songwriters in history, he attended the University of Minnesota but eventually dropped out, changed his name, and moved to New York. The singer wrote a lot of classic songs that became part of the ’60s protest movement, such as “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Masters of War,” and “Oxford Town.”
12. Legendary author F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of the classic “The Great Gatsby.” The prolific writer was born in Saint Paul in September 1896 and attended St. Paul Academy.
He dropped out of Princeton, served in the US Army, and was at first rejected by several publishers. He had an advertising job in NYC, which he quit so he could move back and focus his full attention on “This Side of Paradise,” his first novel.
13. Cartoonist and creator of “Peanuts” Charles Shulz
Considered one of America’s greatest and most influential cartoonists, Charles Shulz, the creator of “Peanuts,” was a Minnesotan native. Born in Minneapolis and brought up in Saint Paul, the cartoonist served in WWII before returning to Saint Paul and selling his first cartoon strip to the local magazine, “Saturday Evening Post.”
Facts About Minnesota Nature
14. Mississippi River’s source is based in Minnesota.
Since the 1800s, there have been multiple efforts to find the source of one of America’s largest rivers, the Mississippi River. The hunt finally ended in 1832 when they discovered a lake in present-day Minnesota. The discovery was made by Henry Schoolcraft, a geographer and geologist who originally named the body of water “Lake Itasca.”
15. Minnesota is home to the oldest wildflower garden in the US.
The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary was established in 1907. It is the country’s oldest wildflower garden that’s open to the public. The garden boasts over 500 native species of plants and 130 resident and migratory bird species that have made their homes in the 15 acres of prairie, wetland, and woodland terrains.
Facts About Minnesota Wildlife
16. Minnesota has more wolves than any other US state.
With more than 2,000 wolves, Minnesota has the second largest wolf population in the States, only behind Alaska. The state has a long history of protecting its wolves, especially when their numbers started to dwindle in the rest of the country.
17. The common loon is Minnesota’s official state bird.
Around 12,000 loons reside in Minnesota, making it the state with the second largest loon population, again behind Alaska. The loon became Minnesota’s state bird back in 1961. Their eerie cries, wails, and yodels are often heard around Minnesota’s northern lakes.
Other Fun Facts About Minnesota
18. Minnesota has the most recreational boats per capita in the country.
Our next fact about Minnesota is that with 14,505 registered boats per 100,000 residents, Minnesota tops the list when it comes to recreational boating states.
19. Minnesota’s largest ball of twine was made by only one resident.
Although the largest ball of twine is in Cawker, Kansas, the residents of Darwin, Minnesota have something else to brag about — the largest ball of twine made by a single person!
20. The lowest point in Minnesota is less than 15 miles from the highest point.
Minnesota is generally considered a state with flat terrain. This only makes the fact that its lowest and highest recorded points are a mere 15 miles apart from each other more impressive. Lake Superior is the lowest point at 600 feet above sea level, while Eagle Mountain, the highest point, is 2,301 feet above sea level.
21. In terms of average daily attendance, the Minnesota State Fair is the country’s largest.
Another interesting fact about Minnesota is the “Great Minnesota Get-Together,” one of the most visited state fairs in the US with the highest average daily attendance. Each year, around 2 million visitors make their way to the fair, although this number dropped considerably during the global pandemic.
In terms of total attendance, it ranks second to the Texas State Fair, which runs for twice as long.
Minnesota Surprises at Every Turn
We hope this list of interesting facts about Minnesota broadened your knowledge about this amazing state and encouraged you to explore its many sites and wonders! If you’re looking for more facts about Minnesota, check out this article about Minnesota’s Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge.
- About the Author
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Born in Madelia, MN, to a now 5-generation Minnesota family, Ryan’s MN roots go deep.
A painter by day, Ryan founded Life in Minnesota in 2013 with his wife Kelly to chronicle their musings on everything Minnesota. Ryan and Kelly are raising their 7 kiddos in Maple Grove, MN.
When he’s not shuttling his kids around to hockey practice, you might find him in the shop working on his leatherwork. Undoubtedly, there will be a family trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area every summer, and of course weekends at Grandpa’s cabin up north in the summer.