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Road trips from Minnesota

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Best Road trips from Minnesota

Road trips from Minnesota
Minnesota | Photo Credit – Chris Heald

Road trips are adventurous, therapeutic, and extremely relieving.  With the scenic nature of the United States, starting points for road trips abound in plenty, especially Minnesota with its scenic drive views, which is perfect for a great starting point. To explore the wilderness areas of the states, road trips starting from Minnesota might take you to destinations you have never been to before, bring to you attractions you might have never known about, and sometimes even throw a few challenges your way which you never thought you were capable to handle. Read below for a brief look at some of the options you might consider if you are looking for the best road trips from Minnesota, USA.

1. Chicago, IL

Road trips from Minnesota
Chicago, Illinois | Photo Credit – Pom’

A non-stop drive from Minnesota to the “Windy City” will take around eight hours, making it to the list of long road trips. We would suggest you not just stay behind the wheel and stretch your legs at various famous stops like Minnehaha Falls, Paul Bunyan Logging Museum, and Wisconsin Dale.

Along the shores of Lake Michigan lies the city of Minnesota. From the vibrant arts scene, numerous cultural attractions, excellent shopping, and interesting architecture, this city has it all.

The Art Institute of Chicago

Road trips from Minnesota
The Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois | Photo Credit –Thad Zajdowicz

This is a world-class museum with hundreds of thousands of artworks, each unique in its own way.

Located in downtown Chicago, the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park is a major attraction. You can also visit Lurie Garden, which is open to the public at no cost year-round.

The Navy Pier

For some adventure head to The Navy Pier an amusement area and Chicago’s most popular tourist attraction. There is a 150 ft Ferris wheel and a historic carousel as well as gardens, shops, restaurants, concert venues, and parks.  Chicago Children’s Museum is also located here. For water adventure, various Cruise ships leave from here on various sightseeing excursions.

Home to the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field is the second-oldest Major League Baseball park in the US. You can obviously watch a game here but if it’s a no-game day, you can get a Ballpark tour.

Lincoln Park

Road trips from Minnesota
Lincoln Park Zoo | Photo Credit – discosour

Along the edge of Lake Michigan, is the famous Lincoln Park, a six-mile stretch of green space. It is home to the lovely Lincoln Park Conservatory and the Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the country. To enjoy the outdoor space there are playing fields, bike trails, jogging paths, and beaches and for some sightseeing, there are a number of significant statues, Augustus Saint Gaudens’ Standing Statue of Lincoln being the most famous one.

For a detailed explanation of attractions in Chicago, check out things to do in Chicago.

2. Detroit

Detroit | Photo Credit – Laughlin Elkind

A road trip from Minnesota to Michigan’s largest city, Detroit will take around seven hours. For the best scenery and attractions, you should consider one of the most scenic roads in North America, Highway 61. If you want to consider it as one of the long road trips, you can make a lot of stops on your way. But, if not many, definitely consider making stops at the Split Rock Lighthouse, Grand Marais, Silver Bay, Grand Rapids, and Circus World in Baraboo.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is home to more than 65,000 works of art from various places around the globe. It’s most popular are masterpieces include works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh (self-portrait), Matisse, and Picasso. You can also visit the awesome Motown Museum to see a glimpse into the history of some of America’s R&B legends. 

Detroit Zoo

The Detroit Zoo is home to a great number of animals, separated by habitat types. African and Asian habitats are the most famous ones here. You can also hand-feed the giraffe and make penguins your friends via a meet and greet. It also has a train ride, and a 4-D theatre, and several picnic-perfect places.

Belle Isle

Belle Isle is an island in the Detroit River with several fun activities like swimming, hiking, and boating. The island is also home to the Dossin Great Lakes Museum,  Belle Isle Nature Zoo, and Belle Isle Aquarium.

While a major improvement program is underway and the city is working on reinventing itself, tourism is growing and we would highly recommend visiting for a rich cultural experience.

Part of the regeneration effort is the Heidelberg project – it is an outdoor art installation in east Detroit that depicts protest and brings attention to the demise of the city and the decades of neglect. The different pieces are made using brightly colored salvage materials highlighting the level of poverty.

To make sure you witness everything, you can book a walking tour in advance.

3. Indianapolis, IN

Southeast of Lake Michigan on the White River lies the capital of Indiana.

If you are planning for road trips from Minnesota to Indianapolis, the best starting point is US 14 just west of Madison. It further leads to US 61, which takes you to Lacrosse, where you can rest at New Glarus Brewery and Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine and finally head to the Twin Cities. If you want to make more stops, you can consider Lloyd Wright Museum and the House on the Rock at Spring Green and lastly at Wisconsin.

The Children’s Museum Of IN

Indianapolis Children’s Museum | Photo Credit – anjanettew

It is home to the world’s largest children’s museum, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.  It is full of interesting, innovative, and interactive displays on topics related to transportation, science, culture, and archaeology. Its best attraction is its dinosaur exhibit. You can even touch a real Tyrannosaurus Rex bone here. Other attractions include a series of interactive exhibits about music, toys and space travel, etc.

Another interesting museum is The Indianapolis Museum of Art which includes works by legends like Rembrandt, Cezanne, Picasso, and O’Keefe. It also includes some peaceful gardens like the Formal Garden, the Ravine Garden, the Rain Garden, and more. For a detailed list read out the best museums in Indianapolis.

IN Zoo

To escape the fast pace of the city, White River State Park is quite a relaxing place. For some fun, Indianapolis Zoo is also there. It is not only a zoo but also an aquarium and botanical garden. 

To explore the downtown via water, The Central Canal offers a great opportunity.  For renting paddleboats and kayaks, Eiteljorg Museum, just across the canal is the place.

Indianapolis is a paradise for foodies. Here, is a list of some of the best restaurants in the city.

For a detailed article on things, you should not miss out on in Indianapolis, check this one out.

4. Denver, CO

Denver & Rio Grande Western No. 318 | Photo Credit – Schnitzel_bank

A road trip from Minneapolis to Denver, without any stops, would take around thirteen hours. Though it’s quite long, make sure to include it in your list of best road trips from Minneapolis The longer the distance, the more number of attractions, hence a more interesting trip. Before finally arriving in Denver, you can consider stopping at Omaha, Hastings, North Plate, Clear Lake, Des Moines, and Brush. The Mile High City is one of the best places to road trip from Minnesota. It is filled with sunshine and a variety of sights and attractions for everyone.

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science always has something new to see. The most famous exhibits are imposing dinosaur skeletons, remains of Ice Age animals, the collection of minerals presented by the Coors family, and one of the largest nuggets of gold found in Colorado. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts will keep you entertained at night with a Broadway Show.

For some outdoor fun, you can head to one of the largest botanical gardens in the United States, The Denver Botanic Gardens. Out of its 14 individual gardens, the Japanese garden is the most famous one. It is also home to various waterfalls so don’t miss out on them.

The Denver Zoo is one of Denver’s most popular tourist attractions, especially among kids. Here, you can pet a stingray and take two miles of trails in a natural habitat featuring African animals.

In this detailed article, check out other major attractions in Denver.

5. Winnipeg, Canada

Winnie the Pooh and friend | Photo credit – Cherrysweetdeal

If you want to add the “international” element to your road trip from Minnesota, head to Canada’s Winnipeg. The total driving time is around six hours. On your way, you can spend the night at Buffalo River State Park. Here, Electric hook-ups, trailers, tents, and handicap-accessible suites are available.  Fargo-Moorhead, Ralph Engelstad Arena, and Paisley Park are some of the other stops you make to make this trip more interesting. Also, make sure you have the permit to cross the border.

Winnipeg is the heart of central Canada offering a range of things to do in various seasons.  It is home to The Forks which is perfect to visit be it summer or winter. Set in a number of historic buildings it is a shopping and entertainment district. The Forks Market will bless you with various fresh fruits and vegetables and a variety of delicious dishes. In winters you can ice-skate on the frozen river and in summer you can try some water adventure in the river.

Human Rights Museum

Canadian Museum for Human Rights is a recent addition to the place and is known for its unique concept in presenting human rights stories. It’s Israel Asper Tower of Hope provides wonderful views out over the city.

To meet some polar bears, Siberian tigers, and red kangaroos, The Assiniboine Park Zoo is home to a wide variety of animals, flora, and fauna. Riding the 4-8-2 miniature steam train which runs along a narrow-gauge track is a must.

Lastly, if you’re planning to travel in February, make sure to attend Festival du Voyageur, Winnipeg’s most popular winter festival. The festival celebrates the traditions of the French Voyageurs — the fur traders of early Canada. You’ll find live music, food, dancing, stunning ice and snow sculptures.

6. Lincoln, NE

‘Emancipation Memorial | PhotoCredit – Ron Cogswell

A straight road trip from Minnesota to Lincoln will take around eight hours. But you can always opt to make a stop at some of the attractions. If you do, this one can go in the box of long roads. You can make your first stop at  Bancroft (Minnesota) and the last one at  Omaha. This road trip from Minnesota is full of scenic views.

Lincoln is the capital of Nebraska and home to various museums and cultural attractions. The Historic Haymarket District is a hub of shops, galleries, and restaurants. Next, the University of Nebraska State Museum is home to the world’s largest articulated mammoth. It also has a well-regarded exhibit of fossilized elephants and hence the museum is nicknamed the Elephant Hall. 

Trips are meant for relaxation and the beautiful Sunken Gardens is the epitome of ‘healing’. You can walk here and cover it in a small amount of time or stay for long and heal yourself in the lap of nature.

If you’re a fan of racing cars and engines, the Museum of American Speed has an extensive archive collection. Automobilia, Cars and Engines, and Toys and Models are three of its major exhibits. Guided tours are offered here but if you want to explore it on your own it is set up to be self-guided as well.

7. St. Louis, MO

Gateway Arch | Photo Credit – Adam Moss

With a distance of nine hours, this is one of the road trips from Minnesota that might not be the most scenic one but definitely has some places worth stopping at. Some of the highly recommended ones are  Cedar Falls, Clear Lake, Faribault, O’Fallon Brewery, Amana Colonies, and Nauvoo.

Being the largest city in Missouri St. Louis so many things to do that you can easily spend a weekend here. It is home to the tallest monument in the United States, the Gateway Arch, a symbol of the city’s role as the “Gateway to the West.” There are many ways to enjoy it. You can either head to the observation platform on the highest point of the arch or via water by riverboat cruises or via air in a helicopter tour. Advance booking is recommended.

The beautiful Missouri Botanical Garden, also known as the Shaw Garden is home to various attractions. A beautiful rose garden and a Japanese Garden, an “aqua-tunnel” under a water-lily pool, and a herbarium are some of the major ones.

The Saint Louis Zoo is home to 12,000 animals across 500 species. This free attraction provides shelter to Asian elephants, hippos, gorillas, tree kangaroos, jaguars, and sea lions. The Sea Lion show is a favorite among the kids. Some fun rides, the miniature Zooline Railroad, and a 4D theatre will surely make for a fun day.

For a detailed article on this beautiful place read out the best things to do in St. Louis.

8. Kansas City, MO

Kansas River | Photo Credit –Roy Harryman

Situated at the junction of the Kansas River with the Missouri River, this double city makes for a perfect destination in the list of road trips from Minnesota. The drive takes around eight hours and some of the famous stops along the way are Clear lake, Ames, Winterset, and Bethany.

Being true to its nickname, the “Barbecue Capital”, it is a hub of steaks and barbecue.

The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art has impressive collections of North American, European, Asian, and African cultures. Some antiquities date as far back as the 2nd millennium BC. It has exhibits dedicated to both contemporary and modern art also. The museum is also home to a sculpture park, where you can go for a walk, enjoy a picnic, or take a guided audio tour.

The city’s top attraction is  LEGOLAND. It’s not only an attraction for kids but also for adults as it makes you relive your childhood days. You will also be awestruck at the complete replica of the city, built with more than 1.5 million LEGO bricks. For kids, the Ninjago “training camp,” a laser maze with lots of physical challenges is a must-do.

For science enthusiasts, Science City, located in Union Station is a must-visit. There are a lot of interesting exhibits here. The Force and Motion, the Every Last Drop exhibit and the genetics lab are some of the most famous ones.

A visit to Kansas city is incomplete without visiting The American Jazz Museum. From the history of jazz to an exploration of the music itself, you’ll surely learn a lot here.

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