When most people think of Minnesota, they think of snow and cold – and probably Prince if we’re lucky. But unless you’re coming from an even more unimaginable frigid landscape, Minnesota most likely wouldn’t top your list of tourist destinations in America.
Minnesota isn’t just flyover country, however: This past month Explore Minnesota, the state’s tourism promotion office, looked at last year’s attendance records for major attractions, destinations, and events statewide and compiled a comprehensive list of the Top 40 Most-Visited Tourist Attractions in Minnesota.
The list ranges from parks and museums to arenas, theaters, and huge events (I mean, playing host to the Super Bowl isn’t peanuts). So next time your out-of-town friends question your decision to settle down in the land of ice and snow, you can refer them to this extensive list of amazing places and things to do that draw millions to Minnesota each year.
The Top 10 Most-Visited Minnesota Tourist Attractions
10. Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis
Attracting 2,051,000 people last year, it’s no surprise this park made the list. Minnehaha boasts a stunning 53-foot waterfall, wading pools, multiple trails for walking, hiking, and biking, as well as beautiful gardens and the delicious Sea Salt Eatery restaurant.
9. Target Field, Minneapolis
With 2,131,787 visitors last year, this stadium cracks the top ten by playing host to countless sporting events, concerts, events, and shows.
8. Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
Again, sports. 2,200,000 came out to the Xcel Energy Center to watch the Wild, high school sports, concerts, and a wide-range of events.
7. Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center & Park, Duluth
Last year 2,526,322 people packed their bags and headed north. Not only does Duluth offer picturesque views of Lake Superior and of watching ships pass through the canal under the aerial bridge, but the actual Marine Museum and Maritime Visitor Center will leave you wanting to learn more about local shipping and the fascinating history of shipwrecks on Lake Superior.
6. Mississippi Gorge Regional Park, Minneapolis/St. Paul
We are definitely a state of outdoorsy people. 2,734,300 visited Mississippi Gorge Regional Park. With over 132 acres of land on both banks of the Mississippi River there are endless attractions from kayaking and canoeing to hiking, biking, and simply drinking in the beautiful scenery.
5. Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park, Minneapolis
A little further down the river you can join the other 2,782,800 people that stopped by this popular destination. And not to worry, segway tours are not the only activity by the riverfront. You’ll see the incredible St. Anthony Falls Lock & Dam, iconic Stone Arch Bridge, and Mill City Museum along with restaurants, walking and bike paths, and public artwork.
4. National Sports Center, Blaine
Drawing 4,100,000 people, the National Sports Center in Blaine is home to what seems like literally all the sports. While most known for hosting soccer events, as it is the world’s largest soccer complex, the center also welcomes hockey, golf, cycling, lacrosse, skating, baseball, football, broomball, rugby, and so much more.
3. Como Park, St. Paul
Coming in third, 5,367,400 visited Como Park. Featuring Como Park Zoo, the Conservatory, Como Town amusement park, and so much more, it’s no wonder this park makes the list as all these family-fun attractions are completely free.
2. Chain of Lakes Regional Park, Minneapolis
We’re lucky to have such an extensive park system right in the heart of a major city. The Chain of Lakes drew 7,063,500 people who were able to enjoy seemingly every outdoor activity under the sun.
1. Mall of America, Bloomington
Not a huge shocker. However, the number of visitors certainly stands out. Last year saw 40,000,000 visitors which outdoes the 2nd most visited place in the state by well over 32,000,000 people. That is certainly one popular tourist attraction.
Here are the remaining top 30 attractions in the state last year. A few might surprise you:
John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota remarks, “Minnesota offers an endless array of things to see and do, and this list goes to show that. These attendance figures are impressive. They contribute to Minnesota’s $15.0 billion tourism economy in a big way, and support jobs all over the state. People are exploring our state’s great indoor and outdoor attractions.”
This Top 40 list is an excellent compilation that showcases some of the incredible things to do in our state. And, if you’re ever blanking on ideas for what to do over the weekend, this is a perfect go-to list to explore some of the most-popular hotspots around town and discover what all the fuss is about.
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