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You must visit these 4 places on a Minnesota road trip!

Minnesota is home to an abundance of lakes, trails, parks, and natural spaces that offer many exciting adventures and activities!

By: Lee Vue + Save to a List

Minnesota, the land of ten thousand lakes, is home to an abundance of lakes, waterways, trails, parks, and natural spaces that offer many exciting adventures and activities for visitors throughout the seasons. 

Take a scenic drive along the North Shore in the fall to see the beautiful foliage. In the winter, immerse yourself in winter camping and trek across frozen lakes or cross-country skiing routes. 

In the spring, grab your binoculars and go birding along the Mississippi River – there’s even a Heron Rookery (nest) in Minneapolis! In the summer, go camping at a state park or hike on one of the many trails like the Superior Hiking Trail, find a mountain biking trail, paddle on or fish in the many lakes and rivers in the Boundary Waters, and more.

If you're headed out on a Minnesota road trip, you'll need places to take breaks, eat, and rest! Kampgrounds of America (KOA) has many locations across the state that offer campgrounds and accommodations for travelers on the road!

Here are some must-visit places to check out on a road trip through Minnesota:

1. Explore the port city of Duluth on Lake Superior

Photo by Stephanie Windschill.

Two hours north of the Twin Cities, Duluth is filled with restaurants, breweries, shops, trails, and easy access to nearby state parks like Split Rock LighthouseTettegouche, and Temperance River. There are many paddling opportunities on the St. Louis River Estuary National Water Trail and Lake Superior. Stay at a Cloquet / Duluth KOA Journey where you can kick back after enjoying the beautiful port cities!

2. Spend time in Grand Marais, a small harbor town with picturesque lake views

View of Artist's Point in Grand Marais. Photo by Lee Vue.

Explore local art shops and enjoy fresh, just-caught fish at Angry Trout Café and The Fisherman’s Daughter. Discover and learn traditional crafts at the North House Folk School, and walk out to the lighthouse at Artist’s Point. Grand Marais is a gateway to the eastern section of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. If you have time, 15 miles east of Grand Marais, check out The Naniboujou Lodge & Restaurant, which looks like a setting for a Wes Anderson film!

3. Red Wing offers small-town charm and historical sites

A person in a purple insulated coat, hat, and black pants is walking up a rocky trail away from the camera. There are trees with orange autumn foliage to the left of the trail. The sky is blue.
Image by Dan Mirocha.

In Southeastern Minnesota along the Mississippi River, Red Wing is home to the footwear brand Red Wing Shoes. Check out the headquarters to browse the museum on the heritage leather footwear brand and even see the World's Biggest Boot! Red Wing Visitors can spend the day paddling the Mississippi River or Lake Pepin. Hike to the top of Barn Bluff for a breathtaking view of the town. Camp at Frontenac State Park and hike Bluff Side Trail overlooking Lake Pepin. Take a tour of the nearby vineyards like Falconer Vineyards Winery or Willow Brooke Farm. Head to the Rochester / Marion KOA Journey to stay in tiny log cabins nestled in the quiet of the woods!

4. It’s all about kayaking and eagles in Wabasha

Visitors seeing eagles at the National Eagle Center. Photo by Wabasha-Kellogg Chamber of Commerce .

Wabasha, another Mississippi River town, makes it easy to spend hours paddling and exploring the backwaters of the Mississippi on your own or with Broken Paddle Guiding Co. Visit the National Eagle Center, where you can learn and see eagles up close. Stop by Reads Landing Brewing Company and sip delicious handcrafted brews in a historic 1870 former dry goods store.

For more awesome road trips that stop at KOA campgrounds, check out our itineraries for Michigan and Illinois!

Feature image by Lee Vue.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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