We’ve made it through another Minnesota winter and can now enjoy summer in this beautiful state. From waterfalls and rooftop patios to hiking the bluffs and swimming in Lake Superior, Minnesota comes alive in the summer. Here’s a roundup of 12 epic road trips to take this summer.
1. Hastings, Minnesota
Hastings is a great town located just 25 minutes south of St. Paul. As you enter Hastings from the north side, you’ll drive across what was once a one-of-a-kind spiral design bridge intended for wagons. It has since been rebuilt to support modern-day cars and trucks. This town has so much history, a large riverfront park, a waterfall, and a bustling downtown with a brewery, coffee shops, and great restaurants. I believe it’s a completely underrated and often forgotten destination that is slowly becoming more popular. Click here for more details on the best things to do in Hastings, Minnesota!
2. Otter Tail County, Minnesota
About three hours from the Twin Cities, Otter Tail County is home to over 1,000 lakes, which is more than any other county in the United States! Otter Tail County is a great summer destination for fishing, hiking and boating at state parks, shopping, breweries, and golfing! Click here to read more about Otter Tail County.
3. Red Wing, Minnesota
Red Wing, Minnesota is about one hour southeast of downtown Minneapolis. Known for its beautiful bluffs, historic sites, a winery and brewery, and world-famous boots (the Red Wing Shoe Company was founded here in 1905 and is still going strong!), it’s a great spot for a summer trip. There is so much history and pride in Red Wing. Click here for the ten best things to do in Red Wing!
4. Winona, Minnesota
Winona is known for having a great art museum, brewery, bakery, hiking trails, and an excellent Italian restaurant with a unique story. When driving to Winona from the Twin Cities area, take the scenic route on Highway 61 south, which is on the Minnesota side. Then, on the return trip, take highway 35 on the Wisconsin side so you’ll get great views of the Minnesota bluffs. Click here for a roundup of some of our favorite things to do in Winona!
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5. Faribault, Minnesota
I spent three years living just outside Faribault, and this little town offers more than initially meets the eye. Located just one hour south of the Twin Cities, Faribault is a small town rich in character and history. Did you know the tilt-a-whirl was invented in Faribault, Minnesota? While visiting Faribault, be sure to visit the winery, take a tour at the Faribault Woolen Mill, and grab a cocktail and 10,000 Drops Distillery. Click here to learn more about Faribault.
6. Stillwater, Minnesota
Stillwater is a special place, and it’s one of my favorite Minnesota towns. This adorable, quaint town nestled along the St. Croix River has a huge selection of restaurants, bars, bakeries, and ice cream shops. The waterfront park is a beautiful spot to sit and relax or set up a picnic. There are also a lot of parks and places to hike, a trolley, and even a gondola! And there is no shortage of places to grab food and drinks. Click here to learn more about my favorite things to do in Stillwater.
7. Grand Marais, Minnesota
Grand Marias is a truly magical place in the summer. It’s an adorable harbor town with a plethora of options for outdoor adventurers and nature lovers. Grand Marais offers stunning views of Lake Superior and is close to several State Parks. It also has easy access to the Boundary Water Canoe Area, and the Superior Hiking Trail. Be sure to grab an ice cream cone and watch the sunset over Lake Superior. Click here to learn more about Grand Marais!
8. Pine City, Minnesota
My husband and I visited Pine City for my birthday last year, and after exploring this lovely town for a few days, we can definitively say we had an awesome time. We stayed in a cute cabin on Pokegama Lake, checked out the brewery in town, took a hike, and made s’mores by the bonfire. Pine City is a small town with a big personality. From breweries and wineries to secret hidden bridges, award-winning pizza pubs, and lakefront cabins, Pine City is an awesome place for a summer weekend getaway! Click here to read more about Pine City.
9. Alexandria, Minnesota
Heading up north to a lake town is an absolute must for a Minnesotan summer. One of the most popular places is Alexandria and for good reason. I’ve been to Alexandria a few times and always have a great time. With several museums, a handful of breweries, a winery, a nearby creamery, and great shopping it’s no wonder Alexandria is a very popular summer destination. And one of the best parts is that it’s a short two-hour drive from Minneapolis! Click here to read more about Alexandria.
10. Northfield, Minnesota
Northfield, Minnesota is the perfect place for your next summer day trip. It’s a quaint town located about 40 miles south of the Twin Cities. Around 1914, Northfield declared its official town slogan “Cows, Colleges and Contentment.” In 2014, Northfield ranked number two for the best small town in the country. This charming river town has beautiful parks, great restaurants with outdoor patios, farmer’s markets, and a handful of very trendy shops. Looking to learn more about Northfield’s unique history? Visit the Northfield Historical Society and learn about the 1876 James-Younger gang bank raid. Click here to read more about Northfield.
11. Victoria, Minnesota
Just 30 minutes west of downtown Minneapolis is the quaint town of Victoria, Minnesota. This town is filled with scenic views, boutiques, a bookstore, a brewery, and great restaurants. Named after the St. Victoria Church, which was built in the heart of town in 1857, this upscale town has a lot to offer. Grab an ice cream cone and walk by the lakes, or bring your bicycle and ride along the Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail. Click here to learn more about Victoria.
I absolutely love spending time in Duluth. I’ve visited Duluth many times over the years for vacation, as a lunch stop on the way up to the North Shore, and even for a wedding. There is no shortage of fun things to do in Duluth. From distilleries and breweries with outdoor patios, to Lake Superior beaches and boat rides, Duluth is an epic summer destination. After a number of trips to Duluth, here is a roundup of my favorite things to do, see and eat in Duluth!
Summer is Incredible in Minnesota
Minnesota is a magical place in the summer. When you get those perfect hot sunny days by the lake or on a rooftop patio, it makes us quickly forget about the brutal winter and reminds us why we love this place so much. If you’re looking for a few more summer ideas, check out Ely for hiking and waterfalls, Cuyuna Country for dirt biking and paddleboarding on mine lakes, and Ruttger’s Bay Lake Resort for golf and kayaking. And of course, there are always a ton of great things to do in Minneapolis and St. Paul during the summer months!