Across vast lakes and fertile prairies, Minnesota stretches across the upper Midwest, calling travelers to its scenic landscapes. Said to have been traveled by Paul Bunyan, the state has a rich history of fierce American settlers and immigrants who worked hard to make it the prosperous place it is today. Known for its formidable winters and stunning summers, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” is a treat for any student traveler, with tons of activities to keep everyone happy.

Step into the Past

Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post in Onamia tells the story of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Students can trace their journey and settlement in Northern Minnesota and participate in indoor demonstrations and classes on weaving, beading and traditional cooking. At the Grand Portage National Monument visitors can learn all about the North West Fur Company and its dealings with Ojibwe Indians. Costumed interpreters at the historic fort explain life during the fur trade and tell the story of this vast operation.

Great Hall at Grand Portage National Monument. Credit Rufus Sarsaparilla at en.wikipedia

Great Hall at Grand Portage National Monument. Credit Rufus Sarsaparilla at en.wikipedia

Students should also visit Fort Ridgely State Park in Fairfax, where they can tour the fort and wander through the ruins while learning about the U.S.-Dakota Conflict of 1862. Take a step back in time at Jeffers Petroglyphs in Comfrey, a sacred site to Native peoples. View the carvings at the site, where American Indians still come to visit and pray, and take in the peacefulness and power of this spiritual location.

Learn and Play

Head to Apple Valley and enjoy the animals at the Minnesota Zoo. With tons of educational opportunities that include an overnight at the zoo, the fun never ends. At the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul, students can view galleries covering topics such as paleontology, physical science and the human body. Students can let their inner artist out at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Known as one of the finest wide-ranging art collections, it has exhibitions that feature art from Monet to 40,000-year-old artifacts.

Leopard with cub at Minnesota Zoo. Credit Makeenosman at en.wikipedia

Leopard with cub at Minnesota Zoo. Credit Makeenosman at en.wikipedia

Be the Center of Attention

Students can pursue their dreams of stardom at performance venues throughout Minnesota. At Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, students can participate in The Art of Combat where they can learn the techniques of stage combat. Valleyfair Amusement Park in Shakopee has numerous thrill rides, plus the Performance in the Park program, which gives musical groups the chance to showcase their talent in front of an audience or on a march around the park. Backus Community Center in International Falls and Lakeville Arts Center in Lakeville offers rentable performance venues as well as educational activities and shows.

Guthrie Theater.

Guthrie Theater. Credit: Guthrie Theater.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

For the adventurous, Voyageurs National Park is the perfect location. Situated in International Falls, it offers boat tours that visit historic sites, such as Little American Gold Mine and Kettle Falls Hotel, and includes breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife. Itasca State Park is Minnesota’s oldest state park. Located in Park Rapids, visitors can enjoy its scenic views, cross the Mississippi and view landmarks such as Itasca Indian Cemetery and Wegmann’s Cabin. At the International Wolf Center in Ely, students can learn all about wolves, their relationship to the wilds, and how they can help conserve and protect this species.

Lake Itasca and Headwaters of the Mississippi River in Itasca State Park.

Lake Itasca and Headwaters of the Mississippi River in Itasca State Park. Credit: Lake Itasca State Park.

Only in Minnesota

Mall of America in Bloomington is a shopper’s dream. It has more than 520 stores, 50 restaurants and tons of attractions including Nickelodeon Universe (the nation’s largest indoor theme park) and Sea Life Aquarium. The tallest indoor water park in the U.S., Water Park of America in Bloomington, is the place to be. With a slide tower nearly 10 stories high and surfing simulator, there is no shortage of fun.

Mall of America.

Mall of America. Credit: Premier Travel Media.

At the SPAM Museum in Austin, students can take a self-guided tour of the iconic Hormel product. Students can put their teachers to the test at the SPAM exam station and enjoy a “spample” of the flavor of the day. Or travel to Bemidji to see the giant Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues for a picture-perfect moment. The Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth is a major landmark and engineering feat; it is one of only two bridges of its kind ever constructed in the U.S.

Paul Bunyan and Babe.

Paul Bunyan and Babe. Credit: Premier Travel Media.

Minnesota has a seemingly endless amount of student-friendly activities to offer. This state delivers education and entertainment to ensure an exciting trip for student travelers.  If you’ve visited Minnesota before, tell us about it below!