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  • Northern Lights Shot in Northern Minnesota in Summer
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    Northern Minnesota,

    Minnesota

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    Minnesota ( (listen)) is a state in the upper Midwestern United States. It is the 12th largest U.S. state in area and the 22nd most populous, with over 5.7 million residents. More than half of Minnesotans live in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area, known as the "Twin Cities", which is the main political, economic, and cultural hub. The Twin Cities are among the 20 largest metropolises in the U.S. Other Minnesota metropolitan areas include Duluth, Mankato, Moorhead, Rochester and St. Cloud. Minnesota's geography is highly diverse, consisting of western prairies, now given over to intensive agriculture; deciduous forests in the southeast, now partially cleared, farmed, and settled; and the less populated North Woods, used for mining, forestry, and recreation. Roughly a third of the state is forested, and it is known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" for having over 14,000 bodies of fresh water that are at least ten acres. Minnesota has been inhabited by various indigenous peoples since the Woodland period of the 11th century BCE. Between roughly 200 and 500 CE, two areas of the indigenous Hopewell tradition emerged: the Laural Complex in the north, and Tremplau Hopewell in the Mississippi River Valley. The subsequent Upper Mississippian culture, consisting of the Oneota people and other Siouan speakers, lasted through the arrival of Europeans in the 17th century. French explorers and missionaries were the earliest Europeans to enter the region, encountering the Dakota, Ojibwe, and various Anishinaabe tribes. Much of what is now Minnesota formed part of the vast French holding of Louisiana, which the United States purchased in 1803. After several territorial reorganizations, the Minnesota Territory was admitted to the Union as the 32nd state in 1858. Minnesota's official motto, L'Étoile du Nord, is the only state motto in French; meaning "The Star of the North", it was adopted shortly after statehood and reflects the state's French origins and its position as the northernmost state in the contiguous U.S. As part of the American frontier, Minnesota attracted settlers and homesteaders from across the country, with its growth initially centered on timber, agriculture, and railroads. Into the early 20th century, European immigrants arrived in significant numbers, particularly from Scandinavia, Germany, and Central Europe; many were linked to the failed revolutions of 1848, and partly influenced the state's emergence as a major center of labor and social activism. Minnesota's rapid industrialization and urbanization precipitated major social, economic, and political changes during the American Progressive Era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries; the state was at the forefront of labor rights, women's suffrage, and political reform. Minnesotan politics, culture, and identity are reflective of this history and remain highly progressive by national standards. Since the late 20th century, Minnesota's economy has diversified significantly, shifting from traditional industries such as agriculture and resource extraction to services, finance, and healthcare. The state remains a center of Scandinavian, German, and Czech culture, but in recent decades has become increasingly multicultural amid greater domestic migration and immigration from Latin America, Asia, the Horn of Africa, and the Middle East. Minnesota's standard of living index is among the highest in the nation, and the state is among the best-educated in the nation. It is ranked among the best states in metrics such as employment, median income, safety, and governance.
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    National Parks

    The best US national parks for stargazing, according to star map makers

    "Nature is soothing, and gazing at the night sky with friends and family is the perfect way to spend a relaxing break with all the hustle and bustle of the real world that's currently taking over," says Zoltan Toth-Czifra from Under Lucky Stars. "We determined the best spots for stargazing to give US citizens inspiration for their next trip to get away and experience the true beauty of the night sky above us. We took into consideration the darkest skies for people to stargaze from, whilst factoring the park's accessibility and busyness, to ensure the ultimate stargazing experience." Here are the top five parks selected, and the full list is available here. 1. Great Basin National Park, Nevada Great Basin National Park was deemed to be the best stargazing hot spot in the US. Spanning Nevada, much of Oregon and Utah, and sections of California, Idaho, and Wyoming, the Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America. With only 131,802 yearly visitors, this park is one of the best to stargaze from without being disturbed by other visitors. Great Basin National Park is the best stargazing hot spot in the US © Under Lucky Stars/ Unsplash 2. Big Bend National Park, Texas Big Bend National Park is located in southwest Texas and borders Mexico. It holds national significance as the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the US. This park also includes the entire Chisos mountain range. Thanks to its vast surface area, it is one of the best parks to stargaze from as there is very little light pollution. Big Bend National Park has very little light pollution © Under Lucky Stars/ Unsplash 3. Redwood National Park, California Redwood National and State Parks lie along the coast of northern California. They consist of Redwood National Park, California's Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks. The combined parks span 139,000 acres and feature old-growth temperate rainforests. Redwood National Park scored highly with easy accessibility, very low light pollution and a yearly footfall of 504,722 visitors – a great combination to see the stars. Redwood National Park scored highly with easy accessibility © Under Lucky Stars/ Unsplash 4. North Cascades National Park, Washington The North Cascades located in Washington State is a vast terrain of wilderness. Filled with a varied species of animals and birds, the remote park is an outdoor dream. With just 38,208 yearly visitors to the vast land combined with low light pollution, the park is the perfect peaceful destination to enjoy the stars in the sky. North Cascades National Park is filled with a varied species of animals and birds © Under Lucky Stars/ Unsplash 5. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota Close to the Canadian border, Voyageurs National Park is the perfect canvas to sit and enjoy the stars. Located in northern Minnesota, the park is known for its stunning forestry and lakes, but mostly for its overall peaceful surroundings. The park welcomes 232,974 visitors annually, which combined with low light pollution lands it in the top five. Voyageurs National Park is known for its stunning forestry and lakes © Under Lucky Stars/ Unsplash

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