Is there anything to do in outstate Minnesota besides camping?

Hello friends from other states. Please come to Minnesota to visit. And you really only need to hit Minneapolis and a lake outstate and you’ve pretty much seen our state.

That’s my takeaway, anyway, from the new “Only in Minnesota” tourism commercial. No canoe? No reason to venture past I-694.

MPR’s Tom Scheck reports the state is going to spend $3.7 million over the next three months to lure people here.

You natives might notice something in the ad. There’s nothing to do in outstate Minnesota except jump in a lake and camp.

Here’s the breakdown from the commercial.

Camping somewhere
A park in Minneapolis
State Fair
Light rail in Minneapolis
Bicycling in Minneapolis
A park in Minneapolis
A lake in Minneapolis
A store somewhere
The Guthrie in Minneapolis
Como Conservatory in Saint Paul
Canoeing somewhere
Canoeing somewhere else
Standing by a lake somewhere
A concert somewhere
Golfing somewhere
Playing skeeball somewhere
A food truck in Minneapolis
Eating pizza. Probably in Minneapolis
Faribault Woolen Mill
A waterfall somewhere
Como Conservatory in Saint Paul. Again.
Canoeing somewhere
Minnesota Zoo aquarium (or Underwater World)
Atop Foshay Tower (I think) in Minneapolis
A dinner party in Minneapolis
Sitting by a lake somewhere
The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Again.
Mall of America.
Camping somewhere.
Sitting by a lake somewhere else.
Camping somewhere.
Canoing. Again.
Same lake in Minneapolis as before.
Not sure. Might have been Enger Tower (but I doubt it). MN History Ctr.
A restaurant in Minneapolis.
Como Conservatory. Again.
A lake somewhere.
A lake somewhere else.
Cafesjians Carousel at Como.
A lake somewhere.
Looking at the Minneapolis skyline, possibly from the Guthrie.
A store.
A lake.

What’s missing? The Duluth area, for one. Southwest Minnesota for another. Also, most of Minnesota not named Minneapolis.

Last Monday, I stopped at the largest open pit iron mine in the world. Twenty-two years I’ve lived here, and I’ve never been to this. It’s like our very own Grand Canyon. Tell your out-of-state friends it’s just up the road from the Greyhound Bus Museum in Hibbing. That’s in Minnesota.

There are other commercials. There’s one with canoes, lakes, and soundtrack by Trampled by Turtles.

And one that’s primarily Minneapolis, with a cameo from near Rice Park in Saint Paul.

This one features a stop at the SPAM museum, and the Red Wing Shoe outlet. And lakes.

And that’s pretty much it.

If you were trying to convince someone to come to Minnesota to find or do something that’s only in Minnesota, what would be in your commercial?

  • Having grown up in Farmington, I can assure you that there is nothing there for tourists.

    • Seconded. Just keep on cruising past it down I-35.

  • Matt Black

    I think the “Dinner party somewhere” at 0:26 is on top of the UNION Restaurant and Rooftop on Hennepin Ave in (surprise) Minneapolis.

  • Laura O’B Smith

    Learn how to do a folk art project in Milan, MN at the Milan Village Arts School.

  • Laura O’B Smith

    Oh, and mountain biking up on the Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trail! And the Eagle Center in Wabasha. The MN Maritime Art Museum in Winona is an awesome place to visit. The giant shoe at the Red Wing Shoe Factory Museum is worth a day trip, too.

  • Brooke M

    I was randomly in Grand Rapids a few years ago for a wedding, and I made a point to go to the Judy Garland museum. I thought it was pretty great, even without the real ruby slippers (their pair was stolen years ago and have never been recovered). I would absolutely recommend the Judy Garland museum if you happen to be in the Grand Rapids area.

  • Gary F

    We need to promote wolf hunting

  • ETK

    how about the underground mine tour – Sudan Mine near Tower MN – it’s superb

    • bri-bri

      Agreed. The Mystery Cave tour in Forestville State Park is excellent as well.

  • CB

    Forest History Center in GR, summer concert at Bayfront Park, Canal Park and the Lake-walk, alpine coaster at Spirit Mountain, Northern Lights, Paul Bunyan, Grandmas Marathon, Whitewater rafting in Carlton, Iron World, New Ulm, all kinds of stuff. I feel that many of the things shown in the videos are easy to find in other cities in America. That said, I do like the commercials and they make MN look very desirable!

  • Jack

    You missed the shot inside the MN History Center at :44 – caught a glimpse of the plane in the atrium there.

    How dare they create a commercial without the Split Rock Lighthouse?

    Bob – hopefully you visited the Greyhound Museum after visiting the Pit. Just outside of Hibbing is the Wellstone Memorial that I found quite moving too.

    We metro-Minnesotans need to explore more of Minnesota too – not just the out-of-staters. Of course, we happily accept the dollars injected into the state economy by those not residing here.

  • Paul Weimer

    Some of this has been mentioned before…

    Split Rock Lighthouse
    The SPAM Museum
    Itasca State Park (Headwaters, naturally)
    Fall color from the top of the fire tower at Mille Lacs
    International Wolf Center

  • Eric Chandler

    1000 foot laker going under the lift bridge. Don’t have that in the Cities.

  • John

    The north shore railway in Duluth is fun. The train museum with it (the Depot) too.

    Every town has some sort of art or music festival. RiverSong in Hutchinson is excellent (full disclosure – I was on the steering committee for that during its first few years. Now I just help with sound and lights). Land of the Loon in Virginia or the blueberry festival in Ely.


    • Jack

      Love the train museum. Have never been to Glensheen but plan on doing that some year.

  • Kassie

    Using these comments to plan summer vacations. Having lived here my whole life, and spent a lot of time out state, it is amazing how many of these suggestions I haven’t done.

  • Jeff

    Naniboujou lodge, The driftless region, US Hockey hall of fame in Eveleth, Franconia Sculpture park, Lake Mille Lacs, Itasca State Park,

  • killershrew

    A handful of things to do in outstate Minnesota that I can think of off the top of my head:

    – morel hunt in spring (I’m not telling you my spots!)
    – go hunting (I have an uncle who comes to MN from 3 states away to do this)
    – walk across the Mississippi at Itasca State Park
    – go agate hunting on a Duluth beach
    – Laura Ingalls Wilder house
    – Jeffer’s Petroglyphs
    – Interstate Park
    – Various sculpture parks, like the always awesome Franconia Sculpture Park
    – Largest ball of twine
    – Caves in southern MN
    – Visit all the goofy fiberglass roadside attractions throughout the state

    … At home, I’ve got a book of outstate attractions that I started compiling years ago. I used to spend my weekends visiting them one by one, before life got a little too busy. Having a kid soon, hope to resurrect these weekend roadtrips in a few years when the kid is old enough to appreciate them.

    • killershrew

      Also, if you’re into the more low-brow side of things, the annual wood tick race in Cuyuna is hilarious!

  • The twine ball in Darwin is well worth a visit. It really makes you ponder…

  • Kassie

    I’ll add, and maybe this is more for Minnesotans than out of state folks, but heading up near Hallock is a must do, in my mind. I’ve never seen a part of the country that is flatter. Mountains, hills, oceans are all beautiful, but there is a beauty in a totally flat landscape too.

  • Gayra Ostgaard Eliou

    Am I the only one who takes issue with the word “outstate”? This implies that MN begins and ends in the metro area and that the rest of MN is actually not MN and somehow less. Look at funding of road construction, healthcare, education, etc. and these areas are also treated as less. I’m not sure when the metro area started to be seen as MN, but it is not. MN is larger and there are people living outside the metro with voices that deserve to be heard.

  • J F Hanson

    Really excellent, Bob.