10 Best Weekend Trips From Minneapolis, Minnesota - Updated 2021

weekend getaways from minneapolis
Nicole
Nicole
Updated

Minneapolis is Minnesota’s largest city, and along with its neighbor St. Paul, which also happens to be the capital of Minnesota, it forms the metropolitan area of the ‘Twin Cities’. Minneapolis sits along the Mississippi River, and is a vibrant city with interesting neighborhoods, a thriving arts scene, and excellent food. You can check out the artwork at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts or catch a concert at the famous First Avenue venue. When you want to get outdoors, head to the Chain of Lakes, which are seven lakes connected by walking and biking trails. You can also walk along the Stone Arch Bridge and watch the falls along the river. When you’re hungry, you can grab donuts and coffee at Glam Doll Donuts or enjoy a famous Juicy Lucy at Matt’s Bar. Minneapolis is also perfectly situated for enjoying other cities in Minnesota and surrounding states. Here’s a list of the best weekend trips from Minneapolis, Minnesota. So read on to check out the options.

1. Duluth

Downtown Duluth and shoreline 2012
Source: Photo by user Joey1niner used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Let’s start our list with Duluth, one of the most popular cities for weekend getaways in the state. Duluth is a port city located in northeastern Minnesota, and is situated on the shore of Lake Superior. Visitors love to watch ships pass through the city’s famous Aerial Lift Bridge, a vertical lift bridge that dates back to 1905. You can also explore the Great Lakes Aquarium, the only all-freshwater aquarium in America. If you’re a history and architecture buff, you’ll definitely want to visit Glensheen Mansion, a massive lakefront mansion which was built in the early 1900s and belonged to businessman Chester Adgate Congdon. The drive from Minneapolis will take about two and a half hours, and we recommend paying attention as you drive into the city - at one point, you’ll have excellent views over the lake and the city, and it’s truly beautiful.

2. Red Wing

Downtown Red Wing, Minnesota
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tony Webster used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Red Wing is just an hour southeast of Minneapolis, and is also situated along the Mississippi River. The city was originally home to the Mdewakanton native Americans, and in the 1850s, those working on the Mississippi River steamboats began to settle in the city. Today, Red Wing is perhaps most popular for the Red Wing Shoes brand, but the city offers plenty for visitors to do. You can enjoy the outdoors along the Cannon Valley Trail, a 20-mile (32 km) trail that offers hiking and biking opportunities in the warmer months and cross-country skiing in the winter. You can also head to the Pottery Museum and learn about Red Wing’s clay industry.

3. Iowa City, Iowa

Iowa City Clinton St
Source: Photo by user Billwhittaker used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Next on the list is Iowa City, a college town in eastern Iowa. Despite its humble midwestern roots, this city is actually quite hip and cool. It’s got a thriving arts scene, and is home to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a well-known creative writing program, and The Iowa Biennial Exhibition, an exhibition of contemporary printmaking. If you like to catch live acts, including music and dance, you can head to the Hancher Auditorium. City Plaza is a popular hangout spot for locals, where you can hear live music, eat at restaurants, and do some shopping. There’s plenty of cool things to explore in this city, and it’s located just four and a half hours from Minneapolis.

4. Grand Marais

North Shore Trip - Beautiful Grand Marais, MN
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Pete Markham used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Grand Marais is situated on the northeastern tip of Minnesota along the North Shore, an area of northeastern Minnesota so named because it sits along the north shore of Lake Superior. In the 1700s, the area was a thriving fur trading post, and today, people visit Grand Marais to enjoy strolling along the lakeside and reconnect with nature. The city is an entryway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, so if you like to canoe, this is a prime canoeing spot. You can also walk along the Gunflint Trail, a hiking trail which was once the walking path of fur traders. When you’re hungry, head to Angry Trout Cafe. They serve up fresh fish and have a dock overlooking Lake Superior. The drive to Grand Marais will take you about four and a half hours from Minneapolis.

5. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Dells

For those who grew up in the upper Midwest, Wisconsin Dells is synonymous with family vacations and the summer break from school. This city is located in the south-central area of Wisconsin, and it takes its name from the nearby gorge on the Wisconsin River. This area has been a popular tourist destination since the mid-1800s, when people used to take boat trips here to see the dells on the river. Sights along the river still brings tourists, but the area is also home to a plethora of water parks and theme parks. One of the most popular is Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park, which offers 37 water slides, 5 roller coasters, and 9 go-kart tracks. The drive will only take three and a half hours from Minneapolis, so you can be enjoying the water slides in no time.

6. Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines skyline
Source: Photo by user w:Malepheasant used under CC BY-SA 2.5

Next is the Des Moines, the capital city of Iowa. The city is known for being a hub for insurance and other financial businesses, but it’s got plenty of culture, which locals and tourists both enjoy. One of the most popular attractions is the Iowa State Capitol. It has a gorgeous gold-leafed dome and guided tours are available. If you’re keen to learn more about Iowa’s history, you can spend some time at the State of Iowa Historical Museum. And, if you’re into cool places to eat and hip stores, then you’ll definitely want to spend some time in the East Village. You can pop into RAYGUN to purchase unique clothes and eat at Zombie Burger and Shake Lab, which has a horror movie theme. Des Moines is about four hours south of Minneapolis.

7. Two Harbors

Two Harbors Minnesota aerial view
Source: Photo by user U.S. Army Corps o... used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Two Harbors is about a three-hour drive from Minneapolis, and is located in the northeastern part of the state. It is another city which sits along the shores of Lake Superior, making it a popular tourist destination for those who love outdoor activities. One of the most popular attractions in the area is Gooseberry Falls State Park, which offers plenty of hiking trails and beautiful views of the waterfalls along the Gooseberry River. Or, head to Agate Bay Beach, which sits along Lake Superior and has a pier - a great way to take in the beauty of northern Minnesota. Finally, when you feel like you need to relax, stop by Castle Danger Brewery, where you can taste craft beers brewed with water from Lake Superior.

8. Brainerd

Brainerd Carnegie Library 2016
Source: Photo by user McGhiever used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Brainerd is a city located in central Minnesota. Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and the Brainerd area is home to many of them. So, it’s no surprise that Brainerd is one of the most popular tourist destinations for Minnesotans, particularly in the summer months, when you can spend your days swimming, fishing, and boating. But, the area offers more than water-based fun. If you like to bike, head to the Paul Bunyan State Trail, which spans 120 miles (180 km). You can also head to downtown Brainerd, which offers a variety of independent shops and restaurants. The drive to Brainerd will take you just over two hours.

9. La Crosse, Wisconsin

Downtown LaCrosse 2006
Source: Photo by user publichall used under CC BY-SA 3.0

La Crosse, Wisconsin, is about a two and half hour drive from Minneapolis, and is located on the Mississippi River in the western part of the state. It’s a college town, and offers plenty of activities for visitors. In Riverside Park, you can enjoy views of the river, walk or bike along trails, and enjoy a picnic. If you’re travelling with kids, spending the afternoon at the Children’s Museum of La Crosse is a great idea. Or, head to downtown La Crosse, where you can enjoy the city’s nightlife at a craft beer place like Bodega Brew Pub, Inc or at a club like Legend’s Night Club.

10. Bemidji

Bemidji State University-Campus
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user mwp_42 used under CC BY 2.0

Our list ends with the town of Bemidji, Minnesota. The city is located in the northern part of the state, and is situated on the banks of the Mississippi River and the shores of Lake Bemidji. There’s plenty of outdoor fun to be had in this city, including Lake Bemidji State Park, which offers up hiking, fishing, and camping opportunities. When you want to head indoors, you can visit the Beltrami County History Museum, where you can learn about the area’s history. Or, spend some time at Headwaters Science Center, a science museum with plenty of hands-on activities.

So many weekend trips from Minneapolis

Minneapolis is perfectly situated for exploring the cities near it. Whether you want a city that offers plenty of outdoor activities, you prefer the vibrancy of a college town, or you just want to have fun in a water park, there’s a destination for you. So gas up the car and start planning your weekend trip from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

Still Need Travel Insurance?

You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101

*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.

Nicole is an American expat living in London, England. When she moved from the midwest to London in 2012, it was her first time leaving the US. She has traveled steadily since then, making trips...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Minneapolis
Good things are meant to be shared!