5 Fun Things to Do in Minnesota That Don’t Involve Lakes

A Welcome to Minnesota road sign.

Some of the best recreation Minnesota has to offer has nothing to do with lakes at all. (Image: Dreamshot via Dreamstime)

When people think of recreation in Minnesota, the state’s lakes often come to mind. With just about every summer and winter lake activity you can imagine, there isn’t much you can’t do on Minnesota’s 10,000-plus lakes. But having fun in the state isn’t just about the lakes. In fact, some of the best recreation the state has to offer has nothing to do with lakes at all.

5 things to do in Minnesota that don’t involve water recreation — but do guarantee a good time

1. Tour a winery or brewery

Man's hand is shown holding a wineglass with a splash of red wine in it with guests sitting around an outdoor wooden table in the blurred background.
Minnesota is home to dozens of wineries and breweries, many of which produce nationally recognized products. (Image: JillWellington via Pixabay)

Minnesota is home to dozens of wineries and breweries, many of which produce nationally recognized products. From the acclaimed Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria to the many popular brewing companies and brewpubs in Duluth, wineries and breweries can be found in nearly every section of the state.

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Plan a day trip to one or more of these fun establishments, and learn about the wine- and beer-making processes while enjoying the beautiful scenery and tasty, fresh beverages.

2. Shop the unique malls

If you like mall shopping, Minnesota has you well covered—and Bloomington’s Mall of America, the largest and most-visited mall in the United States, isn’t the only one worth your time. In the Twin Cities metro, you’ll also find many unique outdoor shopping malls, like those at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove and the premium outlets of Eagan and Albertville—all offering a plethora of shops to choose from.

Or, venture outside the Twin Cities to the towns of Stillwater, Ely, and Nisswa for some of the best specialty shopping around.

3. Visit Minnesota-made food sites

Dozens of bushel baskets filled with ripe red apples sit outside under the shade of a tree.
For apple lovers, apple orchards abound in Minnesota. (Image: judymccleery via Pixabay)

Minnesota boasts many original food products, and making a trip to indulge in them for a little fun is a popular activity for all ages. For apple lovers, apple orchards abound in the state, many of them featuring University of Minnesota-developed varieties, like the Zestar and Honeycrisp.

If you like lefse, which is a Norwegian flatbread, you can watch it being made at the factory at Norsland Lefse in Rushford. Other great food sites offering Minnesota products include Kramarczuk’s Sausage Company in Minneapolis and Burnsville’s Abdullah chocolate factory.

4. Enjoy the parks

Minnesota’s great outdoors includes numerous beautiful parks throughout the state for biking, hiking, cross-country skiing, camping, and just about anything else a park has to offer. Take in the history at Fort Snelling State Park in St. Paul, or explore the limestone bluffs at Winona’s Whitewater State Park.

Plenty of parks exist for dogs too, including Eden Prairie’s Staring Lake Dog Park, which includes grassy areas and plenty of wooded trails for canines and their companions to spend the day exploring and meeting new friends

5. Attend a festival or fair

People walking through the carnival midway with food stands, games, and rides seen behind them.
One of the best and most well-attended state fairs, the Minnesota State Fair is held in St. Paul during the late summer. (Image: Michael Rubin via Dreamstime)

One of the best and most well-attended state fairs, the Minnesota State Fair is held in St. Paul during the late summer and appeals to everyone from agricultural enthusiasts to food lovers. If you have a penchant for crafts, the Little Falls Arts and Crafts Fair won’t disappoint, with over 500 crafters and an antique show.

Festivals also top the list of fun things to do in Minnesota. Take in a theatrical performance at the Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, a moonlight snowshoe hike at International Fall’s Icebox Days, or a day of country music at WE Fest in Detroit Lakes.

When it comes to recreation, this state has something for everyone, even those who don’t care for water activities. Try any of the above things to do in Minnesota, and enjoy some of the best fun the state has to offer.

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