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Top Hidden Destinations To Visit In Minnesota

Minnesota offers a significant variety of lookouts, historical mileposts and scenic destinations. Lake Superior's North Shore with Split Rock Lighthouse is known by all for it splendor and beauty. Yet there are less prominent destinations, known to few, that offer beauty or cultural and historical significance. Here are five Minnesota hidden gems found off the beaten path.

Kettle Falls Hotel
12977 Chippewa Trail
Kabetogama, MN  56669
(218) 240-1724 May 1 thru November 1, (218) 875-2070 November 1 to May 1

The most hidden destination in Minnesota may be Kettle Falls and the Kettle Falls Hotel. It can only be reached by air, boat or shuttle. Both are situated on an isolated spot on the Minnesota-Canadian border. The hotel was built between 1910 and 1913 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. It features twelve remodeled rooms and three modern, but centrally located bathrooms. Guests rise every morning to the sweet, fresh, robustly resonant aroma of the fresh forest air. The staff will top that with complimentary hot coffee and rolls each morning. The dam is a rare geographic anomaly as well. One can stand on United States soil looking south over the dam toward Canada. Bring your camera for the scenic overlook near the Dam.

Jeffers Petroglyphs (1)
(credit: Minnesota Historical Society)

Jeffers Petroglyphs Historic Site
27160 County Road 2
Comfrey, MN 56019
(507) 628-5591

Guided Tour: Daily at 10:30 a.m., 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.
Price: $7 Adults, $6 Seniors And Students, $5 Children Ages 6 Through 17, Free Age 5 And Under

Historical artifacts of man in Minnesota predate Stonehenge in England. Five thousand petroglyphs found southwest of New Ulm date back to 7,000 years ago, surpassing Stonehenge, constructed only 4,000 years ago. Furthermore, those who left had advanced understanding of mathematics, geometry, astronomy and medicine according to Thomas Sanders, an archaeologist and Jeffers' site manager. One can learn more about the knowledge those who preceded us left preserved on these hard rock outcroppings. Visitors may take self-guided tours or guided tours along two nature trails of about one-quarter mile in length.

Related: Best Day Trips From Minnesota

Lanesboro Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center
100 Milwaukee Road
Lanesboro, MN 55949
(507) 467-2696

Visitor Center Hours: Monday through Saturday at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The greater Lanesboro Minnesota region is a special place, offering hospitality like no other in Minnesota's scenic bluff country region. A trip to Lanesboro should include a tour of Amish country and a stay in what is touted as The Bed and Breakfast Capital of the World. First, take a tour of the largest Amish Community in Minnesota. You can choose between a self-guided tour and two guided tours. The guided tours include stops at Amish farms and retail shops near Lanesboro, Preston, Canton, and Harmony. You will learn the fascinating history of the Amish in Minnesota. You will have time to browse shops filled with lovely Amish crafts, hardwood furniture, well-ordered quilts, beautiful baskets, leather goods, fragrant candles, soaps and foods. After the tour, stay at one of the many bed & breakfasts, hotels, resorts or campgrounds in the area.

St. Croix River
St. Croix River in Stillwater, Minn. (credit: Laura Goetzke)

St Croix River

The St. Croix River Valley is filled with scenic destinations, historic sites and art districts. Start by taking the St. Croix Scenic Byway, which stretches for 124 miles from Point Douglas near Hastings to Sandstone, Minnesota. The most scenic sections are between Taylors Falls and Hastings. The most scenic hiking trails are out of Interstate State Park near Taylors Falls that explore unique glacial potholes of the area. Especially scenic are the Rail Road Trail, Curtain Falls Loop and River Trail. Other scenic hikes can be taken on Indianhead Trail and the Mindy Creek Segment of the Ice Age Trail on Day Road out of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. A trip along the St Croix River is not complete without a stop in Stillwater for a stroll through the arts district or a stop at a fine restaurant.

Related: Best Scenic Highways In Minnesota

Inside The SPAM Museum
(credit: Amy Rea)

Spam Museum  
101 3rd Avenue Northeast
Austin, MN 55912
(800) 588-7726

Museum Hours for April through Oct.: Mon. through Sat. at 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sun. at Noon to 5:00 p.m., First Thurs. of every month at 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Museum Hours for Nov. through Mar.: Tuesday-Sunday: Noon to 5:00 p.m.

We seldom think of a canned meat museum as a destination, but it is worth a stop to learn about Minnesota history and appreciate how the food industry has changed over the years. The exhibits are fun for kids. They should enjoy the play area. Visitors can pick up some funky T-shirts, Spam jerky or a can of Spam in the gift store.

Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at

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