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9 Best Summer Road Trips in Minnesota

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It’s no secret that Minnesota is a beautiful state, with a lot to offer tourists and visitors. From the Twin Cities in the east to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in the north, there’s something for everyone.

If you’re looking for a great road trip this summer, take a look at these routes that will show you some of the best that Minnesota has to offer.

Best Summer Road Trips in Minnesota

Start planning your trip by picking one of these routes:

The North Shore Drive

Photo by Tony L on Unsplash

This route starts in Duluth and winds its way up the North Shore of Lake Superior. It’s a beautiful drive with plenty of scenic overlooks and opportunities to stop and enjoy the view.

Make sure you stop at Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock Lighthouse, and Grand Portage National Monument. There are so many great things to do on the North Shore that it’s hard to pick one activity that’s better than the other.

As a family, we love venturing to Grand Marais each year. It’s so beautiful and such a charming city. There are still so many great things to do and see that we keep coming back for more.

One of the best places to stay in Grand Marais is the Lutsen Resort. It’s a beautiful property with log-cabin-style lodges, a golf course, and stunning views of Lake Superior.

Another great option is the North Shore Inn. This bed and breakfast offers cozy accommodations right on the water. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the views.

If you’re looking for a more rustic experience, there are plenty of great camping options along the route. Two of our favorites are Tettegouche State Park and Judge C.R. Magney State Park.

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

This road trip takes you to some of the most beautiful spots on Lake Superior. The route starts in Bayfield and takes you through Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, which is made up of 21 islands.

Make sure you stop and visit Madeline Island, the largest and most populous of the Apostle Islands. It’s a great place to explore, with plenty of shops and restaurants. There’s also a ferry that goes to the island, so you can bring your car over and explore at your own pace.

If you’re looking for a more adventurous experience, consider kayaking or canoeing around the islands. There are plenty of great spots for camping, too.

The Great River Road

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This route follows the Mississippi River from its source at Lake Itasca all the way down to Iowa. Along the way, you’ll pass through some of Minnesota’s most beautiful countryside, including the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.

There are also plenty of opportunities to stop and explore, including the charming towns of Winona and Red Wing.

We love the great river road because it blends a ton of activities into one such as the charming river towns to the state parks like Frontenac State Park to the amazing Lake Pepin. This is a great family-friendly adventure that no matter where you are coming from, you are destined to enjoy!

Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

If you’re looking for a real wilderness adventure, consider taking a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. This area is located in the northeast corner of Minnesota and is known for its pristine lakes and forests.

It’s a great place to go camping, fishing, hiking, and canoeing. There are also plenty of opportunities for wildlife watching, including moose, deer, and bears.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a popular destination, so make sure you make your reservations early.

The Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway

This route starts in Bemidji and follows Highway 71 all the way to Brainerd. It’s a beautiful drive through the heart of Minnesota, with plenty of opportunities to see wildlife and enjoy the scenery.

Make sure you stop at the Itasca State Park, the Zippel Bay State Recreation Area, and the Crow Wing State Park.

There are plenty of great places to stay in Brainerd, including the following:

The Iron Range Scenic Byway

This route starts in Hibbing and follows Highway 169 all the way to Virginia. It’s a beautiful drive through the forests and lakes of Minnesota’s north country.

Make sure you stop at the Chisholm Visitor Center, the Vermilion Dam, and the Soudan Underground Mine State Park.

When traveling the Iron Range Scenic Byway, there are plenty of places to stay and enjoy the scenery. Here are a few of our favorites:

The Iron Range Scenic Byway is a beautiful drive that takes you through some of Minnesota’s most stunning scenery. Make sure you take the time to stop and explore everything this route has to offer.

St. Croix River Scenic Byway

If you’re looking for a scenic drive, the St. Croix River Scenic Byway is definitely worth checking out. This route will take you through some of the most beautiful areas in Minnesota, including Taylors Falls, Stillwater, and Chengwatana State Forest.

You’ll get to see everything from lush forests to rocky cliffs, and there are plenty of opportunities to stop and explore along the way.

The St. Croix River Scenic Byway is a beautiful route that takes you through some of the best areas of Minnesota. If you’re looking for a place to stay while exploring the area, here are some great options.

The Inn at St. John’s is a charming bed and breakfast that overlooks the St. Croix River.

The Afton House Inn is a historic inn that has been welcoming guests since 1856.

If you’re looking for something a little more budget-friendly, the Hampton Inn & Suites Stillwater is a great option.

The Gunflint Trail National Scenic Byway

The Gunflint Trail National Scenic Byway is a 63-mile route that runs through the Superior National Forest in Minnesota. The byway is open year-round and offers plenty of opportunities for camping, fishing, and hiking.

It’s also a great place to see wildlife, including moose, deer, and bears. The byway begins at the intersection of Highway 61 and Gunflint Trail (County Road 12) and travels northwest to Saganaga Landing in Canada.

There are plenty of great places to stay on the Gunflint Trail, including resorts, campgrounds, and B&Bs. Here are a few of our favorites:

The Gunflint Lodge is a beautiful resort that offers amazing views of the wilderness. They have cabins and lodges available for rent, as well as a restaurant, bar, and general store.

Birchbark Camp is a great place to stay if you’re looking for a more rustic experience. They have cabins, camping, and canoeing available.

Walking Eagle Resort is another great option for those who want to be close to the action. They have cabins, RV sites, and a private lake for fishing.

If you’re looking for an adventure this summer, be sure to check out the Gunflint Trail National Scenic Byway.

Pipestone National Monument

Consider visiting Pipestone National Monument if you’re searching for a fantastic summer road trip. This lovely park is located in southwestern Minnesota and features an ancient red pipestone quarry that Native Americans have been utilizing for thousands of years.

The Visitor Center has information on the region’s history and culture, as well as a walking trail that leads to the quarries and Falls Winnie-Wassa. The town of Pipestone has so many great things to see and do that you’ll fall in love with both the history and the culture.

There are a number of great places to stay in Pipestone, including both great hotels and campgrounds. Here are a few of our favorites:

Final Thoughts

The best summer road trips in Minnesota will take you through beautiful landscapes, nature preserves, and historic sites that are sure to make your trip memorable.

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the top summer places to visit on your next road trip vacation. Whether you want an action-packed adventure or something more serene, these destinations offer it all.

Author Bio: Kyle Kroeger is the owner of ViaTraveler.com. ViaTravelers is a destination travel blog providing the best tips, hacks, and itineraries to help you explore the world. Follow us on Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.

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