Need ideas for a weekend trip from Minneapolis and St. Paul? Here are some suggestions for weekend getaways from Minneapolis and St. Paul. There's romantic trips, city breaks, active trips and adventures, and summer and winter getaways.
Summer Weekend Trips
Itasca State Park is where the headwaters of the Mississippi River are. Just a few hours north, the mighty Mississippi begins as a stream you can tiptoe across with a few steps. Camp at the State Park, find a nearby cabin or stay in the nearby historic town of Detroit Lakes.
The North Shore and Highway 61. Highway 61 starts in Duluth, but the true North Shore experience starts about an hour north of Duluth when the road starts getting more and more scenic. Visit historic Split Rock Lighthouse, and gorgeous Gooseberry Falls, the tallest of several waterfalls in the area. Admire Palisade Head, some of the tallest cliffs on the lake, and shop for Lake Superior Agates and local crafts at stores along Highway 61. The North Shore is one of the best areas in Minnesota for fall colors. Several small towns have to lodge from camping, cabins, motels to find hotels and plenty of restaurants from casual to fine dining.
Winter Weekend Trips
Lutsen Mountains, about four hours north of Minneapolis, has the biggest ski and snowboard area in Minnesota. And nearby Lutsen, there's cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, ice climbing, and all kinds of winter recreation. Hotel specials will give you lift tickets for Lutsen Mountains for a great value getaway. Look out for hotels with hot tubs - there's several in the area.
Bayfield, WI is on the shore of Lake Superior and is a great getaway during summer and winter. In the summer, you can visit the remote Apostle Islands. In the winter, if the lake has frozen deeply enough, walk out to see incredibly dramatic ice caves which form on the cliffs of the lake. Bayfield also offers opportunities for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and dogsledding too. Look out for a hotel or cabin with a hot tub to warm up after a day out in the snow and ice.
Cities in the St. Croix River Valley. The St. Croix River valley forms the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Several cities, all within an hour or so of the Twin Cities, are good weekend breaks, from Taylors Fall, northeast of the Twin Cities, through Osceola, Stillwater, Red Wing, Wabasha, and Winona in the south. All the cities have old-fashioned downtowns, charming hotels and motels, plenty of pretty scenery, and locally-owned restaurants for a peaceful getaway without too much driving to get there.
Ely, in northern Minnesota, is on the border of the beautiful Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness. Reserve one of the many remote cabins set in the gorgeous scenery on the shore of a lake, and feel like you have truly got away from it all. Take a canoe out and be the only people on a lake, hike through the woods without seeing another soul, but be within easy reach of the city of Ely with several restaurants and stores. Ely is also home to two conservation organizations, the International Wolf Center and the North American Bear Center, both open to visitors.
Chicago is a seven-hour drive or a one hour flight from Minneapolis and has everything you'd want for a city break: world-class hotels, shopping, restaurants, museums, and galleries, nightclubs, sightseeing, events and more.
Duluth grew up around a major port on Lake Superior, and the city's industrial charm doesn't appeal to everyone. It's not a beautiful place by any means, but the notable lift bridge and the comings and goings of giant container ships are surprisingly interesting. Kids are easy to entertain with an aquarium, large railroad museum, zoo and children's museum in town. The views from the top of the hill over the lake are great, and there's plenty of opportunity for outdoor recreation in the summer and winter with nearby parks and forests for hiking, skiing, rock climbing, mountain biking and even surfing on Lake Superior.
Kids love Duluth and it gets busy during the summer. A zoo, aquarium, children's museum, and railroad museum easily fill a weekend, and there's plenty of family-friendly restaurants in town, mostly in the Canal Park area on the lake.
Outlet malls and water parks: The Wisconsin Dells about four hours away, offers both of those things in quantity, plus the Circus World attraction, candy outlet stores and plenty of family-friendly hotels and restaurants all in or nearby the city of Baraboo. Devil's Lake State Park is also near town, and the bizarre Forevertron, a collection of gigantic sculptures made from salvaged scrap metal is also close by.