Road Trip in Minnesota

Minnesota is an outdoor enthusiast's dream: a venerable Land of 10,000 Lakes, it certainly has plenty of waterside fun to offer, as well as a ton of hiking and camping opportunities—and not to mention a pair of Twin Cities that would make any Gemini proud.

But in order to enjoy the North Star State's unspoiled natural beauty, you'll have to drive it. Learning the rules of Minnesota's roads, and brushing up on the destinations that make this state so special, will help on any road trip.

Major Minnesota Roadways

While the untapped environment is a big draw for the North Star State, preserving it means there are just a few major highways in Minnesota. To get where you're going, you'll likely need to rely on the system of county or local routes, but there are a few major roadways to help get you across the state.

  • Interstate 35.
    • Minnesota's primary north-south thoroughfare, the highway mainly runs along the state's eastern border, beginning at the town of Columbus in the south and ends at Duluth in the north. The highway runs through the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and also has exits for a number of lake towns and campgrounds.
  • Interstate 90.
    • The state's longest highway, this roadway runs east-west across Minnesota's entire southern border, beginning at the Mississippi River Bridge at the Wisconsin border in the east and exiting the state near the town of Beaver Creek in the west. Along the way are connections for a number of state-run highways taking you deeper into the MN wilderness.
  • Interstate 94.
    • Cutting across the state on a southeast/northwest diagonal route, I-94 hits the Twin Cities almost immediately after crossing the Wisconsin border in the east, and exits the state at the Red River along the North Dakota border.

MN Traffic & Safety Laws

Just like every other state, Minnesota has its own unique rules of the road. Be sure to follow them closely for a fun, safe, ticket-free trip.

Minnesota Speed Limits

While exact speed limits are subject to change depending on location or other factors, there are some general guidelines by which Minnesota posts speed limits, including:

  • Alleyways: 10 MPH.
  • Urban or town roads: 30 MPH.
  • All other roads: 55 MPH.

The state also sometimes posts minimum speed limits on highways.

Free Ebook: Road Trips of America

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Seatbelts & Car Seats

All passengers, including drivers and those in the backseat, must wear a seatbelt while riding in a car in MN.

Child car seat laws are as follows:

  • Children who weigh under 20 lbs. must be placed in a rear-facing child safety restraint system.
  • Children older than 1 year old and at least 20 lbs. may use a forward-facing booster with a harness until they outgrow the stated weight limit for the booster seat.
  • If your child is under 8 years old OR under 4 ft 9 inches tall and they've outgrown the above harness system, they must sit in a belted forward-facing booster seat.
  • After the above age or height has been reached, a child can use a regular seatbelt.

Texting & Driving

It is illegal in Minnesota to read or send electronic messages while driving. This includes:

  • Reading or sending e-mails or text messages.
  • Using a wireless device to access the Internet.

Minnesota Motorcycle Laws

If you're riding or operating a motorcycle in Minnesota, you must wear a DOT-approved helmet if you:

  • Are under 18 years old.
  • Have an instruction permit.

Drivers in other vehicles are prohibited from sharing a lane with a motorcycle.

Minnesota Destinations

While the Minnesota wilderness is a big draw and the state's thousands of lakes provide ample ground for outdoor recreation, the North Star State has a variety of activities that visitors can enjoy.

The Twin Cities

The biggest cities in the state, Minneapolis and St. Paul—which span the Mississippi River—not only include the beautiful state capitol building (located in St. Paul) but a number of parks, museums, restaurants, shopping, sports venues and theaters. The Cathedral of St. Paul is a huge, beautiful church drawing visitors from all over the country, and Minneapolis' Minnehaha Park features a beautiful waterfall for nature lovers.

Mall of America

For those looking for a decidedly more indoor experience, Minnesota is home to the country's largest mall, aptly named the Mall of America. With hundreds of stores to choose from—and not to mention an entire amusement park and aquarium—this Bloomington, MN establishment should have something for everyone.

North Shore State Parks

Once north of the city of Duluth, along the shore of Lake Superior, there are a seemingly endless number of state parks perfect for camping, hiking, boating, fishing, and a number of other activities. Some standouts include Gooseberry Falls, the Split Rock Lighthouse, and Tettegouche, all of which offer gorgeous lake views, waterfalls, and a huge number of trails.

Mystery Cave

Easier to find than its name suggests, this underground system is home to the state's longest cave. A number of different tours are available for this Fillmore County site, including ones focusing on photography and others letting you explore the cave by flashlight.

Boundary Waters

Named after its location along the American/Canadian border just west of Lake Superior, this enormous untouched wilderness is a gorgeous getaway for anyone with an affinity for the outdoors. Made up primarily of a system of bogs, creeks, and rivers, its best known for canoeing or kayaking, and its potential for nature watching can offer visitors views of black bears, bald eagles, and moose. Border towns such as Ely, Crane Lake, Grand Marias, and Tofte are known for housing companies that provide boat rentals, supplies, or even tour guides.

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