Downtown Stillwater, Minnesota. Image credit Cheri Alguire via Shutterstock

8 Ideal Minnesota Destinations for a 3-Day Weekend in 2024

As the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota is a great place to recharge your batteries over a long 3-day weekend in 2024. Steeped in history, natural landmarks, sweeping wooded views, and quirky towns, these ideal destinations are sure to melt away your stress. Whether you want to relax in seclusion at the Itasca State Park, canoe at The Boundary Waters, or curl up with a good book along the shores of Lake Superior, these towns are a great option. Pack your hiking boots, book a cabin, and get swept up in the beauty of Minnesota.


View of houseboats along the Mississppi River in Winona, Minnesota.
Houseboats along the Mississppi River in Winona, Minnesota. Image credit Linda McKusick via Shutterstock

Winona is nestled along the Mississippi River, near Whitewater State Park, and is the perfect spot to explore and unwind. Within its humble city limits are plenty of things to keep you occupied over a long weekend. Head to the stunning Minnesota Marine Art Museum, or relax at one of the many scenic local parks like Levee Park or Garvin Heights City Park.

When ready for adventure, head to Winona’s claim to fame: Sugar Loaf Bluff. Located on the Mississippi River, Sugar Loaf Bluff lends breathtaking views of the city below. To reach the bluff is only a 20-minute hike, and is well worth the effort for the views! While there are plenty of affordable hotels within town, the historic Alexander Mansion Historic B&B is a must for out-of-towners.

The Boundary Waters

Canoer on Kekekabic Lake in the Boundary Waters in Minnesota.
Canoer on Kekekabic Lake in the Boundary Waters in Minnesota.

Calling all nature enthusiasts! If you want to unplug and tap into nature, look no further than The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Situated in the Northern tip of Minnesota on the cusp of the Canadian border, there is so much to see and explore. Pack your canoe and reach undisturbed natural ecosystems ripe with wildlife and sweeping water views at Brule Lake or Kawishiwi Lake. If you love hiking, you have to check out Eagle Mountain. It’s the highest point in Minnesota, with an elevation of over 2,000 feet.

The Boundary Waters is secluded, far from civilization, so it’s best to pack three days worth of groceries and book a cabin at one of Boundary Waters resorts, like Timber Trail Lodge or Lake View Lodge. These rustic cabins offer all the amenities of a home with stunning water and wooded views.

Grand Marais

Coast Guard Station of North Superior at Grand Marais, Minnesota on Lake Superior.
Coast Guard Station of North Superior at Grand Marais, Minnesota on Lake Superior.

Grand Marais is a charming little harbor town nestled on the shores of Lake Superior. The modest downtown area is full of neat shops and things to see, as well as delicious local restaurants and cafes. Check out the Sivertson Gallery to get inspired before heading to Artist's Point! Artist's Point is the jewel of Grand Marais, offering spectacular lake and harbor views, especially at sunset. You won’t be disappointed!

If you head just outside of town, there are many accessible and challenging trails, perfect for the nature buffs. Lake Loop Nature Trail is a challenging hike that takes about an hour to complete. However, if you can make the trek, it offers stunning forest and lake views. Stay at the beautiful Mayhew Inn to wake up to peaceful harbor views, or rent one of their many rustic cabins on the outskirts of town.

Red Wing

Overlooking the downtown of Red Wing, Minnesota.
Overlooking the downtown of Red Wing, Minnesota.

Situated on the Mississippi River, Red Wing is a charming river town with enough to keep you occupied for a long 3-day weekend. In town, explore the Pottery Museum of Red Wing, the Red Wing Marine Museum, or the Red Wing Shoe Museum (Red Wing is the home of Red Wing shoes!). In the evening, catch a show at the historic Sheldon Theatre, which was built in 1904.

Without straying too far from town, there are amazing trailheads and scenic forested views. Head to the Sorins Bluff Trail Head or He Mni Can Barn Bluff Regional Park to unwind and take in the views. For the ultimate Red Wing experience, book your stay at the stunning St. James Hotel. It was built in 1875 and is just as magnificent on the inside as on the outside!

Voyageurs National Park

Sunset behind houseboat on lake in Voyageur's National Park in Northern Minnesota.
Sunset behind houseboat on lake in Voyageur's National Park in Northern Minnesota.

Voyageurs National Park has a little something for all outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you love camping, hiking, canoeing, swimming, or just relaxing with a good book, it’s the perfect retreat for a long weekend. If you love fishing, head to Lake Kabetogama for a day on the water. The Pines of Kabetogama provides affordable boat rentals by the day to explore the lakes of this secluded natural paradise.

Before heading out to one of the many trails, like the Blind Ash Trail or Beaver Pond Overlook Trail, make sure you stop at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center first for a deep dive into the history and ecology of the region. There is no shortage of rustic cabin rentals in the area. For a real treat, however, you can rent a houseboat at Ebel's Voyageur Houseboats!

Park Rapids

Minnesota, Itasca State Park, Mississippi Headwaters
Itasca State Park, Mississippi Headwaters, Minnesota.

If you want to explore the beauty of Itasca State Park, head to Park Rapids. The downtown area of Park Rapids has plenty to keep you occupied from the shops on Main Street to the the contemporary art at the Nemeth Art Center. However, Park Rapids is better known as the home of the Itasca State Park.

Hike or bike along easy or challenging trails such as the Itasca Fire Tower Trail, the Mississippi Headwaters Trail, or the Jeanne Lake Trail. These trails offer sweeping wooded and water views, and are perfect for the whole family. You can stay at one of the many affordable hotels in town, or rent a rustic cabin in the heart of Itasca State Park.

Two Harbors

Split Rock Lighthouse on a cliff near Two Harbors, Minnesota.
Split Rock Lighthouse on a cliff near Two Harbors, Minnesota.

Two Harbors is a small town along Lake Superior. It offers sweeping views of the lake, a historic lighthouse, plenty of shopping and local restaurants, and so many activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Spend the afternoon soaking up the sun at Agate Bay Beach, and then head south to check out the Two Harbors Lighthouse Museum. In the evening, head to the Castle Danger Brewery to unwind.

The beaches of Two Harbors are just the beginning. Traveling inland, there are fantastic wooded trails that are perfect for the whole family. Castle Danger Trailhead and Gooseberry Falls State Park provide stellar views and even a few waterfalls, so get that camera ready! You can stay at one of the affordable hotels right in town, or book a few nights at the stunning Superior Shores Resort to wake up to views of Lake Superior.


View of the downtown stores and restaurants in Stillwater, Minnesota.
Downtown stores and restaurants in Stillwater, Minnesota. Image credit Sandra Burm via Shutterstock

Located just outside of Minneapolis, Stillwater is a charming little town on the St. Croix River. Hike along the St. Croix River Crossing Loop Trail or the paved Brown’s Creek Trail. Since Stillwater is situated right outside Minneapolis, you can rent a bike and ride in Minneapolis for an afternoon adventure, and make it back in time to watch the sunset over the St. Croix River. There are plenty of affordable hotels in town, but the best place to stay is at the lovely Water Street Inn.

In the downtown area, you can tour the historic Warden's House Museum, the Galeria Saro art gallery, or check out the Washington County Heritage Center to learn more about the town. Stillwater is considered the birthplace of Minnesota because the first territorial convention establishing Minnesota as a state was held right in the center of Stillwater!

Make the Best of a 3-Day Weekend

Spending a 3-day weekend in these amazing Minnesota destinations in 2024 will make you wish you took the full week off! With so much to do, it’s hard to pack everything into three short days. The breathtaking views of Lake Superior at Two Harbors or the wooded trails of Voyageurs National Park pack in something for everyone in the family. These towns aren’t just great summer retreats, they are amazing year-round. From watching the leaves change, swimming in Lake Superior, or cross-country skiing at The Boundary Waters, there is always something to new and exciting to discover.

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