The Best Spring Road Trips from Minneapolis

The weather’s getting nice, the sun is out, and if you’re like us, you might be thinking about taking your Poquet vehicle out on a road trip! The only problem is – spring is busy! The kids are still in school, outdoor activities are ramping up, and everyone seems to be coming out of hibernation. We’ve got the perfect solution for you – weekend road trips that will be fun for you and the whole family. 

Here are our favorite springtime road trips from Minneapolis / St. Paul:

 

1. Ely, MN

Minneapolis to Ely, MN

If you’re into outdoor recreation, take highway 35 up to Ely. Known as a popular entry point for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, it’s a great place to go if you enjoy camping, canoeing, fishing, hiking, and observing wildlife. In fact, Ely is also the well-known home of the North American Bear Center and the International Wolf Center where you can learn about the behavior and ecology of the respective animals and even see them in person.

On your way back, drive down 169 instead of 35. It’ll add time to your trip, but it will allow you scenic views of Lake Mille Lacs, the second largest inland lake in Minnesota. Stop off for great fishing or at least to take a picture with Garrison’s famed walleye statue.

 

2. Duluth, MN 

Minneapolis to Duluth, MN

Another favorite destination for northern-bound urbanites, Duluth offers an outdoorsy yet decidedly more industrial tourism experience. Built on the western shores of Lake Superior, Duluth is a must-see Great Lakes seaport with great historical appeal.

If you haven’t visited before, your family is sure to enjoy the Great Lakes Aquarium, Lake Superior Zoo, and Canal Park’s 4.2 mile-long lakewalk. If traveling with adults only – or particularly brave kids – be sure to tour the Glensheen Historic Estate – an historic mansion long rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of two residents who were murdered there in 1977.

 

3. Madison, WI

Minneapolis to Madison, WI

If eating and drinking are your version of “recreational activities,” Madison, WI, might be the road trip for you. On the way down, head southeast on I-94. The drive isn’t the most exhilarating, so be sure to stop for the best slice of pie you’ve ever had at Norske Nook in Osseo, WI. When you’re ready stop again, pull off at any of Wisconsin’s many famous cheese shops – you’ll find them scattered along the highway every couple of miles. Buy some squeaky cheese curds for the road or bring a cooler so you can stock up.

While in Madison, fill your days with visits to the Henry Vilas Zoo, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, and Wisconsin Historical Society. If you’re interested in a fun night out, crawl the many great bars and restaurants on State Street, or check out one of Madison’s numerous microbreweries and brewpubs. Be sure not to leave before sitting out on the University of Wisconsin’s Memorial Union Terrace with a cup of delicious homemade Babcock ice cream (it is the dairy state after all!).

If the straight shot drive on I-94 wasn’t exciting enough for you, cruise westward and drive up the Mississippi River. It’s one of the most scenic drives the Midwest has to offer.

 

4. Galena, IL

Minneapolis to Galena, IL 

Galena is one of the most underrated tourist destinations in the Midwest. With a vibrant history and thriving downtown, it makes an especially great trip for couples or groups of girlfriends.

It will take you about five hours to take highway 52 all the down, but if you’re interested in antiques, specialty shops, great restaurants, wineries, and parks, Galena is the trip for you.

If history is more your thing, take a Trolley tour with stops at the home of our 18th President, Ulysses S. Grant; the 50,000 sq foot Belvedere Mansion; and the Dowing House, the oldest stone structure in the state of Illinois. If you’re extra adventurous, Galena Trolleys also offers “haunted tours” that boast “paranormal photo opportunities” and “GLOULISH good times for ALL AGES.”

When you’ve finished up in Galena, allow extra time to drive back along the Mississippi. As we exclaimed above, it’s one of the most scenic drives throughout the entire Midwest.

 

Where are you going on your spring/summer road trip this year?

 

Image by Craig Cloutier via Flickr, Licensed Under CC BY-SA