What is Minnesota Known For? 21 Things Minnesotans Love About Themselves

Upper Gooseberry Falls Along Minnesota's North Shore in Indian Summer
© Ken Wolter/Shutterstock.com

Written by Ashley Day

Updated: October 4, 2023

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21 Things Minnesota Is Known for That Minnesotans Love About Themselves

Minnesota is known for many things, most of which Minnesotans love about themselves. From its title as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” and incredible natural landscapes in the state’s northern region to its deep-rooted traditions involving hotdish, potlucks, and ice hockey, Minnesota is filled with interesting and quirky features unique to the state.

Minneapolis Minnesota at Sunset on the Mississippi River,

Minneapolis is the largest city in Minnesota.

©CK Foto/Shutterstock.com

Land of 10,000 Lakes

Minnesota, also known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” has a landscape dotted with bodies of water. The state boasts over 11,840 lakes, with over 44,920 miles of shoreline. This natural wealth of freshwater resources is a result of the state’s glacial history, and it is an intrinsic part of Minnesota’s identity.

Locals take immense pride in these lakes. They offer abundant recreational opportunities such as fishing, boating, and swimming. Beyond leisure, these lakes also play a vital role in sustaining ecosystems, supporting diverse wildlife, and maintaining a balanced environment.

Some of the most well-known lakes are scattered across the state. Lake Minnetonka, located in Hennepin and Carver counties just west of Minneapolis, is Minnesota’s ninth-largest lake, spanning approximately 14,528 acres. Mille Lacs Lake is 75 miles north of Minneapolis in Mille Lacs, Aitkin, and Crow Wing counties. It is the second-largest lake in Minnesota and spans about 132,516 acres. There is also Red Lake, or Miskwaagamiiwi-zaaga’igan in the Ojibwe language, located in  Beltrami County, roughly 250 miles north of Minnesota. Red Lake is the largest inland lake in the state and has a total size of approximately 444 square miles.

The “Land of 10,000 Lakes” represents the heart and soul of the state, where nature and community come together. This gives it the top spot on our list of things Minnesota is known for that Minnesotans love about themselves.

Upper Red Lake, Minnesota - Ice Fishing in Minnesota

Red Lake is the largest inland lake in Minnesota.

©Dan Thornberg/Shutterstock.com

Minnesota State Fair: “The Great Minnesota Get Together”

The Minnesota State Fair, often referred to as “The Great Minnesota Get Together,” is an iconic event cherished by Minnesotans. It is celebrated by all ages for showcasing the state’s finest agriculture, art, and industry, not to mention the fair food! The fair has earned its reputation as one of the best state fairs in the country, drawing millions of visitors annually.

Moreover, Minnesotans take pride in their fair’s diverse food offerings, featuring renowned fair foods like Sweet Martha’s Cookies and deep-fried cheese curds. Beyond the foodie delights, the fair fosters a sense of community, highlighting local (and national) talents in music, arts, and entertainment.

The State Fair represents more than just a fun event; it embodies the spirit of Minnesota’s agrarian roots and the resilience of its people. It’s a place where traditions are celebrated, and a deep connection to the quirks of being Minnesotan is reaffirmed, which Minnesotans love to bond over.

Freshly baked delicious chocolate chip cookie isolated with blurred cookies in background

Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar is the most popular food vendor at the Minnesota State Fair.

©Kimberly Bacovin/Shutterstock.com

Minnesota Nice

“Minnesota Nice” characterizes the somewhat overly friendly demeanor of Minnesotans. They are known for their small-town nature, often engaging in small talk with anyone they encounter and extending greetings. This culture fosters a strong sense of hospitality.

Many locals naturally uphold these cultural habits. The extended goodbyes and genuine curiosity in one another’s doings create an interesting atmosphere that defines the spirit of Minnesota.

Minnesota Nice is not just a catchphrase. One could go as far as to say it’s a way of life. Minnesotans take pride in their reputation for being warm, inquisitive, and opinionated. These qualities are deeply ingrained in their culture and reflect their commitment to staying connected with one another regardless of individual differences.

Minnesota Accent

The Minnesota accent, characterized by its distinctive pronunciation of vowels, is a source of local pride and identity. It adds a touch of uniqueness to conversations, making them instantly recognizable. The accent’s charm lies in its authenticity, reflecting the state’s cultural heritage. To the outsider, the Minnesota accent closely resembles the Canadian accent, but it has distinct differences every Minnesotan can distinguish.

The Minnesota accent is not just a quirk of speech. It’s also a symbol of the state’s unique history and the diversity of its inhabitants. It reminds Minnesotans of their roots and the generations that have shaped their language and culture.

Minnesota Sayings

The funniest features on our list of things Minnesota is known for that Minnesotans love about themselves are Minnesota sayings. Minnesotans also cherish their regional sayings, including the famous “ope,” “don’t cha know,” and “you betcha.” As humorous as they are, these sayings are a deep-rooted part of local culture, passed down through generations, and evoke a sense of belonging and shared heritage.

As for sayings like “ope,” they are instant sayings of recognition, instantly connecting Minnesotans no matter where they are in the world.

Cold Winters

Next on our list of things Minnesota is known for that Minnesotans love about themselves are the cold winters in Minnesota. Minnesota’s harsh winters are both a challenge and a source of pride. Locals have adapted to these conditions, embracing winter as a way of life. They engage in a wide range of winter activities, from ice fishing and snowmobiling to cross-country skiing and ice skating.

Tolerance of extreme cold is a badge of honor, and it has given rise to a vibrant winter culture. Minnesotans celebrate the beauty of snow-covered landscapes and the exhilaration of cold-weather pursuits. The state’s extensive network of trails and frozen lakes becomes a playground for residents who revel in the crisp winter air.

Locals do not merely endure Minnesotan winters. They also embrace it with spiteful enthusiasm and creativity. The annual Saint Paul Winter Carnival, dating back to around 1886, exemplifies this spirit. Minnesotans take pride in their resilience in the face of icy temperatures, making winter not just a season but a testament to their indomitable spirit.

Furthermore, they love to poke fun at the absurdity of the collective toleration of winter in their state. Temperatures often fall below -20 Fahrenheit or more. Frequent snowstorms can total well above 6 inches in a matter of hours. Both of which create hazardous conditions. Yet, Minnesotans still go about their days as usual, going to work and school like any other day. It snows so often that shoveling snow is almost daily hygiene when you live in this state.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minnesota receives upwards of 70 inches of snow each winter in certain regions.

©Karla Caspari/Shutterstock.com

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is a pristine and expansive wilderness area in northern Minnesota that includes over 1,090,000 acres. It consists of untouched natural beauty, unpopulated lakes, and abundant wildlife. The BWCAW offers a unique escape into nature for all individuals.

Minnesotans take immense pride in preserving this wilderness area, advocating for its protection, and cherishing the opportunities it provides for camping, canoeing, or simply reconnecting with the natural world. It symbolizes their commitment to conservation and living in harmony with the Earth.

The BWCAW is a sanctuary of solitude, where the hustle and bustle of modern life fade into the wilderness. Minnesotans boast about it not just because of its beauty but because it embodies the dedication to environmental stewardship.

Three canoes line a rocky shore made of igneous rocks in the Boundary Waters Canoe area in the North Woods of Minnesota with beautiful green trees reflecting in the lake behind.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is in the northernmost region of Minnesota.

©JB Manning/Shutterstock.com

The North Shore and Lake Superior

Minnesota’s North Shore along Lake Superior is a breathtaking natural wonder and a source of immense pride for locals. Known for its rugged coastline, expansive forests, and the world’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Superior, this region offers an unparalleled connection to nature. The North Shore and Lake Superior are natural highlights in Minnesota. They are also prominent features on our list of things Minnesota is known for that Minnesotans love about themselves.

Lake Superior is not only the largest of the Great Lakes but also one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world by surface area. Its deep blue waters and stunning shoreline have earned it a place in the hearts of Minnesotans.

The North Shore’s beauty is a testament to the state’s commitment to conservation and preserving its natural landscapes. It provides opportunities for hiking, camping, backpacking, and many water activities. The Superior Hiking Trail, stretching about 310 miles, extends through the area’s scenic beauty.

Minnesotans boast about the North Shore and Lake Superior because they represent the unspoiled beauty of their state, a place where nature’s grandeur takes center stage, and the spirit of adventure is alive in every wave and forested trail.

Upper  Gooseberry Falls Along Minnesota's North Shore in Indian Summer

The North Shore and Lake Superior are popular nature destinations in Minnesota.

©Ken Wolter/Shutterstock.com


The iconic musician Prince had a deep and enduring connection with Minnesota. Born and raised in Minneapolis, he became a global music sensation, leaving an indelible mark on the music industry. Prince is arguably the most popular celebrity that Minnesotans are prideful of and love, in addition to our list of things Minnesota is known for.

Prince’s Purple Rain album and movie are iconic and deeply associated with Minneapolis, where much of the film was shot. His famed Paisley Park Studios is located in Chanhassen, MN. Prince was openly proud to be a Minnesotan, and Minnesotans can’t get enough of that energy.

Furthermore, Minnesotans take immense pride in Prince’s legacy. His music continues to resonate with people worldwide. Moreover, he is celebrated as a local hero who helped further put Minnesota on the global music map. The state and its people fondly remember him through annual celebrations like “Prince Day” and celebrating his memory in many other ways.

Prince’s music transcends generations, making Minnesotans proud to call him one of their own, a testament to the state’s rich musical heritage.

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan, the legendary singer-songwriter, was born in Duluth, MN. He spent his early years in the state before embarking on his illustrious career, which earned him the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Minnesota was Dylan’s early muse, and his experiences growing up in the state influenced his music. His folk and protest songs became anthems of the 1960s and 1970s, capturing the zeitgeist of the era.

Minnesotans take pride in their association with Bob Dylan, considering him a symbol of artistic excellence hailing from their state that transcends boundaries. The town of Hibbing, where Dylan spent his formative years, has a small museum within a library dedicated to his life and work.

Furthermore, Dylan’s enduring impact on music and culture makes Minnesotans proud to claim him as a native, a testament to the state’s ability to nurture creative talents that leave an indelible mark on the world.

Judy Garland

Judy Garland, the iconic actress and singer, was born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, MN. She rose to stardom during Hollywood’s Golden Age, becoming a beloved figure in the entertainment industry.

Minnesotans hold Judy Garland in high regard, recognizing her as one of their own who achieved international fame. Her role as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” is particularly cherished, and the film’s enduring popularity connects her to generations of Minnesotans.

Locals in Grand Rapids celebrate Judy Garland’s legacy through the Judy Garland Museum. Here her life and career are honored. The museum and town hosts an annual Judy Garland Festival, attracting fans from around the world.

Winona Ryder

At this point in our list of things Minnesota is known for that Minnesotans love about themselves, it comes as no surprise that Minnesotans love every reason to be prideful of their state.

Winona Ryder, the accomplished actress known for her roles in films like “Beetlejuice,” “Edward Scissorhands,” and “Stranger Things,” has a special connection to Minnesota. Her parents named after the city of Winona in southeastern Minnesota.

Although Winona Ryder was born in Olmsted County, MN, she grew up in California and pursued her acting career in Hollywood. Nevertheless, Minnesotans take pride in her unique connection to the state, and she is often affectionately remembered as a part of Minnesota’s unique tapestry.

Winona Ryder’s successful acting career and portrayal of iconic characters have earned her worldwide recognition and popularity. Her connection to Minnesota serves as a point of pride for the state, a reminder that many famous people have roots that began in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Ice Hockey: The State Sport

Hockey is not just a sport in Minnesota. It is a significant way of life for many people. Known as the “State of Hockey,” Minnesota boasts a rich hockey tradition deeply ingrained in its history and culture.

The history of hockey in Minnesota dates back to the late 19th century when the sport gained popularity. The state’s harsh winters have provided ideal conditions for outdoor rinks. Since it gained popularity and was one of the best ways for locals to connect in a cold climate, it has fostered a deep sense of community.

Minnesotans take immense pride in their hockey heritage. The state has been a top producer of NHL legends like Herb Brooks, Neal Broten, Frank Brimsek, and Phil Housley. High school hockey tournaments are highlighted events attracting passionate fans nationwide.

Hockey represents the resilience, teamwork, and competitive spirit of Minnesotans. It is an immense source of unity and pride. The state’s dedication to the game, from youth leagues to the professional level, exemplifies Minnesota’s commitment to excellence.

Scenic panoramic view of the silhouette of a young hockey player skating on a frozen lake with amazing reflections in beautiful golden evening light at sunset in winter

The official state sport of Minnesota is ice hockey.


Ice Fishing

In the frigid winters of Minnesota, ice fishing emerges as a cherished tradition and the most popular winter activity. It is a favorite winter pastime as a way for locals to embrace the cold, pass the time, and connect with nature.

You can trace the history of ice fishing in Minnesota back to Indigenous peoples who relied on this method to survive. Since the late 1800s, ice houses, or fishing from a shack, have become the norm. Today, anglers often use heated ice houses and advanced equipment for added comfort and efficiency. However, the essence of the activity remains rooted in tradition.

Minnesotans proudly embrace the challenge of ice fishing, drilling holes into frozen lakes to catch fish like walleye and northern pike. The state’s numerous lakes provide ample opportunities, and ice fishing tournaments draw enthusiasts from near and far. Ice fishing represents the state’s resilience and ability to find joy and camaraderie in the coldest seasons.

winter fishing on ice, natural background

Ice fishing is a popular winter pastime in Minnesota.


Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is an artistic gem. You can find its expansive collection of contemporary sculptures in the heart of Minneapolis. The most iconic piece in the garden is undoubtedly the “Spoonbridge and Cherry.” This colossal sculpture, created by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, features a giant spoon with a towering cherry perched on its edge.

Minnesotans take immense pride in this sculpture and the garden as a whole. It’s a symbol of the state’s commitment to the arts and cultural enrichment. The “Spoonbridge and Cherry” has become an iconic image representing Minneapolis and has even earned international recognition.

This artwork reflects Minnesota’s dedication to public art and its desire to make art accessible to all. It’s a source of local pride and a snippet of the city’s vibrant artistic community.

Trail with fallen leaves near cherry/spoon sculpture in minneapolis

The iconic sculpture, “Spoonbridge and Cherry,” resides in the popular Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which is free to access.


Mall of America

The Mall of America is an emblem of Minnesota’s retail prowess. As the largest mall in the United States, it houses an astonishing array of shops, entertainment options, and attractions under one colossal roof.

Minnesotans boast about the Mall of America because it’s not just a shopping destination. This mall is a modern cultural phenomenon. It draws visitors from across the country and around the world, making it a point of pride for the state.

The mall’s significance extends beyond commerce. It symbolizes Minnesota’s innovative spirit and adaptability in the face of changing retail landscapes. It offers family-friendly experiences like Nickelodeon Universe and SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, making it a place for creating memories in the commercial landscape.

First Avenue

First Avenue, located in downtown Minneapolis, is a music venue and a historic landmark with cultural significance. It has played a pivotal role in shaping the music scene in Minnesota and beyond.

Minnesotans are proud of First Avenue because it has been a stage for legendary musicians like Prince and Bob Dylan. The venue’s iconic black exterior and silver stars pay homage to many iconic artists who have performed here.

First Avenue represents Minnesota’s deep musical heritage and ability to foster artistic talent. It’s a place where music lovers come to experience performances and connect with the community.


Minnesota’s skyway system is a unique feature of its urban landscape, particularly in Minneapolis and St. Paul. These elevated, climate-controlled walkways connect buildings, allowing residents and visitors to navigate the city without venturing outdoors during harsh winters. They are an odd but popular point of pride for Minnesotans.

Minnesotans take pride in their skyways because they are unique and perhaps because they represent practicality and resilience in the face of extreme weather. The skyways ensure that life continues as usual, even when winter conditions are hazardous. Furthermore, the skyways symbolize Minnesota’s adaptability and innovation, showing that the state doesn’t let winter weather hinder its progress.

A High Angle Medium Shot on Downtown Minneapolis Skyscrapers and Skyway Walkways over Long Exposure Traffic during a Winter Night

The skyway systems in Minneapolis are a unique urban feature the state is known for.

©Sam Wagner/Shutterstock.com

Juicy Lucy Burger (Jucy Lucy)

The Juicy Lucy burger is a culinary treasure deeply associated with Minnesota. This delicious creation consists of a cheese-stuffed patty, and it’s said to have originated in the Twin Cities.

Minnesotans boast about the Juicy Lucy because it’s a local invention that has gained national recognition. Two Minneapolis bars, Matt’s Bar and the 5-8 Club, both claim to be the birthplace of this mouthwatering delight, adding a touch of local rivalry to its history.

The Juicy Lucy burger reflects Minnesota’s culinary traditions and ability to create unique and indulgent dishes. The Jucy Lucy, along with many other dishes, is a point of pride for locals who relish comfort food.

Hotdish and Casserole

Speaking of food, hotdish, often referred to as a casserole in other parts of the country, is a quintessential comfort food in Minnesota. It’s a hearty, one-dish meal that typically includes ingredients including a source of meat, vegetables, and starch, all bound together with a creamy sauce.

Minnesotans are proud of hotdish because it represents the state’s cultural heritage and love for communal dining. Hotdish is a staple at family gatherings, potlucks, and community dinners. It embodies the spirit of sharing and togetherness, as well as warmth and heartiness.

This dish has a long history in Minnesota, dating back to the early 20th century when homemakers sought economical and filling recipes for their families. It has since evolved into an iconic comfort food that Minnesotans still proudly serve.


Last on our list of things Minnesota is known for that Minnesotans love about themselves is the tried and true tradition of potlucks. Potlucks are a cherished tradition in Minnesota and reflect the state’s strong sense of community and generosity. A potluck gathering involves each participant bringing a dish to share, creating a diverse and abundant feast.

Minnesotans take pride in their potluck culture because it fosters connections and strengthens bonds. It’s a way for neighbors, friends, and colleagues to come together, share delicious homemade dishes, and enjoy each other’s company.

This communal dining tradition dates back to Minnesota’s rural roots when communities would come together for dinners and social events. Today, potlucks remain a beloved tradition in both urban and rural settings. They symbolize Minnesota’s values of hospitality, inclusivity, and the joy of sharing. It’s a testament to the state’s warm and welcoming spirit.

Wider shot of a table of food on display at a farmers market

Potlucks are a tried and true tradition in Minnesota and something the state is well-known for.

©Charlie Bard/Shutterstock.com

List of 21 Things Minnesota Is Known for That Minnesotans Love About Themselves

21 Things Minnesota Is Known for That Minnesotans Love About Themselves
Land of 10,000 Lakes
The Minnesota State Fair: “The Great Minnesota Get Together”
Minnesota Nice
Minnesota Accent
“Ope” and Other Sayings
Cold Winters
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
The North Shore and Lake Superior
Bob Dylan
Judy Garland
Winona Ryder
Ice Hockey: The State Sport
Ice Fishing
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
Mall of America
First Avenue
Juicy Lucy Burger (Jucy Lucy)
Hotdish and Casserole

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About the Author

Ashley is a writer for A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on wildlife, nature conservation, the environment, and pets. As a writer and wildlife photographer, Ashley has been writing, photographing, and researching about animals and the environment for over eight years. Ashley is a resident of the Pacific Northwest, where she enjoys being out in nature, hiking, and scouring local bookshops. Insatiably curious and drawn to knowledge, she has a passion for sharing the wonder of the natural world with others.

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