Earth : North America : United States of America : Midwest (United States of America) : Minnesota
Minnesota  is a state in the Midwest of the USA. Known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, it technically has 11,843 lakes 10 acres in size or larger. The northern tip of Minnesota that juts into Lake of the Woods is the most northern point in the lower 48 states of the United States.
Minnesotans generally present a cheery, genial attitude ("Minnesota nice") and may be caught off-guard when people don't reciprocate. Minnesotans' cheery attitude combined with a sing-song accent contrasts them with their fellow Midwesterners. Also, Minnesota represents a rare politically left-leaning presence in the United States, famously described in the book Main Street by Minnesota author Sinclair Lewis as Mr. Stowbody, "Trouble enough with these foreign farmers; if you don't watch these Swedes they turn socialist or populist or some fool thing on you in a minute." In fact, these Swedes and foreign farmers did turn socialist, forming the Farmer-Labor Party in 1918, electing 3 successive governors, four senators and eight US representatives, until it merged with the Minnesota Democratic party in 1944. The state still maintains liberal leanings and is home to the second largest openly homosexual population in the US. Combine Minnesota's cultural eccentricities with its beautiful forests and lakes and you have a gem for any tourist in the Midwestern US.
Unlike many other US states that sport several major urban centers, most of Minnesota's urban culture is centered in the "Twin Cities" of Minneapolis and St. Paul, which effectively form one large city divided into separate political areas. Although other urban centers exist in Rochester and Duluth the centralization of population, wealth and political power in the Twin Cities makes visiting "the Cities" a very different experience than the rest of the state.
The stereotypical Minnesotan dialect as popularized in the film Fargo is more prevalent in northern (Iron Range) and rural parts of the state than it is in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. In fact, in the metropolitan area, the accent is rarely noticed by visitors, much less the locals. The dialect is characterized by long vowels and a slight inflection (especially Os as found in the word "boat"). The sing-songy intonation is less common with each generation removed from the Scandinavian ancestors. Native Americans (primarily Ojibwe) have an accent of their own.
In addition to a unique dialect, Minnesota also has several phrases and colloquial expressions that can be overheard somewhat frequently. These include:
A soft drink is typically called 'pop', rarely soda - even in newspaper advertisements. If you ask for a "coke" you will receive a regular Coca-Cola, you will not be asked "What kind?".
Sentences frequently end with a preposition, such as "Are you coming with?". If the sentence doesn't end with a preposition, the filler word 'then' may be appended, as in "So how's the car been running then?" Pronouns are dropped when assumed to be understood, "Took the car to the dealer, told me it just needed a new battery". People tend to speak modestly without extra superlatives or direct commands "Most folks turn off their cell phones before church starts, you know." Garrison Keillor, a radio personality and humorist, often plays this up in his "Prairie Home Companion" which takes place in the fictional town of Lake Wobegon, somewhere near St. Cloud.
Locals also tend to softly "hum" before saying goodbye in informal conversation. "Bye" is commonly pronounced "mmmbye", with the second syllable much shorter than the first.
Three Interstate Highways travel through Minnesota. I-90 and I-94 travel wast-west, while I-35 travels north-south. Highway 2 travels through the state. Several other national and state highways also travel through the state.
The Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (IATA: MSP) is a major hub for Delta Air Lines , while smaller international airports exist in Duluth (IATA: DLH), Rochester (IATA: RST), and regional airports in Saint Cloud (IATA: STC), Brainerd (IATA: BRD), Bemidji (IATA: BJI), Thief River Falls (IATA: TVF), Hibbing (IATA: HIB), and International Falls (IATA: INL).
For rail travel, there are Amtrak stations in La Crosse (Wisconsin), Winona, Red Wing, Saint Paul, Saint Cloud, Staples, Detroit Lakes, Fargo (North Dakota), and Grand Forks (North Dakota). These are served by the Empire Builder daily, which runs from Chicago to Seattle/Portland.
For bus travel, both Minneapolis and St. Paul are served by Greyhound and Jefferson Lines (popular for intrastate travel). Megabus also stops in downtown Minneapolis, with direct fares to Chicago, Madison, and Milwaukee.
The Metro Transit  offers bus and light rail services to the Twin Cities and their surrounding suburbs. Average fare for either service is typically $1.75 ($2.25 for the peak times of 6:00-9:00 am and 3:00-6:30 pm.) The fare buys the rider a pass that can be used to ride on or transfer to any Metro Transit bus or train for 150 minutes. The Duluth Transit authority offers bus and trolley service to the Twin Ports area.
The relatively new light rail service offers a visitor-friendly line that connects the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), the Mall of America, the Warehouse District, and downtown Minneapolis among other places.
The I-35W bridge which collapsed in August 2007 over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis is now rebuilt and open to traffic ahead of schedule.
If your vehicle can run on E85, you can save money by using E85 instead of gas. There are over 350 stations that sell E85.
Lutefisk is a popular dish brought to Minnesota by Norwegian immigrants. Made from dried cod reconstituted in caustic lye, it is an acquired taste, to say the least. This dish is more often brought out at Christmas time, in church basement suppers all over the state. For the less adventurous, there is lefse, a kind of tortilla-thin flatbread made with potato flour that can be used in a variety of ways, but is usually slathered with butter and sugar and rolled up into a tube.
If you are in the Twin Cities area, you can find almost any kind of ethnic cuisine you desire, especially along Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis, popularly known as "Eat Street". St. Paul has a large southeast Asian population, and there is a large East African population spread throughout the Twin Cities, but centered mostly in Minneapolis--the Safari Restaurant (Somali), the Blue Nile (Ethiopian), and the Holy Land Deli (Middle Eastern) are three well-known restaurants catering to those communities, along with countless hole-in-the-wall places along Franklin, Nicollet, and Central Avenues.
As in the rest of the United States, the drinking age is 21. Minnesota has an ingrained drinking culture that is prevalent even in rural areas. Bars and restaurants that serve liquor may do so until 2am, although not all do (especially on Sunday through Thursday), and some municipalities may enforce an earlier closing time. Unlike most other states, you cannot buy alcohol in a grocery store or convenience store, unless it is "3.2 beer", which is a low-alcohol beer containing only 3.2% alcohol by weight (4% alcohol by volume). Some grocery stores don't even bother selling 3.2 beer even though they are allowed to, a testament to the state's rather prevalent drinking culture. If you want regular beer, wine, or liquor, but don't want to drink it at a restaurant or bar, then you must go to a liquor store. Although liquor stores are plentiful, they have uncommon hours that visitors should be aware of: First, liquor stores are closed on Sundays in accordance with the law, meaning that you cannot purchase any alcohol for home consumption on that day (bars and restaurants can serve alcohol on Sundays). Also, liquor stores are generally required to close fairly early (10pm or earlier). Unlike some states, the bars here generally won't sell liquor "to go". This is less of a problem if you are near the border of a neighboring state with less restrictive liquor laws. Residents of the Twin Cities region have been known to make the short drive to Wisconsin on Sundays to purchase alcohol. Despite this puritanical approach to alcohol sales, even rural towns have a fairly active drinking culture (the cliche of "more bars than churches"). Identification is checked less often than in other states, though it happens more frequently in areas with a high amount of college students or tourists.
Thunderstorms and Tornadoes
During the spring and summer seasons, the state (particularly its southern region) has the tendency to experience violent thunderstorms which do, on occasion, spawn tornadoes. It is a good idea to pay attention to weather conditions during these seasons to maintain an awareness of any potential for these severe storms to occur. Keep in mind that weather conditions change very quickly, and therefore, frequently updating yourself in regards to the conditions is something to consider while traveling to or through the state during the spring/summer seasons.
Refer to the Tornado safety page for more information.
Minnesota also can have very cold winters and very hot, humid summers. Be sure to pack accordingly.
When traveling outside major metropolitan areas during winter months it is advisable to take extra blankets or warm weather gear in the event of an accident or mechanical difficulties. Temperatures can get well below freezing during the winter, and can get much colder. Native Minnesotans are taught to respect winter temperatures from a very early age.
In winter months, make sure to check the ice thickness before going out on a frozen lake or pond. Do not park your vehicle on a lake or pond unless it is deemed safe by the local DNR officers. Never walk on river ice. It may appear safe but may not be thick enough to support your weight, due to the river current flowing underneath.
Minnesota has one of the safest crime rates in any US state, finishing in the top 10 safest states for most crime categories year after year. Most crimes occur in the Twin Cities Metro area, specifically in North Minneapolis and East St. Paul. However, in 2009 Forbes named the Twin Cities region the ninth (of 40) safest metropolitan areas based on violent crimes.
Minnesota has some really beautiful camping sites.
State parks: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/index.html