25 Warm (and Welcoming) Facts About Minnesota

Chloe Effron
Chloe Effron / Chloe Effron

Minnesota is known for its polite residents, cold winters, and thousands of sparkling lakes. Here are 25 fascinating facts about America’s northernmost mainland state

1. Minnesota gets its name from the Minnesota River. The word “Minnesota” is an Anglicized form of the Sioux Indian word “Minisota,” which means “sky tinted” or “cloudy water.” 

2. While Minnesota is famous for its dense forests and plentiful bodies of water, it’s also home to two neighboring metropolitan centers: Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Minneapolis is the larger city, with a skyscraper-filled downtown. Meanwhile, Saint Paul is the state’s capital, and boasts old Victorian houses and stately civic architecture. 

3. Speaking of the Twin Cities, the area is home to one of the highest concentrations of Fortune 500 Companies in the country, including Target, Best Buy, General Mills, and Land O’Lakes.

4. Bob Dylan, Prince, The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, and countless other famous musical acts hail from Minnesota.


5. Former professional wrestler Jesse “The Body” Ventura served as Minnesota’s 38th governor from 1999 to 2003.

6. With 4.3 miles of total store front footage, the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota is the biggest mall in the country.  

7. Minnesota has a proud literary history. Sinclair Lewis, Tim O’Brien, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Garrison Keillor, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Neil Gaiman are just a sampling of writers who were born or have lived in the state. 

8. The mighty Mississippi has humble roots: It begins in Lake Itasca, a small body of water in Northern Minnesota that’s less than two square miles in area. 

Wikipedia//CC BY-SA 3.0

9. Then-Vice President Theodore Roosevelt gave his now-famous “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick” speech at the 1901 Minnesota State Fair

10. Long before it aired on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel, cult TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 premiered on Minneapolis public access television in the late 1980s. 

11. In 1876, notorious outlaw Jesse James and his gang were thwarted from robbing a bank in Northfield, Minnesota. Several members of his posse were captured and killed, and in subsequent years the group slowly dissolved before Robert Ford finally assassinated Jesse James in 1882. Each September, the town celebrates the historic event in a five-day celebration called The Defeat of Jesse James Days. The showdown was also immortalized in films like The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972) and The Long Riders (1980).

12. The world’s biggest ball of twine made by one person sits in Darwin, Minnesota. Each August, Darwin holds a “Twine Ball Day" to celebrate the 17,400-pound creation. Weird Al also immortalized Darwin’s twine ball in his 1989 song “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota.”

13. Northern Minnesota was once the nation’s richest source of iron ore. Today, the area is home to one of the world’s largest open pit mines, the Hull-Rust-Mahoning Mine in Hibbing, Minnesota. 

14. Minnesota’s state bird is the loon, its state flower is the pink and white ladyslipper, and its state motto is "L'Etoile du nord," which is French for “The Star of the North.” 


15. Although Minnesota is known for its Scandinavian and Germanic heritage, Minneapolis and Saint Paul are also home to the country’s largest Hmong and Somali populations. 

16. Aside from The Mighty Ducks franchise, many other films have been filmed in Minnesota, including Purple Rain (1984), Jingle All the Way (1996), Grumpy Old Men (1993) and much of the Coen Brothers’ oeuvre. 

17. Meanwhile, famous show biz figures like Judy Garland, Terry Gilliam, Chris Pratt, and Winona Ryder were all born in Minnesota. (Ryder is actually named after the town of Winona, Minnesota.)  

18. Die-hard hockey fans can pay a visit to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame Museum, which is located in Eveleth, Minnesota.

19. With more miles of bike trails than any other state, Minnesota is a cyclist’s paradise. 

20. Nicknames for Minnesota include The Gopher State, the North Star State, the Bread and Butter State, and the Land of 10,000 Lakes. 

21. Speaking of “Land of 10,000 Lakes,“ this nickname is misleading, as the state technically has more than 11,000 lakes

22. Believe it or not, SPAM isn’t manufactured in Hawaii. Hormel Foods Corporation, which is based in Austin, Minnesota, makes the popular canned meat product. Austin is also home to the Spam Museum, which has dubbed itself “the world’s most comprehensive collection of spiced pork artifacts.” 

Wikipedia//CC BY-SA 4.0

23. According to a Weather.com analysis, Minneapolis is the coldest major city in America, based on 30-year average temperatures from the NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center during December, January, and February. On average, the city experiences 23 to 25 subzero cold days each year. 

24. When Minnesotans refer to mosquitos as their “unofficial state bird,” they’re only being half-sarcastic. The state is home to more than 50 different mosquito species—meaning you should pack plenty of bug spray before going camping or canoeing in one of its many state parks. 

25. Scotch tape, the bundt pan, rollerblades, Milky Way candy bars, and the world’s first practical pair of water skis were all invented in Minnesota.