Minnesota is downright cold in the winter. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t visit this glorious northern U.S. state. Good, talented, smart people come from Minnesota, and for those who don’t mind the winters, they absolutely love it!

For tourists, the ideal climate is spring, summer and fall, giving you about 9 months out of a 12 month year to enjoy this beautiful destination, perfect for a unique vacation. Big cities fade as you arrive at the airports, rent a car, and head for the lakes and vacation spots Minnesota is known for.

Little towns such as Cannon Falls are hidden treasures. With only a hotel or two, the lodgings are somewhat limited in these smaller spots, but the find is incredible, the first time you gaze out to hills and soak up a captivating sunset. On Canon River, you can rent a boat and glide past limestone cliffs. An easy cruise or even some fishing make for a perfect afternoon away from the noise and bustle.

Mall of America and Mayo Clinic are a few of Minnesota’s claims to fame. Duluth, home to the Great Lakes Aquarium and University of Minnesota, is a good starting point for vacations.

In Grand Rapids, Wendigo Lodge Golf and Conference Center is one of our favorite getaways, offering year-round vacation activities, boutique shopping and plenty of outdoor sports.

The Land of 10,000 Lakes (there are actually closer to 12,000 lakes in Minnesota) has some sizeable land and water assets, and features some of the oldest known rocks and formations on the planet, dating back about 3.6 billion years. Sure that’s smaller than the national date, but it’s pretty impressive in terms of civilization’s footprint and the age of the planet.

The arrival point for most folks coming from out of state to Minnesota will be the twin cities–Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Mississipi River begins in Saint Paul, the smaller of the twin cities. Combined, Minneapolis and St. Paul contain 60 percent of the state’s population, which is over five million.

For a cultural vacation, you may want to explore the twin cities, known for their art museums, sporting events, and music. Concert halls, rock concerts, classical music, and other artforms are represented in this arts center.