Famed for its parks and lakes, the fantastic city of Minneapolis offers plenty of outdoorsy activities, artsy attractions, and cultural landmarks. Newsflash: it's also an ideal base for day trips to other nearby areas and regions, where a wealth of wonderful sights, sounds, and experiences can be had.

Whether it's hiking scenic trails, indulging at local wineries, riverboat rides, water adventures both fast and chill, or a whole dang day paying homage to SPAM at the original museum dedicated to this quintessential American tinned meat that kept soldiers fed throughout the Second World War, there's so much of unique America to discover from Minneapolis.

From short drives to the north and the border with Wisconsin, or further south where eons-old glaciers await, these excellent day trips can be easily enjoyed from this standout sister of the Twin Cities.

8 Chippewa Falls

Sitting on the banks of both the Chippewa River and Lake Wissota, Chippewa Falls is the ultimate place for canoeing and camping in summer, or ice skating in the wintertime. There's also the lovely Irvine Park nearby which is great for picnicking and enjoying an ice cream or five.

Plus, the place isn't just for outdoor enthusiasts either; beer lovers will have the time of their lives tasting the delicious boozy samples at the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, which has been connected to Chippewa Falls ever since 1867. This particular brewery isn't like many others - it's actually the seventh-oldest brewery in the U.S with roots entrenched deep in Wisconsin and Minnesota history.

And speaking of history, another delightful spot in the area for lovers of old tales is the Cook-Rutledge Mansion, which lets visitors in on the fascinating lifestyle of the lumber barons.

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7 The Ice Age Trail

The more active of explorers can go back in time when trekking The Ice Age National Scenic Trail - a 1,000-mile path that runs from the Interstate State Park in St. Croix Falls near the Minnesota border to Potawatomi State Park in Wisconsin's Door County. Forged by ancient glaciers throughout the amassing millennia, the famous trail goes along the glaciers' route right up to their end moraine (the end of the glacial road where debris and rocks accumulate as the glaciers grind over rocks, hills, and other terrain over many thousands of years).

The Ice Age Trail was officialized by Milwaukeean Ray Zillmer almost eight decades ago as a means to procure a Wisconsin backcountry hike, and to connect numerous spots of significance on the map together, such as St. Croix Falls, Delafield, Hartland, Manitowoc-Two Rivers, Lodi, Slinger, Milton, Cornell, Verona, West Bend, Whitewater, and Cross Plains, with each town offering their own dose of Ice Age Trail section and supplies for hikers.

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6 Taylor Falls and St. Croix

Less than an hour from Minneapolis is the spectacular Taylor Falls - to where no day trip would be complete without first paddling in the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, then promoting that to a riverboat ride. Furthermore, on the Wisconsin side of the river in St. Croix Falls, the Woolly Bike Trail is a pretty path perfect for sauntering whilst soaking up the scenery and rewards walkers with beers at the nearby Trap Rock Brewery.

Even with those attractions being completed, the day's not quite done yet. Other superb highlights here include the Franconia Sculpture Park, wine-tasting and sampling of the local viticulture at the Wild Mountain Winery, ATV riding and mountain biking around the area, and the Interstate State Park - the latter of which marks the end of the Ice Age Trail.

Sick of trails yet? Too bad, there's more - the place isn't called "the City of Trails" for nothing; explorers can also check out the Gandy Dancer State Recreation Trail, the Elroy-Sparta State Trail with its blend of trails and rails, and finally the Tuscobia State Trail, which is officially Wisconsin's longest state trail.

5 Stillwater

As the birthplace of Minnesota, Stillwater on the lower St Croix River boasts significant state history. In 1848, settlers from Wisconsin's northwest territories gathered to petition the US Congress to grant them their very own new state of Minnesota - a name that they chose and agreed on collectively, with the state eventually joining the union in 1858.

With such stories of the past comes visible historic remnants today in this touristic town brimming with an old-world ambiance. Today's Stillwater is an old logging town with a historic feel dotted with elegantly restored nineteenth-century buildings, old antique stores, and plenty of charming paddlewheel steamboats chugging by.

Most guests enjoy the busy Main Street and paddlewheel rides on the St Croix River, but those who venture off the popular tracks will find crowd-free neighborhoods west of downtown home to stately residences and the gorgeous Washington County Historic Courthouse.

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4 Eau Claire

The Wisconsin town of Eau Claire gained tract and importance thanks to its location at the confluence of the two most important rivers in the area - the Eau Claire and the Chippewa. This allowed the town to become a leader in the logging industry for many decades, and although much of that particular sector no longer exists as much as it once did, the town is still booming thanks to its riverside setting.

Because it's set right by these rivers, Eau Claire offers exceptionally beautiful views all-round, plus not to mention awesome in-water activities. Visitors can enjoy the likes of swimming and paddling the local water trails or cycling along the Chippewa River State Trail, as well as tubing and rafting - especially in summer when the weather is more inviting. The local bars and restaurants are also somewhat of note and combined with the town's live music scene, they make for a great overnight stay.

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3 The SPAM Museum, Austin

Not to be confused with the city of the same name in Texas, Austin, Minnesota, is a peculiar place overflowing with bizarre attractions. At first, visitors will likely notice the unusual roadside attraction known as Buffy the Cow, but that's nowhere near as odd as the official SPAM Museum - an entertaining place for hungry bellies to venture through right after working up an appetite going wild with activities amidst the town's great outdoors, including kayaking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center.

As the home and headquarters of Hormel - the company responsible for the world's much-loved brand of pre-cooked canned meat - the admission-free museum is fully and wholeheartedly dedicated to SPAM and tells the story and history of the company, the origin of the iconic meaty food staple, and its significant role in global culture (yes, SPAM really has changed the world in some way).

2 Duluth

Duluth earned its place on the map as a major shipping hub back in its day, attracting working men and sailors who would come to drink their hearts out during their off time. Naturally, many breweries and drinking joints popped up as a result, and are still present today. Although shipping still plays a vital role in Duluth, tourism has also struck a major chord to supplement the town's economy.

In the present day, Duluth offers history, adventure sports, and moreover, a great craft beer and cider scene - particularly in the western area of the town center. Not that into booze? No problem - intrigued history buffs and photography lovers can appreciate historic attractions such as the Glensheen Mansion, the William A Irvin Ship Museum, and also the Leif Erikson State Park with its impressive detailed replica of a Viking longship.

If there are kids tagging along for the day, then a visit to see the fresh and saltwater exhibits at the Great Lakes Aquarium would be ideal, as would checking out the Hawk Ridge Observatory where 94,000 raptors fly by during the incredible autumn hawk migration.

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1 Itasca State Park

Itasca State Park is perfect for nature lovers and allows visitors access to the beautiful Mississippi River where they can enjoy wading in the water and hopping along stepping stones. Of course, it's not just paddling that makes the place worthy of one's attention; the park promises a menu of outdoor adventures, some of which include but is not limited to hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, and camping in tents and at RV sites. Plus, there are numerous pretty log cabins to stay at for a little more luxury, providing a stunning setting for a visit at any time of the year - notably in winter when the snow covers the park's entirety, transforming it into a magical winter wonderland straight out of a Christmas card.

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