As one of the country's northernmost states, Minnesotans know a thing or two about winter. Summer sees temperate weather ideal for a relaxing wining and dining holiday in nature, however, come the cold season, it's not uncommon for wind chill temperatures to plunge deep into the negatives, with the snow belt along Lake Superior receiving upwards of 70 inches of precipitation during the winter months.

Facts like these make it easy to hole up at home, but there's still plenty of fun to be had for those who don't mind a few extra layers. Even the season's staunchest objectors can recognize the beauty of a landscape transformed by a thick blanket of sparkling white snow. Visits to these beautiful Minnesota towns are the perfect way to remember everything that makes winter wonderful.

Updated by Lauren Feather, January 7th, 2022: Rich history and jaw-dropping scenery brings visitors (and keeps hold of locals) in this chilly yet stunning state. Those that brave the cold have so much to be rewarded with when venturing to Minnesota, including photogenic vistas, bustling towns full of attractions, important historic sites with roots entrenched Native American days of old, and heart-thumping winter sports to lose oneself in. With every passing season, many new and repeat visitors are drawn to this winter wonderland upper midwestern state, so it's no surprise that even more towns than ever before are being hailed as perfect vacation retreats for travelers seeking a slice of the very best that this spectacular, historic, and culturally significant part of the US has to offer.

10 Red Wing

The sleepy town of Red Wing sits on the shores of the Mississippi River. The landscape is a blend of river cliffs, sparkling waters, and small-town charm. Red Wing is known for the beautiful bluffs that gently rise along the river, and during the winter, people enjoy snowshoeing to the tops to enjoy views of steam ascending from the water or cascading down on snowboards.

To warm the hearts of visitors, Red Cloud throws the annual Big Turn Music Festival in February, bringing the community together to enjoy two days' worth of performances by nearby artists. The historic Sheldon Theater hosts plays and concerts in a beautiful setting that connects the past to the present. Various eateries offer authentically local grub to get that warm belly feeling no matter the temperature, and shoppers are guaranteed to find something special in one of Main Street's many unique boutiques.

9 Biwabik

The name Biwabik comes from the Native American Ojibwe language and translates to "iron," which makes sense because the small town used to be an iron mining hub back in the day. Today, it is an ideal destination for anyone looking to cozy up in a friendly, beautiful place.

Although they lose their leaves, the trees come alive with the luminosity of thousands of lights, creating a cheerful atmosphere. At the right time, the sky comes aglow with the Northern Lights, visible in the remote location far from the city. Quaint, local watering holes welcome guests and make them feel right at home.

Related: This City Is Called The 'Halloween Capital Of The World' And It's Right In Minnesota

8 Stillwater

Nestled on the banks of the calm St. Croix River after which it is named, the town of Stillwater is rich in history, with accents of past and interesting monuments on show today for all to enjoy. The town was first settled in 1837 after the US government reached a treaty agreement with the local Native Americans in the area, during and after which a thriving lumber and river industry continued to attract people to come and stay in this picturesque part of Minnesota in search of a better life.

With its longstanding history, Stillwater is one of Minnesota’s oldest towns, and is even considered the birthplace of Minnesota - the townsfolk held a convention in 1848 which launched the process of declaring Minnesota its very own individual state. Today, Stillwater remains a very important destination for tourism in the Twin cities region, and is full of quaint book shops, quirky antique stores, pretty cafés, lovely restaurants, and a boatload of intriguing historic sites to behold - all which are complemented by the town's beautiful scenery, including the photogenic Lift Bridge prime for a scenic stroll.

Related: 10 Native American Heritage Attractions Everyone Should See

7 Grand Marais

Along the northern shores of Lake Superior sits Grand Marais, fondly known as the coolest small town in Minnesota. Multiple generations of local artists decorate the streets with galleries and specialty shops, and the friendly faces of the residents have a way of making visitors feel like they're a part of the magic.

During the winter, people can enjoy a unique view of Lake Superior by heading down a boardwalk lined with sparkling icicles. The stunning Artist's Point is a small island with a grove of snow-covered pines guaranteed to inspire a masterpiece. Stay warm indoors at one of the many cozy cabins available for rental, or brave the weather with a walk through town to interact with the residents who keep the village warm year-round.

6 Pipestone

Almost 75,000 people visit Pipestone National Monument every year, and most of them do so during the summer months. The rock formation composed of a type of red clay takes on a different beauty in the winter, as snow settles on the rocks and in their crevices, making the vibrant colors pop. The nearby waterfalls continually freeze and unfreeze, offering spectacular views of flowing water frozen in time.

The Historic District features buildings made of indigenous stone and structures built during the late nineteenth century. A few museums highlight the significant contributions made to the area by Native Americans, including a gallery dedicated to the sacred art of pipe making.

5 Taylors Falls

Taylors Falls is perfect for families seeking winter fun. The area is known for its stunning high cliffs in Interstate State Park, exposed in all their winter glory and easily observable from the mile-long trail ideal for snowshoeing. Nearby Wild Mountain has snow-packed slopes for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. After a fun-filled day, people can head inside to enjoy a delicious mug of marshmallow-flooded hot chocolate.

Related: This Is How You Can Best Prepare For Winter Hiking If You're A Beginner

4 Lanesboro

The colorful homes in Lanesboro truly come alive after a snowfall, their Victorian styles transporting visitors into their very own storybook adventure. Heavily influenced by Norwegian culture, the southeastern Minnesota town pays homage to its roots by displaying the unique carvings, farm tools, and local history at the Lanesboro History Museum.

Locals and visitors alike savor the abundant selection of pastries at the Lanesboro Pastry Shoppe, the perfect place to get breakfast before heading outside. The Root River Trail runs for 42 miles over paved railroad tracks and goes right through the heart of Lanesboro. Scenic views hug the trail on both sides and paint a gorgeous winter scene.

Related: 10 Historic Homes In The United States That Every American Should Visit

3 Ely

Surrounded by the north woods, stepping into Ely is like walking through the wardrobe to Narnia. The glacier-carved landscape is home to abundant wildlife during every season. Perfect for thrill-seekers and nature-lovers alike, over 100 species of birds become easier to see in this untouched winter wonderland as the trees lose their leaves, and people can follow the sounds of gentle hooting to spot wise owls perched high in the branches. Guests can even come face to face with wolves from behind large observatory windows at the International Wolf Center and watch bears at the North American Bear Center.

Related: Of All North America's Ski Resorts, These Are Beginner-Friendly

2 Grand Rapids

Every year, Grand Rapids puts on a festive Christmas show during the Winterglo Festival, making it a prime spot to enjoy some winter fun. The event features the lighting of the town's center, sleigh rides, a Christmas-themed circus, and carolers singing everyone's favorite tunes.

People can follow the yellow brick road to Judy's Garland's home, take a tour, and head to the adjacent Judy Garland Museum to learn about the town's most famous resident. A drive down the Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway will have guests feeling as though they're encompassed in a beautiful snow globe.

1 Harmony

While Pennsylvania is known for its Dutch communities, Minnesota has an Amish town of its own. Harmony has the largest Amish community in the state and offers the peace and quiet travelers often look for in the wintertime. The Amish-owned businesses in town serve up delicious homemade jams and pastries. Several shops feature handcrafted blankets perfect for keeping cozy in, and three unique antique shops mean guests are likely to head home with a special treasure.

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