Known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” Minnesota conjures up an image of a land of cool, shiny lakes—that sit on green, verdant vales—interspersed with gentle, cascading slopes. The truth is, while Minnesota is not Hawaii or Bali, the “North Star State” is still flat-out gorgeous, with several breathtaking attractions that can be enjoyed at a fraction of the cost one would have to incur for an intercontinental vacation trip. And aside from the many glimmering lakes, Minnesota has quite a number of small, charming towns, several scenic vineyards, and numerous majestic forests—that make it a dream vacation destination for nature lovers.

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In this article, we look at Albert Lea, one of Minnesota’s tourist jewels.

What Is Albert Lea, Minnesota Known For?

Nicknames usually tell a lot about what they represent. There’s a reason Rome is called the “Eternal City” or why Venice is called “The City of Canals.” Albert Lea is similarly known as the “Land Between Lakes.” Well, that alone tells us something. Of course, it tells us that Albert Lea is a land sandwiched between lakes. Does the record bear this out? Apparently. Albert Lea is beautifully surrounded by not one or two lakes—but a whole six of them. These lakes gift the town their gorgeous bays, significantly enhancing the town's look and visual appeal. Two of the six lakes: Albert Lea Lake and Fountain Lake, form part of the 113-mile-long Shell Rock River system. One of these lakes, Albert Lea Lake, lent its name to the nearby small town that started off as a settlement along the river’s shores in the mid-nineteenth century. So yes, the town of Albert Lea is known for its lakes. Yet, there’s more to the town than her shimmering waters.

Although the town of Albert Lea is known for its lakes, it’s her wildlife that truly sets it apart. And Myre-Big Island State Park is one amazing place to admire the power, poise, and grace of Albert Lea’s animals. Quite a number of animals live in the tall, swaying prairie inside the park. Others can be seen darting or dozing in the majestic hardwoods that give the park its distinctively solemn look. On a visit, one will enjoy a thrilling, close-up encounter with such animals as white-tailed deer, foxes, raccoons, and squirrels. Visitors will also see bats, opossums, and muskrats on a fine day. Leopards are also present but are a bit harder to spot as they’ll be hiding on some shady tree limb. Myre-Big Island State Park is also a birder’s paradise. The perfect time for birding is in the fall or spring when birds migrate. Hiking through the rolling hills amidst quiet woods and beautiful views are some of the park’s other highlights. The camp also has clear shallow lakes that are great to be around, especially for their iridescent glow when the sun sets low on the western horizon.

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

Other Places To See Wildlife At Albert Lea

Aside from the Myre-Big Island State Park, the Blazing Star Bike Trail is another awesome place—not only as an amazing biking destination but also as a stretch where one can easily spot a deer darting across the tall grass. At other times, it will be the gorgeous sight of pelican ducks—walking gracefully near ponds or shorelines and spotting their distinctive orange pouches, that will draw one’s attention. But for a very small section, the six-mile Blazing Star Bike Trail is all paved. This trail is also an ideal place for bird-watching. It’s quite an experience biking or walking over beautiful bridges that loop over train tracks—while admiring wildflowers that colorfully dot the rolling landscape—or herons that swoop across the sky.

Lastly, Edgewater Park is another great destination that’s breathtakingly quiet, family-friendly, and cool. Not only can one spot some game here, but it’s also a great place for fishing, meeting friends—or admiring the spectacular views of Fountain Lake spread elegantly across.

Related: 10 Best Countries To See Wildlife.

When Is The Best Time To Go To Albert Lea?

Although May through to September is all warm—and fine for a vacation trip to Albert Lea, July and August can get too hot. That’s the reason we recommend May and June if someone wants warm but bearable temperatures. But September also finds when the heat has subsided, making it another great choice. On the other side of the spectrum, winter normally starts from the end of September to the start of March. The coldest month in Albert Lea, however, is January. Of course, winter is the perfect time for an array of winter activities. But this is for those who can brave the biting cold.

What makes Albert Lea famous, aside from the lakes that surround it, is that it’s a fine destination for watching wildlife. This experience comes with an environment that’s, to a large extent, peaceful, laid-back, and family-friendly.