We all know that Minnesota boasts 11,842 lakes (according to official DNR totals), but did you know that the state is also known for its many gigantic roadside attractions? From the World’s Largest Twine Ball (made by one man) in Darwin to the World’s Largest “Booming” Prairie Chicken in Rothsay (the Prairie Chicken Capital of Minnesota), the North Star State is home to a wide variety of wonders worth a road trip, many of which are a quick drive from the Twin Cities.
Summer is the perfect time to explore these memorable monuments. Grab the camera, buckle up, and hit the road for our must-see Minnesota favorites.
There are many fish monuments around the state, as is fitting. Several of the state fish, the walleye, made an appearance on our list, including one with a saddle so visitors can ride it (the Leaping Walleye at Lake Kabetogama, way up north near Voyageurs National Park and the Canadian border). Other roadside fish include:
- Lou T. Fisk, the World’s Largest Lutefisk in Madison, the Lutefisk Capital of the USA.
- Billy the Bluegill on Pelican Lake in Orr.
- World’s Largest Tiger Muskie in Nevis.
- The Big Mean Muskie on the shores of Mille Lacs in Isle.
- Also in Isle, a thrashing walleye.
- Willie the Walleye in Baudette.
You can find Paul Bunyan’s Walleye up Highway 169 in Garrison. Legend has it that after a three-day struggle, Paul wrapped the line around Babe’s horns and Babe pulled the walleye out of Mille Lacs Lake onto Garrison Beach.
For the Birds
Fish not your thing? We’ve also got giant birds.
Giant figures that represent Minnesota’s rich and varied history can be found throughout the state:
- Chief Wenonga, Battle Lake (named for the battle of 1795 between the Dakota Sioux and Ojibwe).
- Big Ole, a 28-foot Viking in Alexandria.
- Pierre the Voyageur, who greets visitors to Two Harbors. Pierre recently lost his right arm and canoe paddle in a windstorm.
- The Hermann Monument (aka Hermann the German), New Ulm. Built in 1887 and designated by the 106th Congress in 2000 as an official symbol of Germanic-American contributions, the Hermann Monument is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Paul Bunyan & Friends
Like enormous walleye, Minnesota is home to several large statues of the legendary Paul Bunyan, Babe the Blue Ox, and other friends of Paul. Here are just a few:
- Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji, the birthplace of Paul Bunyan. These are known as Minnesota’s first and most famous examples of giant roadside attractions.
- Talking Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox at Paul Bunyan Land, Brainerd.
- Paul Bunyan at the A-Pine Restaurant, Jenkins, with Babe (Paul Bunyan’s caddy) just down the highway at the Wildwedge Golf, Mini-Golf, RV Park, and Lodge.
- Paul kneels at the Akeley Paul Bunyan Historical Museum, with an outstretched hand that makes for the perfect photo op.
- Paul’s sweetheart and wife, Lucette, can be found in Hackensack.
Odds & Ends
More iconic Minnesota roadside treasures:
- That Rooster in Two Harbors. You know the one, at Weldon’s Gift Shop on Highway 61.
- The Statue of Liberty, Duluth. Everyone knows Duluth’s famous Aerial Lift Bridge, but did you know that the city is home to one of 200 replica Lady Liberties? These were installed across the country by the Boy Scouts of America in the 1950s as part of the BSA’s 40th anniversary celebration, which carried the theme of Strengthen the Arm of Liberty. There’s also one in Hibbing.
- The Jolly Green Giant, Blue Earth. Please note the jaunty winter scarf around his neck. Every November, Santa rides a crane to deliver the Giant’s scarf.
Add a road trip to one of these must-see Minnesota monuments to your summer bucket list, and let us know if we missed any of YOUR favorites.