Awash with loads of stunning landscapes, scenery and nature, Minnesota is a wonderful state to live in and explore with it delightfully being known as the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’. Located in the Upper Midwest alongside Lake Superior, it has everything from the teeming Twin Cities metropolitan area to much smaller towns and idyllic nature spots for you to discover.
As Minneapolis and St. Paul dominate the state’s economic, cultural and political life, most people live either in or around the two cities. While some suburbs are very calm and quiet, downtown and its other more central neighborhoods are much livelier and have thriving arts, culture and nightlife scenes to enjoy.
Many of the best cities in Minnesota score highly for their standard of living and level of education with the nearby nature all around being an added bonus. With so many shimmering lakes and rivers, and almost endless forests and prairies to explore, it is no wonder the North Star State is such a popular draw.
Despite being just fifteen minutes drive from downtown Minneapolis, Minnetonka makes for a peaceful and picturesque place to live. Lying alongside the large and lovely lake of the same name, it has vast swathes of pristine forests, prairies, wetlands and waterways for you to explore.
Although considered a suburb, the small city has a strong community feel with residents benefiting from not just the resplendent nature all around but superb public schools, housing and employment opportunities too. This makes it a very attractive place to raise a family or commute to work without paying the same prices as in the center.
As plenty of coffee shops, parks and restaurants are dotted about, you don’t need to venture into the Twin Cities to relax and unwind. As innumerable outdoor activities are on offer, locals and tourists alike come here to hike, bike and kayak about its scenic and serene confines.
Another very popular suburban city to settle down in is Woodbury which lies just to the southeast of St Paul. The largest settlement in Washington County, it is highly rated for everything from its array of amenities and affordable cost of living to its outstanding housing, schools and job opportunities.
Bounded to the north by Interstate 94, the sprawling suburb lies within very easy access to the Twin Cities’ endless attractions, eateries and entertainment options. Punctuating the quiet neighborhoods are lots of parks and green spaces with the winding Mississippi River and countless reflective lakes and waterways also lying nearby.
While it is mostly suburban in nature, pockets of life can be found here and there with almost all its shops and restaurants being clustered in the northwest of town. The most exciting event of the year is the Woodbury Days when a parade, carnival and live music shows all take place in Ojibway Park.
10. Maple Grove
Just up Interstate 494 from Minnetonka is yet another of Minneapolis’ most sought-after suburbs to settle down and start a family. As it serves as an important retail, cultural and medical center for the northwest of the metropolitan area, Maple Grove always has something new for you to see and do.
Due to its sparse suburban feel and huge shopping centers, The Grove is one of the fastest-growing parts of the Twin Cities. Its excellent transport links also help you shoot around the city while loads of pretty parks, lakes and woodlands make it a very pleasant place to live.
Aside from the extensive array of employment opportunities that its three key sectors provide, MG is also praised for its top-class public school system, safe streets and beautiful scenery.
9. St. Cloud
Home to the largest population in the state’s central region, St. Cloud straddles the Mississippi River, surrounded by lush forests and brilliant blue lakes. Although the smallish city has relatively few tourist attractions, its sizeable student body lends the place a lively yet laid back vibe.
Despite its small-town feel, St. Cloud has all the amenities and opportunities befitting a much larger city. A number of large manufacturing, finance and retail companies have offices here with the state university and its highly-rated health care system also providing people with employment.
Thanks to its numerous colleges, the city has thriving arts, culture and nightlife scenes, although some parts of town can get a bit rough and rowdy at night. The wild and scenic woods and waterways all around also offer a wealth of fantastic hiking, biking and kayaking.
Towards the southwestern outskirts of Minneapolis is the charming and quiet Chanhassen, home to a mix of residential neighborhoods and rural landscapes. With top-notch schools, housing and health services on offer, it is no wonder the suburb is one of the best places to live in the state.
Set alongside the equally appealing Eden Prairie, its sprawling confines encompass eleven glittering lakes with over fifty-five miles of trails and paths connecting up all its plentiful parks and gorgeous green spaces. In between are loads of leafy streets to live along with brilliant beaches and boating to be had at Lake Ann and lovely walks at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
Entertainment comes in the form of the Chanhassen Dinner Theater’s thrilling shows with a handful of other shops and restaurants also dotted around the peaceful little community.
One of the largest cities in Minnesota outside of the Twin Cities, Mankato lies just an hour and a half’s drive to the southwest of the massive metropolis. Located alongside the winding Minnesota River, it has everything you could want from a city of its size.
Not too big but not too small, its historic old downtown is easily navigable on foot with its beautiful brick buildings now housing bustling bars, businesses and restaurants. Plenty of affordable lofts and apartments dot the city with its multicultural population and ample job opportunities also making it an attractive place to live.
Top employers include the school district, state university and health care system with Mankato also rating highly for its extensive outdoor activities, pulsating nightlife and rich cultural scene.
6. St. Paul
Although the state’s capital St. Paul is oft-overlooked in favor of its larger twin city Minneapolis, it is undoubtedly one of the best places to both live and visit in Minnesota. Perched atop high bluffs overlooking a bend in the Mississippi River, it has countless historic sights, cultural landmarks and entertainment opportunities for you to check out.
As it is part of the third-largest metropolis in the Midwest, it truly has something that appeals to all ages and interests. While soaring skyscrapers and grand governmental buildings stud the city center, calmer and quieter suburbs lie further out. World-class museums and performing arts centers also lie down by the river which is bordered by picturesque parks and riverside walks.
Thanks to its endless array of attractions, amenities and entertainment options, St. Paul makes for a great place to settle down with it also being surprisingly affordable for a state capital.
Tucked away in between Maple Grove and Minnetonka right in the west of Minneapolis is the small suburban city of Plymouth. Due to its affordable housing and low crime rates, many families move here and tourists are attracted by the outstanding outdoor activities.
Once named the number one city in which to live in the United States by Money Magazine, it has a friendly and welcoming community feel with excellent schools and housing options on offer. All the expansive parks provide people with space to run about and play, while the reflective Medicine Lake boasts brilliant boating, fishing and swimming.
As other cities and the center of the Minneapolis-St Paul metropolitan area only lie just a short drive away, many residents commute to work or enjoy their attractions and amenities during the evenings and weekends.
Along with its neighbor St. Paul, Minneapolis makes up part of the third-largest metropolitan area in the Midwest after both Chicago and Detroit. Despite its staggering size, it is awash with exquisite parks, lakes and riverfront areas with twinkling waterfalls lying right in its heart.
Bisected by the Mississippi River, Mill City has long been an important center of commerce with it now also being known for its happening arts, culture and music scenes. Aside from viewing fine art galleries, museums and performance venues, visitors can explore the enormous Mall of America or watch one of its four professional sports teams play.
All its artistic and architectural treasures, fine dining spots and sublime scenery make Minneapolis an amazing place to both live and visit. As it is home to a plethora of diverse neighborhoods and a multicultural population, each of its districts has something new and interesting to discover.
The third-largest city in the state behind both Minneapolis and St. Paul, Rochester is situated in the southeast corner of Minnesota, surrounded by fertile farms, forests and gently rolling hills. As it is the home and birthplace of the renowned Mayo Clinic, it hosts millions of out-of-towners each year, who come for treatment, tests and other examinations.
Other than the state government, the massive medical center is impressively the largest employer in the Gopher State with its clinics, hotels and restaurants sprawling across much of downtown. As so many people visit, its infrastructure and amenities are that of a much larger city with innumerable eateries and shops also catering to all its guests.
While much of life in town revolves around the clinic, pretty parks and lovely local theaters provide residents with recreation opportunities. Head a bit further afield and you can fish, hike, ski and hunt in the surrounding countryside.
What started life in the 1860s as a small farming and milling community has since morphed into one of Minneapolis’ most desirable places to live. Set just twenty minutes drive south of the center, Edina has first-rate houses, schools and health services for residents to choose from.
Initially located almost entirely along Minnehaha Creek, the first-ring suburb and its many different neighbourhoods now cover a much larger area. Amidst its residential streets, you can find both parks and lakes with its main shopping centers including Southdale, Galleria Edina and 50th & France.
Thanks to its high quality of life, however, prices have steadily been increasing in recent years with its lack of diversity and car-centric set-up also putting some people off.
1. Eden Prairie
Much less exclusive, yet no less affluent, is the adjacent Eden Prairie which is often ranked amongst the best places to live in Minnesota. As it was designed as a mixed-income city model, locals enjoy a bunch of different shopping and dining options with transport links making it accessible to all.
Fittingly named after its paradise-like prairies, lakes and forests, the outer suburb is set atop rolling hills and bluffs overlooking the Minnesota River. While all its attractive outdoor areas entice plenty of people to the small city, it is its fabulous public schools and safe streets that make it such a great place to raise a family.
Add in its ample employment opportunities and proximity to downtown Minneapolis’ sights, shops and shows, and it should come as no surprise that Eden Prairie is so highly sought-after.