Minnesota shares a 547-mile border with Canada, a line that meanders through a landscape of lakes and northern bogs to the shores of Lake Superior. The provinces of Manitoba and Ontario are both accessible from the Minnesota side of the international divide. Much of the area is sparsely populated, but there are nonetheless many points of interest worth a vacation stop if you're in the area -- especially if you love outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, cross-country skiing or boating.

Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay sits on the northwest shore of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world. At one time it was an important port and mining town; nowadays it remains an important regional hub. Thunder Bay features an impressive concert hall, a casino and a redeveloped waterfront district. The city's star attraction is Fort William Historical Park, which preserves and recounts the history of the original fur trading post founded here in the 19th century. Fishing and boating are popular pastimes for residents and visitors alike. You can also tour some of the small amethyst mines located just outside the city limits. Across the bay itself lies Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, so named because the rock formations upon its peninsula resembles the form of a sleeping giant.

Fort Frances and International Falls

On the other side of the border from International Falls, Minnesota is the small town of Fort Frances. The towns are connected by the Fort Frances-International Falls International Bridge. Fort Frances is a must-see for fans of the vintage cartoon "Rocky and Bullwinkle," as the show was set here; the city crest features a bull moose. Every summer, Fort Frances and International Falls host a tug-of-war contest spanning the border called "Pulling for Peace."


Winnipeg is the capital city of the Canadian province of Manitoba, and is also its largest municipality; it's comparable in size to the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Winnipeg is home to the Winnipeg Jets, a National Hockey League member; it also hosts the oldest public art gallery in Canada. The city is replete with dozens of other cultural and recreational options for visitors. In the center of town, at the conjunction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, you'll find The Forks, a National Historic Site full of shopping and dining choices as well as pedestrian walks, a children's museum and adventure park, and a vintage train station. Elsewhere in the city you'll find two casinos, the French-language theater Le Cercle Molière and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, North America's oldest troupe in continuous operation.

Quetico Provincial Park

Quetico Provincial Park encompasses of the Canadian side of the Boundary Waters region located along the Ontario-Minnesota border. The region is famed for its camping, fishing, hunting and canoeing opportunities as well as its ruggedly beautiful scenery. Eroded rock formations; forests of spruce, birch, aspen and pine; and sparklingly clean lakes and rivers dot the million-acre park. Hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are also popular activities in Quetico.

Other Provincial Parks

A number of smaller Provincial Parks dot southern Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario near the Minnesota border. They sport picturesque names like Moose Lake, Kakabeka Falls, Sioux Narrows and Pigeon River. Lovers of natural scenery should definitely seek out these smaller parks. They're ideal sites for a weekend camp-out with the family, an overnight fishing trip or just a day spent hiking and taking in the dramatic northern scenery.