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Car Rental in Minnesota: The Most Effective Way to Explore the Land of 10,000 Lakes
Although Minnesota is the gateway to America’s plains, the state offers visitors a wide array of activities and landscapes. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are home to some of the Midwest’s beloved institutions of high culture, such as the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and popular culture, like the Mall of America and Nickelodeon Universe. But it’s a mistake to just stay in the Twin Cities during your visit to the land of 10,000 lakes. Make the most of your stay by hiring a car and enjoying the ride out to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in the Superior National Forest, follow the beautiful North Shore Drive from Duluth along the coast of Lake Superior, or go camping in stunning Voyageurs National Park.
October is the most beautiful time of year to visit Minnesota, as the leaves turn and the weather reaches a happy cool medium. If you’re willing to leap into a lake to cool down, however, any summer months after April, which can still feature some heavy snow, are a good time to explore this multifaceted state.
The native language of the United States is English, though native speakers will notice the stereotypical Midwestern accent of Minnesotans, particularly in the rural regions of the state. The currency is the US dollar. Currency exchange is highly available at airports and popular tourist destinations, and credit cards are accepted at the vast majority of businesses.
While airports exist in many Minnesotan cities, including Duluth, Rochester, Saint Cloud, and International Falls, the major point of arrival for international visitors is the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. Any airport is an excellent place to pick up your rental car, though most towns of any size will also have car rental services.
Nickelodeon Universe and the Mall of America are both located right next door to the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport along the Mississippi River, while central Minneapolis is just 20 minutes away by rental car. But once you’ve got your car, head out into the rural areas of the state! Ely and the Superior National are a beautiful four-hour drive north of Minneapolis, almost by way of Duluth, two and a half hours away.
Driving in Minnesota
While the Twin Cities have some good public transportation, most other regions of Minnesota are only accessible by car. With wide roads and plentiful parking spots, driving in this Midwestern state is truly a pleasure. The real wonders of Minnesota are found along roadways. Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is, for example, primarily accessible via rental vehicle, and is a sight not to be missed!
- Traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road in Minnesota.
- Unless otherwise marked, after coming to a full stop at a red light, you can turn right from the right lane if there is no oncoming traffic.
Typical Speed Limits
- In cities and residential areas: 25 to 30 miles per hour (circa 50 km/h)
- In school zones: 20 miles per hour (circa 30 km/h)
- On interstates outside of metropolitan areas: 70 miles an hour (circa 110 km/h)
- On urban highways in some metropolitan areas: 55 miles per hour (circa 90 km/h)
- Traffic in the largest Minnesota cities, particularly the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, will be especially bad in the hours around 8am and 5pm.
- Parking in most Minnesota cities will be regulated by time and fee, though it certainly is available.
- You can drive on your domestic driver’s license for up to 60 days in Minnesota.
- The only toll roads in Minnesota are High Occupancy Toll lanes along the Interstate 35 around Minneapolis. Use of these lanes is paid for electronically and is free for motorcycles and vehicles occupying two or more people.
- While the minimum fully licensed driving age in Minnesota is 18, you will have to be at least 21 years of age to rent a car. Drivers under 25 are likely to be charged extra, if they are permitted to rent at all.
- 38 nationalities can enter the United States as tourists without applying for a visa, though if you are among these nationalities, you are still required to fill out the ESTA in advance. Visit esta.us for more information. Everyone who enters the United States will be fingerprinted and biometrically photographed upon entry. If your nationality is not included on the visa-waiver program list, you will be required to apply for a B-1 or B-2 visa in advance of your arrival.
- If you’re visiting in the winter, be prepared for very hazardous snow and ice conditions on the road. Weather conditions can change very quickly in Minnesota!