While California may seem like the logical state for grooming celebrities interested in transitioning into politics, Minnesota has an abundance of homegrown names of the page, stage, screen, field, and dais (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Anne Bancroft, Prince, the Coen brothers, Bob Dylan and Garrison Keillor) -- citizens even elected former pro wrestler and dabbler on the big screen, Jesse "The Body" Ventura as governor in 1999, reflecting the "we'll define ourselves, thank you very much" attitude of the state. Of course, if cocktail party tidbits are indeed your forte, the state is chock full of even more Trivial Pursuit-worthy factoids. For instance, Minnesota isn't just the spawning ground for a veritable constellation of stars, it's also the birthplace of the most romanticized, written-about, and filmed rivers in the country, the Mississippi. In fact, Lake Itasca Park is the only spot of the 2,552 miles on the river where you can cross without the assistance of a bridge or boat. Minnesota is also the place where Scotch Tape, Rollerblades, Wheaties, Bisquick, the Bundt pan, the stapler, the Better Business Bureau, Green Giant vegetables, and Spam got their start. (There's even a museum dedicated to the meat product in the town of Austin.) Want to gawk at the world's largest ball of twine? The 17,400-pound behemoth is hunkered down in the city of Darwin.
Maybe all this inventing went on during the harsh winter months, with an average January temperature of 20 degrees Fahrenheit and a constant abundance of snow from December to March. Case in point: Another great Minnesota invention? The snowmobile, which just goes to show that necessity is indeed the its mother. Outdoor activities of all seasons are a great reason to visit, though. Despite the famed Mall of America in Bloomington, to truly be feeling Minnesota, you've got to head outdoors and experience its big-sky glory. From cross-country skiing in the silent, stunning northern woods along the Gunflint Trail tracing Lake Superior to the 205-mile Superior Hiking Trail filled with wild strawberries and wilder animals, you'd be remiss if a visit didn't allow time to gape at the unspoiled surroundings.