Exploring Minnesota: A Visit to Historic Fort Snelling


Fort Snelling in Saint Paul

Fort Snelling is one of Minnesota’s most iconic historic sites and a visit makes for a great way to spend an afternoon with kids.  This fort {located where the Minnesota & Mississippi Rivers merge} has been a sacred area for Native Americans for centuries and the MN Historical Society does a great job showcasing the vast array of stories from the fortress and the location. At our recent visit we learned about the complicated Native American association with the fort, the unfair and sad history of Dred Scott and other slaves that lived within it’s walls, and gained understanding of the role this military post played in American history. 

US Flag at Fort Snelling

I had the distinct feeling as we explored the grounds that Fort Snelling doesn’t necessarily receive a ton of visitors. I guess it’s hard for a historic site to compete with gorgeous Minnesota summer weekends and all those lakes and cabins everyone seems to visit. 

Historic Fort Snelling in Minnesota

Soldier Guarding Fort Snelling

There was a scavenger hunt available for kids to help engage them with the fort. The prize is a button {not very exciting}, but did provide an adequate level of interest to keep my nine-year-old son entertained. He likes a good puzzle. 

Overview of Fort Snelling

Peeking into the Past at Fort Snelling

Commanding Officers' Quarters at Fort Snelling

We had such a pleasant afternoon exploring the grounds of Fort Snelling. As you can probably figure out it’s best to visit this site when the weather is nice. The fort is open limited hours after Labor Day, but would make for a great fall Saturday adventure. 

Cannon at Fort Snelling

Wood Barracks at Fort Snelling

Soldiers at Fort Snelling

During our visit we were able to see two different demonstrations. A team fired off the cannon and an infantry group shot their muskets. My weapon loving crew was definitely entertained by these events. There were lots of volunteers in period clothing offering insight to their particular area throughout the site. As part of the scavenger hunt it forced my somewhat shy son to interact with these characters to determine the answer to some of his required questions. We even took an attempt at old-fashioned entertainment with some hands-on displays. The blurry picture below is my attempt at mastering stilts. 

Games at Fort Snelling

Historic Fort Snelling Shops

Fort Snelling Historic Minnesota River

Minnesota Historical Society Historic Fort Snelling

Check out this map to get an overview of the fort. We started our visit by watching a short film at the visitors center. I definitely recommend watching this movie before walking over to the fort, as it provides the necessary overview of the history of the area in order to better understand what you are about to see. 

Visiting Fort Snelling

probably the oldest standing residence in Minnesota

Commanding Officers’ Quarters

Plastered Wall at Fort Snelling

Peeking Out at Fort Snelling

Officer House at Fort Snelling

Commanding Officers’ Quarters

Kitchen at Fort Snelling

Hanging Corn at Fort Snelling

Guard Duty Rooster

General Store at Fort Snelling

Sutler Store

Fort Snelling Walls

Fort Snelling Thief

Fort Snelling Sundial

Fort Snelling Historic Site

Dried Herbs at Fort Snelling

Fort Snelling Historic Minnesota Site

Get the entire scoop on Fort Snelling and plan a visit

Minnesota Historical Society Fort Snelling

Fort Snelling Historic Site in Minnesota


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