Fans of National Public Radio’s “Prairie Home Companion” may feel like they know Minnesota quite intimately, and indeed Garrison Keeler’s folksy charm goes a long way toward explaining the earthy appeal of this state. Positioned further north than any of the other lower 48 states, Minnesotans endure some challenging wintry climes, but the frigid temperatures have created a population of rugged folk who take full advantage of their environment by taking to the ice. Minneapolis is home to the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, where hundreds of teams with players from all skill levels compete for the coveted Golden Shovel.Minnesota has over 10,000 lakes and a first rate State Park system. You can explore lake country by boat at Voyageurs National Park and spend your nights under the stars, or bunk at the historic Kettle Falls Hotel near the site where French voyageurs portaged their canoes around the falls. For those whose tastes run more toward urban attractions, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul offer stunning architecture, a thriving arts community and first class dining. The University of Minnesota Medical Center in Fairview has been ranked the Twin Cities’ best hospital by U.S. News and World Report and employs over 6,000 full and part time workers.