• Being a Little More Boastful

    FROM THE Fall 2022 ISSUE
    Photo credit: Darin Kamnetz

Lauren Bennett McGinty took over as executive director of Explore Minnesota Tourism in November 2021. The longtime Minnesota resident who moved here from Milwaukee when she was four has thoughtful reasons about why she remains in the North Star State.

“I moved to Minneapolis after I graduated from [Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter], and I put my roots down here,” she says. “I think a lot of it is I continue to find something new everywhere I go, and the people here are just wonderful. We have such a diverse and rich culture. I love everything about it.”

She credits her parents and a former boss with teaching her to be reliable and resourceful—and for going for what she wants in life. They also instilled in her a core value of creativity in terms of problem solving, which is something she finds helpful in her career, particularly when she needs to stretch budgets. 

However, tight budgets do not limit Bennett McGinty’s vision for what Explore Minnesota Tourism can do. “I want to see Minnesota be a Top 10 destination,” she says. “And that’s not just for the casual leisure traveler; it’s also for events and meetings. We have unique locations throughout the state to hold a meeting, … whether it is Grand View Lodge [in Brainerd] up north, or First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, I think [Minnesota] is steeped in this rich history. … I think my vision is to show [these places] off, really highlight [them], be a little more boastful about what we have to offer here.”

With James Beard Award-winning chefs, the Twin Cities’ interconnected park trail system, walkable downtowns, abundant natural surroundings statewide, and the many family-run resorts outstate that provide a homegrown touch, Bennett McGinty believes she has much to be boastful about. 

Some 35,000 people of Native American heritage call the Twin Cities home, and sites across the area have indigenous cultural roots.

Since winning the 2022 James Beard Best New Restaurant in the nation, Owamni by the Sioux Chef in Minneapolis has brought Native American cuisine to the forefront of fine dining in the eyes of foodies. It is one of many indigenous businesses in the Twin Cities. 


Explore Minnesota Tourism is accepting nominations for the agency’s tourism awards through Jan. 10, 2023. The awards honor people, marketing campaigns, and other initiatives that promote Minnesota as a destination.

To be considered for an award, a form must be submitted for each nomination. Please share specific details about each nomination including examples, goals, results, return on investment figures, accomplishments, etc. Supporting documents and creative elements help the Explore Minnesota Awards Committee score each submission.


Readers of Condé Nast Traveler chose the JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America as the 28th best hotel in the world and the top hotel in the Midwest.

Since it opened in November 2015, the JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America has set a new standard for luxury. Now, the readers of Condé Nast Traveler have chosen the hotel as the 28th best in the world and the top hotel in the Midwest in the 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards.