In a new Explore Minnesota television ad, scenes flash by in quick succession: horseback riding on the prairie, zip-lining, cycling in Lanesboro, rock climbing in Blue Mounds State Park. The two guys enjoying all these wonders together are married to each other.

That fact might not strike a viewer as unusual, but in the world of state tourism promotions, it is. While some cities have run ad campaigns targeting LGBT customers, few states have. Illinois is one of them, and New York state has an LGBT tourism website. Explore Minne­sota is part of this vanguard. The television ad is airing in Minneapolis-St. Paul; Milwaukee; Madison; Sioux Falls, S.D.; Omaha; Kansas City; Des Moines; Chicago; Denver and Winnipeg.

The ad was released quietly, but gained a higher profile after Emma Meentz, one of the couple's daughters, met with Gov. Mark Dayton and penned a commentary for the Advocate, an LGBT-interest magazine. (Read the May 29 article at

"I hope the ad brings people from around the country to Minnesota on vacation. But I also hope it will help some people see my dads not as gay guys, but as just two normal guys who enjoy all the things Minnesota has to offer, just like everyone else," Meentz wrote. "It's like a love letter from Minnesota to LGBT people everywhere."

Explore Minnesota has been upping its game across the board. It is hosting bloggers, who will write about their Minnesota vacations this summer, repeating a program started last summer. Thousands of photos have appeared on Instagram with the #OnlyinMN tag, another one of their promotions. Of the ad, Alyssa Ebel of Explore Minnesota said, "Our state is very inclusive and everyone is welcome to visit."

Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at