Consider a multi-dimensional spatio-temporal (ST) dataset where each entry is a numerical measure defined by the corresponding temporal, spatial and other domain-specific dimensions. A typical approach to explore such data utilizes interactive visualizations with multiple coordinated views. Each view displays the aggregated measures along one or two dimensions. By brushing on the views, analysts can obtain detailed information. However, this approach often cannot provide sufficient guidance for analysts to identify patterns hidden within subsets of data. Without a priori hypotheses, analysts need to manually select and iterate through different slices to search for patterns, which can be a tedious and lengthy process. In this work, we model multidimensional ST data as tensors and propose a novel piecewise rank-one tensor decomposition algorithm which supports automatically slicing the data into homogeneous partitions and extracting the latent patterns in each partition for comparison and visual summarization. The algorithm optimizes a quantitative measure about how faithfully the extracted patterns visually represent the original data. Based on the algorithm we further propose a visual analytics framework that supports a top-down, progressive partitioning workflow for level-of-detail multidimensional ST data exploration. We demonstrate the general applicability and effectiveness of our technique on three datasets from different application domains: regional sales trend analysis, customer traffic analysis in department stores, and taxi trip analysis with origin-destination (OD) data. We further interview domain experts to verify the usability of the prototype.