Winters in Minnesota. Those three words alone can bring a chill to your spine – if you live out-of-state, that is!
Minnesotans embrace the winter because there are so many great things to do throughout the entire season. From skiing to snow boarding, fairs to festivals, and oh so much more, there isn’t a better season in the state.
If you’re looking for a few ways to stay entertained during the winter, take a look at this handy resource guide.
Go Ice Skating on the Chain of Lakes
If you are a resident of the Twin Cities, chances are you take advantage of the multiple lakes during the warmer month, however, did you know Minneapolis has 24 different ice skating rinks? These skating areas include Lake Nokomis and Lake of the Isles, some of which offer warming houses. Each location offers different activities so plan your trip ahead by consulting the 2017-18 Ice Rink Guide. There are even places to rent skates!
Play a Pickup Game of Hockey
It’s almost a requirement – if you live in Minnesota, you love hockey! If you’re looking for a more competitive ice skating experience and want to shoot the puck this winter, there are a several public ice rinks hosting pick up and intramural league hockey games throughout the state.
For public hockey rinks in the Twin Cities, visit the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board site
Attend the Winter Carnival in St. Paul
The biggest winter carnival in the world is the St. Paul Winter Carnival. Attendees get the chance to watch a downhill ice-skating event, Red Bull Crashed Ice, explore a giant ice palace or take a stroll through the decorated, Rice Park.
Attend the Beer Dabbler
Almost a decade old, hearty Minnesotans head out in the cold and attend the Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival (an offshoot of the main Winter Carnival). With more than 150 breweries pouring more than 400 different types of beer, live music, fun activities and more, Beer Dabbler is a must-attend event during a Minnesota winter!
Go Snowshoeing in One of the Many Parks throughout the State
For hiking enthusiasts – there are plenty of national, regional and local parks with countless miles of hiking trails.
Check out the MN DNR site to find designated snowshoeing parks, trails and places to rent
Shred Powder at one of the Many Ski Hills and Resorts
Some of the most popular winter destinations in Minnesota are ski resorts. Below are some of the most popular in the state:
Recently purchased by Vail Resorts (Colorado), Afton Alps offers some of the best skiing in the Twin Cities area, with amazing terrain parks and fast runs.
Located in Duluth, Spirit Mountain offers a family-friendly ski experience that will keep you entertained all day long. Plus, tickets are affordable and the snow is always fresh!
Probably the best skiing you’ll get in Minnesota is at Lutsen Mountains. This ski area is the same place where Olympian Lindsey Vonn honed her skills to become a champion. However, it’s not just for Olympic champions, any skill-level can have fun, ride the gondolas and enjoy the beautiful views of Lake Superior.
Technically located in Wisconsin, we won’t discount it from being a great thing to do in the winter! Mont Du Lac is a good alternative to Spirit Mountain – usually with fewer people and lower prices. It’s not for the faint of heart, however, The expert runs include a 10+ acre Western-style bowl, mogul runs, un-groomed terrain, and tree skiing.
With 35 alpine ski runs, you won’t spend a single second of your day bored. With great rates on tickets and rental equipment, the whole family can have fun on the slopes!
Watch XC Ski Racing and Skijoring at the Loppet in Minneapolis
If downhill skiing isn’t quite your “cup of tea”, try cross-country skiing, instead. The Loppet, which takes place in Uptown Minneapolis, is an urban race event you want to miss. Not only are there various XC ski races, there’s a competitive skijoring event, where skiers are connected to their four-legged friends, led through the streets of uptown by their dogs. It’s truly a sight to see!
Go Cross Country Skiing On One of the Many Trails with some Friends
If you want to strap on some cross country skis yourself, we highly recommend that you do. And Minnesota is the perfect place for it. Not only is it a great way to take advantage of the many parks and hiking and winter scenery opportunities in Minnesota, you also get a healthy dose of exercise. Grab a few friends and enjoy fun and exercise in the great outdoors – sounds like a good time to us!
Visit the MN DNR website for more information about XC ski passes, trails and etiquette
Take Snowboarding Lessons at Theodore Wirth Park
Is snowboarding your preference? There are local lessons offered at Theodore Wirth Park in the Twin Cities through the Loppet Foundation. See the Loppet website for more information.
..Or, Just Explore Theodore Wirth Park
Theodore Wirth Park is one of the Twin Cities largest urban parks. Explore 700 acres of urban forest and try winter activities including cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, off-road cycling, and more.
To learn more about Theodore Wirth Park, click here.
Go Ice Fishing
While certainly not for everyone, ice fishing is a fantastic winter activity for those who are brave enough to bear a few hours in the cold. And the best part – the Twin Cities’ lakes offer the same great fishing in the winter months as they do in the spring, summer and fall seasons.
For those in Minneapolis/St. Paul, check out the DNR’s ice fishing guide here
Experience Dog Sledding
Dog sledding is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most, and Minnesota will give you the chance to hop on a trail with a few canines and see the winter country landscape in the most unique way possible. Take a look at some of the best dog sledding adventure companies in Minnesota below.
Find a dog sledding vacation here
Take in the Beauty of the North Woods
The North Woods in Minnesota, specifically the areas around the Boundary Waters, are top-tier vacation destinations in the U.S. From sightseeing to skiing to snowshoeing and more, the exploration opportunities here are endless.
Go Sledding and Tubing
A classic winter tradition, there are plenty of sledding and tubing opportunities in one of the country’s snowiest states! Try out the slickest hills in the state, including Theodore Wirth Park, Sunset hill and Columbia Golf Club in Minneapolis.
Take a look at the sledding and tubing page on the Minneapolis Park Board’s site
Walk Under the Frozen Minnehaha Falls
Minnehaha Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in Minnesota and freezes in mid-air almost every winter. Those that want to explore the falls have the ability to roam freely. That includes underneath the frozen falls, which offers some spectacular winter sightseeing.
Find out more about exploring Minnehaha Falls in the winter, here.