10 Ways to Warm Up This Winter
By Amanda Fretheim Gates, Molly Schelper & Claire Walling
When Minnesota winter kicks into full gear, you may hear the call of your couch. But then you’d miss out on all the activities and attractions are perfect for chilly days—the many museums, restaurants, and exhibits that were custom-made for winter. Here are some hot places to warm up around the Twin Cities and beyond.
1. Gander at art. You can take in contemporary at the Walker Art Center (free Thursdays from 5-9 p.m., and the first Saturday of each month), encyclopedic at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (free), Russian at The Museum of Russian Art ($9) or a mix at the Weisman Art Museum (free). These venues not only offer great art, but many have on-site restaurants as well as family-friendly days/activities and much more.
2. Bury yourself in baked goods. Pair a fresh, melt-in-your-mouth mixed-berry scone with some freshly roasted coffee at Stone House Coffee & Roastery in Nisswa. At The Barn in nearby Brainerd you’ll find some of the best pie you’ve ever had. Banana cream, Dutch apple, cherry, pecan: it’s all there, and it’s all so, so good.
3. Go Aquatic. Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium at Mall of America is an excellent winter day activity, with its 300-foot tunnel through 500,000 gallons of water hosting 10,000 sea creatures. Up in Duluth, visit the Great Lakes Aquarium. Exhibits include Amazing Amazon, featuring species from South America; Masters of Disguise, exploring camouflage and mimicry in nature; and Otter Cove, home to river otters Anang and Zhoosh.
4. Ride roller coasters. After Sea Life, head up to the mall's center court and take a spin on any number of the rides in Nickelodeon Universe. There are options for kids as little as two and as mature as 92.
5. Drink up. Sure, maybe a glass of wine or a hot toddy will help get you through, but what about some good old-fashioned hot cocoa? Food & Wine named Kopplin's Coffee in St. Paul one of the best places to get hot chocolate in the United States.
6. Experience history. In addition to world-class art museums, you can also take a bite out of history with visits to the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, and Mill City Museum, American Swedish Institute, and the Bell Museum of Natural History, all in Minneapolis. In Moorhead, see the renowned Hjemkomst Viking ship. Modeled after the Gokstad burial ship—unearthed in Norway in 1880 with a construction date circa 800 AD—the Hjemkomst was built in the 1970s by Moorhead native Bob Asp, sailed to Norway in 1982, and now is permanently on display in the Hjemkomst Center.
7. Rock out. With popular artists like Prince, The Replacements, Trampled by Turtles, and Semisonic coming out of Minnesota, we've always been lauded as a great place to see live music. See who's playing at First Avenue, the Fine Line, the Dakota, the Turf Club or the Artists' Quarter.
8. Sample hometown brews. We've been brewing beer in Minnesota for more than a century, yet we're continuing to make quite a name for ourselves when it comes to beer. Take tours of Schell's, Summit, Surly or Fulton breweries, plus spots like the Herkimer and Town Hall Brewery offer up their own concoctions—both food and beer—for patrons. In Duluth, don’t miss Fitger’s: the brewery has some of the best pints in the state, as well as the ultimate winter comfort food.
9. Get cozy by the fire. Several restaurants around the Twin Cities heat up their dining rooms with fireplaces: Forepaugh's, W. A. Frost, Downtowner Woodfire Grill, Nicollet Island Inn, and FireLake are just a few.
10. Catch a show. Whether you're looking for Broadway-caliber performances, award-winning regional offerings, children's adventures, opera or dance, we have a show for every personality. A sampling of our performing-arts venues include: Guthrie Theater, Children’s Theatre Company, Park Square Theatre, The Jungle, Orpheum Theatre, Cowles Center, and Ordway Center.