We shoveled up heaps of pup-loving suggestions in all corners of our snowy state so Minnesota travelers and their canine companions can enjoy four furbulous seasons of outdoor fun! Planning to make a weekend out of it? We’ve got the sniff on hotels that welcome your pooch, too.
Minneapolis-St. Paul Area
When it comes to winter, the Twin Cities area is a woof-worthy wonderland. On milder days, outdoor hiking trails and dogs parks are a hit, and a pawful of them even have heated shelters and night lights.
Or seek out cozier playtime indoors, like at Stone Mountain Pet Lodge in Blaine, which transforms from a doggy daycare and boarding biz into an indoor dog park some weekends (check website for schedule). On the opposite side of town, Dog Day Getaway in Apple Valley regularly offers off-leash indoor playgroups for small dogs and puppies on Sundays. Opening in early 2020, Unleashed Hounds & Hops in downtown Minneapolis ups the ante with its unique indoor dog park and bar/restaurant combo.
Unleashed Hounds & Hops in downtown Minneapolis ups the ante with its unique indoor dog park and bar/restaurant combo
If your pup prefers life on the leash, plenty of local shops welcome pets inside with open paws: think book stores, boutiques and bike shops. And thanks to a recent policy change in Minneapolis, dogs are now welcome inside select brewery taprooms.
Finally, if you’re in the mood for spectacular spectating, don’t miss the competitive skijoring race at the City of Lakes Loppet in Minneapolis (it’s like cross-country skiing, but with a pup-powered speed boost).
For a winter must-do that’s warm and low impact, we found a hidden gem in Mankato: a dog-friendly indoor swimming pool at The Paw.
Swimming is a terrific, joint-friendly way to get your dog some exercise year-round. The Paw keeps its doggy-paddle-approved pool at a comfy 85 degrees, and its range of depths (10 inches to 4.5 feet) means it’s perfect for beginners and seasoned swimmers alike. Life jackets are available, too.
The Paw offers group swims for party animals as well as private time for dogs who prefer exclusivity. Occasionally, The Paw even holds swimming lessons and dock-diving instructions (including an advanced class for especially fur-ce competitors).
Reviews of The Paw are overwhelmingly paw-sitive, as Stacy Tousignant confirms in a Google review: "The Paw Mankato is the BEST! From their super caring staff members to the excellent facility with ALL the extras, this is our pup's FAVE place to go!"
A dog-centric winter in Minnesota wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Duluth for the Beargrease. Take in the sights and sniffs of this annual sled-dog marathon as you watch some of the world’s best mushers compete across 400 miles of rugged tundra. Many spots along the trail are accessible to the public, and some checkpoint areas include opportunities for winter camping as you enjoy the thrill of spectating.
Sidewalk Dog is the #1 resource for Minnesota dog owners, bringing you everything you need to enjoy life with your pup: dog-friendly patios, off-leash parks, events and so much more. Learn more at SidewalkDog.com.
Want to know the best spots in Minnesota? How about tips on how to make the most of your time in a specific city? Our Minnesota experts can answer your questions, offer advice, or plan the perfect Minnesota trip for you. For free.