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Winter is Hygge Season in Minnesota

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Inside a camper cabin at Whitetail Woods Regional Park in Farmington / Paul Vincent
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Winter is Hygge Season in Minnesota

By Erica Wacker

Minnesota takes a lot of cues from Scandinavia, including the concept of hygge (pronounced HEW-guh) which encompasses the coziness, comradery and contentment that have long been tenets of winter in Minnesota.

Though no direct English translation exists, you can find hygge nearly everywhere you look in Minnesota. Sipping hot cocoa at a ski lodge. Basking in the glow of a fireplace at a bed-and-breakfast. Snowshoeing by candlelight. All these activities and more make Minnesota the perfect destination for finding hygge this side of Copenhagen.

Where to Hygge

The towns along the St. Croix River Valley (including Taylors Falls, Shafer, Lindstrom, Chisago City and Scandia) welcome hygge seekers with custom-designed itineraries encompassing wineries, wellness retreats, fine art and outdoor pursuits. This area is known for its Scandinavian heritage, with attractions like the Gammelgarden Museum and Valkommen Gallery telling the settlers’ stories.

A cup of hot cocoa in front of a fireplace

A cup of hot cocoa in front of a fireplace / Angelica King

If you’re looking for outdoor adventure, plan a cross-country skiing getaway at Maplelag Resort north of Detroit Lakes, which also offers ice skating, ice fishing, snowshoeing and sledding, plus massages and a fully enclosed hot tub. In Ely, Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge takes adventurers of all ages on trips of a lifetime, mushing a team of dogs across the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness before retreating to the cozy lodge for a home-cooked meal and well-earned night of sleep.

For a taste of hygge in the big city, spas, restaurants, coffee shops and museums (most apropos, the American Swedish Institute) are great places to hole up and stay a while. The Finnish tradition of saunas has recently made its way to the Twin Cities, with a couple mobile units that pop up at breweries, parks and other public locations during the winter months.

A room at the Hewing Hotel Dubuque Double in Minneapolis's North Loop

Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis' North Loop / rau+barber, courtesy of Hewing Hotel and Meet Minneapolis

Check into the Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis’ North Loop, complete with a rooftop sauna and hot tub, or the Elliot Park Hotel downtown to round out your stay. And if snuggling with your dog is part of your hygge routine, fear not: Both hotels are pet friendly.

Family on a winter walk along the luminary-lit Gateway State Trail

Take a winter walk by candlelight along the Gateway State Trail / Minnesota DNR

Hygge-Filled Events

Winter events are another way to embrace hygge in Minnesota. Along the always-stunning North Shore of Lake Superior, Grand Marais and the surrounding towns that make up Cook County host an annual Hygge Festival in February. This year's Hygge Festival will be a bit pared down compared to prior events, but you're still invited to head north and celebrate this cozy Minnesota tradition.

In Minneapolis and St. Paul, The Great Northern festival combines the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, Saint Paul Winter Carnival and City of Lakes Loppet with outdoor dinners, concerts and other winter fun in January and February.

Finally, make sure to outfit yourself properly for hygge with scarves and throws from Faribault Woolen Mill and Bemidji Woolen Mills, footwear from Steger Mukluks and Minnetonka Moccasins, and outdoor gear from Frost River and Duluth Pack.

Erica Wacker

Erica Wacker is a Midwesterner through and through, growing up in Illinois, going to college in Wisconsin, and settling down in Minnesota. She loves to run, travel with her family, and go to concerts to relive her youth.