Como Conservatory in winter

5 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever Without Leaving the Twin Cities

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Recharge your batteries with a winter trip to the Como Conservatory / Visit Saint Paul

5 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever Without Leaving the Twin Cities

By Brian Fanelli

Winter in the Twin Cities is a magical time of holiday events, outdoor recreation and warming up indoors at museums, coffee shops or cozy restaurants. While winter may be long in Minnesota, there are plenty of fun things to do to keep you busy during this special season.

Just remember the classic winter maxim before heading out: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. That’s always been a truism here in Minnesota, and it’s doubly important when you also need to gear up for your endeavors with a face mask. But, as always, nearly anything is possible with the proper clothing and a little extra planning.

  1. Glide Your Way Across the Winter Landscape
    Cross-country skiers at Theodore Wirth Park

    Cross-country skiing at Theodore Wirth Park / Waqar Ahmad

    Glide Your Way Across the Winter Landscape

    Minnesota is known for its great cross-country skiing, and you don’t need to leave the metro to glide across the pristine winter landscape. Just a few miles north of downtown Minneapolis, Theodore Wirth Park is a bustling hub of activity for cross-country skiers with over 20 miles of groomed trails. Out in the west metro, go skiing at Carver Park Reserve, where 11 miles of trails wind through the park’s rolling wooded terrain and interconnected lakes and marshes. And along the rushing St. Croix River, William O’Brien State Park is a perfect city-adjacent ski getaway with around 12 miles of trails that range from beginner to expert level.

  2. Snowshoe Through the Winter Wilderness
    Woman posing with her snowshoes and ski poles

    Escape into the woods on a snowshoeing adventure / @hikingthenorth

    Snowshoe Through the Winter Wilderness

    For a memorable and fun winter activity nearly anyone can do, strap on a pair of snowshoes and venture out for a day of adventures. The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge has over 45 miles of trails that hug the Minnesota River from Bloomington to Carver. And if you want to really get into nature, venture off the trail to explore areas of the refuge that are inaccessible most of the year. The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is another standout snowshoeing destination in the area, with 11 miles of snowshoe trails weaving through its pristine woodlands, ponds, prairie, model landscapes and extensive gardens.

  3. Take a self-guided Prince tour
    Prince mural Uptown Minneapolis

    An homage to Prince in Uptown by artist Rock 'Cyfi' Martinez / Courtesy Meet Minneapolis

    Take a self-guided Prince tour

    From his residence and recording studio in Chanhassen to the Minneapolis nightclub he immortalized in “Purple Rain,” the Twin Cities is full of places that played a big role in the much-too-short life of Prince. Celebrate Prince with a self-guided tour of the region's many Prince-themed murals and historic sites.

  4. Support Local Restaurants
    Server holds up two bottles of wine from take-out window

    Establish a takeout routine to help support your favorite local bars and restaurants  / Italian Eatery

    Support Local Restaurants

    As dropping temperatures signal the end of patio season, winter is the perfect time to establish a weekly takeout routine to continue supporting your favorite local restaurants through what’s sure to be a challenging season. In addition to supporting local businesses, setting a little weekly tradition for yourself is a great way to fool yourself into thinking things are back to normal—even if it's only one night a week.

  5. Go Fat Biking
    Woman winter fat biking

    Winter fat biking on the groomed trails at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis / Waqar Ahmad

    Go Fat Biking

    If you’re looking for a fun way to embrace the Minnesota winter, riding a fat bike will put a smile on your face that’s even bigger than your tires. Head down to Lebanon Hills in Eagan to ride 12 miles of groomed trails that twist and turn through the park’s dense woods, offering up everything from beginner-friendly berms to some of the most challenging singletrack in the entire Twin Cities. On the other side of the spectrum (and the metro), Elm Creek Park Reserve is home to 10 miles of wide-open groomed trails that are all about keeping your speed and going with the flow. Most of the trails here are fairly beginner friendly, so it’s the perfect spot for anyone looking to dip their tires into the sport.

Brian Fanelli

Brian Fanelli is a Minneapolis-based writer. You can reliably find him browsing the sci-fi shelves in a local bookstore or biking one of Minnesota's spectacular trails.