7 Things To Do in Minnesota This Winter

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A friendly game of hockey at WinterSkate in St. Paul / Teresa Boardman
Things to Do // List

7 Things To Do in Minnesota This Winter

By Caitlin Hannah

Minnesota is a winter haven for outdoor activities, theater, food and drink, seasonal festivals and more. Get out and win at winter with these unique, #OnlyinMN activities. 

  1. Explore The Trails
    Two cross-country skiers at Whitetail Woods

    Cross-country skiing at Whitetail Woods in Farmington / Paul Vincent

    Explore The Trails

    Minnesota is home to thousands of trails designed for cross-country skiing, fat biking, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. In fact, Minnesota's cross-country skiing trails offer more miles of skiing than a trek from St. Paul to Los Angeles, and there are 22,000 miles of groomed trails for snowmobiling. Minnesota trails provide breathtaking views of our state’s forests, lakes and rivers. 

  2. Attend a Winter Festival
    Fireworks and ice palace on Detroit Lake

    Polar Fest in Detroit Lakes / Paul Vincent

    Attend a Winter Festival

    Minnesotans love to embrace winter weather, and nothing brings out our rosy-cheeked enthusiasm like a winter festival! 

    The Saint Paul Winter Carnival is the oldest winter festival in the United States. Since 1886, downtown St. Paul has been transformed into a winter wonderland with ice sculptures, parades and live music in Rice Park. These days it's also an integral component of The Great Northern festival, which unites some of the Twin Cities' premier winter events under one, snowy banner from late January through early February.

    Join the frozen fun at Polar Fest in Detroit Lakes and see the ice palace complete with 1,500 blocks of ice that will be illuminated each night. Get moving and sign up for the Freeze Your Buns 5K, watch the polar plunge and enjoy frozen fireworks.

  3. Check Out a New Bar or Restaurant
    Bartender with couple at Starkeller Brewery

    Starkeller Brewing in New Ulm specializes in sour beers

    Check Out a New Bar or Restaurant

    When it's cold outside, warm up your taste buds with a trip around the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. With more than 50 vendors serving foods from around the world, you are bound to find something you like, whether it’s a bowl of piping hot pho, fresh homemade pasta, or an indurrito (Indian burrito). 

    Minnesota is home to more than 100 breweries and taprooms across the state, from Lino Lakes' heavy metal haven, Hammerheart Brewery, to Minneapolis brewery-meets-soccer bar, La Doña. Not sure where to start? You can visit breweries along the Southern Beer Trail or head up north to the Duluth area to experience North Shore breweries.

    Local distilleries are also gaining popularity. Craft cocktail enthusiasts will enjoy tasting whiskeys, vodkas, gins and moonshines from distilleries like Tattersall, Du Nord, 11 WellsJ. Carver DistilleryFar North Spirits, Lawless, Panther Distillery and Vikre Distillery.

  4. See a Hilarious Comedy Show
    Exterior of Brave New Workshop comedy theatre

    Brave New Workshop is the state's oldest improv theatre / Meet Minneapolis

    See a Hilarious Comedy Show

    The cold weather might get you down, so brighten your spirits by taking in a comedy show. Minneapolis is home to many comedy clubs and improv theatres. The Brave New Workshop has been crafting hilarious and thought-provoking original comedy shows for 55 years. See their newest show, or catch one of their late-night improv shows.

    ComedySportz in Uptown offers interactive improv shows appropriate for the entire family on Thursday-Saturday nights.

  5. Try Out a Unique Winter Sport
    Two teams of dog sledders near Ely, Minnesota

    Ely is Minnesota's dog sledding hub

    Try Out a Unique Winter Sport

    Did you know the U.S. Men’s 2015 curling team (who won the 2015 championship) is from Duluth? Minnesota has the most curling clubs in the nation. With more than 30 clubs across the state, you are bound to find one near you.

    Another unique winter activity that can be found in Minnesota is dog sledding. The Boundary Waters has millions of acres that provide the perfect snowy environment for you and a team of Canadian Inuit dogs to explore. There are also outfitters along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

    Ice fishing is an iconic Minnesota winter activity. Visit Lake of the Woods, the "Walleye Capital of the World," to experience excellent ice fishing. This fishing destination features more than 50 resorts, sleeper services and hotels. Lodging options include a cozy cabin, condo, hotel, motel or a sleeper fish house on a frozen lake.

  6. Root For The Home Team
    Root For The Home Team

    Escape the cold for an evening of excitement cheering on the home team. Minnesota pro teams to watch during the winter include the Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota RollerGirls and Minnesota Wild.

    Minnesota collegiate sports are also an exciting way to spend an evening watching athletes compete in multiple sports ranging from volleyball to gymnastics. The University of Minnesota is part of the Big 10 Conference, with winter sports including basketball, hockey, volleyball and wrestling. The University of Minnesota’s men’s and women’s hockey team are consistently ranked among the best in the nation. The teams have various games across Minnesota during the season.

  7. Go Downhill Skiing
    Three skiers riding a chair lift

    Three skiers ride the chair lift to the top of Buck Hill

    Go Downhill Skiing

    Minnesota features some of the highest hills in the Midwest, and Minnesota ski areas offer thrills for any level of skills. From Spirit Mountain in Duluth to the new Detroit Mountain Recreation Area in Detroit Lakes, there are opportunities across the state to cruise the runs.

    No matter what you do this winter, get out and explore Minnesota. You can document your adventures and get inspired for new outings by using the hashtag #OnlyinMN on social media.

Caitlin Hannah

Caitlin Hannah is Explore Minnesota's social media strategist and resident Disney expert. She grew up spending summer weekends at her family's lake cabin in Detroit Lakes, and brings that "up north" attitude to everything she does. When traveling around the state, she likes trying new restaurants and taprooms, or watching Minnesota hockey.