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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! This year, many festivals are changing to drive-through or virtual formats to keep the winter cheer as safe as possible.

    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. Some events, like the ice sculpture park, will become a drive-through experience, while other fair standbys like the scavenger hunt and winter run will continue as normal.

    Or if you're in northwest Minnesota, you can join the frozen fun at Polar Fest in Detroit Lakes and see the ice throne complete with illuminated blocks of ice and the event's mascot, Polar Pete each night. 

  3. Order Takeout From Your Favorite 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

    Order Takeout From Your Favorite Restaurants

    Winter is the perfect time to establish a weekly takeout routine to keep supporting your favorite local restaurants through what's sure to be a challenging season. Almost every restaurant in Minnesota has honed its takeout process to be as painless as possible, and some are even offering meal kits to assemble and enjoy at home. These meal kits are a great way to try a new recipe, get the kids involved in the kitchen or take a night or two off from cooking for your family.

    Minnesota is also home to more than 100 breweries and taprooms across the state, from Lino Lakes' heavy metal haven, Hammerheart Brewing, to the Minneapolis brewery-meets-soccer bar, La Doña. Be sure to keep your eye out for local beers when you're at the liquor store, or visit the breweries themselves to pick up a growler to-go.

    Local distilleries are getting in on the takeout game, too. Craft cocktail enthusiasts will enjoy tasting whiskeys, vodkas, gins and moonshines from distilleries like Tattersall, Du Nord, 11 Wells, J. Carver Distillery, Far North Spirits, Lawless, Panther Distillery and Vikre Distillery.

     

  4. Catch a Virtual Comedy Show
    Exterior of Brave New Workshop comedy theatre

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

    Catch a Virtual Comedy Show

    Some of your favorite comedy clubs and improv theaters are putting on live shows to enjoy from home. ComedySportz is hosting virtual webcast matches on select nights. Each match is an improvised comedy between two teams of actors as they create short games and scenes based on your suggestions. Acme Comedy Club in Minneapolis is teaming up with some of their favorite comics for live comedy shows on Zoom, or you can stream shows from Brave New Workshop on their Facebook page. 

  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 over a million of acres of pristine, 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

    Even if you can't attend a game in person, you can still spend an evening cheering on the home team from your couch. Minnesota pro teams to watch during the winter include the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Wild.

    Minnesota collegiate sports are also an exciting way to spend an evening watching athletes compete in multiple sports. The University of Minnesota is part of the Big 10 Conference, with winter sports including basketball and hockey 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 downhill 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.