8 Must-Try Winter Adventures in Southern Minnesota
By Southern Minnesota Tourism Association
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Ski, snowshoe, skate, bike, ice climb, fish, repeat! Layer up and get out there; these eight must-try outdoor adventures in southern Minnesota are calling you!
Adrenaline seekers need to make their ascent to Winona’s Ice Climbing Park this winter. The ice walls cascade hundreds of feet down the city’s towering bluffs, overlooking downtown Winona. The views of the Mississippi River and surrounding bluffs from above will take your breath away and make the perfect backdrop for Instagram-worthy photos. Bring your own gear or contact Big River Climbing Guides to get you set up for a unique and exciting experience.
Lace up your skates and get out on the ice in southern Minnesota this winter. The Straight River, a 55-mile tributary of the Mississippi, offers skate rentals, a warming chalet, hockey ponds and free skating near downtown Owatonna. Or skate on an inlet of the Des Moines River in southwest Jackson.
Rev your engines and hit the trails. There are more than 22,000 miles of snowmobile trails in Minnesota; hop on one of the groomed trails in Martin County near Fairmont for a spectacular experience or explore 200 miles of Minnesota River Valley Trails in New Ulm. Plan your route by checking the Minnesota DNR’s interactive snowmobile trails map.
Ice & Open Water Fishing
Ice & Open Water Fishing
The frosty months bring new life to our lakes and rivers. Whether you seek solitude in an ice fishing house or want to cast into the open waters of an ice-cold river, southern Minnesota’s frozen lakes and flowing rivers are perfect for connecting with nature.
If you’re looking to hit the slopes to get your downhill fix, head to southeast Minnesota. The stunning bluffs of the Mississippi River Valley provide long drops and excitement on the 14 runs at Coffee Mill Ski Area near Wabasha. As a bonus, you can round out the day with eagle watching along Lake Pepin.
About 20 minutes west of Red Wing and tucked into the Cannon River Valley, Welch Village ranks among Minnesota’s biggest ski areas with 60 runs. Try the terrain park for snowboarding or tubing at Mount Kato Ski Area in Mankato, which also has 19 downhill runs.
Head to Wabasha for the Grumpy Old Men Festival on Feb. 28-29. Named after the movie filmed here, enjoy the festival’s live music, ice fishing contest on the Mississippi River, costume contest, Grumpy Plunge and much more local fun.
Raise a beer with a few thousand of your friends at Bock Fest in New Ulm on March 7. Held on the historic grounds at Schell’s Brewery, Minnesota’s oldest brewery, this annual festival is a chance to sip some bock and pray for spring.
Southern Minnesota has plenty of other fun indoor attractions, tons of upcoming festivals and events, and countless places to dine. And if you’re looking to stay overnight, there are plenty of affordable lodging options. Plan your southern Minnesota escape today.
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