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30 Awesome Things to Do in Minnesota Winter

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While the long, dark days in Minnesota Winter can be tough, I’ve found the season goes by much quicker if we plan fun activities. It has really made a difference for us to embrace the season. Below are 30 awesome things to do in Minnesota Winter. Who knows, you may find yourself wishing winter lasted just a little longer!

Minnesota Winter Things to Do

1. Cross-Country Ski

I love cross-country skiing on the frozen lakes. The scenery is beautiful and they don’t require a trail pass. For places with trail passes, I love Theodore Wirth Park. They have rentals available at the Trail Head and great trails!

Minnesota cross country skiing

2. Snowshoe

Snow shoeing is one of the best ways to enjoy Minnesota winter since it’s a relatively easy activity. Bonus if you can join a luminary event since it’s even more magical snowshoeing at night by the twinkling lights! Here’s a list of events for 2022-2023. Rentals are available at many Minnesota state parks for just $6/day and from local places like Scheels and the University of Minnesota.

Minnesota Snowshoe

3. Ice Skate

My favorite spots to ice skate include Centennial Lakes, the Maple Grove Loop and Lake of the Isles. I love the charming feel of Centennial Lakes and skating under the bridges. The Maple Grove loop is a great place for exercise with one-direction skating. Lake of the Isles also has a hockey rink.

Minnesota ice skating

4. Hike at any of the 75 Minnesota State Parks

Hiking in the winter can be super peaceful because the snow makes the setting more serene and quiet. Many Minnesota state parks offer snowshoe rentals for the trails for $6/day. I love Nerstrand, Banning and Jay Cooke in particular in the winter.

Jay Cooke State Park

5. Visit Frozen Waterfalls

Minnehaha Falls is a classic winter waterfall visit but other great stops are Minneopa Falls, the falls at Nerstrand State Park, Willow River Falls (WI) and stops along the north shore.

Nerstrand State Park

6. Ice Climb

Ice climbing is an exhilarating winter sport and so fun to try! The two main places in Minnesota to try ice climbing are in Winona and Sandstone. I took a lesson in Sandstone and had the best day!

7. Fat Tire Bike

I love biking the trails in the summer so in 2021 we tried winter biking for the first time in Crosby and similarly loved it! Read more about spots you can fat tire bike around the state here.

Read about our winter stay at Cuyuna Cove here which included fat tire biking!

Minnesota fat tire biking

8. Downhill Ski

Minnesota has great ski options. The best in the state is Lutsen Mountains where you get a great view of Lake Superior. For options closer to the cities, check out Afton, Welch, Spirit Mountain and Buck Hill.

9. Shop Local

  • Stock up on new winter clothing from Sota Clothing + take a photo at the mural wall. Use code Planet with Sara for 15% off.
  • Buy a MPLS or St. Paul Felt sweatshirt from Northmade Co or their Land of 10,000 Craft Beers t-shirt for a brewery crawl. Use Code PLANETSARA15 for 15% off!
  • Shop the winter local vendor market at the Dayton’s Project
  • Prep for Spring by shopping outdoor sports stores like Paddle North
  • Search for curated home products that bring you joy at The Foundry Homegoods. I love the beeswax candles & cleaning cloths.

10. Book a Spa Day

11. Visit a Greenhouse

This is my favorite way for getting a feel of the tropics without getting on a plane! I love Bachman’s at Lyndale (it also has a café) and Tonkadale. They often offer events such as yoga in the winter. Another great option is to get coffee at Spyhouse Coffee at Hotel Emery and sit in their lobby full of gorgeous greenery.

Spyhouse Coffee Hotel Emery

12. Attend a Workout Class

Some of my favorites are: Barry’s (1st class is free!), The Firm, Modo Yoga, LVB Fitness and Chris Freytag

13. Volunteer

Helping others is a great way to make a difference and boost your mood. Get ideas from Hands on Twin Cities.

14. Taste Local Ciders

Put together a cider sample pack of local Minnesota ciders for an at-home tasting. Visiting cideries has become one of my favorite activities because of how great the scene has become in Minnesota. Many liquor retailers stock cider from around the state or you can visit the cideries themselves!

15. Enjoy a meal at Midtown Global Market

The Midtown Global Market is one of my favorite places in Minnesota because I feel like I’m traveling to places I’ve visited around the world for a great meal – from China to India to South America.

16. Visit a charming town

There are many charming towns in Minnesota to visit. Some of my favorites are Stillwater, Red Wing, New Ulm and St. Cloud.

17. Explore local museums

Minnesota is home to many great museums. Some of my favorites are The MIA, the American Swedish Institute and the Walker. If you go to the American Swedish Institute, don’t miss out on dining at FIKA! For more unique museums, check out this article.

FIKA Minneapolis

18. Experince Sauna

Sauna culture has exploded in Minnesota (makes sense given the Scandinavian roots!) and for good reason. Sauna time is a great way to destress, release toxins and feel warm again during a cold winter. One of my favorite sauna experiences is Cedar & Stone based in Duluth but they travel for various events around the cities so follow their Instagram. Another great option is Thermaculture events at The Hewing.

19. Walk around the Ice Castles

The gorgeous and impressive Ice Castles feature an ice slide, ice bar, illuminated walkways and fun places for little ones to explore. Fun for all ages!

Minnesota Ice Castle

20. Visit a Lights show

Since it gets dark super early in the winter, light shows are a fun way to get out and embrace the season! Some options include: Winter Lights at Minnesota Arboretum (Chaska), Bentleyville (Duluth), GLOW (St. Paul) and the Northern Lights Festival (Rochester).

Minnesota lights show

21. Attend the Luminary loppet

The quintessential Minnesota winter get together is the Loppet Winter Festival in February culminating with a magical luminary event on Lake of the Isles.

Luminary Loppet

22. Enjoy Festive drinks

There are quite a few local bars that offer festive holiday drinks in stunning decorated settings. One of my favorites is Lawless Distilling. Other options are Psycho Suzi’s, Stillheart and Jingle Bar at the Old Log Theatre.

Minnesota holiday drinks

23. Go Dog Sledding

Dog sledding is a really fun winter activity and the best place for it is Ely. However, there are spots near Duluth and the Cities as well. Check out this article for options.

Minnesota dog sledding

24. Go to a Sports game

Minnesota is home to world class sports teams that play in the winter including the Minnesota Wild and Minnesota Timberwolves. Plan a night out to a local arena!

Timberwolves Game

25. Visit a Llama farm

We got to meet some of Carlson’s Lovable Llamas at The Northern Express festival but they also offer meet and greets at their farm. Really fun family activity!

Carlon's Loveable Llamas

26. Dine in an igloo 

Dining in an igloo is a magical winter experience. For 5 options, check out this video I made here:

You can also read the article I wrote for Explore Minnesota here.

27. Plan a Winter staycation 

Many people associate winter travel with going somewhere warm like Florida but it’s also fun planning a staycation to really enjoy winter. Two great options include the tiny Getaway cabins in Willow River Minnesota and Grand View Lodge. Check out 8 reasons to book a getaway to Grand View here.

Getaway Minneapolis

28. Visit Mall of America

Mall of America is a fun destination where you can shop, dine and play. Check out some activities we experienced on a date night to the mall here.

Mall of America Sugar Factory

29. Take a Cooking Class

One of my favorite local spots is Cooks of Crocus Hill. Check out their upcoming classes for a fun night out.

30. Go Axe Throwing

A fun activity (and great way to get out some stress!) is axe throwing. We went axe throwing at The Lumberjack in Stillwater where you can also enjoy a great meal. Other options include: The Burrow in Victoria and Bad Axe Throwing in Minneapolis.

Minnesota axe throwing

I hope you enjoy these top 30 things to do in Minnesota Winter!

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