6 Winter Minnesota Activities You’ll Be Glad You Got Out For

Updated December 7, 2021
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Most Minnesota residents love getting outside and visiting new places in summer. But what about spending time outdoors during the cold and snowy winter season? Freezing temperatures and snowy days often keep people indoors where they can get cozy with a movie and hot chocolate.

However, Minnesota offers numerous exciting winter activities that everyone can enjoy. From getting fresh air and exercise to warming up with a change of scenery, there’s no shortage of fun winter activities. Read on to discover six of the best Minnesota winter activities that are worth going outside for.

1. Visit the Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Each winter, the city of Saint Paul puts on the extravagant Winter Carnival in January and February. The Saint Paul Winter Carnival is located in downtown Saint Paul, and almost all activities take place in or around Rice Park.

This winter activity is perfect for family outings, date nights, and solo adventures alike. From puzzle contests and ice fishing tournaments to remarkable ice palaces, there is an activity at the Winter Carnival for everyone. The best part is that almost everything at the carnival is free or low-cost. After spending a day at the Winter Carnival, warm up with dinner reservations at one of the best restaurants in downtown Saint Paul.

winter ice castle at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Source: Greg Lundgren via Capture Minnesota

2. Transport to the Tropics at the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

When you get tired of looking out your window and seeing white snow and grey skies in winter, opt for a complete change of scenery. The always-free Como Park Conservatory will transport you to a tropical oasis, and you’ll forget that it’s winter entirely (almost). The heated conservatory maintains a consistent temperature of 72 degrees along the tropic trail.

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The green trees and bright flowers are sure to give you a taste of summer in the dead of winter. While you’re there, visit the animals at the connected zoo. Advanced reservations are required.

Como Conservatory greenery

3. Ski or Snowboard Down Impressive Slopes

Amateurs and seasoned pros alike can bundle up and get their adrenaline pumping by hitting one of Minnesota’s downhill ski slopes. Skiing and snowboarding are some of the best ways to take advantage of Minnesota winters. Get plenty of fresh air and exercise, and warm up in the ski lodge with a cup of hot chocolate whenever you need a break.

Some of the best ski slopes in Minnesota include:

Don’t worry if you don’t own ski or snowboarding gear because you can rent equipment at the slopes. If you’ve never tried skiing or snowboarding, you can take lessons provided by the professionals on staff at the ski hill. You’ll be conquering black diamond slopes in no time!

boy skiing at Afton Alps as a winter activities idea

Source: AftonAlps.com

4. Search for the Northern Lights

Most people assume that the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, are only visible in places like Norway and Iceland. But did you know that you can often see the Northern Lights right here in Minnesota? In order to catch this stunning sight, you’ll need to head up to rural areas in Northern Minnesota that are free from the light pollution of bigger cities.

Book a vacation rental for a few days in one of the following cities up north to increase your chances of spotting the Northern Lights:

  • Grand Marais
  • Lutsen
  • Hallock
  • Beaver Bay
  • Princeton

Witnessing the phenomenal teal and green skies caused by the Northern Lights is enough reason to get outside this winter. You are sure to make a memory that you’ll never forget.

forest with the northern lights

5. Tie Up Your Ice Skates

In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, it’s easy to guess why ice skating is one of Minnesota’s most popular outdoor winter activities each year. If you live in or near Minneapolis, you can lace up your skates and go ice skating through the Chain of Lakes park. Take in the gorgeous scenery with your friends and family as you skate across the frozen lakes. Additionally, many hockey nets get set up on the lakes each year, so you can bring your hockey sticks and pucks to the lake if friendly competition is more your style.

Many ice skating rinks also get constructed during the winter season. The free Holidazzle Festival in Loring Park brings holiday cheer to downtown Minneapolis with a large outdoor ice skating rink, complimentary ice skates, and bright holiday lights. Be sure to bundle up and grab a hot apple cider or hot cocoa at the festival.

mother tying her child's ice skates to participate in the winter activities

6. Stay Warm With Indoor Rock Climbing

For people who want to get out of the house in winter but don’t want to brave the cold outdoors, consider a fun indoor activity like rock climbing. Check out Vertical Endeavors or the Minneapolis Bouldering Project in the Twin Cities. With expansive varieties of climbing walls and difficulty levels ranging from beginner to expert, you are sure to beat the winter blues by getting your adrenaline pumping during this fun indoor activity.

Indoor rock climbing gyms will have equipment available for you to rent, so you’ll have everything you need at your disposal. After getting a workout in with a good climb, join your friends for a drink at a local brewery in Saint Paul or Minneapolis. In fact, many Minnesota breweries decorate their spaces for the holidays and curate seasonal beverages. This activity allows you to leave your house or apartment and get a change of scenery without spending too much time in the cold outdoors.

kids indoor rock climbing as a winter activities

Source: VerticalEndeavors.com

Explore All That Minnesota Has to Offer This Winter

Whether you want to try something new this winter, get fresh air, or forget about winter altogether, there is an activity in Minnesota for you. Between outdoor adventures like skiing and ice skating and indoor activities like rock climbing and strolling through the Como Conservatory, bring cheer to your winter season with fun Minnesota activities.

Of course, there’s also nothing quite like snuggling up at home with a warm blanket and your favorite winter beverage on a snowy day. If you’re looking for the perfect place to call home in Minnesota this winter, check out the available properties through Bigos and contact us today to set up a showing.

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