The Christmas tree, lights, and tinsel may be put away, but Jack Frost is here to stay…for a while. The early arrival of frigid sub-zero temperatures this season have made parts of December feel a lot like January. But no, we’ve only just begun, folks.
Maybe the old saying, if you can’t beat it, join it is the best mindset to adopt when battling winter blues and cabin fever. Why not add a bit of outdoor winter fun to your fitness and social routine? Bundle up and try something new!
Below we’ve compiled a few outdoor winter activities in the Twin Cities (and beyond), from cross-country skiing and ice skating, to winter festivals and sled rallies, that provide an incentive to get out in natural light and engage the snowy landscape. As always, we invite you to use the comment section to suggest other tips, activities, or events that help make the winter season a bit brighter.
Winter Trails Day, January 11
Fort Snelling State Park, 101 Snelling Lake Road, St. Paul, MN 55111;( 612) 725-2389
11 am – 4 pm
“Activities include: snowshoeing, cross country skiing, skijoring, ice fishing, ice sculpting, naturalist guided hikes, traditional ice harvesting, winter camping info, learn to build a quinzee (like an igloo made of snow), kids snow ranger activities and much more! Equipment is provided. We’ll have hot cocoa and a big bonfire too. Checkpoint Minnesota, a state wide scavenger hunt, will also be there with a mobile checkpoint.”
Minnehaha Park, 4801 Minnehaha Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55417; (612) 230-6400
5pm – 7pm
$5 – $7.50
Information from the Mpls. Park and Recreation website:
“Follow the moonlit trail along Minnehaha Creek to the Mississippi River, then back to the fire pit to warm up and roast marshmellow. Meet at the Minnehaha Falls Pavilion. Snowshoes provided. Dress for the weather. Winter boots are a must.”
Go here for more information
Lake Nokomis, 4955 West Lake Nokomis Pkwy, Minneapolis MN 55417
From the website:
“Hockey. The way nature intended. Outdoors in the crisp winter air, skate blades gliding on the fresh ice below, with the sounds of clacking sticks and the smell of grilling bratwurst filling the air.
Reunite with your friends over a weekend when time can stand still and we can all be kids for three days. The champions will go down in history with their names etched into the Golden Shovel, a symbol of our lifelong love and passion for the purity of this outdoor game.”
Lake Harriet, 4135 W. Lake Harriet Parkway, Minneapolis, MN 55419
12 noon – 4 pm; Free
More information from the Mpls Park and Recreation website:
“Kites of all shapes, sizes, colors and themes will fly over frozen Lake Harriet. But there’s more fun to be had on the ice – and even underneath it. Other fun family activities at the festival include ice fishing, horse-drawn wagon rides, snowshoeing, a children’s medallion hunt and a marshmallow roast.
In the event of inclement weather, the Kite Festival will be held one week later on Jan. 25. More information about the festival is available by calling 612-824-9350″
Throughout Bloomington-Bush Lake Park, Bloomington, MN; (952) 563-8693
This annual celebration, put on by Bloomington Parks and Recreation and area sponsors, includes a fat bike race, a girls’ hockey tournament, an ice garden, ski jump competition, broomball tournament, horse-drawn sleigh rides and more. All events are free unless otherwise noted; check the schedule of events here.
Citywide, Saint Paul, MN; (651) 223-7400
Most events are free and open to the public
The “coolest celebration on Earth” is here again! Saint Paul hosts what is known as the largest and oldest (since 1886!) winter carnival in the nation. From parades to ice carvings and snow sculpture competitions, the chilly thrills are plentiful! Check the schedule of events and plan accordingly.
Check the parade schedule here:
1265 Snelling Avenue North, Saint Paul, MN 55108; (651) 528-8752
3:30 – 7:30 pm; Ticket information
In conjunction with the St Paul Winter Festival, this annual carnival is sure to warm the bones. More information from the website:
“The Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival is back for a fifth year! With more than 150 local, regional, and national breweries sampling the best craft beer around, live music, gourmet food from local food trucks and carts, a homebrew contest, Silent Disco, and fun winter activities, the Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival 2014 is the biggest outdoor beer festival Minnesota has to offer. Click for more information. “
Powderhorn Park, 3100 15th Avenue, Minneapolis, MN, 55407; (612) 370-4960
Come on out to Powderhorn Park and enjoy the handiwork of sleds turned into artwork. The colorful sleds parade down the hill lined by cheering revelers. The joyful and popular event, produced by South Sixteenth High Jinks, a group of artists and neighborhood residents, provides free fun for entire family!
Info from the website:
“Thousands of ice luminaries, an ice pyramid, Ice Henge, the Enchanted Forest and the IceCropolis! Bon fires, hot cocoa and cookie stations. Registration is required. Post-Luminary Loppet Party for paid registrants over 21. The award-winning Comcast Luminary Loppet is a non-competitive event with registration open to snowshoers, walkers* and skiers alike.”
Go here for more information.
Visitor Center, Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Eagan, MN 55123; (952) 891-7000
6-9 pm; $8 – $10. Register now.
“More than 1,500 luminaries will line more than 2 miles of hiking and snowshoeing trails and nearly 4 miles of cross-country ski trails at the Trails by Candlelight event in Lebanon Hills Regional Park. Enjoy candlelight hiking, snowshoeing and ice skating, sledding a lit hill, bonfires and more.”
Food: Hot concessions will be available to purchase from The Tot Boss, RA MacSammy’s, and Sandy’s Grill and Italian Ice.
What to bring: Bring your own sled, skis, ice skates and snowshoes. Snowshoe and ski rental will also be available for an additional fee.”
Fort Snelling State Park, 101 Snelling Lake Road, St. Paul, MN 55111
1 pm – 3 pm
“Participants will be given hands-on instructions and a chance to try one of Minnesota’s favorite winter recreational pursuits. All equipment and bait will be provided, but urged to dress warmly. We will gather at the visitor center for initial instruction and then head out to Lake Snelling. Pre-registration is required, call the Visitor Center to register, 612-725-2724.”
Fort Snelling State Park, 101 Snelling Lake Road, St. Paul, MN 55111
1 pm – 2 pm
“Do they migrate? Do they hibernate? Aquatic insects, you see lots of them during spring, summer, and fall but where did they go during winter? Grab your parents, dress warm and come learn how aquatic insects survive the cold winter when lakes are frozen over. Meet at the park’s fishing pier.”
239 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55102; (651) 228-1766
“The sport of ice cross downhill continues its residence in the ‘State of Hockey’ with a third visit to the capital of Minnesota in 2014 as the sport continues to grow in popularity with US fans.
For the past two freezing-cold winters, Saint Paul has hosted ice cross downhill competition, with a huge crowd of more than 100,000 people converging on the Cathedral of Saint Paul to witness the high-speed action that features skaters competing in four-man heats in a race to the bottom of a 400-metre-long track full of obstacles.”
Trails for cross-country skiing/snowshoeing
1301 Theodore Wirth Parkway, Minneapolis, MN 55422; Phone: (763) 522-4584
Wirth Wild Winter Wednesdays: Between 4-7:30pm youth ages 4-17 get free snow tube rental and tow rope use. First come, first serve.
101 Snelling Lake Road St. Paul, MN 55111; ( 612) 725-2724
Park has groomed and tracked ski trails and multiple-use packed trails.Six miles of trail are packed for multiple use in winter, and three miles of packed walking trails are maintained on Pike Island.
3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska MN 55318; (952) 443-1400
11 miles of cross-country ski and snowshoe trails along 1,000-plus acres of woodland, prairie, wetland, and open fields.
Ice skating rinks
Landmark Center, 75 5th St, Saint Paul, MN 55102; Phone: (651) 228-1664
Wells Fargo WinterSkate, open until Feb 2, is located in downtown Saint Paul. Skate free with your own skates or rent skates for $2 per person.
Guidant John Rose OVAL, 2661 Civic Center Drive, Roseville MN 55113; (651) 792-7007
Check the links below for more outdoor winter activites in the parks across the Twin Cities: