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For some, a Winter in Minnesota is one of dread. The blizzards, epic cold temperatures, and of course, road conditions. When I think of a Minnesota winter, I think of all the fun you can have in the snow.
Like taking a sled or tube and hurtling down a hill at top speeds, building a snowman, or having a snowball fight. Walk around Downtown Minneapolis in our Skyways. Or warm up with a nice hot chocolate by the fireplace.
Any way you enjoy winter, it is one of my favorite times to be in Minnesota. To get you into the spirit of winter, here are 28 different things to do during winter in Minnesota. You may find there are too many things to do during the winter months.
30 Ideas to keep you busy this Minnesota during Winter
This list includes things you can only do during the middle of winter in Minnesota. While most are outdoor activities, and winter recreation sports, there is so much more.
Sure, there are plenty of other things to do around the community indoors, but what’s the fun in celebrating the season hidden away?
With that being said, if it’s too cold to be outside, I included a few indoor activities in Minnesota that are unique too. For more great ideas, check out some of my other seasonal lists too, at the bottom of the page.
ings to do in Minnesota Outdoors During Winter
The Sandstone Ice Festival is celebrating its 18th year. Ice climbing is a popular outdoor activity you can watch in person, or brave the elements and try it out. You don’t have to wait for the festival to climb. Try it with programs through REI and other outfitters.
The fishing doesn’t stop when the lakes freeze over here, just Ice Fish. It may be one of the most popular winter sports in the state.
Minnesota holds the largest festival in held in Mille Lacs Fishing for Ducks competition with a grand prize of $20,000 in cash. Fun tournaments like these in the middle of winter in Minnesota is what makes the season so much fun!
Speed over the heavy snow with a snowmobile. The DNR has an impressive list of trails to check out. If you don’t own one, you can rent one at a few different places around the state, including Brainerd and the Twin Cities.
There are a lot of great trails all over the state, including in Northern Minnesota.
MN Ice Castle
The Ice Castle in Minnesota seems to always be on the move. They have built an amazing experience you don’t want to miss out on, filled with ice slides, tunnels, and lights. This year they have moved to New Brighton.
St Paul Winter Carnival
The Saint Paul Winter Carnival likes to create its own ice castle, but you can’t go inside.
Ice Palace Maze
There is also the Ice Palace Maze in Eagan. This was a fun, family-friendly activity. These go through late February.
With all the Outdoor Activities in Minnesota, visiting the ice structures is the best way to see some cool art, and embrace the cold weather.
The Enchanting Ice Castles in Minnesota: Inside New Brighton’s latest attraction + Tips
The Delightful Ice Palace Maze in Stillwater MN: The Largest Ice Maze in the USA
Winter in Minnesota is more fun with skates! Glide across some fresh ice and go Ice Skating! Most cities have local rinks, but my favorite has to be in Roseville’s OVAL, Centennial Lakes in Edina with their frozen lake, and of course Rice Park in St. Paul. You can also skate in downtown Minneapolis.
Check out all the great ice rinks in the Twin Cities.
Snowshoeing around the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum trails or in an MN State Park. Snowshoeing is a fun way to enjoy the winter weather and keeping you in shape!
Rentals are inexpensive or bring your own. Your local nature centers offer rentals too, so there is no excuse. I recently went with the Dodge Nature Center in St. Paul for one of their events, Women in the Woods with Wine.
It was a blast and a great way to warm up to snowshoeing.
Downhill Skiing or Snowboarding the Slopes
Skiing the Slopes or even Snowboarding across the state. Minnesota is far from flat, and while we don’t have many mountains, we have enough hills to get your fix in.
Head out to Spirit Mountain, Buck Hill, Lutsen Mountains or some of the best hills in Minnesota.
Cross Country Ski
Cross Country Ski around Minneapolis. There are magnificent Minnesota State Parks.
The MN State Parks also have groomed many of their trails, including those on the MN State Parks Hiking Club into Cross-Country Ski trails. If you get the chance, the North Shore is breathtaking this time of year, especially with the freezing waters of Lake Superior.
It’s an alternative way to get your passwords all season long. Head out to a trail or rent a pair of skis and get a great workout.
Dog Sledding in Duluth
See the Trumpeter Swans
When the lakes freeze, swans look for whatever open water they can find. This is my favorite thing to do during winter in Minnesota. In the metro area, there are two places that are prime spots for viewing them.
Sucker Lake in Vadnais Heights. Walk the 2.6-mile loop around the lake.
The other is at Memorial Park in Shakopee. The swans are right next to the parking lot and are easy for families or people with mobility issues to check them out. This is a free winner active near you to do!
Jump into a chilly ice-covered lake for a good cause with the Polar Plunge. Everyone that does this is absolutely crazy. But I say this from experience.
The cold water you will never forget it. All the money collected goes to the Special Olympics, so quit your whining and take the plunge.
Try Kicksleding. The kicksled is a small chair with metal runners and a handle on the back for the person to kick the rider around. Think of it as a dog sled, minus the dogs pulling it. Instead, you do the work.
It’s a great way to get your younger kids on the ice and enjoy a Minnesota winter. The Three Rivers Parks rentals them for only $5 an hour.
Sledding or Snow Tubing
It doesn’t matter the age; sledding is always a fun way to spend the day. The excitement as you fly down at record-breaking speeds, listening to your kids’ squeal with excitement.
Or warming up after with a hot drink. Grab your favorite sled and get out to some of the best hills in the Twin Cities. 10 of the Best Sledding Hills in the Twin Cities
Zip Line above the trees with Kerfoot Canopy Tours in Henderson MN. Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean you have to hang up your carabineers and put away the ropes.
The course is still open for those that love the adrenaline rush. I’ve done their Brainerd trip during the summer and winter is something I need to try.
Fat Tire Bike
Just because the snow falls doesn’t mean you have to put away your bike. Put on your Fat Tires and hit the bike trails. Or take part in the Stupor Bowl race going on over the Super Bowl.
The race is known only to the MPLS biking community and finding ‘Official Race’ info online is challenging, so good luck!
Try Winter Camping. Many of the MN State Parks are open year-round for camping and from what I’ve seen, you won’t have to fight for the best camping spot like you do in summer. If tenting sounds too scary, think about renting a cabin.
There are some great ones, including parks like Itasca State Park with heated cabins and warming houses.
MN is packed with waterfalls, and when winter hits single digits, they all freeze into something amazing. During the summer, you may have to worry about the average rainfall affecting the flow.
I’ve also got stunning waterfalls near Minneapolis that you have to check out! And visiting them is always free.
Skijoring is not quite a dog sledding but not cross-country skiing either. Skijoring uses man’s best friend to pull skiers around a track. The Three Rivers Park District has trails you can use to practice.
And this year, Canterbury Park is also hosting an extreme version of the event. And you thought their season ended already, didn’t you? It should be a fun race to watch. Or even better, Points Unknown offers you the chance to try it out.
Find an Ice Bar
Visit an Ice bar with Social Ice in Rochester. It’s one of the biggest collections of outdoor bars in one location, complete with music and food. This free event takes over downtown Rochester and turns it into a winter wonderland.
Holiday Light Displays
During the beginning of winter, all of your favorite gardens and remote spaces transform into holiday light shows. Grab something warm, fill a mug of hot chocolate and wander around some of the fun festivals.
Things to do during Winter in Minnesota Indoors
With the average weather being 13 degrees, sometimes you’d prefer to stay inside. No judgment. There is still plenty of stuff to do in Minneapolis indoors too!
If ice climbing isn’t your thing, you can still get your rock climbing in at some of the indoor locations around Minneapolis in December.
Vertical Endeavors indoors is the best place to go because of its large amounts of climbing walls and difficulties but you can also do it at some of the LifeTime Fitness locations.
What I love about the collection of Minneapolis Museums is how many offers free admission. There are over 28 who are always free or have free days, so everyone gets a chance to enjoy them.
Get dressed up and check out one of our grand theaters. The Chanhassen Dinner Theater always has something playing.
For bigger shows, some coming directly from Broadway, go to Minneapolis and visit the Hennepin Theater Trust. It’s always warm inside.
Mall of America
Spend a day at the Mall of America. The MOA has a rotating collection of great shopping experiences, specialty stores, and other events. It attracts celebrities hosting concerts and signing autographs.
So whoever said it’s just a Mall, doesn’t know what they are talking about.
Go on a Wine Tour around Minnesota. There may not be grapes on the vines anymore, but that doesn’t have to stop the fun.
The Minnesota Wine Growers Association sells a wine passport that will help you get started. For $25 you’ll get ten free wine tastings and other great deals.
Visit a Comedy Club during Minnesota’s winter. The St. Paul Metro area attracts some of the best talents in the country. In my family, a good laugh is always what we are looking for on date night. Check out the best places to see it in action.
Love all things Haunted?
Don’t want to wait outside for amazing Food Truck delicacies, check out the Seventh Street Truck Park in St. Paul. It’s an indoor food truck park, for those that don’t want to deal with Minnesota’s slushy streets this time of year.
The SPAM Museum is a must-see destination, and it’s completely free. They have a great indoor play area. The museum catalogs SPAMs impact on history.
Their displays rival any children’s museum. Be warned, you may end up leaving with a crate of SPAM to remember your visit.
Visit a Zoo
The great places to visit in the winter season are the ZOOs! The COMO Zoo Conservatory has flowers blooming all year round. The conservatory is heated; you’ll forget that you are in the dead of winter.
Once you are done checking that out, visit some animals! It’s the only Free zoo in MN.
Another great zoo to check out is the MN Zoo. Their tropic trail stays consistently at 72 degrees all the time. And if you plan it right, like on a snowy winters day, you may have the zoo all to yourself.
What about more fun things to do in Minnesota in winter?
This is just to get you started thinking about things to do in Minnesota during winter. If you are looking for something to do this weekend in Minnesota, there are tons more winter activities in MN that haven’t made our list.
If you are planning to stay overnight, check out Expedia for some of the best rates on hotel stays. Always have a winter safety kit in your car whenever you travel this time of year. I recommend AAA’s 66-Piece Severe Weather Road Kit. Do you have any other winter traditions?
Need some more inspiration, make sure to check out my other list of 28 Things to Do: