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The Best Minnesota Towns to Visit During Winter
Just because the weather is getting cold and the days are getting short doesn’t mean our fun has to stop. One of the things I appreciate most about Minnesotans is their hardiness when it comes to the cold. With warm boots and a great hat, Minnesotans will be outside all winter.
Although I grew up on Long Island where winters are much milder, my family would go to Vermont every winter to downhill ski. With the right clothing and attitude, nothing is too cold! Read on for the top five places to visit during winter in Minnesota.
1. Northfield, Minnesota
I lived in Northfield for three years and my husband was there for seven years, we both love this charming river town. There are plenty of ways to cozy up including an independently owned bookstore, several breweries and coffee shops, a yoga studio, and a great yarn store where I’ve spent countless hours.
Go snowshoeing or take a peaceful walk in the snow at Cowling Arboretum on Carleton College’s campus, or enjoy the Christmas Concert at St. Olaf College, which takes place every December. Or join the college students and go sledding at either college’s hilly campus! Click here for my full blog post on Northfield.
2. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis is a city that was clearly built for brutal winters. When the wind is biting cold in the middle of January and February, you can get lost in nearly 10 miles of skyways crisscrossing their way through downtown. There are dozens of restaurants, shops, and hotels all connected to the skyway. You can even park at a parking ramp that is connected to the skyway so you can run from your heated car straight into the cozy skyways.
I also love the frozen lakes in Minneapolis! Spend time at the Luminary Loppet on Lake of the Isles or join the kite festival on Lake Harriet. I also enjoy cross-country skiing on the frozen lakes with my dog, and many other people bring out their fat-tire bikes.
Lastly, although it’s technically just outside the Minneapolis city limits, the Mall of America is a great place to spend time on cold winter days. From roller coasters to aquariums and comedy clubs, you can spend days exploring the Mall of America! Go shopping, visit the restaurants, or head to the less crowded top floor to walk laps and exercise when it’s just too cold to be outside.
3. Lutsen, Minnesota
Shop some of my favorite winter items
4. Burnsville, Minnesota
Burnsville is a great spot for a winter visit for a few reasons, the main one being Buck Hill. Buck Hill is a great place for new skiers, or those wanting to practice jumps and turns. It’s also a great place to go snow tubing for kids and adults. They also offer music and events year-round.
Burnsville also has two breweries, and a handful of great coffee shops and restaurants when you’re ready to warm up. Crystal Lake is also a super popular spot to visit during the winter in Burnsville. You’ll often see many people ice fishing and cross-country skiing on the lake. For more ideas on Burnsville, check out my blog post on 12 awesome things to do in Burnsville.
5. Duluth, Minnesota
Duluth is incredible during the winter months. Enjoy beautiful views of Lake Superior, then warm up in the breweries, distilleries, and bars in town. Visit somewhere cozy to eat like OMC Smokehouse, then do some shopping inside Fitger’s, which has many levels of restaurants, bookstores, and coffee shops.
Another fun winter activity is spending a few hours touring the incredible Glensheen Mansion, you can even go snowshoeing around the property. Or, visit Spirit Mountain to go downhill skiing and snowboarding! For additional ideas, read my Duluth blog posts here and here.
Attitude is Everything During the Winter
We all know winter in Minnesota can be brutal with the cloudy gloomy days, the sun setting early, and the bitter cold temperatures that come in January and February. I think if winter wasn’t so cold here we wouldn’t appreciate the hot summer days we spend swimming in the lakes, or the beautiful fall days we see in September and October.
Over the years I’ve come to make the most of deep snow, strong winds, and slick ice. With the right mindset and proper clothing, winter in Minnesota is actually a pretty spectacular time. I recommend winter boots from Merrell, and The North Face gear from REI, as well as yaktrax from Amazon, which I wear often to avoid slipping on ice.
Looking for more winter inspiration? Check out my post on the 12 Best Places to Cross-Country Ski in the Twin Cities, 37 COVID Outdoor Winter Activities, and 9 Reasons to Visit Crosby in the Winter.