Celebrate winter with these 10 activities in the Twin Cities

  • Minneapolis and St. Paul Offer Plenty of Winter Activities for All

    Winter in Minneapolis and St. Paul can be brutal, but residents don’t let that stop them from enjoying the season anyway, and visitors don’t have to either. Though the piles of snow and freezing temperatures can be daunting, there are plenty of reasons to venture outdoors this winter in the Twin Cities.

    Photo courtesy of Krivit Photography/Meet Minneapolis

  • Enjoy the Saint Paul Winter Carnival

    It’s dubbed the “Coolest Celebration on Earth,” and it’s easy to see why. Most cities might be wary of a festival with lots of outdoor elements that starts at the end of January, but St. Paul embraces it. From Jan. 26-Feb. 4, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival will offer live music, three parades, an autonomous snowplow competition and dozens of other events. There really is something for everyone in the family, too. Kids can have fun with face painting, a snow slide, and ice skating, while adults will no doubt enjoy the annual Beer Dabbler (Feb.4), featuring craft beer from more than 100 breweries and local food trucks. 

    Photo courtesy of Darrin Johnson/Saint Paul Winter Carnival

  • Check Out Frozen Minnehaha Falls

    Once the temperature dips low enough, the lakes aren’t the only things freezing in Minneapolis. Those in the know understand that winter is one of the best times to explore Minnehaha Falls in Minnehaha Regional Park. Depending on weather, the 53-foot waterfall may be frozen solid and it might be tempting to get a closer look, but be sure to obey any “no trespassing” signs for your own safety – the overlook offers a perfectly good view.

    Photo courtesy of Jim Winstead

  • Watch the City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Minneapolis hosts the City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival (Feb. 3-5), but you should know that non-skiers will find plenty to enjoy about this festival, too. There’s a snow sculpture contest, fireworks and a beer garden for spectators to enjoy. Skiers will find multiple events to participate in, from the 25K speedskating loppet, the Minne-Loppet for kids and Chuck & Don’s Skijoring Loppet, which lets canines get in on the skiing fun, too. The festival ends with plenty of awards, some of which come with cash prizes.

    Photo courtesy of Steve Kotvis, f/go Photography

  • Go For a Carriage Tour

    Sure, it might take some blankets and snuggling up to your fellow rider, but a winter carriage ride can be a romantic way to enjoy the sights. The Hitching Company offers the one-hour Mississippi River Grand Carriage Tour or the half-hour Mississippi River Carriage Tour. Both tours offer riders a glimpse of well-known Minneapolis landmarks like the Minneapolis skyline and Nicollet Island.

    Photo courtesy of The Hitching Company

  • Participate in the Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival

    Longing for summer? Perhaps flying a kite will help. Yes, it’s possible even in the winter. The Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival (Jan. 28) is a free event that brings together new and experienced kite flyers on frozen Lake Harriet. Participants can bring their own kite or buy one at the festival. Kids will also have the opportunity to learn about ice fishing and how to stay safe on the ice.

    Photo courtesy of Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

  • Build an Incredible Sled for Art Sled Rally

    Art Sled Rally aims to bring the community outdoors, no matter how cold or snowy. Watch the various sleds people have created or, if you’re artsy yourself, bring your own sled – and a helmet! Now in its 10th year, there will be two events held, one in Powderhorn Park (Jan. 28) and one in Fairview Park (Feb. 4). If you need a little help with sled ideas, there are four free workshops held throughout the month that are sure to boost your creativity.

    Photo courtesy of Alan

  • Catch the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships

    Hockey fans looking for an excuse to get outside will find one Jan. 26-29, thanks to the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships taking place on Lake Nokomis. In addition to watching several games, skaters can get their skates sharpened and indulge in beverages from sponsor Labatt Blue. Thursday night is Youth Night, when local youth teams can play pick-up games. A Family Skating Rink is open to the public Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

    Photo courtesy of U.S. Pond Hockey Championships

  • Go Ice Skating

    Of course ice skating is a pastime in two cities that have so many lakes. Many Minneapolis parks offer ice skating until mid-February, including Loring Park, Lake Hiawatha Park and Linden Hills Park. As a bonus, these outdoor ice rinks offer a warming room and loaner ice skates. Also in Minneapolis, The Depot offers indoor skating in a historic setting with discounts given to guests at select downtown hotels. 

    Photo courtesy of Michael Hicks

  • Get a Rush at Red Bull Crashed Ice

    St. Paul plays host to Red Bull Crashed Ice (Feb. 3-4) for a round of the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship. Ice cross downhill is touted as an extreme sporting event, involving participants in ice skates skating on an ice track. In its sixth year, this event regularly pulls in more than 100,000 spectators who can then take in Crashed Ice Village, with its live music and local food tents.

    Photo courtesy of Robert Engberg

  • Take a Hike

    Fort Snelling State Park is a great location to try your hand at hiking, ice fishing, cross-country skiing or myriad other winter activities.  Some, like snowshoeing and skiing, are suspended when snowfall hasn't been high enough, but you can still enjoy beautiful winter landscapes on a chilly hike.

    Photo courtesy of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources