Wintertime Fun in Minneapolis/St. Paul

Skate, Sled, Then Stay Snug and Warm

To most Americans, winter in the Twin Cities might seem daunting. But for the resilient residents of Minneapolis/St. Paul, it's a grand opportunity to go ice skating on an actual outdoor rink or deeply frozen pond or lake, go sledding or snowboarding, have snowball fights, or go cross-country skiing. And that's just the outdoor activities. There are also the apres outdoors pleasures like snuggling up in front of a warm fire that burns all day and drinking hot toddies and hot chocolate. The serene and snowy landscape outside the window, dotted with evergreens and sparkling in the sunlight, is the very definition of peace. Check out this list for some ideas on fun stuff to do in the winter in the Twin Cities.

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    Outdoor Activities

    Ice Fishing on Loon Lake
    Layne Kennedy / Getty Images

    Where there are snow and ice, there is an activity to match. Try ice climbing, snowkiting, snowboarding, skiing, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, ice skating, and sledding. You can do all these sports and activities in and around Minneapolis/St. Paul in the winter.

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    Indoor Activities

    Surly Brewing Company
    Surly Brewing Company. Courtesy of Visit St. Paul

    If the weather outside is frightful or there's no snow on the ground, check out indoor activities to while away a winter weekend.

    Take a free brewery tour at the Summit Brewery in St. Paul on selected Saturdays, the Surly Brewery in Brooklyn Center on selected Friday nights, and monthly tours of Flat Earth Brewing Co. in St. Paul.

    Local roller derby teams Minnesota RollerGirls and North Star Roller Derby skate and gives each other black eyes for your entertainment all winter long. If you've never seen roller derby, it's all-female, all-out war on rollerskates and not for the faint of heart.

    Have some fun at bowling alleys like Memory Lanes and Bryant Lake Bowl, where the hipsters and "Big Lebowski" fans go or neighborhood places like the ancient RanHam Bowling Center, which offers cheap bowling and is in the basement of the same building as The Nook Bar, home of the best Juicy Lucy burger in St. Paul.

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    Indoor Activities for Kids and Families

    Minnesota Children’s Museum at St. Paul Photos
    Forces at Play exhibit at Minnesota Children’s Museum. Courtesy of Minnesota Children’s Museum

    Museums, concerts with a family-friendly program, storytime at libraries, and gym activities are just some of the things you can do indoors with your kids in the winter to keep the boredom away. Some of these places are free (check the link), and some cost a little bit. For just a few dollars, these low-cost places to go with your children in the winter will make for a fun weekend afternoon.

    This is not technically indoors, but it's still warm: Bundle up, get a thermos of hot cocoa, and drive around looking at holiday lights.

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    Winter Events and Festivals

    holidazzle parade minneapolis
    Holidazzle Parade, Minneapolis, MN. Amy Meredith / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

    The Holidazzle Parade with lights and music runs from Thanksgiving until Christmas in downtown Minneapolis.

    The Winter Carnival, held in St. Paul in late January and early February, is the major winter event in the Twin Cities. The Winter Carnival features ice and snow sculptures, traditional Minnesotan foods, and a grand parade through downtown St. Paul.

    The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships are held at Minneapolis' Lake Nokomis every year in late January.

    And the City of Lakes Loppet, a cross-country skiing festival, has races and a torchlit race through Minneapolis in February.