For those of us that live near or north of latitude 44.986656 (Minneapolis) the winter is mostly dark and on the cool side. While the days to begin to lengthen after Christmas the temperatures can hang at below zero for extended periods. You will generally find folks hunkered down inside with a blanket, a book, and a fire. While that may sound comfortable, anyone who has experienced “cabin fever” knows that the sense of isolation and separation can be real. Combine the normal winter doldrums with a global pandemic and you may begin to exhibit behaviors like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Yikes!!
While the winter is closing in on the halfway mark, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors this winter. Here are some links to some very traditional activities. There are several places to rent equipment so you can avoid a second mortgage to gear up only to find this may not be your cup of tea.
Downhill Skiing & Snow Boarding – The Minnesota Ski Association can provide you with locations, snow reports and special offers.
Cross Country Skiing & Snow Shoeing – The Minnesota DNR website has information on locations, passes and rentals. Many of the regional parks like Three Rivers Park District or Elm Creek Park Reserve also have information
Sliding – There are enumerable local places to slide or tube but if you are looking for something a bit more dramatic and organized check out the Elm Creek Park Reserve or most of the large regional parks.
There are also lots of ice skating and hockey rinks in the metro area. A drive around after dark and you just need to look for the glow of the lights in a local park. And if you can’t find a park, we do have 10,000+ bodies of water in this state that when frozen can provide an opportunity to glide on blades of steel.
Ice fishing is also available as a great outdoor sport. Large crowds are rare in a “4 hole” fish house. Many anglers opt for a stool on the lake with no shelter at all. As is always the case, make sure that ice is of sufficient thickness and quality to support your activity. The Minnesota DNR has a helpful webpage to give you an idea of what “safe ice” is
The key to comfortably enjoying the outdoors in the winter is always dressing properly. My grandmother’s admonition to dress in layers was and is the best advice (IMO). And there is one activity that requires little gear except clothing. A leisurely walk through the neighborhood or park can giver you just to break you need. If you’ve walked during a gentle snowfall you will know what I mean. I enjoy the quiet, but I do have to be careful to not bump into something while I focus on trying to catch a snowflake in my mouth.
There are also some great organized events to fill your activity calendar. These items were still advertising online when I wrote this.
Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Derby
If you’re looking for a more up to date list of events in the area you could try Minneapolis.org/calendar, visitstpaul.com or Google twin cities winter events
With the unknowns surrounding the pandemic it is uncertain which, if any, indoor activities will be available. These are just a few of the options that may be available in the Twin Cities to pass the time until the Spring Equinox. Most area museums and area attractions are worth an investment of the day. (I’m not sure you can get through the Science Museum in a single day). Here are just a few:
Science Museum of Minnesota – The Science Museum was founded in 1907. The museum’s current location on the banks of the Mississippi River in Saint Paul offers 370,000 square feet of space. It includes a 10,000-square-foot temporary exhibit gallery, five permanent galleries, 10 acres of outdoor exhibits, and an Imax Convertible Dome Omni theater.
Minnesota Children’s Museum – Sparking Children’s Learning Through Play. Minnesota Children’s Museum provides children with a fun, hands-on and stimulating environment to explore and discover. The museum helps to instill a lifelong love of learning by nurturing the real-world skills children need to become engaged citizens in the future.
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum -The “Arb” is a top visitor attraction of more than 1,200 acres of gardens and tree collections, prairie and woods and miles of trails. As a premier northern garden, the Arboretum was borne out of the University of Minnesota Horticultural Research Center and established in 1958, with the Men’s Garden Club of Minneapolis, Lake Minnetonka Garden Club, Minnesota
The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory might be just the ticket.
The Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley
No need to hibernate with all these fun things to do. Stay active and social even on the coldest of days. It’s great practice for later because the days are getting longer and in no time at all we will be grilling and chilling by the lake or on our decks.