Get your winter mindset on: Ideas for the outdoors

November 23, 2018

The metro area and beyond are veritable hot (cold) beds of winter recreation opportunities. The hardest part is knowing where to start when it comes to getting out when a season of snow and ice arrives. Weve rounded up some of our favorite local activities that pair perfectly with Old Man Winter. Whether youre looking to introduce your youngest progeny to the wonder of the coming season, motivate bigger kids to get out, take your better half on a hot (cold) date, entertain friends, or bring your dog on a chilly adventure, theres something for everyone. This is nowhere near an exhaustive list. Like a polar plunge, its a jumping-off point, so make some plans.

With little kids

See the lakes by luminary. Bundle up and bring the whole family for an evening of glowing ice sculptures, enchanted forests, and fire dancers Feb. 2 at Lake of the Isles. loppet.org

Take a snowy hike. Designed for children up to age 6, join the Free Forest School in nearby wilderness areas all around the Twin Cities each week.bit.ly/freeforest

Experience a dogsledding adventure. Offering one-hour rides and weekend events, HHH Ranch in Hastings provides a great introduction to this winter sport. bit.ly/hhhranch

Explore the Minnehaha Creek by candlelight. Join the southwest Minneapolis neighborhoods for the Middlemoon Creek Walk, a spontaneous ice luminary lighting along waters edge. Check the blog for updates. wintercraft.com

Kicksled your little one through Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan. Just about any young child will love being pushed along the ice and snow in a rental kicksled. bit.ly/kicksleds

With the big kids

Ring in the New Year with bonfires, smores and sledding. Join Lebanon Hills for some candlelit winter fun for the whole family. bit.ly/NYEdak

Learn to snowshoe. Enjoy a guided hike with the experts at Three Rivers Parks as you explore the scenic grounds of local park reserves. Various parks and dates, threeriversparks.org

Take an ice fishing workshop. Join National Park Service rangers at the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area for instruction and advice. bit.ly/icefishnps

Tube and tow at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis. The tubing hill at Wirth features a super-slick hill, tow rope, and new kiddie hill to enjoy. minneapolisparks.org

Test your meddle winter camping. For a childhood adventure theyre sure to remember, pitch a tent at Lake Maria State Parks year-round campground and spend a night under the winter moon. bit.ly/mariacamp

On a date

Explore snowy trails by candlelight. Take your sweetie to a Trails by Candlelight event at Dakota County Parks and enjoy hot cocoa, crackling bonfires, and hundreds of candles lighting the cross-country ski, snowshoe and hiking trails. Various dates and parks, bit.ly/candledak

Discover love and winter in the air. Join Three Rivers Parks for one of their date night events, which include cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowboarding, and hiking. Various parks and dates, threeriversparks.org

See the city by fatbike. Rent fatbikes at the Angry Catfish (or check other local bike shops) and roll right out of the shop to check out Lake Nokomis, the Minnehaha Parkway, and the Mississippi River. angrycatfishbicycle.com

Do a day date by the lake. Treat your better half to a day of skiing, dog sledding, kicksledding and more at the annual Siberian Shindig on Jan. 7 at Lake Minnewashta Regional Park. bit.ly/shindig2019

Warm up with an icy embrace. Rent ice skates and twirl about the magical Lake of the Isles rink and cozy up together in the seasonal warming house. bit.ly/lakerinks


Celebrate winter with a little friendly competition. The City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival weekend (Jan. 31-Feb. 3) features ski and fat bike races, as well as ice sculpture contests and other events around town. loppet.org

Learn to downhill ski or snowboard. For adult skiers looking to get into these sports, Afton Alps offers skis or snowboard, bindings, a lift ticket, and four instructional sessions in one package. bit.ly/aftonalp

Pound some frozen pavement Jan. 26 in St Paul. Layer up and run a half-marathon, 10K or 5K at the Securian Financial Winter Run events. bit.ly/secrun2019

Take a cross-country ski lesson. Theodore Wirths new adventure hub, dubbed The Trailhead, has ski rentals and instruction available all winter long. loppet.org

Race the River Bottoms. Experience the trail atop a fatbike at the Fat Bike Winter Races sponsored by Penn Cycle. They are part of the Bloomington Winter Fete. bit.ly/winterfete2019

With friends

Celebrate the coming of 2019 on candlelit trails. Head down to Fort Snelling State Park for roaring bonfires, toasted marshmallows and good company. bit.ly/NYEsnell

Make a friendly wager over a snowshoe race. The Twin Cities Snowshoe Shuffle Feb. 10 is the largest snowshoe race in the state, offering both 5-kilometer and 10K distances. bit.ly/tcshuffle

Recruit your training partners for the Twin Cities Orthopedics Ski Rennet. Held at Hyland Lake Park Reserve, this event includes cross-country ski, skijor and fatbike events. bit.ly/rennet2019

Venture a zipline tour. Soar far above the frozen tundra along the Minnesota River Valley in Henderson. kerfootcanopytour.com

Go on a treasure hunt. Learn how to use a global positioning system unit to geocache at a Minnesota state park-guided event. Various locations, bit.ly/MNparkevents

With your dog

Skijor your way to dog-powered victory. Sign up for the Chuck Dons Skijoring Loppet race Feb. 2 and take on the local canine competition.bit.ly/dogloppet

Let dogs be dogs. Treat Fido to a trip to one of Minneapolis parks seven off-leash recreation areas, from Victory Prairie to Lake of the Isles, to run, play and fetch. minneapolisparks.org

Ski with your best friend. Rig up your pup and put in a few kilometers of skijoring at Baker Park Reserve in Medina. threeriversparks.org

Hike the trails. Murphy-Hanrehans multiuse horse trails offer a scenic backdrop for an off-road hike with your four-legged friend, as well as skijoring and dog sledding options and even an off-leash dog park. bit.ly/murphpark

Sniff around Pike Island by snowshoe. Snag equipment rentals from the park office and take your pooch to explore the picturesque confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. bit.ly/snellwinter

Mackenzie Havey is a freelance writer from Minneapolis Illustrations by Kagan McLeod, special to the Star Tribune

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