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10 Fun Things To Do In Minnesota In Winter

With picturesque, snow-covered parks, seasonal festivals and thousands of trails designed for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling, these are the best things to do in Minnesota in winter.

Winter in Minnesota is a magical time filled with fun outdoor activities, winter carnivals and plenty of holiday shopping.

If you’ve ever wanted to try festive winter activities like ice skating, dog sledding, skiing or ice fishing, visiting Minnesota in winter will provide you with the perfect opportunity!

Minnehaha Falls in winter
Minnehaha Falls is an amazing place to visit in Minnesota in winter

If you feel like the weather is a bit too cold for you, there are plenty of fun winter events in Minnesota that take place indoors too. You can stay toasty all while soaking up the magic of winter.

Do you need some help planning your Minnesota winter itinerary? In this quick guide, I’ve rounded up all the best things to do in Minnesota in winter. This is guaranteed to get you excited for the holiday season.

Duluth in winter
Duluth is very pretty in winter

Weather in Minnesota in winter 

Winter in Minnesota is cold, snowy and windy. The cold season in Minnesota lasts about 3 ½ months.

Be sure to pack a really warm winter jacket. You’ll need it, as average daily temperatures range from -2°C (28.4°F) in November to -13°C (8.6°F) in January! Brrr! It’s also worth noting that blizzards hit Minnesota twice each winter on average.

If you really can’t hack the cold, read my guide to a Minnesota road trip – this was one I did in the summer, so it’s full of warm weather travel tips!

Winter in Duluth, Minnesota
Visiting Duluth is one of the best things to do in Minnesota in winter

10 Best Things To Do In Minnesota In Winter

Enjoy Festive Fun at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival

One of the most popular things to do in Minnesota in winter is attending the Saint Paul Winter Carnival. This carnival takes place between the months of January and February, and this season will take place from Jan 25th 2024 – Feb 3rd 2024.

It’s an amazing experience filled with exciting, family-friendly activities like scavenger hunts, ice fishing and even two holiday parades!

Snowy scenes in Minnesota in winter
Snowy scenes in Minnesota in winter

Go Snowmobiling 

Minnesota has plenty of fresh snow for you to speed over in a snowmobile! The Minnesota Department of National Resources even has a free guide to snowmobile trails.

Snowmobiling is a fun winter activity in Minnesota

Many are located inside beautiful Minnesota state parks like Theodore Wirth Park and Afton State Park. If you don’t own your own snowmobile, you can rent one in cities including Minneapolis or Brainerd. 

Visit an Interactive Ice Castle

Every winter in Minnesota the locals build some amazing ice castles by growing their own icicles! Once the ice is ready, it’s harvested and then shaped into a giant ice castle filled with tunnels, slides and LED lights.

Ice castles in Minnesota in winter
Ice castles in Minnesota in winter – absolutely magical

You don’t want to miss this enchanting event! Each year the location of the castle moves, so be sure to check its whereabouts before planning your trip. 

Spend a day ice skating

There are plenty of opportunities for a fun day of ice skating in Minnesota! The city of Roseville has a fantastic outdoor skating rink as does Rice Park in St. Paul. 

Ice skating in winter in Minnesota
Wondering what to do in Minnesota in winter? How about ice skating?

But if you want the most magical experience, try Centennial Lakes in Edina. This rink consists of 3 ponds all connected by a canal system. After ice skating, you can warm up with a toasty hot chocolate or something a little stronger!

Explore some trails in winter

Don’t let the chilly weather in Minnesota keep you indoors! All you need to do is dress correctly for the temperatures. Wrap up warm and get out there and explore the thousands of trails Minnesota offers for snowshoeing, snowmobiling, fat biking and cross-country skiing. You’ll enjoy fantastic views of Minnesota’s wild and rugged landscape including mountains, rivers, lakes and more.

Cross-country skiing in Minnesota
Cross-country skiing is one of the most fun things to do in Minnesota in winter

If you’d like to enjoy a simple evening stroll, Theodore Wirth Regional Park is right in the middle of Minneapolis. There you’ll find plenty of easy trails and other activities for year-round family fun. 

Go see the Northern lights 

The Aurora Borealis, most commonly known as the Northern Lights, shine sporadically over Minnesota. One of the best places to catch this amazing natural phenomenon is Voyageurs National Park.

Northern Lights
Did you know you can see the Northern Lights in Minnesota?

Forget summer, the cold winter months are actually the best opportunity to see the Northern Lights, since the sky is darker during this time of the year. And don’t worry, if they aren’t active during your visit you can still see some amazing sights like the Milky Way, satellites, shooting stars, and more!

Check out the local craft beer and cocktail scene 

Looking for some things to do in Minnesota in winter that are indoors? When the weather gets a bit too cold, warm up with a craft cocktail or local beer! Did you know that Minnesota has over 100 breweries and taprooms across the state?

Crooked Water Minnesota
You’ll definitely want to taste some of the spirits at Crooked Water, Minnesota

Craft cocktail enthusiasts simply must check out the fantastic tasting room at Crooked Water or the distillery tours and cocktail-making classes at the Norseman Distillery. If you’d prefer a craft beer to warm you up, try the Dangerous Man Brewing Company for a large collection of locally crafted beers!

Norseman Distillery Minnesota
How about warming up with a trip to Norseman Distillery in Minnesota?

Try skiing or snowboarding the slopes

Winter in Minnesota is all about winter sports! In fact, Minnesota has some of the highest hills in the Midwest. From Spirit Mountain in Duluth to Buck Hill where several famous ski stars began their careers, Minnesota might not have mountains but this state sure has some amazing hills! If you’re just starting out, many of these locations offer beginner courses too.

If you’re looking for Minnesota winter activities, how about snowboarding?

Be bold with a polar plunge!

How does diving into a frozen lake sound? I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds! If you travel to Minnesota during winter, the Polar Plunge is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime activity that will get your heart racing.

Polar Plunge in Minnesota
Would you brave the Polar Plunge in Minnesota in winter? Brrr!

It’s held in 20 locations all over Minnesota. All the money raised goes towards the Special Olympics, so you’ll be taking the plunge for a good cause! It’s one of the most exhilarating Minnesota winter events! Will you be brave enough to try it?

Enjoy some sledding or tubing 

Before you head home from your Minnesota winter holiday, don’t forget to try sledding or tubing! It’s a really fun, family-friendly activity that anyone can enjoy.

Tubing in Minnesota
Tubing in Minnesota is so much fun!

There are plenty of snowy hills all over Minneapolis including Adams Hill Park and Afton State Park. These are the kind of activities that bring out the big kid in all of us!

Where to stay in Minnesota in winter

Good Ol Days Resort

Looking to spend a romantic winter getaway in Minnesota? Then you’ll love the Good Ol Days Resort. It’s a cosy and rustic family getaway located right on the shores of Lower Cullen Lake.

Good Ol Days Resort
Good Ol Days Resort

The resort features beautiful and well-manicured grounds where you can try fun winter activities like ice fishing and snowshoeing. Alternatively, just cosy up in front of one of the roaring log fire! 

There’s plenty to do and see in the area. Downtown Nisswa is just a short walk from the hotel. You can also try cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at the Pines Winter Recreation Centre. If you’re into skiing or snowboarding, the fantastic Mount Ski Gull is close by as well. 

The Chambers Hotel 

If you’re looking for a unique, boutique hotel in the twin cities, The Chambers Hotel is a fantastic choice. This historic boutique hotel is located in the heart of the theatre district, close to all the best dining, shopping and nightlife in downtown Minneapolis.

The Chambers Hotel
The Chambers Hotel

The legendary Orpheum Theatre is just next door too in case you fancy escaping the cold temperatures and seeing a Broadway show.

Graduate Minneapolis 

If you’re planning on visiting Minneapolis in winter, another excellent choice is the Graduate Minneapolis. This modern and sophisticated boutique hotel is located in the heart of UMN’s campus, just a stone’s throw from Coffman Memorial Union and the Gophers’ stadium.

Graduate Minneapolis
Graduate Minneapolis is a lovely place to stay in Minnesota this winter

Many of Minneapolis’ best restaurants and microbreweries are just a short drive away. Enjoy brunch beneath the trees at Aster Cafe or sip specialty cocktails at Nye’s Bar– a favourite amongst locals! 

I hope you enjoyed my guide to the best things to do in Minnesota in winter. During the cold winter months, Minnesota transforms into a winter wonderland, so any of these fun activities are guaranteed to warm you right up!

If you really can’t hack the cold, don’t miss my guide to our Minnesota road trip. I did this one in the summer, so it’s full of warm weather travel tips!

If you’re looking for other beautiful places to visit in winter, don’t miss these posts:

With a passion for food, fun and adventure, Chloe is the content creator behind one of the UK's top travel blogs Wanderlust Chloe. From volcano boarding in Nicaragua, to sailing around Sicily and eating her way around Japan, her travels have taken her to some of the coolest spots on the planet. Named Travel Influencer of the Year in 2022, Chloe regularly works with a number of tourism boards, producing inspirational travel content across multiple platforms. Find out more about Chloe here.

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