Top 10 Things To Do In Winter In Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

things to do in winter in minneapolis
Anne Marie
Anne Marie 

Minneapolis, Minnesota, is one of the must-see cities of the Midwestern United States. Along with neighboring St. Paul, Minneapolis is part of a bustling metropolitan area that boasts cultural attractions, fine cuisine, and many outdoor spaces. Minneapolis also has the distinction of having the coldest average winter temperature in the whole US! From December to February, it usually stays under 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 degrees Celsius). Though winter may not seem like the optimal time to visit, the city shines in this chilly season. There are outdoor activities unique to Minneapolis winters and yummy food and drinks to have when you need a break from the cold! If you’re ready to bundle up against the elements, read on for a list of 10 things to do in winter in Minneapolis.

1. Ice skating on a frozen lake

Learning to Ice Skate
Source: Photo by Flickr user Anthony Arrigo used under CC BY 2.0

Chilly Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 lakes, making ice skating a popular pastime in Minneapolis. There are 24 outdoor skating rinks during the winter, and many of them are on frozen lakes. Skating on a frozen lake depends upon the weather conditions, and it is important to heed warnings and closures if the ice is too thin. When the conditions are right, you can’t go wrong with the Lake of Isles. This large, manmade lake has a rink in the winter for ice skating and hockey. You’ll also enjoy views of the city skyline! Lake skating is also offered at Lake Nokomis Park, where there is a hockey rink and Powderhorn Park. Many parks offer rental skates on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Ice skating

Date: As soon as conditions allow - Late February/Early March 2019

Website: Ice Skating - Minneapolis Parks and Recreation

2. Cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing on Q Street, N.W.
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user AgnosticPreachersKid used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Minneapolis has over 20 miles (32 km) of groomed cross-country ski trails around the city! Enjoy this winter sport while exploring the city’s urban parks and forests. Two golf courses that offer cross-country trails are Columbia and Hiawatha golf courses. Both locations offer beginner lessons on the weekends, and Hiawatha has great views of the city skyline from the trail. If you’re up for adding a new element to your cross-country skiing, check out Wirth Park, where you can try skijoring — a winter sport where a dog and cross-country skier are connected by harnesses and rope and traverse the trails together!

Cross-country skiing

Website: Cross-country Skiing - Minneapolis Parks and Recreation

3. Ice fishing

Ice Fishing
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

There’s no need to travel up to the northern part of the state to find a good ice fishing spot — lots of ice fishing happens nearby downtown Minneapolis! If you’re new to this pastime, visit a local fishing shop to learn about all the equipment you’ll need. There are also some fishing guide services in town that can take you out for a day on the frozen lake. One of the prettiest Minneapolis spots in both summer and winter is Lake Harriet, which is also a great spot for ice fishing. Other parks in town where you can ice fish include Bde Maka Ska, Cedar Lake, Lake Nokomis, and Lake of the Isles.

Ice fishing

Date: As soon as conditions allow - Late February/Early March 2019

Website: Ice Fishing - Minneapolis Parks and Recreation

4. Cheer at the Pond Hockey Championships

Advancing the Puck
Source: Photo by user Brian Adams used under CC BY 2.0

For the past 13 years, the ultimate sporting event has taken place on the frozen surface of Lake Nokomis: the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships! This fun and entertaining tradition bring together the sport’s biggest fans and most devoted players. The divisions range from the A-team players to the 40 and older teams, to pond hockey newbies. There are no prizes for the champions, but they do get their names etched into the Golden Shovel in lieu of a trophy. Thousands of spectators come annually to witness hockey as it was meant to be played in nature.

US Pond Hockey Championships

Address: Lake Nokomis Park, Minneapolis, MN

Date: January 24-27, 2019

Website: US Pond Hockey Championships

5. Marvel at the Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls-20050614
Source: Photo by user fogcat5 used under CC BY-SA 2.0

There are few things more mesmerizing than a frozen waterfall. Minnehaha Falls are impressive in the summertime when water rushes 53 feet (16 meters) over a cliff into the pool below. In the winter, the sight is even more breathtaking: the waterfall turns into ice and creates an entire wall of frozen water! Trails will take you right up to the foot of the waterfall, but be cautious about walking on the surface of the frozen pond or behind the waterfall itself: it’s not worth falling through the ice or an avalanche of snow to get the perfect picture.

Minnehaha Falls

Address: 4801 S Minnehaha Drive, Minneapolis, MN

Website: Minnehaha Park

6. Grab a Juicy Lucy (burger)

Jucy Lucy burger - 5-8 Club, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Source: Photo by user Kim used under CC BY-SA 2.0

There’s nothing more comforting on a cold Minneapolis day than grabbing some delicious food inside of a cozy restaurant. One of the best options for a local dish is a Juicy Lucy burger. This yummy creation is a hamburger with the cheese cooked inside of it, making a warm, melty delicacy! The Juicy Lucy is a Minneapolis creation, but there are two bars that claim to have invented it: Matt’s Bar and the 5-8 Club, both on Cedar Avenue. Stop by both spots during your visit and choose your side of who makes it best!

5-8 Club

Address: 5800 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis, MN

Website: 5-8 Club

Matt's Bar

Address: 3500 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis, MN

Website: Matt’s Bar

7. Hitch a ride on a horse carriage

2010 St. Paul Winter Carnival Sleigh and Cutter Festival
Source: Photo by user Pete Markham used under CC BY-SA 2.0

It can be tiring to tour a city entirely on foot, but on a bus or in a car you can whiz by sights without getting a good look at them. Explore Minneapolis in a leisurely but exciting way by taking a horse carriage tour of the town! The oldest and most popular carriage company in Minneapolis is The Hitching Company, and you can’t go wrong by taking one of their tours. They offer a variety of types of tours depending on whether you’re looking for a narrated historical tour, a romantic date, or a chance to get up close with the horses.

The Hitching Company

Address: 925 No. 5th St., Minneapolis, MN

Website: The Hitching Company

8. Visit penguins and polar bears

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory-2006
Source: Photo by user RxS used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Minneapolis may be a little chilly in the winter, but the polar bears and penguins over at the Como Park Zoo thrive in the cold weather! Bundle up and head over to this zoo in St. Paul to see these animals and many more, like bison, snow leopards, and zebras. The zoo also features a small amusement park with rides and pretty gardens that include greenhouses for a winter visit. Best of all, the zoo is donation-based, making this an affordable activity for a winter afternoon.

Como Park Zoo

Address: 1225 Estabrook Dr, St Paul, MN

Website: Como Park Zoo

9. Taste delectable local brews

Bauhaus brewery and taproom in Minneapolis 01
Source: Photo by user Runner1928 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Minnesota is known for both its cold weather and its impressive amount of breweries. The state has over 130 craft breweries, with most of them located in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. Spending an afternoon hopping between taprooms is a great way to sample some of Minneapolis’s finest brews! One of the biggest and best breweries is Surly. It is a two-story location with lots of beers on tap, including some that are only available at this location. If you’re looking for a more intimate experience, check out Dangerous Man. This cozy taproom has creative brews with flavors like peanut butter, cranberries, and mango. For a classic Minneapolis brewery, head to the oldest one in town, Fulton. It even has a heated outdoor beer garden during Superbowl week!

Breweries around Minneapolis metro area

Address: Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area

Website: 12 Minneapolis-St. Paul Breweries

10. Enjoy a scrumptious food tour (from USD 59.0)

The cold Minneapolis winters can turn some visitors off to activities that involve going outside, like food tours. However, the city has an ingenious design that allows you to travel from place to place without leaving the warmth of the indoors — the skyway system! Skyways are enclosed bridges that connect buildings and crossroads. On the Viator Indoor Minneapolis Skyway Food Tour, you can explore the skyways while sampling some of the city’s most delicious restaurants. Along the way, you’ll learn about Minneapolis’s history and it’s most impressive buildings.

Indoor Minneapolis Skyway Food Tour

Duration: 3 hours

3 reviews

Experience a real winter wonderland in Minneapolis

Along with its cold winters, Minneapolis is also known for being one of the happiest and healthiest cities in the US. This is based on residents’ access to outdoor spaces, cultural attractions, and locally grown foods. If inhabitants of the Twin Cities can be happy despite the chilly winter months, it must be a truly great spot to visit any time of year!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Anne-Marie works in publishing by day and aspires to travel as much as she can. While she has not yet seen the whole world, she's eager to learn and write about it!

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