Choose from a long list of winter sports and outdoor winter activities available to you in Minnesota.
There are Minnesota winter sports that you can do no matter your age or physical condition. Some of our favorite family winter fun has included just grabbing some sleds and heading for the nearest hill.
Skating...both figure skating and ice hockey...is something almost all Minnesotans do when they are kids and some of us never give it up.
You could also choose to get on skiis, a snowboard, snowshoes or the snowmobile. There is no time for cabin fever in Minnesota.
Learning to Ice Skate: As a kid growing up in Minnesota I could hardly wait every winter for the weather to be cold enough to freeze the lake near our home. Of course, once the ice formed, the snow would fall on top of it. We would head out armed with our ice skates and as well as shovels to clear a patch of ice large enough to skate on. Once our "skating rink" had been created we would sit down on a snowbank to lace up our skates.
Not many of us had Olympic ice skating dreams in those days and there was no ice arena in our small town. Despite that we learned how to ice skate by trial and error!
Minnesota ice skating rinks and skating arenas can now be found in almost every area of the state. Whether you just want to learn the basics or have dreams of figure skating or hockey fame, you can find lessons and places to practice.
Minnesota Ski Resorts: Minnesota is thought of as a "plains state" so you may not realize that we have a long list of places to ski and snowboard.
While we don't have "real" mountains, there are ski resorts throughout the state where you can experience all the rush of downhill skiing.The highest ski area is Lutsen Mountain.
Most downhill ski areas do some supplemental snow-making to make sure there are great skiing conditions. Most Minnesota ski areas also offer exciting terrain parks for snowboarders.
Many of the resorts that cater to Minnesota summer visitors are in areas where they can also offer special ski and snowboarding packages in winter.
Minnesota Cross Country Ski Trails: Cross country skiing should be high on your list of winter sports. It is a more gentle sport than downhill skiing. It will get you out on some of the same Minnesota trails that you hiked in summer. Minnesota has more than 2,400 km of groomed trails---many of those are in our state parks.
Two of the largest groomed trail networks in North America are located in Minnesota: the Gunflint Ski Trail and the North Shore Ski Trail.
A Minnesota Ski Pass is required when skiing at many areas, even in state parks and at areas that charge a trail fee.
Snowshoe in Minnesota: If you love hiking in Minnesota, don't despair when the fields and trails are snow-covered.
Strap on a pair of snowshoes and you're ready to conquer winter! My grandpa used traditional wooden snowshoes to get to the barn during some of the famous "when I was young" winters in Minnesota.
Read reviews of some of the best traditional snowshoes to buy for enjoying this wonderful winter sport that can be traced to our Native American first people.
Learn how to make traditional snowshoes, and where to go for a Minnesota snowshoeing adventure.
Sledding in Minnesota: The lightest dusting of snow on the smallest of hills in Minnesota lures kids of all ages out to fling themselves downhill on a sled. Sometimes the simplest of pleasures are among the best. On any list of winter sports, sledding should be included.
Some of our ski resorts include sledding hills with tow ropes. However, for a day of family fun, all you need are some simple sleds and a hill that is free of trees or other dangerous obstructions. Gravity will do the rest!
A toboggan can add to the fun. Toboggans are often made of wood and differ from other sleds as they have no runners or skis on the bottom. Several people can slide downhill together on this winter "toy" that has a history based in a useful Native American conveyance.
Dogsledding Tours in Minnesota: Add a sled dog adventure to your list of winter sports to experience. It might be the highlight of your winter trip to Minnesota. Dog sled tours and dog sledding vacations and camping adventures can be found primarily in northern Minnesota areas including Ely. Be sure to add this to your list of winter sports to experience.
Skijoring in Minnesota: Skijoring is a form of cross-country skiing that you do with your dog.
This fast growing winter sport began in Scandinavia and means "ski-driving" in Norwegian.
Skijoring is a great way to enjoy Minnesota outdoors while getting exercise for yourself and your canine friend.
A frozen lake or cross-country trail are great places to learn how to skijor.
Minnesota Snowmobiling: Snowmobile Minnesota's vast network of more than 20,000 miles of snowmobile trails. Minnesota pioneered development of snowmobiles in the early 1950's. A company now known as Arctic Enterprises, in Thief River Falls, MN has been producing Arctic Cat snowmobiles since 1960.
Our family has been snowmobiling since it first came on the scene. We loved to gather with other couples at a prearranged spot to ride over the hills and across the frozen lakes in northern Minnesota. After a long ride, we would stop to build a bonfire and eat the snacks we had brought with us. A thermos of coffee or hot chocolate was always part of our "saddlebag provision pack."
Since those early days of snowmobiling, sleds have become much more sophisticated, trails have been created throughout Minnesota, snowmobiling clubs have been formed and snowmobile vacations are sought by our visitors.
Try Winter Camping in Minnesota: It is possible, and great fun, to camp year-round in Minnesota. In winter you can enjoy campgrounds in Minnesota that are free of mosquitoes or summer crowds. The silence and beauty of the snow-covered winter landscape offers invigorating Minnesota winter camping adventures.
With proper preparation, it is easier than you might think to stay warm, dry, and well fed. Your winter base camp is a perfect spot from which to venture out to enjoy back-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing and more. If you have only camped in Minnesota during the summer months, add winter camping to your list of winter sports to try.
Attend Minnesota Winter Festivals: Minnesota winter carnivals, festival and celebrations are a staple of the season. Many of the largest are held in the Twin Cities including the world famous St. Paul Winter Carnival.
Minnesota Ice Fishing: Sometimes people who visit Minnesota from states or countries who don't experience winter have a hard time believing that we drill holes in the ice to catch fish. It is actually very high on our list of winter sports. In its most simple form, a person stands (or sits) on the ice and drops a line through a hole chopped by hand. More sophisticated Minnesota ice fishing practices involve elaborate fish houses, gas-powered ice augers and more.
You just have to try Minnesota ice fishing for yourself to really know the joy!