Winter in Minneapolis doesn’t mean hibernating indoors; instead, it beckons adventure, celebrations, and culinary delights that make the cold weather truly enjoyable. From thrilling outdoor escapades to festive celebrations and mouth watering culinary treats, Minneapolis offers a plethora of winter activities that transform the city into a magical wonderland.
Known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” the Minneapolis area is a haven for anyone looking for water-based adventures, especially during the warmer months. But when winter arrives and the lakes freeze over, the city turns into a giant playground for all things frosty.
Glide on ice
No winter experience in Minneapolis is complete without lacing up your skates and gliding across the ice. The iconic Bryant Square Park transforms into a shimmering rink, surrounded by twinkling lights and the city’s towering skyscrapers. For a more scenic experience, head to Lake of the Isles or Bde Maka Ska, where you can skate amidst the serene beauty of the frozen lake.
Don’t forget to warm up with a mug of hot cocoa or a steaming cup of cider at the nearby concession stands! Many rinks also offer skate rentals and lessons, making them perfect for first-timers.
Hit the slopes
You don’t have to travel far for an exciting skiing adventure. Minneapolis boasts several fantastic ski hills within easy reach. The Hyland Hills Ski Area, located just outside the city, offers a variety of runs for all skill levels, from gentle beginner slopes to challenging black diamonds. Theodore Wirth Park also features a smaller ski area, perfect for families and those still learning the ropes.
Try ice fishing
Ice fishing should be on your list of winter activities to try out in Minneapolis, especially if you’re an avid angler. Picture yourself bundled up in warm layers, drilling a hole in the ice, and peering into the frozen depths. The anticipation of a tug on the line, the thrill of battling a powerful fish – it’s an experience unlike any other.
Popular spots around Minneapolis include Lake Minnetonka, White Bear Lake, and Lake Pepin, all teeming with walleye, crappie, and pike. Don’t worry if you’re new to the sport, many outfitters offer guided ice fishing trips with all the necessary equipment and expert tips.
Winter festivities in the city go beyond the ordinary. Promising a medley of lights, celebrations, and good food, you won’t want to miss out on any of it. The city hosts a slew of events throughout the entire season, but here are the biggest ones to look forward to:
The Holidazzle Parade is more than just a parade; it’s a Minneapolis institution. This beloved tradition kicks off the holiday season in the city with a bang (or rather, a jingle bell!). Every December, downtown Minneapolis transforms into a wonderland of flashing lights, whimsical floats, and infectious holiday spirit.
Tips for making the most of Holidazzle:
- Bundle up! Minneapolis winters can be chilly, so dress warmly in layers.
- Arrive early! The parade route gets crowded, especially near prime viewing spots.
- Bring cash! Vendors along the route sell hot cocoa, snacks, and holiday merchandise.
Luminary Loppet is a winter festival held every February at Lake of the Isles. Combining cross-country skiing or snowshoeing with a stunning nighttime spectacle of illuminated trails, it’s one of the winter activities in Minneapolis you shouldn’t miss.
The festival features various cross-country ski, fat bike, snowshoe, and skijor races and tours, both competitive and recreational. The trails are lined with thousands of luminary bags, creating a mesmerizing path of light that winds through the snowy woods.
Tips for experiencing the Luminary Loppet:
- Register early! The Luminary Loppet is a popular event, and spots fill up quickly.
- Embrace the light! Wear a glowing costume, headlamp, or lantern to add to the magical atmosphere.
- Bring a hot beverage! Warm up with a thermos of hot cocoa or tea before, during, or after your journey.
Art Shanty Projects
Art Shanty Projects is a unique, immersive annual art event held on the frozen surface of Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Harriet.) For four magical weekends from January to February, local artists gather to build brightly colored, curiously shaped ice shanties. But these aren’t just ordinary ice shanties – they’re mini art galleries, performance spaces, and interactive installations.
Inside one shanty, you might find yourself sipping hot cocoa while listening to live music under twinkling fairy lights. In another, you could get lost in a kaleidoscope of projected images. Every shanty offers a new surprise that challenges your expectations of what art can be.
After a day of festivities and outdoor winter activities in Minneapolis, warm up with a delicious meal and a steaming mug of something hot. The city boasts a thriving culinary scene, with countless restaurants offering everything from comfort food to winter-inspired concoctions Here are some of the best dishes to try and where to get them.
Warm up with a steaming hotdish, a quintessential Midwestern comfort food. Featuring a medley of meat, vegetables, and golden-brown tater tot topping, this hearty casserole warms both the body and soul. Local eateries serve up different variations. But whether they use a traditional family recipe or put a modern twist on the classic, a hefty plate of hotdish will help you combat the winter chill.
- Where to get it
Grumpy’s Bar & Grill – This no-frills joint pulsates with a down-home charm that feels like stepping into your grandma’s kitchen. Its hotdish is pure nostalgia on a plate. It’s not fancy, but it’s honest, satisfying, and guaranteed to leave you with a happy belly and a contented sigh.
5-8 Club – Here, hotdish gets a makeover, transformed into a culinary masterpiece that’s as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate. Part hotdish, part Juicy Lucy, this mouth-watering, cheese-stuffed burger is topped with crispy tater tots and more cheese.
Stray Dog – Stray Dog is a neighborhood bar with a loyal following and a hotdish that’s legendary in its own right. Its version is all about combining two great dishes: mounds of cheese-stuffed tater, tender brisket, and a layer of mushroom bechamel form a mountain of goodness that’s as generous as it is delicious.
Cozy Cafes and Bakeries
Escape the winter cold by ducking into one of Minneapolis’ many cozy cafés and bakeries. From hidden gems tucked away in trendy neighborhoods to bustling coffee shops in the heart of downtown, the city is a haven for every kind of coffee enthusiast.
- Where to go
Café Ceres – This bakery and cafe is a wonderland for those with a penchant for French pastries. Their delicate croissants, buttery brioche, and melt-in-your-mouth pain au chocolat will transport you to the Parisian streets.
Mojo Coffee Gallery – Tucked away in a historic brick building, Mojo is the perfect destination for those seeking solitude and artistic inspiration. Settle into a vintage armchair, lose yourself in a good book, and fuel your creativity with a pour-over coffee and a slice of homemade quiche.
Minneapolis has emerged as a hub for craft beer enthusiasts, boasting a vibrant scene of breweries and taprooms that reflect the city’s creativity and diverse tastes. The scene further flourishes during winter as local brewmasters craft seasonal concoctions that complement the chilly weather.
- Where to go
Fulton Beer Taproom – A Minneapolis institution, Fulton Beer has been quenching thirst since 2004. Housed in a historic warehouse, it offers a cozy and inviting setting where you can sample a variety of beers, including the widely loved Lonely Blonde Ale and the adventurous Expat India Pale Ale.
Indeed Brewing Company – This award-winning brewery is a local favorite for its constantly evolving tap list and lively taproom. From juicy hazy IPAs like Day Tripper to barrel-aged sours like Black Bushel, there’s something for every palate.
Bauhaus Brew Labs – If you’re a sucker for Instagram-worthy aesthetics and cutting-edge beers, Bauhaus Brew Labs is your spot. This Northeast Minneapolis gem boasts a stunning taproom adorned with colorful murals and neon lighting, making it the perfect backdrop for your next beer selfie.
When a trip to the park or your favorite restaurant doesn’t quite hit the spot, spending a winter day at a museum offers a different experience. And with Minneapolis’ vibrant cultural scene, there’s always something new to discover, even on the coldest days. Here are some of the best places to go:
Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA)
With free admission and over 90,000 artworks spanning continents and millennia, The MIA is your passport to artistic exploration. Wander through ancient Egyptian tombs, marvel at Rembrandt’s brushstrokes, lose yourself in Monet’s impressionist landscapes, and be captivated by contemporary installations.
Beyond the permanent collection, the MIA also offers a vibrant calendar of special exhibitions and events that add a touch of seasonal magic. Check out their website for updates on their upcoming events.
Walker Art Center
Just across the street from the MIA, the Walker Art Center pulsates with a different kind of energy. Here, contemporary art takes center stage. Interactive installations blur the lines between viewer and artwork, while thought-provoking exhibits challenge your perceptions.
Every Thursday, the Walker Art Center throws its doors open and invites everyone to explore at no cost. This includes access to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the library. You can also attend the free special events which range from experimental film screenings to art-making workshops.
Mill City Museum
Delve into the industrial roots of Minneapolis at this former flour mill turned museum. Located in the downtown area, the museum tells the story of the city’s past and its eventual transformation into a thriving arts scene. Take a self-guided tour through the mill ruins, see the dramatic Flour Sack Slide, and learn about the Dust Bowl that impacted the region.
The Mill City Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, with extended hours on Thursdays. Admission is affordable, but special activities like the Baking Lab require a separate fee. Check their website for specific details and to plan your winter adventure.
HOLIDAY MARKETS AND POP-UP SHOPS
Instead of dealing with the mall chaos during the holiday season, embrace Minneapolis’s charming holiday markets and pop-up shops. Sprinkled across different parts of the city, these festive markets offer a delightful alternative for holiday shopping.
Nordic Village Market
Immerse yourself in the Scandinavian spirit at the Four Seasons Nordic Village Market. Cozy up by the fire pit, sip on mulled wine, and browse through hand-knitted sweaters, wooden toys, and traditional ornaments. The market runs every weekend until January, so you have plenty of chances to soak up the hygge vibes.
European Christmas Market
Check out the European Christmas Market at Union Depot if you find yourself in nearby St. Paul. Modeled after the famous Christkindlmarkts, this market offers an array of European-inspired goods, including crafts, decorations, and delectable treats. The charming atmosphere, with its wooden stalls and twinkling lights, is reminiscent of a cozy European village.
Winter Maker’s Market
Housed within the historic Dayton’s Project building, this market boasts over 100 local makers and artists offering everything from ceramics and jewelry to gourmet food and home decor. It runs from November through the end of December, so you’ll have plenty of time to visit before it packs up for the following year.
FIND YOUR HOME IN THE CITY OF LAKES TODAY
This winter snapshot is just a glimpse of what Minneapolis has to offer. The city teems with things to see and do for every season. And what better way to experience all these than by being a part of this amazing city? Make Minneapolis your new home today. Scott Haubrich, together with the BuyRentSell.com team, is ready to help you explore the local market.
BuyRentSell.com is your trusted real estate partner in Minneapolis. Led by Scott Haubrich, a leading industry expert in the metro, the team has built a reputation for its bespoke client-centric service and unmatched expertise. Whether you’re buying or selling, BuyRentSell.com is committed to helping you reach your real estate goals in the city.