So what do people do in Minnesota during the winter? Huddle by the fire? Hibernate and live on nuts and seeds? People who don’t live in Minnesota sometimes think that life comes to a halt during the cold winter months, but it doesn’t. Minnesotans are used to the weather, and some of them wouldn’t have it any other way. (Here’s what the locals have to say about winter).
Minnesotans go about their everyday lives during the winter, and, in fact, there are quite a few indoor and outdoor winter activities that are popular in the Twin Cities metro area and in outstate Minnesota. Here are some of the best ways to enjoy the coldest months of the year.
Winter Festivals. Yes, people are willing to go outside for long periods of time and enjoy these chilly get-togethers. In fact, some of the biggest winter festivals in Minnesota are in the coldest parts of the state, like International Falls. These festivals feature snow and ice carvings, sporting events, and lots of community spirit. If you’re looking for some outdoor winter fun, bundle up and visit one of these Minnesota winter festivals, including the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, which has been going on for over 100 years and is one of the largest winter celebrations in the United States.
Skiing. No, it’s not the Rocky Mountains, but in such a snowy climate, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of ski and snowboard enthusiasts. In the Twin Cities, there are several smaller ski areas that locals enjoy when they want an afternoon on the slopes but don’t want to leave the city. Serious skiers and snowboard head out to Lutsen Mountains Ski Area. Here’s where you can find downhill skiing in Minnesota.
Indoor waterparks. This craze is all the rage in nearby Wisconsin Dells, and now it’s caught on in Minnesota as well. On a dreary January day, nothing makes you forget about winter faster than a great water side! Most waterparks are part of hotels or resorts, and they include admission to the waterpark in the price of the room. Usually people who are not staying at the hotel can purchase tickets to the waterpark if there is space available. Here’s where you can find some of the best indoor waterparks in Minnesota.
Christmas in Minnesota. When you live in Minnesota, you never have to wonder if your Christmas will be white! The biggest attraction in the area is the Holidazzle Parade in downtown Minneapolis. Read more about Christmas attractions in the Twin Cities, including the many regional performances of the Nutcracker Suite and where you can visit with Santa Claus.
Shopping. Is it any wonder that a region as cold as this one has great malls? Of course, Minnesota is best known for the Mall of America, where you can escape the cold for hours at the aquarium, the amusement park, and dozens of unique stores, but there are plenty of other Twin City area malls and shopping districts as well. And hey, there’s no sales tax on clothing in Minnesota.
Indoor Waterparks in Minnesota
Indoor waterparks are popular in areas with cold climates–after all, the very first one was at the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada in 1985– and Minnesota is no exception. During frigid Minnesota winters, kid-friendly indoor activities are a must, and what better way to liven up a dreary winter day than with the “summertime” fun of a waterpark? Watching the snow fall outside while sitting in your bathing suit on top of a water slide is a little surreal, but it’s a great way of showing winter that it won’t get you down!
Here are some of the best and biggest indoor waterparks in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area and in outstate Minnesota. Keep in mind that if the waterpark is at a hotel or a resort, there may be limited tickets available to people who are not overnight guests.
- Waterpark of America at the Grand Lodge Hotel (1700 American Boulevard East, Bloomington). This 70,000 square foot indoor water park is located in the Grand Lodge Hotel and in walking distance of the Mall of America, so tourists can combine the mall and the waterpark into a family-friendly vacation. The 10-story park features a flow ride surf simulator, a wave pool, and a family raft ride that’s over a mile long. Tickets start at $15.95. Call 952-698-8888.
- Grand Rios Indoor Water Park at the Ramada Minneapolis NW. (6900 Lakeland Avenue North, Brooklyn Park). Located in the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis, this tropical-themed, 45,000 square foot waterpark has a thrilling Hurricane Plunge, along with a four-story water tower and a lazy river. Admission starts at $9.95. Call 763-566-8855.
- Edgewater Resort and Waterpark. (2400 London Road, Duluth). Lest you think that the icy northern town of Duluth, Minnesota is only worth a visit during the summer, come visit this Polynesian-themed hotel and waterpark, which features two four-story slides and a vortex park. Plus there’s a fabulous view of Lake Superior, which is even more beautiful in the winter (especially if you’re looking at it from inside a warm nearby building). This waterpark is available to resort guests only, and the admission price is included in the room rate. Call 800-777-7025.
- Big Splash Minnesota Indoor Waterpark at the Arrowwood Resort. (2100 Arrowood Road NW, Alexandria). You don’t have to be a guest at this family-friendly resort in Alexandria, Minnesota to enjoy its 38,000 square foot indoor waterpark. The park has three four-story slides, a children’s play fort, and a huge whirlpool (which is great if you’ve been skiing). Admission passes start at $11.95. Call 866-386-5263.
- Paul Bunyan Waterpark at the Lodge on Brainerd Lakes. (6967 Lake Forest Road, Baxter) Located in the center in Minnesota near Brainerd, this 30,000 waterpark has a holographic tube slide that comes with the guest’s choose of sixteen themes of music and lights, along with a four-story water slide, log walk, and lazy river. Admission starts at $9.95. Call 877-843-5634.