As Minnesotans, we love being outside and being active. Snow, freezing temperatures, no longer feeling one's face doesn't ever stop us from enjoying our outdoor recreations. Here is our list of 10 outdoor activities to keep you busy this winter, because remember: there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
1. Cross Country Skiing
Plenty of parks around the St. Croix Valley offer cross-country skiing with groomed skating and classic ski trails. Check out Afton State Park, Pine Point Park, Big Marine Park Reserve, Lake Elmo Park Reserve and William O'Brien Park for various trails.
2. Tubing at Green Acres
A fun-filled family activity can be found at Green Acres. Grab a tube, rope yourself up the steep climb, then enjoy rushing down the snow-covered hill. Afterwards enjoy hot chocolate, pizza or Nathan's hotdog inside their warm chalet.
3. Tour the Ice Castles
Ice Castles are here for another year in Stillwater! Right downtown at Lowell Park walk inside this beautifully designed ice palace. Pull the little ones on a small sled, slide down one of the slippery slides or sneak through a frozen tunnel. At night watch the lights dazzle on the ice- truly a magical experience.
Explore Minnesota's winter by snowshoeing through its beautiful white snow. Snowshoeing is permitted on any of Minnesota State Parks and recreation areas. Don't have snowshoes, but still want to explore? No problem, you can rent them out at Afton State Park. Want to learn how to snowshoe? Check out William O'Brien State Park's "Let's Snowshoe!" on January 20th.
5. Fat Bike along the Gateway
The Gateway trail for bikers and runners isn't just for sunny summer days. A portion of the trail is plowed for fat bikes. Starting at the Jamaca Avenue entrance, riders can pedal 12.6 miles on the trail until the trail ends at Cayuga St. in St. Paul. Love to ride, but don't have a fat bike yet? Check out our local Chilkoot Cafe & Cyclery for a fat bike that is customed fit just for you.
6. University of Stillwater Winter Games
Didn't know that Stillwater had a University? Well, we don't. But that doesn't mean we can't still enjoy winter games. This fictitious community school is hosting a parka pub crawl, jousting, live music, dance party, mini golf-tournament and other awesome winter activities from Thursday, January 11th-Sunday, January 14th. Location is at the JX Venue and "various campus pubs". Let the games begin!
7. Ice Fishing
Ice fishing is a Minnesota must in the winter time. Luckily you don't have to go far to find a lake around the St. Croix Valley. Although a good fisherman won't tell you his secrets "hot spots" for fishing are, we find that Lake Elmo, Big Marine Lake, and Square Lake are sufficient lakes. Or just look at where all the ice shacks are.
8. Downhill skiing at Afton Alps
Spend a day at Afton Alps with almost 300 ski-able acres, 48 trails, and 18 lifts. Redesigned into a "cutting edge" resort in 2013, Afton Alps is "big-time resort with a small-town feel". Get down there this Saturday the 14th for their MSP Ski Party from 11-1pm. A $40 ticket will include a lift ticket, hot cocoa, s'mores, small bites and a drink ticket.
9. Ice Skating
Whether you are like a graceful ballerina on the ice or fall every few seconds, ice skating is always a blast when it's outside. Check out Perro Park in Bayport, the skating rink area just outside Lily Lake Ice Arena, or Cover and Brekke Park in Oak Park Heights for some great outside ice skating.
10. Ice Cream Social
Some may think that it's crazy to have an ice cream social in the dead of winter, but we are Minnesotan's-bring on the cold! Enjoy an old-fashioned ice cream social on January 20th hosted by the Washington County Historical Society. Ice cream is free of charge and donated by Leo's Grill and Malt Shop.
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