It’s getting pretty late in the season here, which means winter will soon be upon us (yeah, yeah, winter is coming and all that). Winter’s an interesting topic around these parts because it tends to be the time of year that people book it. That is, they leave town. They take vacations.
And one can hardly blame them. Though they’ve been somewhat mild of late, Minnesota winters are the stuff of legend, and no one really wants to spend more time enduring one than is necessary.
But winter is also beautiful and fun and fascinating. That’s right, there are actually people (and lots of them) who like winter. And then there are those who, well, haven’t been properly exposed to winter. That’s why today we’re talking about Minnesota vacation spots that (gasp) keep you in the state for your winter vacation. (This can also help those who are, shall we say, quite budget conscious.)
Outdoor Minnesota Winter Vacations
The art of enjoying the outdoors during a Minnesota winter comes down to one simple rule: dress appropriately. Whether you’re going for a hike or taking the kids sledding, proper outdoor gear is going to be your best bet to stay warm and comfortable (therefore ensuring you actually have a good time).
Some popular Minnesota outdoor winter destinations include:
- Ice Caves: When the winters are cold enough along the north shore, ice caves will form near Duluth, MN, on Lake Superior. Because the lake is, you know, frozen, it’s possible to walk to these ice caves. They’re really spectacular and deserve to be seen. You might need some crampons to get there (okay, you probably won’t need them since the trails are pretty well marked, but they couldn’t hurt and we didn’t want to pass up a chance to say crampons).
- Split Rock Lighthouse: One of the most prominent landmarks along the north shore of Lake Superior, Split Rock Lighthouse is worth visiting no matter the season. But there’s something about the lighthouse in winter, snow speckling the cliff face, Lake Superior raging below, that makes for a particularly powerful image. Seriously, if you can get out there to see it, do so, as it’s an amazing sight (and not a far drive from those Ice Caves in Duluth).
- Brainerd Lakes: Look, if you want to get out into the wide open nothingness of the northern country in winter, the Brainerd Lakes area is maybe your best bet. Sure, there’s a strangely high number of lawyers in Brainerd, but that’s probably because it’s a mecca of civilization out in the boonies. Brainerd is one of those places that’s a big enough town that you can find a Target if you need to, but it’s still close enough to true isolation (or as true enough as you can get in this day and age).
To be sure, outside isn’t your only option. There are plenty of awesome things to do indoors if you get the chance.
Indoor Minnesota Winter Vacations
If avoiding the cold is your modus operandi, Minnesota still has plenty of options for you. The trick is finding something you haven’t done yet. So, here’s a short list of all the cool stuff you could be doing in Minnesota over the winter–even if you stay inside:
- Mall of America: I know a mall seems, well, mundane. But if you haven’t been to Mall of America, it’s worth stopping by at least once. It’s a completely overwhelming experience. There’s a lot more to do besides shopping: there’s restaurants, there’s a theme park, there’s Legos. There’s a lot to do. And if you get bored, you can always swing by Ikea on the way home.
- Museums: Minnesota is well known as an intellectual center. There are plenty of universities and learning institutions. But there are also lots of museums, from the History Center to the Science Museum of Minnesota, to the recently re-opened Bell Museum of Natural History. There’s a lot to learn in Minnesota. And almost all of these museums are indoors and well heated.
- Duluth: Okay, Duluth proper is a lovely city. And the roads can be a little dicey in the winter, what with the hills and all. But those clever Duluth residents have a solution: tunnels and skyways. This makes it easy to get around the city proper (and by that we basically mean downtown or the U of M Duluth campus) without venturing outdoors.
Get Your Fun On!
A staycation is kind of a cliche, right? But traveling around the state is still traveling, so finding ways to go on vacation during the winter–without leaving Minnesota–is a great way to save some money and get to know our great state a little better at the same time. These Minnesota vacation spots are great for winter–but the truth is that they’re great year round (except for the ice caves, I suppose).
Looking for a Minnesota vacation spot? Check out these awesome options!