Skip to Content

Winter Wonderland: A Guide to Enjoying Minnesota’s Winter Activities

Minnesota winters can be frigid, but Minnesotans know how to make the best of the coldest temperatures. There are plenty of activities in all parts of the state to keep families, couples, and adventurers busy during the winter months.

Whether you’re looking to bundle up and head outside or you want some fun activities indoors, this list has you covered. Keep reading to learn all about how you can enjoy all of the Minnesota winter activities!

Minnesota Small Towns


Grab the kids and head out to these family-friendly Minnesota winter activities.

Winter Carnivals

Gather the whole family and hit up Minnesota’s winter carnivals. You won’t want to miss these family-friendly events:

  • Saint Paul Winter Carnival: This annual carnival has impressed Minnesotans and travelers for more than a decade. Your family will enjoy legendary characters, contests, a parade, and more family-friendly entertainment.
  • Bentleyville Tour of Lights: This free light show brings people to Duluth every year. 2023 marks the 20th year of the event.
  • Winterfest at Crosslake: Every February, Crosslake, Minnesota, hosts its annual Winterfest, three full days of exciting indoor and outdoor activities for the whole family.
  • Polar Fest at Detroit Lakes: Polar Fest is a 16-day long festival in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, which celebrates the winter season. Families will enjoy outdoor activities and warm food.

Winter Sports

There’s no better place than Minnesota to gather the whole family to play and watch winter sports. Be sure to check out these winter sports:

  • Skiing: Minnesota is a ski family’s paradise. With plenty of places to choose to ski, this Minnesota winter activity can turn into a week-long vacation or a couple of hours of fun. Check out some of the best places to ski in Minnesota.
  • Snowtubing: Gather the kids, grab a snow tube, and find a hill. Here are some of the best snow tubing hills in Minnesota.
  • Hockey: Build a backyard hockey rink, or catch a Minnesota Wild game. Learn how hockey became one of the most popular Minnesota winter activities.
  • Dog Sledding: Northern Minnesota towns have plenty of dog sledding opportunities. The top three cities to watch or try this Minnesota winter activity are Ely, Duluth, and Grand Marais.

Indoor Activities

If you’re looking to stay warm and dry, Minnesota has plenty to offer inside:

  • Science Museum of Minnesota: Located in St. Paul, the Science Museum has 8.5 acres of exhibits and exploration the whole family can enjoy.
  • Children’s Museums: Minnesota has several children’s museums. RochesterDuluthMankato, and Grand Rapids have children’s museums. The largest is in St. Paul, less than half a mile from the Science Museum and accessible via the skyway.
  • Nickelodeon Universe: Amusement rides are open for most of the winter at Nickelodeon Universe, which is located inside the Mall of America. Some rides close for maintenance during specific winter weeks, so check the website before your visit.

Winter Resorts

Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a week-long family vacation, Minnesota has many great winter resorts where you can enjoy indoor and outdoor adventures.

Minnesota Small Towns


If you’re looking to enjoy Minnesota winter activities as a couple, here are some romantic ideas you and your sweetheart will love.

Romantic Winter Getaway

One of the most alluring Minnesota winter activities for couples is to take a romantic getaway. Check out the best romantic getaways in the state. This list covers winter getaways in all parts of Minnesota, and there’s something for every type of couple!


Grab your camera (or phone) and head out with your sweetie to all the beautiful spots in Minnesota. Bring along a tripod or selfie stick, so you capture some cute couples’ photos as well!

Start your sightseeing extravaganza by checking out these neat spots:

  • Ice Castle: The Minnesota ice castle is a special attraction that can be found in New Brighton, one of only five ice castles in North America.
  • Minnehaha Falls: Located in the city of Minneapolis is Minnehaha Falls, which turns into a stunning frozen waterfall in the wintertime.
  • The Northern Lights: The Northern Lights appear all year round in Minnesota, but late fall and winter are the best times to spot them. Voyageurs National Park and Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area are two fantastic places to view this beautiful phenomenon.
Minnesota Winter Activities


Camping is a winter activity in Minnesota, although it’s not for the faint of heart. Make sure to prepare yourself if you decide to venture out to one of these winter-friendly campgrounds.

Itasca State Park

Located in northwest Minnesota, Itasca State Park is the oldest in the state. This is also a popular spot for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. The park offers snowshoe rentals on-site.

The campground caters to your preferred way of experiencing Minnesota winter activities, offering both indoor and outdoor camping. There are 12 indoor and 12 outdoor sites available.

Be sure to read all alerts before visiting the park.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Boundary Waters is a beautiful winter camping spot in northeastern Minnesota, and permits are free and easy to obtain at the office or any entry point from October 1 to April 30.

This is a great place to enjoy Minnesota winter activities like dog sledding, snowshoeing, and skiing. If you’re an experienced camper, you may enjoy backpacking through Boundary Waters.

Novice or casual campers should stay at nearby cabins or campgrounds like Gunflint Pines Resort & Campgrounds.

Afton State Park

Afton State Park is a half-hour east of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, making it easily accessible for those visiting Minnesota. This is a great location to ski, snowshoe, or ice fish.

This state park also has cabins and yurts available to rent. Be sure to check all alerts before visiting.

Minnesota Winter Activities

Fishing and Hunting

Fishing and hunting are popular Minnesota winter activities for those who love to be outdoors all year round. Here are a few ideas for anglers and game hunters.

Brainerd’s Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza

Every professional ice fisher will be at Brainerd’s Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza in January. This is the largest ice fishing contest charity in the world, and it’s held ten miles north of Brainerd.

Hunting and Trapping

Hunters can enjoy hunting and trapping many species of animals. It’s important to know the specific season dates for each species, which can be found on the Minnesota DNR website.

Minnesota Winter Activities

Enjoy Minnesota’s Winter Activities!

You’re ready to get off the couch and start exploring Minnesota winter activities. If you want to learn more about some of the activities mentioned on this list, check out this list of 15 winter activities in Minnesota.