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Complete Winter Traveler

Complete Winter Traveler

(page 1 of 2)

Whether you’re traveling across town, journeying over the river and through the woods, or boarding a plane to a far-off destination, this guide will help you make the most of exploring the great outdoors (and the cozy indoors, too!)



Breckenridge, Colorado

The average annual snowfall is around 25 feet at Breckenridge Ski Resort, and the powder is plentiful. Located in the Colorado Rockies, Breck not only offers amazing snow, but wide, well-groomed runs and a variety of terrain spread out across not one but four mountain peaks. Because Breckenridge is a true mountain town (and not just a seasonal resort), there are excellent shopping, dining, and nightlife options. If you’re not into skiing or boarding —or you want a little break from the action—you can go dogsledding, snowmobiling, shopping, fly fishing, or on a gold mine tour 1,000 feet below ground. breckenridge.com  

Family on chair life at Granite Peak
Photo courtesy of granite peak

Granite Peak

About a three-hour drive from the Twin Cities in Wausau, Wis., Granite Peak is spread out across 265 skiable acres, with the biggest vertical drop in the region (700 feet). There are 74 runs and 8 lifts, including the fast-paced  “comet.” For those just learning to ski or board, there’s a learn-to-ski area complete with a Sun Kid Wonder Carpet. The snowboard park was named one of the top three parks in the Midwest by TransWorld Snowboarding. The town, set around a natural ice-skating pond at the base of the mountain, boasts a lively art scene, fun festivals, and family-friendly hotels, many of which offer a shuttle service to the ski area. skigranitepeak.com

Wild Mountain

Wild Mountain, located about 50 miles northeast of the Twin Cities in Taylors Falls, was the first ski area to open in North America, opening this year on Oct. 7. “We pride ourselves on being the first [resort] to be 100 percent open each season,” says Amy Frischmon, vice president.
They are also one of the only resorts to offer children’s lessons seven days a week, with “Friends and Family Days” discounts available, and one of the few resorts to offer a separate snowtubing hill, complete with several lanes, and an outdoor fire pit. wildmountain.com

Spirit Mountain

Take in dramatic views of Duluth and the Lake Superior harbor while skiing or boarding down the slopes at Spirit Mountain. “What Duluth has to offer is what makes us unique,” says Briana Johnson with Spirit Mountain Recreation Area. “When guests come to Spirit Mountain, it’s much more than a ski trip.” Stay at a B&B with your significant other, go to the ballet, hit a UMD hockey game, or go clubbing with your friends. A year-round Adventure Park offers snowtubing, a zip line, and the only Alpine Coaster in the Midwest. spiritmt.com visitduluth.com

Lutsen Mountains

Lutsen Mountains in Lutsen, nicknamed the “Vail of the Midwest,” has the most ski acreage in the state, with 1,000 skiable acres, 92 runs, and 986 feet of vertical. Lutsen is such a popular spot that people came from 30 states last year (including Texas, Florida, and New York), but the majority of the 100,000 annual skiers are from the Twin Cities area. Excellent skiing and boarding is just part of the draw. Lutsen offers on-mountain dining and entertainment—providing an aprés-ski experience—along with groomed, tracked trails for Nordic skiing, dog sledding, backcountry snowshoeing, and sleigh rides. lutsenmtns.com


Shooting Star Casino

It’s all about Las Vegas-style gaming in a relaxed, casual atmosphere at Shooting Star Casino, located 240 miles northwest of the Twin Cities in Mahnomen, Minn. The casino features 1,100 state-of-the-art slot machines, a poker room, 12 blackjack tables, and four high-stakes tables with two and six deck shoes, limits up to $1,000, and free drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Enjoy live entertainment while you play. The Shooting Star complex features a hotel with an indoor pool and the full-service luxury Sereniitee spa, four restaurants, and an event center hosting national acts. starcasino.com

Outdoor Adventure

Cable, Wis.

The Cable area in Northern Wisconsin has over 1,200 miles of interconnecting snowmobile trail systems, making it one of the largest trail systems in the U.S.  Uncrowded trails, the solitude of the Chequamegon National Forest, and warm and welcoming Cable hospitality bring snowmobilers back year after year. (Some resorts, like Lakewoods, offer regular snowmobile condition updates online.) The interconnecting trail systems allow riders to travel on the lake and trails without having to trailer their machines. Trail maps are available at many local businesses, as well as the Cable Area Chamber. cable4fun.com


According to Cross Country Skier magazine, “Bemidji is one of the most attractive areas to ski in the United States.” Approximately 140 kilometers of cross-country ski trails wind through the scenic North Woods, with pine, spruce, and evergreen trees vividly standing out against the snowy backdrop. One trail, within city limits, is even illuminated for night skiing. A Minnesota Ski Pass is required ($6 day pass, $20 annual). The area is also popular for snowmobiling, with 400 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, and ice fishing in over 400 lakes within a 25-mile radius. The average ice-on date is Dec. 2. visitbemidji.com  

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