Photo courtesy of W.A. Frost
You’ve seen winter’s beauty and experienced its wonders—but let’s face it—sometimes it’s just too cold. After facing Minnesota’s frigid elements, settle in, get comfy, and warm up.
Bundle Up, Warm Up
When it gets hot in the summer, there’s only so much you can take off to stay cool, but during the winter, you get to layer up—a lot.
For your hands: Minnesota Mittens, also known as Winona Mittens, were once knit with excess fabric from the former Winona Knitting Mill. They’re still locally knit, using remnants of cotton and wool sweaters, and then washed at the Regional Rehabilitation Center.
For a wrap: If St. Paul-based Wool & Whiskey scarves sound warm, it’s because they are. The snow and cold are no match to these hand-knit, high-quality wool scarves (mittens, hats, and headbands, too). They’re available in warm shades and simple patterns for a modern look, found online or at select boutiques in the Twin Cities.
For the couch: Quickly upgrade your living room with a Louise Gray Quilt. Sewn in Minneapolis by local artisans, the 100% cotton quilts are as comfortable as they are aesthetic; showcase the quilts on the wall, the arm of a chair, or across the bed.
For bedtime: Cuddle up while wearing sleepwear from Room No.3, a lingerie shop on France Ave. Pick up silk pajama sets or knit loungewear, and the orange line of bath and body products from US Apothecary for an ultra-luxurious night in.
Mobile Sweat Box
The Little Box Sauna is like a food truck: It parks at different locations in the Twin Cities for your enjoyment, except instead of ingesting food, you’ll sweat impurities and toxins. Designed and built by local architects and sauna enthusiasts Andrea Johnson and Molly Reichert, the sauna made its first rounds in early 2015, and is back this season to revive people from the winter blues. Right now a two-hour session to the sauna is free—you only have to reserve your spot, but it fills up fast! Visit 612saunasociety.com for the sauna’s most recent location and to make a reservation.
Photo Bruce Silcoxx
If you thought salt was just a fixture on the kitchen table, you’ll be surprised to learn about the Salt Cave in Minneapolis. It’s like going to a spa, but with walls made of 12,000 pounds of Himalayan crystal salts. A specialized halogenator infuses the air with micro particles of pharmaceutical grade salt to emulate a natural salt cave. Salt therapy is said to alleviate symptoms of many common health conditions like asthma, allergies, fatigue, etc. But it’s also super relaxing—the dim lighting, warm temperatures (the downstairs room is between 80-90 degrees), and options such as guided meditation sessions, massages, and yoga classes make for a perfect retreat from the not-so-therapeutic salty Minnesota roads outside.
Photo courtesy of Salt Cave
Table for Two
Winter gives you so many excuses to rekindle romance thanks to fireplaces and warm, seductive meals. Bring your special someone to W.A. Frost, a go-to date spot for its crackling wood fireplaces (yes, plural) in the winter. Couples have even been inspired to say “I do” in the historic setting. If your significant other is just looking to down a few beers, Happy Gnome’s 70+ beers on tap, plus its upstairs Firehouse room adorned with a mantel and softly lit candles, will satisfy both parties. Again, vows have been exchanged in the space. Sensing a theme? Town Hall Brewery emits the same arousing fireplace vibes, plus pours a variety of their own tap beers. I now pronounce you . . . satisfied.
Hot Shot (Of Booze)
Let’s make a toast to feeling, well, toasty. Following in the footsteps of craft breweries, local distilleries are quickly popping up around the Twin Cities, making it easier than ever
to add Minnesota-made flush to our cheeks. Here are a few distilleries offering special seasonal drinks and classic mixes in their cocktail rooms:
Du Nord Craft Spirits
Gin Hot Toddy: Fitzgerald Gin, fresh lemon, honey, hot water, and a lemon wheel garnish
Orchard State: L’etoile du Nord Vodka, hot cider, apple slice and cinnamon stick for garnish; cream and nutmeg for the A La Mode
The Voyageur: A hot cocoa mixed with L’etoile du Nord Vodka, almond liqueur, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings
Toddy Ruxpin: A play off a hot toddy, including Tattersall Aquavit, Tattersall Amaro, mint, orange, aleppo pepper, and honey
The Houndstooth: Tattersall Double-Oaked Bourbon, Tattersall Amaro, sage, honey, and egg white
Wander North Distillery
Hot Mulled Cider: Cider from Pepin Orchards and Wander North Winters Corn Whiskey, or Wander North Outpost Vodka
Hot Cocoa: Creamy cocoa with a splash of Wander North peppermint schnapps
Northeast Nag: Wander North’s take on a Moscow Mule, using a house-made ginger concentrate
Photo by TJ Turner
After a long day of sledding with the kids, or after a turbulent walk home from the bus stop, you deserve to be treated with winter’s essential beverage—hot chocolate. Kopplin’s is a favorite, with its recipe of steamed organic milk, cocoa powder, and specialty chocolate. Because it’s more bitter than sweet, the kids may prefer to sport a chocolate ‘stache with hot cocoa from Café Latte made with Belgian chocolate, plus you can pick up a fresh cookie or croissant made the same day. If size matters when it comes to your hot chocolate, head to Salut Bar Americain for a bowl of steaming milk and chocolate. For a cup you can nestle with at home, Mademoiselle Miel offers Honey Hot Cocoa bombs—just drop one into hot milk and commence sipping. In the spirit of going powder-less, Painted Turtle’s ground chocolate morsels make for the creamiest cup of drinking chocolate yet.
So winter sports aren’t your thing—your options aren’t limited thanks to a selection of indoor venues that host both traditional and unusual games and activities.
Trampoline parks are where both adults and kids can go to escape hibernation at home. Zero Gravity Trampoline Park in Mounds View offers 11,000 square feet of trampolines for plenty of room to bounce, play dodgeball, dunk basketballs, and hop into a foam pit. There is also laser tag, a climbing wall, an arcade, and an area designated for children to jump (kids under the age of three are not permitted).
You can also play a game of bubble soccer at Knocker Squad‘s indoor venues in Golden Valley and Lakeville. Players wear four-foot-wide plastic bubbles that cover their heads to their knees. Once the two teams take the field, a regular game of soccer ensues—except full contact is allowed, causing players to fly across the field like pinballs.
Warm Up Along the North Shore
The North Shore of Lake Superior is known in the winter as a skiing and outdoor activities destination. Here are a few of the shore’s popular towns where you can make a warm escape.
After hitting the slopes with the kids at Spirit Mountain in Duluth, take a break at the Amazing Grace Bakery and Café where you can sip on homemade chai tea and munch on pastries. If you’re in the mood for a hard drink, Vikre Distillery and Bent Paddle Brewing Co. all pour Duluth-crafted booze. You can’t go wrong at Duluth Grill or New Scenic Café for dinner—both offer dishes with organic and local ingredients.
Photo courtesy of Vikre distillery
Or head to Two Harbors to cross-country ski on the Erkki Harju Ski Trail, or on the trails at Gooseberry Falls or Split Rock Lighthouse. Dine at Rustic Inn Café for locally caught trout and homemade pie. Stay the night at Larsmont Cottages on Lake Superior to take advantage of the Finnish sauna, outdoor hot tub, and the quaint massage hut.
Further north is Lutsen where, following a day of skiing at Lutsen Mountains, you can snuggle in at Eagle Ridge. Many rooms come with fireplaces, balconies, and Jacuzzis. Or, swim from the resort’s indoor pool right to its outdoor year-round heated pool, and back. At night, Eagle Ridge’s Papa Charlie’s is the place to be for a warm meal, beer and cocktails, live music, Ping-Pong, stunning views, and friendly company.
photo courtesy of Lutsen mountains