Complete Winter Traveler

    It’s easy to feel down when Old Man Winter comes to town. The bad news? He’s not going anywhere until March (or April, or May). The good news? We live in a region of the country where there’s no shortage of fun ways to spend a winter day


    Complete Winter Traveler


    Arrowwood Resort

    Indoor waterpark, check. Spa area, check. Recreational opportunities, check, check, check. Spend your winter break at Arrowwood Resort, located two hours northwest of Minneapolis off I-94 in Alexandria, and the whole family will be happy. In addition to a 38,000-square-foot indoor waterpark, there’s a spa, indoor pool, whirlpool, fitness center, on-site restaurants and lounge, and a huge indoor tennis facility. You can rent a snowmobile, cross-country skis, or ice skates, try ice fishing, hit the sledding hill (sleds are available free of charge), or play broomball or hockey on the Lake Darling rink. Andes Tower Hills is 17 miles from the resort, and Carlos Creek Winery is only three miles away. The Holiday Break Special, from Dec. 20-29, includes a weekday rate of $139 and weekend rate of $159 per night, including up to four waterpark passes. The Weekend Adventure Package includes weekday rates of $219 per night and weekend rates of $249 per night, including up to four waterpark passes, four non-motorized recreation passes, and two hours of snowmobiling.


    According to Cross Country Skier magazine, Bemidji is one of the most attractive areas to ski in the country. That’s right, the entire country. Over 160 kilometers of challenging and scenic trails can be enjoyed at Bemidji’s eight trail sites. Most trails are groomed and tracked for both classical and skating ski techniques. The Buena Vista Ski Area, home to the internationally famous Minnesota Finlandia Ski Marathon, is recognized as having some of the finest trails and scenery in the Midwest. The area also draws snowmobilers, with 14,000 miles of trails, many of which are groomed and well-marked with directional and caution signs.

     Bentleyville Tour of Lights   

    One much-anticipated winter event in Duluth is the Bentleyville Tour of Lights at Bayfront Festival Park, transformed into one of the largest lighting displays in the Midwest from November 23 – December 28. See a 12-story animated Christmas tree with more than 100,000 sparkling LED lights, as well as other festive displays. Santa will be on hand to visit with children every night from 5-8 p.m. from November 23 through December 23. Make an evening of it and take the Bentleyville Train from Fitger’s Brewery Complex. Admission is free, but donations are strongly encouraged. The Tour of Lights is wheelchair-accessible, with paved walkways. For more information, visit

    Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts

    The Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts—including Bluefin Bay, Surfside, and Temperance Landing—is approximately 240 miles (about a four-hour drive) from Minneapolis, via I-35 to Duluth then along Scenic Highway 61. “It’s a spectacular drive any time of year, but there’s really nothing like the winter view along the glittering icy shoreline of Lake Superior,” says Lori Schaefer, marketing director. The area becomes a winter wonderland once the snow falls, with more than 150 kilometers of trails for cross-country skiing (right outside Bluefin’s door), snowshoeing, and snowmobiling, fun winter festivals, and Lutsen Mountains Ski Resort just down the road. After spending a day outside, cozy up indoors with excellent lodging accommodations.

    “We’re continually named one of the state’s most romantic destinations. From in-room fireplaces, award-winning dining, and couple’s spa treatments to crisp star-lit winter nights and majestic snow-capped scenery, there’s nowhere more romantic to spend a winter’s evening with a loved one,” Schaefer says. The popular Extended Stay Package (available all winter) is offered to guests staying five nights or longer; stay five nights and receive 10 percent off, six nights get 15 percent off, and seven nights receive 20 percent off your stay!

    Canoe Bay

    Get away from it all in a romantic atmosphere at Canoe Bay, the only prestigious Relais and Chateaux member in the Midwest. Designed exclusively for couples (no children allowed), this resort—featuring 280 acres of secluded hardwood forest shelter in northwestern Wisconsin—is a romantic winter retreat. Explore the grounds on snowshoe, treat yourself to an in-room massage, relax in front of the fireplace, and then head to the lakeside dining room for a glass of wine (over 500 to choose from) and a four-course meal. Spending a weekend here feels like a month’s worth of relaxation.

    Colorado Tourism

    Colorado’s mountain towns are known worldwide as an incredible wintertime paradise for skiers and snowboarders, with bluebird skies and tons of fresh powder, with more than 400 inches of snow per year. Spend a picturesque day on the slopes at Vail, Winter Park, Crested Butte, Copper Mountain, Telluride, Keystone, Aspen, Snowmass, Steamboat, Arapahoe Basin and more (there are 22 resorts)—before indulging in a soothing massage, epicurean delights, and a night on the town.  Other winter activities include dog sledding and snowmobiling.

    Cook County, Minnesota

    When you regularly get 120 inches of snow and you sit further north than nearly all of Minnesota, it’s easy to claim best of winter. But Cook County, including the communities of Lutsen-Tofte-Schroeder, Grand Marais, Gunflint Trail, and Grand Portage—does more than claim. It delivers like a perfectly thrown snowball. From Lutsen’s snowy slopes to Grand Portage’s snowmobile routes and the Gunflint Trail’s pristine forested ski trails, to Grand Marais’ quaint shops, art galleries and restaurants, a Cook County vacation can be as adrenaline-fueled (skiing, boarding, dogsledding, skijoring, Lake Superior storm-watching) or relaxed and romantic as you want (horse-drawn sleigh rides, sampling wine, reading next to a roaring fire). Visit during the North Shore Holiday Event every weekend from November 22 through December 22 for holiday open houses at unique local shops, book signings, pie fests, and art classes. Stay in Cook County during the Winter Tracks Festival January 31-February 8 for outdoor recreational activities, luminary lit cross-country skiing, snow sculptures, outdoor painting competitions, live music, bonfires, and s’mores.


    The Fargo-Moorhead area, about 3.5 hours west of the metro, is unique in that it’s two cities in two states with a perfect blend of hip metropolitan and cozy small town. Fargo, North Dakota’s largest city, is in the state’s southeast corner near the Minnesota border, right next door to Moorhead. The vibrant downtown area is perfect for a romantic getaway, fun night on the town, or family-friendly vacation. Visit a museum, see a show, tour a winery, watch a sports team, or try an exhilarating winter activity.   

    Grand View Lodge

    Grand View Lodge in Nisswa has provided guests with relaxing vacation experiences for more than 90 years. Selected in 1979 for inclusion on the coveted National Registry of Historic Places, Grand View Lodge’s Main Lodge offers one of the most well preserved examples of early resort log construction in existence today. Some of the most popular winter activities include downhill skiing, snowboarding and tubing at Mount Ski Gull (guests receive a 15 percent discount on ski rentals and tickets), along with ice fishing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, dogsled rides, romantic and family sleigh rides, and wine tastings. Unwind at Glacial Waters Spa, with over 50 unique services. Stay at Grand View during the weekend of November 22-23 for Grand Brewfest, with an itinerary including Minnesota Beer Night in the Pub on Friday, Grand Brewfest in the Gull Lake Center on Saturday, a paired beer and food dinner, and a night of humor and cocktails featuring Colin and Brando. Visit February 7-8 for de’Vine: Winter Culinary & Wine Experience and take home a bottle of private label red, and enjoy a Friday evening wine dinner and Saturday food and wine tasting. Accommodations at Grand View include everything from single rooms in the main lodge to eight bedroom cottages.

    Granite Peak

    Granite Peak Ski Area in Wausau, Wis. is just a three-hour drive from the Twin Cities metro, a short road trip to the largest and tallest hill in Wisconsin. Not only is the ski resort actually a mountain and not just a glorified ski hill, with 74 runs and 700 feet of vertical, the prices are affordable (check out online ordering package deals), and the Rib Mountain terrain offers everything from a children’s ski program (complete with a Sun Kid Wonder Carpet) to some challenging black diamond runs, shredders love the rails, boxes, and jumps at six different terrain parks. Enjoy the company of friends and family at the base of the mountain, where Wausau offers everything for the perfect ski vacation: hotels and romantic B&Bs, a lively nightlife scene, excellent restaurants, a variety of cultural entertainment options, great shopping, and fun weekend festivals.

    Keystone Mountain

    A 90-minute ride from the Denver International Airport will bring you to Keystone, the largest mountain in Summit County with 3,148 skiable acres and 20 lifts and two gondolas, nestled at the foot of two unique villages. Amenities include a 10,000-square-foot luxury spa in Keystone Lodge, a 5-acre ice skating rink, hundreds of acres of cat-ski access, a safe Children’s Ski and Ride School, and a partnership with for affordable, state-of-the-art ski/snowboard rentals. There are multiple AAA 4 Diamond, Wine Spectator and Zagat Survey-rated restaurants and a variety of lodging accommodations to suit every budget. Visit during “Minnesota Week” from Feb. 1-9, when kids ski free.

    The Lodge on Lake Detroit  

    A lovely secluded setting is part of the draw, but an even bigger draw at the award-winning Lodge on Lake Detroit in Detroit Lakes is fun events like murder mystery weekends and wine tastings. This modern, eco-friendly hotel encourages relaxation and rejuvenation through their on-site spa, luxurious and comfortable accommodations, beautiful views, fireside lobby, and daily grand piano sunset serenades. Guests also love the fitness center, pool and hot tub, over 50 miles of cross-country ski trails, and the fact that ice fishing houses and equipment is available for rent. Stay one night from now through May 29, 2014 starting at $139.99 (plus tax) and receive a bottle of house wine at the Fireside Restaurant, 10 percent off retail purchases at The Spa Within, and a complimentary hot breakfast.

    Lutsen Mountains Ski Resort

    When you want to ski a little closer to home, head to Lutsen Mountains—about a four hour drive from the Twin Cities metro—for slope side fun. With 1,000 acres of skiable terrain and nearly 100 different runs, Lutsen appeals to everyone from kids taking their first ski lesson to seasoned skiers and boarders looking for their next vertical challenge. Stay within a 20-mile radius of the mountain, many lodges right in the village with ski-in, ski-out convenience. If you don’t like to ski or snowboard, there are hundreds of kilometers of cross-country skiing and snowmobiling trails, as well as opportunities for snowshoeing, dogsledding, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and ice fishing, in addition to a fun après ski scene (Papa Charlie’s features live music on a regular basis). For the best Ski and Stay packages—with deeply discounted rates around Thanksgiving and Christmas—visit

    New London

    With just about every winter activity imaginable, New London, located less than two hours west of the metro (next door to its ‘sister city’ Spicer, Minn.), is the ideal winter getaway. This “city on the Pond” captures the essence of a small town, with a friendly, welcoming vibe and fun festivals and events, plus some pretty amazing boutique shopping. (Guests regularly comment on the great variety of shopping options in downtown New London.) Just outside Main Street you’ll also find an Amish furnishings store, environmental learning center, and winery. Visit New London on the evening of December 7 for “Candlelight Christmas,” complete with sleigh rides around the Mill Pond, a community bonfire, live music, and more.

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