Insider's Guide 2016

    CenterPoint Energy 

    Our history: For more than 140 years, CenterPoint Energy has provided reliable energy delivery to consumers. Through our community partnerships, we are improving our customer relationships and the quality of life in our communities by being a caring neighbor.

    Commitment to community: In 2014, CenterPoint Energy employees and retirees dedicated more than 215,000 service hours valued at $4.8 million, according to the Independent Sector. We have awarded $70,900 in grants to various nonprofits on behalf of employee volunteers through our Grant Incentives for Volunteer Employees program. In Minnesota, the company awarded 56 communities totaling more than $122,000 through the Community Partnership Grant program to help cities fund safety-related projects or the purchase of safety equipment. Since the beginning of this program, nearly $1.2 million has been awarded to Minnesota communities.

    The Civic 50: CenterPoint Energy was recognized in 2014 as the top community-minded company in its industry in The Civic 50, an annual initiative that identifies and recognizes companies for their commitment to improving the quality of life in the communities where they do business. 

    Caring for the environment: CenterPoint Energy cares about the environment in the communities that we serve. Rebates from our conservation program encourage natural gas consumers in Arkansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Oklahoma to choose energy-efficiency equipment. In 2014, our customers saved nearly 2 billion in cubic feet of natural gas, an energy cost savings of nearly $16.2 million. These savings reduced our customers’ carbon footprint by 108,000 metric tons, which is equivalent to removing 18,000 cars from the road.

    To learn more about our community efforts, visit

    Okoboji, Iowa
    Photo by David Thoreson

    Okoboji, Iowa 

    We are … Iowa’s No. 1 Vacation Destination! 

    The Okoboji difference: From our beautiful lakes to our historic landmarks, our rich traditions to our newest innovations, our efforts to preserve the past while looking to encourage future generations of visitors—we are an area rich in history, respect for natural beauty, and fun for all ages, only three hours south of the Twin Cities. We hope you enjoy your Okoboji vacation in the Iowa Great Lakes area and return often! 

    Our accommodations include … over 30 lodging properties and 1,400 sleeping rooms at hotels, lakeside resorts, cabins, and campsites. We can accommodate any family and need, whether you’re a boating enthusiast, cyclist, fun-seeker, or outdoor adventurist.   

    We take pride in … offering total family fun, from the water activities on our beautiful chain of five glacial-carved lakes, to our extensive bike trails, to the 125-year-old Arnolds Park Amusement Park, to the exciting nightlife, boutique shopping, and independent restaurants you won’t find anywhere else. We offer big-city amenities and small-town charm. 

    Upcoming events: The 36th Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games from January 28-31 is an absolute blast. Join us for broomball, flag football, softball, a bags tournament, a Polar Plunge, chili cook-off, fireworks, and more. Get in on the “frigid fun!” • 1-800-270-2575


    Twitter @VacationOkoboji 

    Bluefin Bay Skiing
    Photo Courtesy of Bluefin Bay

    Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts

    We are … Minnesota North Shore’s premier family of resorts dedicated to bringing families and friends closer to one another and to Lake Superior. From Bluefin’s upscale comfort, to Surfside’s refined coastal luxury, to Temperance Landing’s grand lakeside log homes, each resort has its own distinct personality, yet they all offer the same incredible hospitality and up-close views of Lake Superior.

    Our amenities include … complimentary recreation equipment rental (cross-country skis, snowshoes, ice skates); guided cross-country ski and snowshoe tours; free shuttles to Lutsen Mountains and area trailheads; a premier fitness center; indoor and heated outdoor hot tubs and pools; The Waves of Superior Spa (the North Shore’s only destination spa); award-winning on-site restaurants; live music and entertainment; and recently upgraded Wi-Fi. 

    We take pride in … welcoming guests back year after year, whether they’re seeking a romantic getaway, action-packed adventure, or relaxing trip that renews the mind, body, and soul. 

    Best deals: Book a “Stay and Play” package for discounted tickets to Lutsen Mountains; or stay during the week from January through April and take advantage of the “Half Price Weekdays” special.

    Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior • 800-258-3346

    Surfside on Lake Superior • 800-361-7873

    Temperance Landing • 877-723-6426

    MN Opera
    Photo by Michal Daniel, courtesy of MN Opera

    Minnesota Opera

    We are … Minnesota’s Opera company, as well as an international leader in creating new operas and bringing inventive productions to the Ordway stage in St. Paul. Our productions—stories of life, death, love, and the human condition—are seen the world over. With translations projected over the stage, you won’t miss a thing. There’s no dress code and tickets start at only $25.  

    A Taste of Opera: Join us for Taste of Opera, including a delicious dinner, a relaxed conversation with experts from within the world of opera, a ticket to the opera, and transportation to and from the Ordway.

    Tempo: If you’re age 21-39, join Tempo, our young professionals group. Membership includes discounted tickets and invitations to Tempo Nights Out and After-Parties.


    Box office open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m

    Upcoming performances:  Luminous arias, folk melodies, and mythical and mortal worlds are part of DvoÅ™ák’s story of the water nymph Rusalka and her love, the prince, during Rusalka January 23-31, 2016. In Tosca, running from March 12-26, 2016, Puccini’s music creates unforgettable drama in a spellbinding tale of deceit, love, and honor. And don’t miss the thrilling world premiere of The Shining, May 7-15, 2016, when Stephen King’s best-selling novel is brought to life, with libretto by Mark Campbell (Silent Night and The Manchurian Candidate) and music by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec.

    Connect with us: Follow us on Twitter @mnopera, like us on Facebook at MinnesotaOpera, and watch videos and performances on YouTube at minnesotaopera.

    Photo by Paula Lobo, courtesy of The Ordway

    Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

    We are … recognized as one of the U.S.’s leading not-for-profit performing art centers. Located in St. Paul, the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts is home to a wide variety of performances throughout the year encompassing American musical theater, world music, dance, and vocal artists in its Music Theater and new Concert Hall, which opened its doors in March 2015. 

    Upcoming productions: Recognized for their blend of ’60s Cambodian pop and psychedelic rock, with a musical palette including Khmer rap, Latin grooves, Afro percussion, and layered horns, the LA-based Cambodian indie rock band Dengue Fever will perform January 9. The band has performed at festivals around the world, and had songs featured in City of Ghosts, Broken Flowers, The Hangover 2, Weeds, True Blood (who named an episode after one of their songs), and CSI: Las Vegas

    On January 4, don’t miss the cutting-edge contemporary Latin dance of Ballet Hispanico, an amazing display of grace, talent, and athleticism; and from February 16-28, the quintessential “backstage musical” A Chorus Line celebrates the lives and hard times of 17 dancers vying for the opportunity of a lifetime—to audition for a job as a Broadway dancer. 651-224-4222 (ticket office) 

    Twitter: @theordway 

    St. Paul Ballet Photo by leslie plesser

    The Cowles Center for Dance & The Performing Arts

    We are … the Twin Cities’  flagship for dance in Minnesota. Centrally located in downtown Minneapolis, The Cowles Center includes the refurbished 500-seat Goodale Theater; the former Hennepin Center for the Arts, home to 20 leading dance and performing arts organizations; the state-of-the-art Target Education Studio, housing The Cowles Center’s innovative distance learning program; and the U.S. Bank Atrium. The Cowles Center is a catalyst for the creation, presentation, education, enjoyment and celebration of dance and the performing arts in the Twin Cities. 

    Upcoming performances: St. Paul Ballet presents three new works created by four women in choreography—Zoé Emilie Henrot, Diane Coburn Bruning, Jamie Johnson, and Sally Rousse—Four Women in Choreography from February 12-14. On February 19 and 20, Ragamala Dance Company presents They Rose at Dawn, a solo work depicting women as carriers of ritual, invoking a sense of reverence, of unfolding mystery, of imagination. A stellar Carnatic musical ensemble accompanies Ramaswamy as she explores the spontaneous interplay between music and movement and the dynamic contours created by the artists onstage. Ending the month, SHAPESHIFT presents Grey Skies Blue, from February 26-28. A bustling city subway, a romantic starry night, and a soulful celebration, are just some of the places SHAPESHIFT will take audiences in this production that will leave you feeling liberated.

    Box office hours: Box office hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday two hours prior to performances. 


    Visit Winona
    Photo by Cynthya Porter

    Visit Winona

    We are … a city with the perfect blend of old world charm and urban swagger, and we are overflowing with ways to entertain. Take in our stunning historic architecture, world-famous art museum, or one of Winona’s acclaimed festivals. For those who love the outdoors, our corner of the world is a recreation utopia, from the top of our bluffs to the mighty Mississippi and everywhere in between. Winona is proof that you really can have it all in one enchanting place. 

    Special attractions: Minnesota Marine Art Museum, situated on the bank of the Mississippi River, is a venue that continues to surprise and delight with its ever-growing collection of original paintings by masters like Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, O’Keeffe, and Picasso. Lake Park Lodge is perfect for some winter fun with ice skate and snowshoe rentals, and cross-country skiers will love our maze of groomed trails. 

    We take pride in … the renaissance that has taken place in Winona over the past dozen years—transforming our city from a sleepy college town into an arts and culture hotbed for the Upper Midwest.

    Upcoming events: Visit during the Frozen River Film Festival, February 24-28, 2016, which features riveting independent documentary films, educational workshops, speakers, and musical performances. 800-657-4972 

    Twitter – @VisitWinona

    Facebook VisitWinona