There’s a slogan that goes, “If you love Minnesota, raise your right ski.” It could easily be modified as, “If you love Minnesota, raise your skate, raise your snowshoe, or raise your mushing voice.” With so many fun winter activities in this great state of ours, dedicate more than a day to outdoor fun – make a weekend of it and stay at a cozy lodge, cabin or B&B within a short drive of the metro area.
Iconic wintertime standards like ice skating, cross-country skiing, sledding, nightly bonfires, snowmobile rentals and horse-drawn sleigh rides are part of the charm of Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria. Other amenities include indoor tennis, basketball, a swimming pool, whirlpool, luxurious spa and 38,000-square-foot indoor waterpark.
Stay in a spacious townhome, cottage, or oversized deluxe standard room, executive room, or suite. Andes Tower Hills, just 17 miles from the resort, offers downhill skiing, tubing, and snowboarding. arrowwoodresort.com
Bayfield & Apostle Islands
Visitors love Bayfield summers, but it’s the wonders of winter that make this quaint small town in northern Wisconsin the perfect get-away-from-it-all vacation.
Want to play in the powder? Go cross-country skiing at Mount Valhalla, try backcountry snowshoeing or cross-country skiing on public forest trails, or downhill skiing or snowboarding at Mt. Ashwabay (summer home of the Big Top). Hike to the spectacular Apostle Islands ice caves, try dogsledding (there are half day and full day trips), snowmobile on Bayfield County trails, or check out the Lake Superior “ice road” to Madeline Island.
Visit during the weekend of February 7-8, 2015 for the popular Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race, with excellent vantage points of the action, from the serious racers to the youth. If it gets too chilly, warm up around a large fire pit. According to the Bayfield Chamber & Visitor Bureau, “It’s such a thrilling experience to see the mushers and the dogs, who are very excited to run. The energy is so palpable, it’s hard to even put it into words. If you haven’t done it, you must!”
For those who would rather stay indoors, Bayfield is home to specialty gift shops, art galleries, and boutiques, and a variety of lodging options. bayfield.org
Bayfield’s Winter Festival polar plunge. Photo courtesy of Visit Bayfield.
Depending on the type of winter vacation you’re searching for, odds are Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior has you covered.
There’s outdoor adventure in the 250 km of groomed and tracked trails for cross-country skiers and over 100 miles of snowmobile paths throughout the Sawtooth Mountains, Superior National Forest, and along the North Shore. Lutsen Mountains—the largest ski/snowboard area in seven states—is conveniently located right down the road. Complimentary shuttles are offered to trailheads and Lutsen Mountains.
Minnesota Bride named Bluefin Bay “Best Honeymoon Resort,” and it’s easy to see why. Rooms with a fireplace, whirlpool bath, and breathtaking views of Lake Superior add to the romantic ambiance, as do the spa services at Waves of Superior Spa and elegant on-site Bluefin Grille.
If you’re searching for family fun, you’ll find it in the resort’s kids activities program, large swimming pool, ice rink, and nightly campfires. bluefinbay.com
Bluefin Bay’s outdoor hot tub. Photo courtesy of Bluefin Bay.
Detroit Lakes is a vacation destination for a few reasons: the newly remodeled Detroit Mountain Recreation Area (skiing, snowboarding, tubing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing); 250 miles of groomed snowmobile trails in Becker Country (and plenty of places to stop along the way); 40 miles of public cross-country skiing; ice fishing; and Polar Fest—complete with a fishing derby, 5K run, Polaritaville dance, fireworks on the beach, and Polar Plunge—from February 6-15, 2015. Other fun activities in the area include sleigh rides, curling, ice-skating, hockey, live theatre performances, and great shopping. Stay at the Lodge on Lake Detroit while visiting, a luxurious lakefront lifestyle hotel with an eco-green atmosphere, in-house spa, small pool, clean and comfortable rooms, and large lobby featuring a wine bar and occasional live performances. Book a “ski and stay package” and hit the slopes or stay during the weekend of Valentine’s Day and enjoy the music of the Deb Jenkins Band February 15.
The Fargo-Moorhead area 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 historic attraction, watch a sports team, or come for a concert. fargomoorhead.org
Hjemkomst replica Viking ship at Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead. Photo courtesy of Fargo-Moorhead CVB.
Hawks View Cottages
For a peaceful escape from reality that’s not your typical hotel or lodge experience, reserve a room at Hawks View Cottages in the river town of Fountain City, Wis. Situated on a steep bluff (too steep for motorcycles or heavy SUVs), the cottages are like giant tree houses set amidst the river valley. Not only is the setting romantic and unique—with “bird’s eye” views of the Mississippi River through the trees—but there are no electronic distractions, encouraging you and your loved one to spend time enjoying one another’s company and conversation (maybe while warming up in front of the fireplace?). Breakfast and a bottle of wine (not necessarily meant to be paired together) are provided with your stay. hawksview.net
Hawks View Cottages. Photo courtesy of Hawks View Cottages.
Rapid City, SD
The snowy landscape of South Dakota becomes a snowmobiler’s paradise in the winter months, with 350 miles of marked, groomed, mapped trails. Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills remains open year-round, as does Mount Rushmore.
There are also plenty of interesting indoor attractions in Rapid City, South Dakota when snow blankets the ground and below-zero temps move in. Go to the Mammoth Site, Museum of Geology, Journey Museum, South Dakota Air and Space Museum, National Presidential Wax Museum, Dahl Arts Center, or Apex Gallery. Visit from January 30-February 8, 2015 for the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo in the Civic Center. visitrapidcity.com