Friday, March 6, 2015

Winter Weekend Getaways in Minnesota

By mid-February, most Minnesotan’s crave a vacation. After a snow event and frigid temps that normally follow, we all get locked  indoors for months without end. A get away from the stress of work (think frozen or broken water lines) and everyday life is sometimes just what we need. When a plane ticket to the Caribbean is not in the cards, what should you do instead?

The answer to that question is simple: take a Minnesota vacation! Below, we’ve listed 6 of our favorite places to visit on a quiet weekend in the dead of winter. These getaway spots are easy, accessible, and fun!

Minnehaha Falls is a natural winter wonderland. Sawdust_media, Flickr

Aside from lakes, Minnesota is full of state parks, each of which has something unique to offer its visitors -- no matter the season! In the wintertime, there are more than two dozen parks that offer heated cabin rentals, making it easy to explore and enjoy your favorite natural habitat no matter the temperature.

Bonus: Many state parks offer classes or events that help individuals and families learn new wintertime activities, including but not limited to ice fishing, snowshoeing, and winter birdwatching. 
Adventurers are welcome to explore Ely. Chad Hennell, Flickr

 Always a favorite in the summertime, Ely is a Minnesotan spot made for the avid type. In the wintertime, however, the options are even more endless. Downtown Ely houses many options for dining or shopping, while the great outdoor terrain offers ice fishing, snowmobiling, and cross country skiing options.

Bonus: The Grand Ely Lodge has fish house rentals available on Shagawa Lake, which sits near miles of groomed snowmobile trails. Score!

Duluth, MN, is a winter haven. Canal Park, located right on Lake Superior, offers the best of dining, downtown shopping, and historic sightseeing all in one compact location. It’s the perfect destination for people who want a winter getaway but don’t necessarily want to hit the slopes.

Spirit Mtn. offers some of the best MN slopes. MarLeah Cole, Flickr

However, many Minnesotans love strapping on the skis in midst of freshly powdered hills, and there’s no better place to visit than Spirit Mountain in West Duluth. Affordable deals on skiing and snowboarding are offered by both the resort and nearby hotels, making it a great option for vacationers on a budget.

Bonus: Snowshoeing the Superior Hiking Trail, one of the most beautiful trails in Duluth, is free! Depending on the time of your stay, it is also a treat to watch the John Beargrease Sled-Dog Marathon with the kids.

Chilly family fun! Bearskin Lodge, Flickr

3. Bearskin Lodge in Gunflint Trail, MN Bearskin Lodge is an absolute winter wonderland, with something for everyone hidden somewhere in its depths. Snowshoeing is available through the woods and along Bearskin Lake on groomed trails, making it an ideal location for beginners and experts alike. Broomball, ice skating on the lake, dog sledding, skiing, and snowmobiling are also available!

Bonus: 1.5 km of Bearskin Lodge’s trails are lighted, so if you head over to Gunflint Trail, we strongly recommend trying your hand (or foot) at night skiing.

Thumper Pond offers fun for the whole family, indoors or out.
Craving some open water instead of the frozen stuff this winter? Head to Thumper Pond Resort. Boasting a 12,000 square foot indoor waterpark, the venue is rustically themed and equipped to leave each family member having fun no matter their age. Activities included in the waterpark include slides, geysers, pools, lazy rivers and a multi-capacity whirlpool.

Bonus: Want the best of both worlds? To get your outside fix, utilize the more than 500-miles of snowmobile-friendly trails in the area. If riding’s not your style, cross country skiing and ice fishing at also available.

Voted one of the top spots to downhill ski in our great state, the North Shore’s Lutsen Mountains are a must-see for anyone craving a bit of extreme outdoor activity. Inside its four hills and 1,000 acres, Lutsen offers 92 runs on some of the highest slopes in the region. Despite its extreme statistics, the area is also known for its family-friendly activities, lakeside dining room, and pool-sauna experiences.

Bonus: Want to take the region’s only gondola ride? It’s offered here exclusively. 

Beautiful slopes and intense terrain collide at Lutsen. John Warren, Flickr
We know we missed at least one? Comment below and let us know your favorite Minnesotan places to stay and enjoy the winter season. The opportunities are endless the beautiful state of Minnesota!