This past winter was really tough. It seemed like the days of below zero temps, frigid winds, and deep freezes would never end, and we had very few “pleasant” winter days in Minnesota during the 2021-2022 season. When you luck out with days in the high 20s, low 30s, with sun shining on fresh snow that glitters, with appropriate clothing it can be incredibly pleasant. Winter walks around the frozen lakes or through freshly snow-dusted forests on cleared paths can be a fun way to enjoy the outdoors even when the sun goes down at 4:30pm.
This past winter was not one of those winters. It was long and horrible, but we still did our best to enjoy it. Here were some of the things I did to convince myself I don’t hate Minnesota during this past winter season.
New Brighton Ice Castles
These ice castles were somewhat of an outdoor art installation that came to New Brighton, Minnesota. Made from thousands of tiny icicles, it offered a little ice slide (perfect for kids), caves that made for great photo-ops, a fire, food trucks (some with hot beverages) and just a cool thing to check out to break up a long, cold week. Tickets were $15 during the weekdays, and we went right before sunset, which was perfect in my opinion as we got to see the glow of the ice change color as the sun went down. Learn more about the ice castle exhibits for next season if you want to check it out. It would be a great family-friendly winter activity, but it also wasn’t swarmed with small children.
Ice Skating at Sociable Cider Werks
A fun, free Friday night activity to enjoy during the winter months is open skating at Sociable Cider Werks in Northeast Minneapolis. With lovely lighting, warm alcoholic (and non-alcoholic) cider options, a food truck, and live music indoors for when you want to warm up, it’s a great activity for a Friday night if you want to get outside. It’s a small rink and can be a bit chaotic, but it’s fun if you don’t take it too seriously and go for just a few laps.
Vegan Burgers from Francis Burger Joint Food Truck
If I decided to go vegan, and had a craving for a cheeseburger, Francis Burger Joint is where I would go to fully satisfy that craving. Their burgers were so, SO good, I know it’s a cliche but I couldn’t believe that it was totally plant-based. The cheese was melty, the patty was juicy, and the fries were delicious too. The only thing I didn’t love was their signature “Francy Sauce” to dip the fries in, next time I’d go with their Chipotle Mayo or the Habañero BBQ sauce. Francis is a food truck that takes up residencies at different breweries and cider bars in the Twin Cities.
Wild Hockey Games
Before this season, I had never been to a professional hockey game in my life. Now I can say I’ve been to two, and I thoroughly enjoyed both! Even if you’re not a sports person, I think hockey is such a dynamic game than anyone can find it entertaining. Both games I attended the Wild also won, so I’d argue that I am good luck. It was a ton of fun, even if the drinks and food are extremely expensive at the Xcel Energy Center. Definitely pregame before. Check out the GameTime App to get good last-minute deals on tickets too.
Indoor Rollerblading at US Bank Stadium
This is a very fun activity, although I recommend making sure your rollerblades are from this century so they don’t crumble into pieces after a few laps. During the winter months in Minneapolis, you can enjoy US Bank Stadium’s Winter Warm Up – inline skating around the concourse of the stadium on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 5-9pm. It’s a lot of fun to enjoy with friends and it’s a great way to get some cardio exercise. Don’t forget a helmet!
Cozy Brunch at Stella Belle Cafe & Bakery in St. Paul
Stella Belle in Saint Paul is connected to the famous Astoria Cafe, which boasts some gorgeous latte options that are a must if you venture here for brunch. I had the Rainbow Latte while Nayda had the campfire latte, and of course we both had avocado toasts, in true millennial fashion. I guess that’s another year I won’t be able to buy a house… but I’d say it was worth it.
Winter Cooking – Hot Pot
I am happy to say that I did get to experience my first hot pot ever, a delicious meal best enjoyed during the winter months I’d argue. It’s a method of cooking and dining with friends or family by cooking various meats, vegetables, or whatever you want in these large stockpots of hot broth. It was awesome and I 100% want to do this every winter. It’s a great get-together option with friends and family.
I think that’s all. It was a brutal winter and I am happy that we’re cruising into spring and summer. I think next winter I’ll be sure to carve out a few weeks of vacation in a warm place.