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15 Winter Adventures in Minneapolis/Saint Paul

15 Winter Adventures in Minneapolis/Saint Paul

One advantage of cold winters is the abundance of fun outdoor activities they offer! Here in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul area where our headquarters is located, there’s no shortage of winter fun possibilities.

Check out these options, grab your outdoor gear and have some fun:


The Best Outdoor Ice Skating in the Twin Cities

There aren’t too many places in the country where folks can ice skate outdoors all winter long. There are even a couple of unique local rinks that have special refrigeration under the ice to keep it frozen even in milder temperatures. All of these are lighted for night skating as well as daytime, which is super cool too.


The Oval in Roseville

The City of Roseville, next-door neighbor to Saint Paul, hosts The Guidant John Rose Minnesota Oval—locally known as simply The Oval.

The Oval is North America’s largest sheet of refrigerated ice. It’s used all winter long for hockey, speed skating, open recreational skating and lessons of all kinds. It’s part of Roseville’s winter skate park that also includes four hockey rinks inside the oval’s loop.

Parking is free but admission is charged to skate. Be sure to check the website for the public skating schedule. Skate rentals are available in limited sizes.


The Ice Skating Loop in Maple Grove

This 810-foot long and 20-foot wide loop of refrigerated ice has been described as “positively enchanting.” The Ice Skating Loop is located in Maple Grove’s Central Park, a northwest suburb of Minneapolis.

Parking and recreational skating are free (no hockey allowed here) with the surface recoated by Zamboni every couple of hours. A warming house, Winter Snack Bar and rentals are right next to the rink.


Many Area Neighborhood Ice Rinks

There are a couple dozen outdoor skating rinks within the Minneapolis and Saint Paul city limits. Most include separate areas for hockey and free skating. These are often maintained by city staff plus volunteers and are free to use. Some take advantage of frozen lakes for unique skating experiences (like pond hockey) in the right conditions.

Start here for information about outdoor skating in Minneapolis (including a link to the latest flyer with locations and schedules). You’ll find outdoor skating info for Saint Paul here.


Storm Creek Winterwear for Ice Skating

Apparel for outdoor ice skating depends largely on the air temperature. Being that two of the best local places to skate refrigerate their ice means skating is an option even when the temps are mild.


We recommend these for ice skating toastiness and comfort:

SUMMIT JACKET—Oh so cozy and soft, you won’t believe it’s made from between 37 and 40 upcycled plastic bottles! With four color choices for both the men’s and women’s versions, the Summit Jacketfeatures a high-quality bonded fleece exterior with a luxurious Sherpa fleece lining. Perfect for layering or wearing alone.


CATALYST MITTENS & BEANIE—These will ensure a warm head and hands for hours of outside activity. Made of sweater fleece for a classic look and lined with a lofty fleece interior, our Catalyst accessories will complete any outerwear choice.


Snowshoe to Your Heart’s Content

Where can you snowshoe in the Twin Cities? Any public park with snow! While you can snowshoe on designated trails, you can also break your own trail for more adventure in most of our parks. There are so many snowshoe-able acres here well just narrow it down to a few highlights.


Lebanon Hills Regional Park in

Lebanon Hills is within minutes of both the Minneapolis and Saint Paul downtown centers. Its 2,000 acres contain about 14 miles of snowshoe trails (including in the popular Singletrack Park), plus hundreds of off-trail wooded, hilly acres to explore.

As with all Minnesota parks, snowshoeing is NOT allowed on the groomed cross country ski trails. Snowshoe rentals are available. Parking, park entrance and trail use are free.


Pike Island at Fort Snelling State Park in Saint Paul

The snowshoeing experience at Fort Snelling’s Pike Island is unique due to the continuous views of both the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. The Island is located right where these two huge rivers come together.

The ski trail and snowshoe/winter hiking trail are different systems, and both are beautiful. Huge trees, abundant wildlife (even this close to the city) and the rivers make it a wonderful winter destination. Rentals are available during limited hours. A state park vehicle permit is required to park but no there’s fee to use the snowshoe trail.


Theodore Wirth Regional Park in Minneapolis

Snowshoers are welcome on the designated hiking and singletrack trails at Theodore Wirth managed by the Loppet Foundation and Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC). There’s a total of about three miles over various types of terrain. 

Parking and trail use are free and rental gear is available at The Trailhead building.


Storm Creek Performance Outwear for Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing can be low-exertion or high-exertion, depending on the terrain and amount of snow. Layering is always a good idea for winter activities outdoors, and snowshoeing is no exception. Here are great options for winter layering.


GUARDIAN JACKET—The stretchy, waterproof, breathable fleece-lined Guardian Jacket is the perfect outer layer for snowshoeing excursions in most temperatures. It keeps the wind and moisture out while keeping just enough warmth in. And you can feel good knowing each one uses up to 28 upcycled bottles.


FOUNDER HALF ZIP—Wear our Founder Half Zip underneath the Guardian Jacket for exactly the right amount of feather-light warmth. This stylish and high-stretch half zip looks like wool but is super soft and comfy.


Unique Cross Country Skiing in Minneapolis and Saint Paul

Hundreds of miles of cross country (Nordic) ski trails are maintained in the Twin Cities metro area, many of them within the city limits of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. It’s one of our area's most popular outdoor snow sports. Here are just three of the many opportunities out there each winter.


Pike Island at Fort Snelling State Park in Saint Paul

We already listed Pike Island, but it deserves a second mention for skiers. The three-mile skier-only loop around Pike Island provides excellent views of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. You’ll need a state park vehicle permit to enter Fort Snelling and your own skis—no rentals are available in the park. You’ll need the Great Minnesota Ski Pass to use the trail (which you can buy at the park office).


Luminary Loppet in Minneapolis

The Luminary Loppet isn’t a place, it’s an event—a candlelit night ski at one of Minneapolis’ lakes, Lake of the Isles. This magical winter event has become so popular skiers need to reserve a time slot.

With the right conditions, the course goes out on the frozen lake among thousands of luminaries to light the way. Hot chocolate and s’mores are part of the experience. While it’s now become more of a walking event and you won’t find the trail pristinely groomed, it’s absolutely worth the experience anyway. There’s a cost to participate and you’ll need your own skis.


Battle Creek Regional Park in Saint Paul

Battle Creek is one of the many regional parks and park reserves in the metro area with an extensive network of groomed cross country ski trails. The park is especially good for intermediate and advanced skiers with its many large hills. But there’s plenty for beginning skiers, too.

This park is one of several in the Cities that adds artificial snow to some of its trails to extend the season. Some are lighted for night skiing, too. You’ll need one of several different ski passes to use the trails, but there’s no fee to enter the park. Rentals are available.


Cross Country Ski with Storm Creek Layers

Nordic skiing is a high-octane snow sport that warms you up quickly, so a couple of layers are often enough unless it’s unusually cold. Here are a couple of great options:


IDEALIST WINDBREAKER—A windproof and water-resistant shell is ideal for wearing over a midweight layer to ski. Our Idealist Windbreaker breaks the wind, keeps out the wet, is super stretchy to move with you, feather-light and breathable. It’s available with or without a hood.


SIDEKICK CREW—Pair the Idealist with a Sidekick Crew for a winning combo. This midweight pullover offers cloudlike comfort and supreme stretch for free-swinging arms and shoulders while you ski. If you prefer a quarter zip or hoodie, we have those styles in the Sidekick too, along with lots of color options.


Yep, There’s Downhill Skiing in the Cities, too!

OK, we’re not Colorado but we have a surprising number of downhill ski resorts within an hour or two of the Twin Cities! Here are three within 20 miles of either Minneapolis or Saint Paul.


Hyland Hills Ski Area in Bloomington

Part of one of the area park reserves, Hyland Hills Ski Area offers natural and manmade snow for skiing and snowboarding. Lessons, clubs, season passes and more are all available at Hyland.


Buck Hill in Burnsville 

Just 19 miles from downtown Minneapolis, Buck Hill has 15 runs for skiers and snowboarders with 11 lifts. Its ski racing program is known nationally—it’s where Olympians Lindsey Vonn and Kristina Koznick got their start, among others.

For non-racers, there’s plenty of recreational skiing and snowboarding, groups, schools, lessons and season passes.


Afton Alps in Afton

Afton Alps is southwest of Saint Paul in the St Croix River valley, which means nice big hills. This is the largest of the metro’s alpine ski parks with 50 trails, 17 lifts and three terrain parks across 300 skiable acres. Ski and snowboard lessons are available as well as season passes.

Doug Jackson 

Fun Fact: Storm Creek’s founder and co-owner Doug Jackson is an avid skier! If you’re up for a drive, Welch Village Ski & Snowboard Area is only an hour and away and is where Doug learned to ski growing up.


Take to the Slopes with Storm Creek

We’ve got you covered for downhill skiing, too. Warmth, free movement and comfort are essential in skiing apparel. Here are our recommendations for you:


DEFENDER JACKETThe Defender Jacket is for serious cold weather. The waterproof and breathable shell blocks out the wind, cold and wet while the Thermolite insulation keeps in the warmth. It includes a detachable hood.


PACESETTER QUARTER ZIP—The Pacesetter Quarter Zip is one of our most popular items and is a perfect layer for a day on the slopes. So comfy, so soft, so stretchy—and it comes in over a dozen colors for both men and women. Not only that, this lightweight long-sleeve uses 18-20 upcycled plastic bottles per garment.


Get the Whole Family Out Sledding 

Who doesn’t love sledding? All you need is a hill, some snow and a sled and you’re good to go. Sledding is always a fun winter activity for families and friends. Here are three “official” sledding hills of the myriads of options in the metro area.


Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis

Theodore Wirth’s sledding hill is close by Wirth Chalet and its parking area. The hill is free to use and parking is also free. Bring your own sled, toboggan or snow tube and enjoy.


Columbia Golf Club in Minneapolis 

The sledding hill at Columbia Golf Club is known locally as one of the steepest hills around, attracting adventure-seeking winter lovers. Free parking and there’s no cost to use the hill. Bring your own sled.


Battle Creek Regional Park in Saint Paul

The Winter Recreation Area at Battle Creek has another of the steepest, longest sledding hills in the metro. Even better, it’s lighted for nighttime action. There’s no charge to park or use the hill. Bring your own sled.


Storm Creek’s Snowproof Sledding Garb

Sledding is half windy, snowy action and half trudging back up the hill to do it again. You’ll want outerwear that keeps the snow out as much as possible (because you’ll be covered with a lot of it) without making you too warm. Here are a couple of great options:


FRONT RUNNER JACKET—Our Front Runner Jacket offers ideal lightweight warmth for an active winter activity like sledding. And its adjustable drawcord at the hem and snow cuffs at the wrists help keep the snow from getting into unwanted places.


EXPLORER SIDE ZIP RAIN PANTS—We don’t usually think of rain pants for snow activities, but these are ideal! Why? They’re fully seam-sealed and waterproof to keep the snow (and wind) out. They’re breathable, have four-way stretch…and the side zips mean you can put them on over your snow boots. That’s handy! Layer them over whatever warmth you need for the temperature.


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There you have it—15 ways to get outside for winter fun in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul area. And plenty of great fitting and high-performing apparel options to keep you comfy, warm and dry. Enjoy the snow!


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