I’m a Minnesota newbie. February 2019 was my first month living here. It also happened to be the snowiest February in Minneapolis history. I didn’t let that stop me from getting out and experiencing as much as I could. Here’s a roundup of some of my favorite activities from this month and things I would highly recommend checking out in the winter – most are pretty affordable as well!
Go Chasing (Frozen) Waterfalls
Minnehaha Falls (pictured above) in Minnehaha Park is located within the city limits of Minneapolis. It’s a very popular spot for locals and tourists to visit. It’s easy to get to, you can drive or take the Metro Blue Line and from there it’s just a short walk to get to the falls. I wasn’t a fan of how crowded it was but it was a weekend after all. Most people ignored the fencing and “Do Not Enter” signs on the stairs down to the falls and chose to slide down the icy steps to explore the falls more thoroughly. Being all too fearful and respectful of authority, I just admired them from a distance.
If you’re looking for something a little less touristy, there are smaller falls about a 10 minute drive from Minnehaha Park right near the Mississippi River called Shadow Falls. At first it didn’t seem like much but as we wandered off the path and into some extremely deep snow but we found a footpath that lead to a small creek, which then lead to a beautiful frozen waterfall. Not nearly as big as Minnehaha Falls but equally breathtaking and even more special because we were the only souls around.
Eat ALL the Restaurant Week Food
Some people need a little motivation to leave their warm and cozy homes in the dead of winter and there’s nothing more motivating than some amazing food. MPLS St. Paul Restaurant Week usually takes place in February. It’s an awesome opportunity to try out some restaurants or cuisines that you might not usually go for. Participating restaurants have a set menu for you to pick from at a fixed price, usually around $30. You get an appetizer, entrée and dessert!
Some restaurants I’ve enjoyed this month in no particular order are Manny’s Steakhouse for their incredible selection of steaks (duh), Bachelor Farmer for their delectable Pork Chops (go on a Monday or they sell out!), Taco Cat in the Midtown Global Market for fulfilling my taco needs, Rustica for warming me up with coffee and baked goods, Uptown Diner for coming in strong with their 24 hour breakfast and plate-size chocolate chip cookie dough pancake, and of course Izzy’s Ice Cream because regardless of the temperature outside, Minnesotans will be having their ice cream.
Wow – that sounded like an Oscars thank you speech.
Attend a Timberwolves Game
If you aren’t a huge NBA fan, you might think to pass over this one, but hear me out because the Timberwolves can still offer a fun night out. Target Center is extremely easy to get to and if you go on a random week night you’ll be able to get parking for $10 or less in one of the ramps connected to the skyway. You never even have to go outside! Tickets to an NBA game in February can also be pretty affordable depending on the opponent. Plus, NBA games offer a ton of entertainment surrounding the basketball game and usually feature a fun halftime show.
Check out the Beer Dabbler
Beer Festivals typically pop up in the summer months and offer beer lovers a chance to sample dozens of brews, most often from local or craft breweries but you’ll also see the big brands at these events as well. I’ve been to my fare share of beer festivals and the Winter Beer Dabbler stands out because a) it’s held in the winter (obviously) and b) it is at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, which are humongous. Entry is a little pricey in my opinion at $45 but to get your money’s worth I would recommend bundling up and taking your time as you do your rounds so you can get the full use of the 3.5 hour event.
Minneapolis is not lacking in park lands and there are a number of parks and reserves that offer a plethora of outdoor activities, including biking, boating, camping, disc golf, fishing, dog-friendly trails and beaches, downhill skiing, hiking, sledding, snowshoeing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing among other things.
I’ve attempted cross-country skiing way back in the day using my grandmother’s skis at her house on a lake in northern Michigan, but this was my first cross-country skiing excursion on a proper trail. We went to Hyland Lake Park Reserve, about a 20 minute drive from Uptown Minneapolis. Very close to the city but it felt like we were far from civilization. They had trails of varying difficulty and a scenic loop around Hyland Lake. People of any skill level would be able to enjoy it. They even offer lessons if you’re unsure your first time. The best part is that no matter how chilly it is outside you are guaranteed to work up some heat and get in a workout without even knowing it!
Find Your Local Alumni Group
Unlike Chicago, there aren’t many Michigan State bars in Minneapolis. But fortunately for me, the local chapter of the MSU Alumni Association, Twin Cities Spartans, held a watch party for the MSU vs U of M basketball game. If you’ve ever gone out to a bar or restaurant to watch a sporting event of any sort, you know that it’s a huge luxury to have the audio on for the game. Most Alumni Groups offer networking and volunteer opportunities as well. It’s a great resource when looking for ways to get out in the community.
I’d love to hear how you entertain yourself in the winter, even if it’s just Netflix! (What are you watching? I started watching 24 recently and am loving the nostalgia.) Leave me a comment and let me know what you’ve been up to this past month.