Minnesotans are a special kind of tough — especially when it comes to winter. Instead of shying away from the cold and misery, the people of the North Star state jump in with both feet. Or rather, step carefully since the ground is usually covered in a slick sheet of ice.
1. Jumping in a frozen lake
Speaking of jumping in with both feet… The Polar Plunge is a Minnesota winter staple that requires a certain combo of crazy and daring. Always a fun event, Minnesotans dress up in wacky costumes, or for the very bold, a simple speedo, and leap into the icy, freezing waters of lakes all around the state. And know that it’s worth your extremities going numb for 10 minutes as the Polar Plunge proceeds go towards Special Olympics Minnesota. Though I think I may just send a check instead…
2. Drinking a nice cool beer outside in freezing temps
Blizzards and snow and ice will not come between Minnesotans and a delicious craft beer. As the biggest outdoor beer festival in Minnesota, the Winter Beer Dabbler draws Minnesotans out from hibernation to enjoy unlimited samples of over 600 different beers and ciders from over 180 different breweries. With food vendors, live entertainment, and a silent disco, it’s always a good time. And hey, if you imbibe in enough samples, the cold winter weather might start to seem like not such a big deal after all.
3. Heading out onto the frozen lake for some ice fishing
A quintessential Minnesota pastime, ice fishing on the lake is one activity Minnesotans look forward to each winter. Minnesota plays host to dozens of ice fishing festivals around the state where you can test your skills in ice fishing competitions. Or, you can opt to a more relaxing and recreational ice fishing experience and pull your cozy ice house out onto the lake, turn the heaters on, sit back with an adult beverage, and wait for the fish to bite.
4. Lacing up your sneakers and running a race in nothing but your underwear
In the dead of winter, Minnesotans strip down for a good cause. The annual Cupid’s Undie Run raises money towards finding a cure for neurofibromatosis, a genetic tumor disorder. Runners wear only their skivvies and run/jog about a mile through downtown Minneapolis before wrapping up the fun with a huge party.
5. Bundling up to celebrate at outdoor winter festivals
I don’t know how, but Minnesotans are somehow able to perfectly capture the beauty and joy of winter with dozens upon dozens of winter festivals all throughout the state. The season starts with stunning light displays at the Holidazzle and then continues at the St. Paul Winter Carnival with parades, food vendors, ice bars, and ice palaces, before welcoming in February with one of Minnesota’s favorites, the Luminary Loppet showcasing beautiful illuminated paths on Lake of the Isles where you can walk, snowshoe, or ski. Festivals like these make the harsh Minnesota winter actually bearable.
6. Bringing back childhood nostalgia with a friendly game of pond hockey
It’s Minnesota. Hockey is not just a game but rather part of Minnesota’s identity. And the annual U.S Pond Hockey Championships bring back the playfulness and fond childhood memories of playing a friendly outdoor hockey game with your friends. For 3 days, everyone gathers on Lake Nokomis with the hopes of winning the grand honor of getting their named etched into the Golden Shovel.
7. Paying homage to one of the greatest movies filmed in Minnesota
Okay, perhaps ‘greatest movie’ is an overstatement, but I’m a huge fan of the movie Grumpy Old Men. And it seems most Minnesotans are big fans too. Wabasha, the city where the film takes place, hosts the annual Grumpy Old Men Festival complete with a Grumpy Costume Contest, Grumpy Old Men movie screening, an ice fishing contest, minnow races, a hotdish luncheon, and so much more.
8. Gathering your crew to go on a winter treasure hunt
Every year, the Pioneer Press presents the ultimate treasure hunt challenge. Each day the Pioneer Press prints clues in their paper that will help treasure hunters discover the location of a hidden medallion. And if you’re the lucky one to solve all the clues and find the medallion, you could win up to $10,000. Definitely worth a trek through the snowy city.
9. Creating the ultimate snow sculpture
These are not your average snowmen. Made from tons and tons of snow, Minnesotans create amazing sculptures and intricate designs with some creations standing at a towering 20-some feet tall. Whether you build an incredible snow sculpture in your backyard like the Bartz brothers in New Brighton or try your talents at the Minnesota State Snow Sculpting Competition, this is one Minnesota pastime you can partake in that requires no experience, only your imagination.
10. Ice cream all the time
It’s never too cold for ice cream. Other states may think Minnesotans are crazy for purposely eating a frozen treat in a frozen tundra, but Minnesotans have other ideas. We have delicious ice cream parlors all throughout the Twin Cities with seasonal wintery flavors like Sebastian Joe’s Candy Cane and Eggnog to get us through the cold months. And even in years past, Sebastian Joe’s gave discounts based on the low temperature – the lower the temp, the lower the price.
Welcome to the Minnesota winter.
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