family travels off the beaten path

Top Things to Do in Minneapolis This Winter

Top Things to Do in Minneapolis This Winter

Minnesota: Land of 10,000 Lakes and 10,000 Reasons to Visit

Minneapolis in the winter?! Are you crazy?? No, I’m just a born and raised Minnesotan. Nowadays, we travel back to Minnesota on a regular basis to visit friends and family. No matter where we find ourselves, Minnesota will always have a special place in our hearts. For some, it seems that when they think about Minnesota, they find themselves hearing accents thicker than the movie, “Fargo,” and convinced that all meals are either lutefisk (sorry, no) or some sort of hotdish (let’s be honest that’s only a few times a month).  Also, worth noting, Minnesota is not a million degrees below zero or buried in 18 feet of snow (at least not all year). On top of all that, or hidden under the snow, you’ll find a state rich in great food, amazing people, unreal outdoor activities and a thriving arts and culture scene.

Minnesotans are preparing to share the place they call home with more than 125,000 people visiting to cheer on the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles for Super Bowl LII held at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis next weekend. Why not visit Minneapolis yourself and enjoy a slice of what this booming and hip city has to offer? Surly Brewing even put together this awesome, and completely spot on “Primer to Minnesota” — do note, it is not completely kid friendly, so don’t read aloud. 

Things to do in Minneapolis, MN in the winter

Things to Eat in Minneapolis

One of the key aspects of travel, at least for our family, always seems to be about the food. We love to try new foods and find the hidden gems in each city we visit. Here, we’ll help you take the guess work out of your visit to Minneapolis and share some of our favorite eateries for every meal of the day.


If you prefer a pastry for breakfast, look no further than Isle Bun & Coffee where you must order a cinnamon roll and puppy dog tails or Glam Doll Donuts for all things donut. Personally, I think that there is no better way to start a day in Minneapolis than with a plate of corn pancakes at Maria’s Cafe. I’m also a fan of Turtle Bread Company or Patisserie 46. There may be a trend here — I am clearly not gluten free.

In my humble opinion, breakfast weekend brunch should always be accompanied by a bloody mary. Expert tip: When you order a bloody mary in Minnesota, do note that they typically come with a snit. A snit is a small beer chaser and should preferably be a great local beer such as Surly, Fulton or Grain Belt. Our top choice for bloody mary’s would be over at Bryant Lake Bowl, where you can eat and then grab a lane and bowl before continuing on with your day.


After a day of playing outside, perhaps skiing and snowshoeing on the chain of lakes in Minneapolis, you should grab a slice of pizza, a salad and a delicious focaccia over at Broder’s. We also love to head to Eat Street in Minneapolis for take out. When wandering down Eat Street, my go to choice would be Jasmine Deli. Now I’m getting hungry….

I’ll also add a few others to the mix for lunch and dinner recommendations. I’ve had many meals at The Local in downtown Minneapolis and have yet to be disappointed. Plus the ambiance takes me back to Ireland whenever I am there. Not in the mood for a pub? Head over to The Butcher and the Boar for a great night out.


The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are home to numerous breweries, most of which are family friendly. If you’re in the mood to try a local brew or two, give Surly, Fulton, Indeed and Dangerous Man breweries a try – but perhaps not all on the same day unless you’re using Uber or Lyft!

Things to Do Outside in the Twin Cities

When traveling to Minnesota with kids, you never know what the weather can bring. We’ve lived through plenty of blizzards and below zero days to know that it’s all about good layers of clothes, a great pair of boots and a well insulated mug of hot cocoa.

Top Things to Do in Minneapolis, MN in the Winter

Every Minnesotan knows that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. Don’t let the winter temperatures scare you away from some of amazing outdoor fun!

Bridging the gap between local artists and community, the Art Shanty Project provides a unique experience to take part in local art on top of a frozen lake! Just a hop, skip and a jump from downtown Minneapolis, this year you can visit the Art Shanties on Lake Harriet in the Linden Hills neighborhood. This year’s Art Shanty Project runs at the same time as the Super Bowl, making sure that residents and visitors alike can enjoy all that Minnesota artists have to offer.

Grab your skis, snowshoes or kites and head to the chain of lakes in Minneapolis. Not only can you take a great walk around the perimeter of Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles, you’ll find access to top notch outdoor recreation at any time of the year. Visiting in the spring, summer or fall? Use a Nice Ride MN to tour the area by bike and rent a kayak or paddle board to explore!

Take the outdoors in with a day trip to the Como Zoo & Conservatory in St. Paul. During the Super Bowl, you can enjoy a fabulous Winter Flower Show at the Conservatory and surround yourself with warm temperatures and beautiful greenery. Sometimes it feels like a tropical vacation in your Minnesota backyard. Additionally, you can wander through the Como Zoo, which is free and filled with fun for kids and grownups!

Things to Do Inside during a Minneapolis Winter

Indoor activities can be the perfect way to get out of the winter chill if it is a bit too cold for you. Not to worry if the cold is keeping you indoors, we’ve got plenty of great fun to be had!

When our kids need to run off some energy, one of our first stops is always Good Times Park in Eagan, located a brief 20 minutes from Minneapolis and St. Paul. This huge indoor play area includes playground equipment, a basketball court, a turf soccer/football field and a giant trampoline our children lovingly call “bouncy pillow.” Socks and shoes are required, so don’t come in your bare feet!

The Minneapolis Institute of Art is a beautifully curated art museum on an expansive campus. Best of all, it is free! You’ll be amazed at the quality of this museum located in the Whittier neighborhood of Minneapolis and near countless food choices on Eat Street (remember, my favorite is Jasmine Deli!).

Of course, you’ll also find plenty to do at the Mall of America near the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport in Bloomington. From the fun of the Crayola Experience to the thrill of the rides at Nickelodeon Universe to a round of golf at Moose Mountain. You’ll find something for everyone…not to mention, countless places to eat and shop! Getting to the MOA is easy from downtown Minneapolis, just hop on the light rail and you’ll arrive easily without much wait time outdoors!

Things to do in Minneapolis, MN in the winter

Minneapolis: Fun in Every Season

Who would think to visit Minnesota in the winter? I’ll be the first to tell you, that Minneapolis can be a great destination no matter when you are visiting. From the ease of transportation with the Light Rail system to the awesome indoor and outdoor activities…and of course amazing food and drink, you won’t be disappointed no matter when you visit. 

Heading North from Minneapolis? Be sure to check out all that Duluth has to offer.

Top Things Family Friendly to Do in Minneapolis, MN in the Winter