Snowshoeing in Minnesota


Although I’ve only tried snowshoeing once, it’s on my radar to find time to try it again.  Of course seeing more snow on the ground would be a start.  Doing some research, I found that there are endless places to rent snowshoes.  That means there’s really no excuse for giving it a try.

Our recently retired neighbor decided this year is the year to get better nature and wildlife photographs.  He decided that snowshoes just might be the trick to getting those.  Another friend of mine wanted to exercise where there is scenery. Whatever your reason to give it a try, check out some of these places to rent or try them out.  Also if anyone knows of a place we did not mention, please let us know and we will add them to the list.

So many different options, think of all the different scenery you can explore this winter.  A great inexpensive way to get out and see some wildlife and get some exercise.





Northwoods Holiday Fest

The Northwoods Holiday Fest is a chance to bundle up and have some outdoor fun.  The Holiday Fest takes place December 29th, from 10-4 at the Forest History Center near Grand Rapids.  Make sure to dress for the occasion because you will miss out many of the activities if you don’t.  Sledding, sleigh rides, games and more.  More specifics can be found here on the Minnesota Historical Society Website. 

Revel in a winter wonderland of family fun with trolley and sleigh rides, dog sleds, sledding, snowshoeing, snow sculptures, a snow fort and launching snowballs and water balloons with a giant slingshot. Visitors can also tour the logging camp under winter conditions and enjoy wildlife shows and games inside the visitor center.

Outdoor Candlelight Event Roundup

We thought we would share several fun outdoor candlelight events coming up throughout Minnesota.  The common thread is that each of them includes some sort of luminary or candlelight. Some are hiking or walking, while others include snowshoeing or cross country skiing.  Each event is unique with different scenery offered.  Several are free, however some have a small admission or advance registration required to participate.

We have provided links to each event for more information.  It’s also important to mention that the weather does not always cooperate, so check with the individual event if there’s no snow or bad weather conditions.

We are sharing this list a little early so you can plan ahead but also so we can get a longer list.  If you know of others that we have not mentioned, please let us know, we would love to include them in our roundup.   It’s also important to mention and note, given that we don’t have much snow, always check the event before drive to it, to make sure it has not been canceled or postponed as some rely on the white stuff.

Dec 30-Feb 24:  Minnesota State Park Events

Dec 31:  Richfield Woodlake Nature Center 

Jan 11:  West St. Paul Thompson Park 

Jan 19:  Duluth Hartley Nature Center 

Jan 26:  Hastings Spring Lake Park

Feb 2:  Minneapolis Luminary Loppet

Feb 9:  Eagan Lebanon Hills Regional Park

S’more Nature Fun at the Maplewood Nature Center

Winter doesn’t have to mean we stay inside.  It just means we bundle up more.  S’more Nature Fun at the Maplewood Nature Center is an event for all ages.

The event takes place Saturday, December 29th from 1:30-3 and they ask that you register in advance.  Click here to register on their website.  Cost is $5 per person.

(All Ages) It is FUN to be outside in the wintertime! Take a walk or snowshoe down to the pond with the naturalist for a fun exploration then make some Smore’s on the campfire. Yum! Gluten-free and vegan S’more options available upon request. Fee: $5/person. Register by Thursday, Dec 27

Family New Year’s Eve at Lebanon Hills

Are you undecided what to do to celebrate New Year’s Eve?  There’s a great Family New Year’s Eve event at Lebanon Hills in Eagan.  Reasonably priced, with lots of activities both indoor and outdoor.  The admission is $5 per person for age 4 and up.

Fee: $5 per person. Youth ages 3 and younger free. Everyone parking and using the Visitor Center Trailhead will need to pay admission. Tickets on sale now!

Take a look at the full schedule of events and activities here on the event page.

Be the Light Winter Solstice Walk

Not everyone is happy this time of year.  Many of us have lost someone this past year and we are struggling to enjoy the upcoming holidays.  The Be the Light Winter Solstice Walk is a chance to take some time and think of those that are struggling and trying to get through each day.  it takes place Friday, December 21st from 6:30-8 at the Westwood Hills Nature Center. The event is free but registration is required.

We will use this shortest day of the year to help us remember that many in our community aren’t able to “see the light” because of struggles with mental illness or difficult situations. Together we can be the light for those in our community and help them take their first “steps” out of the darkness. Activities will include a self-guided luminary trail, a fire 🔥, s’mores 🍫 and making your own luminary 🕯️. The event is free, but registration is required at

Cross Country Skiing at Night

Many of us look forward to Winter for one reason, the snow.  We live in Minnesota so we might as well embrace it and enjoy the winter activities right?  While cross country skiing is fun, many of us work during the day and have a hard time fitting it into our schedule.

The Three Rivers Park District has the perfect solution; skiing at night and saving money at the same time.  If you ski during evening after 6pm you can save 50% off of ski rentals.  With four different locations to choose from, it provides a nice variety of scenery. You can choose from: Cleary, Elm Creek, French or Hyland and take advantage of 50 percent off cross-country ski rental sets. View regular rental rates.

Trail conditions are available here.

Candy Cane Hunt at Silverwood Park

What could be more fun in the winter than a Candy Cane Hunt?  Silverwood Park in St. Anthony is hosting a Candy Cane Hunt this coming Saturday, December 15th.

  • Warm Treats
  • Games
  • Arts
  • Pictures with Santa
  • Search for Candy Canes

This is a great event for the kids.  You can register in advance here on the park website.

Search for candy canes hidden by Santa’s elves, find 3 and get a prize. Look for canes with golden ribbons for larger prizes. Enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride, warm treats, arts, winter games, and photos with Santa. Hunts for children ages 0-4 begin at 1:30 PM and 2:30 PM; hunts for children ages 5+ begin at 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM. $6/person.

Children 17 years and younger must be accompanied by an adult.

Glow in the Dark Sledding Party

Are you looking at the calendar and wondering what your kids will do over their winter break?  All those hours to fill?  Put the Glow in the Dark Sledding Party on your calendar for December 28th.  An evening of free fun in St Paul Park from 5-7pm.  The kids would be outside and burning off some energy helps them sleep better!  Make sure to check the FB event page here in case temps are too cold or not enough snow.

Join the Park and Rec Commission for our Annual Glow in the Dark Sledding Party on the hill behind City Hall. Free refreshments will be provided, pizza will be sold by the slice, and there will be a bonfire. We can’t wait to see you all at this free event on December 28th from 5 to 7!

Free Admission to All Minnesota State Parks on Black Friday

Hopefully your day today includes some time surrounded by friends or family. Or if you’re like a good friend of mine, then perhaps just a day at home to relax and enjoy a good frozen pizza. However you spend the day, it’s a day to be thankful.

Whatever you choose today, tomorrow will be a new day. For many there’s the tradition of shopping, but for the rest of us, there’s Free Admission to All Minnesota State Parks on Black Friday. A day to explore, hike and wander for free – sounds like a perfect Thrifty Minnesota Day!

Free Admission to All Minnesota State Parks on Black Friday!

The tradition continues! Admission to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas (regularly $7 for one-day vehicle permit) will be free on the day after Thanksgiving again this year.

The goal is to encourage families to extend their holiday by spending time together with a walk outdoors. Research shows that walking offers multiple benefits, from increased creativity and better brain function to more flexibility and stamina. So you won’t just burn calories, you’ll also improve your well-being.

While you’re out there, snap a photo of your Black Friday free park adventure, and share it with us on social media using #FreeParkFriday and #OnlyinMN.

Need a suggestion for a free park adventure?

A few parks will offer special programs on Free Park Friday, and you can visit our events calendar for more information.

If the programs don’t fit your schedule, you can explore on your own. There’s a Minnesota state park or recreation area within about 30 miles of anyone in Minnesota. Use the ParkFinder and HikeFinder tools to help you with your trip-planning.

Important reminders

Be sure to check which parks will have special hunts taking place, so you can plan accordingly.

Many state park offices will be closed or minimally staffed over the holiday weekend, because staff will be taking time off to celebrate with their own families, but visitors can stop at the orientation stations near the park entrance for trail maps and tips on what to see and do at the park.