Baby, it’s cold outside. But that shouldn’t stop Minnesota families from getting outdoors to have fun in our winter wonderland. So for those who find themselves still curled up on the couch, get up. Bundle up. And try out some of these winter family fun activities.
With so much winter fun on deck, you’d better have a cute jacket to wear. Bill Damberg of Brightwater Clothing and Gear in Excelsior has been selling outdoor clothing for 30 years. He recommends dressing in layers, beginning with a base layer of merino wool. Today’s washable wools are so fine and lightweight, they’re like silk. They’re also moisture-wicking, which is most important when you’re outside. But maybe best of all, wool is a great insulator and doesn’t absorb body odor, so you can wear it for a week and everybody will still like you. Mid-layers come in lots of wool and fleece varieties. And for your outer layer, you’ll want something to protect you from wind and moisture. Brightwater carries coats for men and women in variety of weights.
Brightwater Clothing and Gear
256 Water St., Excelsior
Winterize the entire family at Sun and Slope in Wayzata. Kids’ sizes run from 2-18 in boots, hats, mittens, long underwear, neck gaiters, ski helmets and goggles, as well as lots of layering pieces and jackets. The great selection of fashionable and functional winter wear is perfect for enjoying outdoor activities.
Robin McWethy at Sun and Slope says, “Minnesotans have to get outside in winter. But we also have to keep our skin covered in harsh conditions. The ski wear and play-in-the-snow wear we carry is waterproof, breathable and comes in lots of fun colors.” And if you only plan to ski three or four times a year and don’t want ski specific outerwear, the shop has outerwear you can wear to the ski hill and then to yoga class.
Sun and Slope
701 E. Lake St., Wayzata
Skijammers Ski and Snowboard School
These introductory through advanced ski and snowboard lessons for youth include full-day instruction and transportation. Kids are grouped by age and ability, with requests accepted to create groups of friends. Small groups ski with the same coach for eight weeks during January and February. This provides continuity and facilitates physical development and a connection between kids. A unique part of the Skijammer experience is the opportunity for kids to ski on a variety of slopes at different ski areas each week. This prevents skiers from getting bored and helps get students excited to return to their favorite ski areas for family ski trips.
Teaching kids to ski introduces them to a lifetime endeavor that can be enjoyed with the entire family. Parents can get involved with Skijammers as chaperones or instructors. Or tote your skis out to the hill with Skijammers and take a couple of runs along with the kiddos. Minnesota ski areas offer families an exuberant environment where they can hang out together. It’s so much better than sitting in front of the TV.
Ice Fishing Warriors
You’ve heard of ice fishing. Grumpy Old Men is even one of your favorite films. But if you’ve never actually dropped a line through the ice, here’s your opportunity. Jeff Henrichs of Ice Fishing Warriors has two well-appointed fish houses on Lake Minnetonka. Bait, fishing rods and pre-drilled holes are all included. But that’s not all. His fish houses also have heat, bathrooms, bunks, TVs and microwaves. His larger fish house even comes with a stove for cooking your catch or heating a frozen pizza.
Henrichs will hang out to teach a few proven ice fishing techniques or leave you to your fabulous fishing selves. Daylong or overnight rentals can book up quickly, especially on weekends. Henrichs recommends booking at least a week or more in advance. Seems like a great chance to get away and try something wintry without sacrificing too many comforts of home.
Winter Park Programming
Three Rivers Park District offers unique winter activities to help your family have fun and learn new skills. If you love to bike in summer, Three Rivers Park District is offering an opportunity to keep up the pace in winter. That’s right: Biking on snow! Load up the cycles and head out to Elm Creek Park Reserve to check out the Frozen Frolic Winter Race Series on January 10 and February 7. Race through woods and snow banks. Then warm up at the trailhead for awards and door prizes. Studded tires are approved, helmets required. Co-sponsored by Freewheel Bike and Maple Grove Cycling. Registration required.
Winter Festivals & Sporting Events
Laura Hotvet, executive director of the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce, says, “With so many great special winter events happening around town, there is no time for being bored or cold.” Like the Big Island & Back cross country ski event on February 7. This Nordic ski race benefits the ICA food shelf. And if you’re not a Nordic skier, there will be lots of other family fun activities happening around town that day.
Arctic Fever strikes January 16–18. This winter festival involves outdoor venues in Excelsior, Shoreview and Tonka Bay, with events such as a princess tea, snow sculpture contest, skijoring, wagon rides, sled dog rides, a sledding hill and other winter fun.