RECREATION & OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

Year-round adventures for all walks of life.

The Twin Cities are more than just a concrete jungle. Perhaps their most beautiful feature is the lush, green parks spread across the metro. In the Trust for Land’s annual Parkscore index for 2016, Minneapolis donned the crown for best city parks in the country, an honor it has held for the past four years, and St. Paul finished right on its tail in a close second place. Talk about a win-win for residents. With all these beautiful areas, it is easy to see why Minneapolis ranked No. 6 and St. Paul No. 23 in Best and Worst Cities for an Active Lifestyle. With more than 50 parks and reserves and 340 miles of trails crawling their way through Minneapolis and St. Paul, these beautiful spaces will have even the biggest of couch potatoes trading their TV remotes for running shoes.

If you are looking for an adrenaline-packed day, look no further than Valleyfair. This theme park in Shakopee offers thrills in the form of high-energy rollercoasters, a wet and wild waterpark, and myriad other family oriented rides. Brave riders will feel their heart pound through their chest as their train slowly click-clacks its way to the top of the first monstrous drop, and then scream as they touch the sky before plummeting 200 feet back to Earth at 74 mph on the iconic Wild Thing roller coaster. And Xtreme Swing transforms one of your neighborhood park favorites into a 125-foot-high, 60 mph ride through the sky. Full of rides, food and other attractions, there is always an adventure to be found at the Midwest’s largest outdoor theme park.

While we are on the subject of the great outdoors in the Twin Cities, we might as well address the elephant in the room. Yes, it can get cold here, and sometimes it can get really, really cold. But don’t let commonly held myths about this “frozen tundra” fool you. The Twin Cities have more in common weather-wise with Chicago and Boston than our brothers to the north in Winnipeg and Fairbanks. In fact, the Twin Cities are geographically closer to Missouri than Canada, and have more sunny days annually than both Chicago and Indianapolis. So throw on some extra layers and enjoy this incredible winter wonderland—we promise Jack Frost’s bark is much worse than his bite.

Formed by the juncture of a glacier and the Minnesota River, Buck Hill offers 15 ski and snowboard runs, a tubing hill, 11 lifts and one of the best powder-making systems in the Midwest. Just a short drive south of Minneapolis, skiers and snowboarders alike are able to hit the same slopes Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn did while learning to become one of the sport’s very best. With daily group and private lessons and runs varying in difficulty, all skill levels, from shredding through the moguls to learning the ropes on the bunny hill, are welcome. For even more skiing and snowboarding fun, Hyland Hills Ski Area in Bloomington offers nine runs, a terrain park and lessons of their own.

The Twin Cities are also ground zero for other fun-filled winter events including Red Bull Crashed Ice and the Saint Paul Winter Carnival. Filled with activities like the Beer Dabbler, Securian Winter Run, parades, an ice palace and more, this-week-and-a-half-long festival takes place in the heart of St. Paul, attracts more than 250,000 visitors annually, and showcases why winter in Minnesota is truly a magical time.

MINNEAPOLIS & ST. PAUL Recreation Stories

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