50 reasons we love winter in Minnesota

Categories: Lists
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No, winters in Minnesota aren't easy. And yes, there are times we think those southbound snowbirds have figured out what it's all about. But all the grumbling and shivering and frostbite aside, there are reasons we continue to live in this great state during the frigid winter months. In fact, here are 50 of them. Did we miss anything? Leave your favorites in the comments!

See also:
50 Reasons We Love Summer in Minnesota
50 Shades of Minnesota: 50 reasons Minnesota is sexy


50. Warming House Hot Chocolate
Sorry mom, but those powdery cocoa-flavored cups of hot water that you served us as children just won't do. Zac and Jill Stafford of the Warming House have concocted several types of rich liquid chocolate for the adult palate. Sadly, their plans to roll out a winter food truck have been delayed, but look for them at various events, including the Kingfield Winter Market.

49. Water Park of America
Two words: hot tubs. If you feel the blues creeping into your bones, there's always the Water Park of America. It stays open through the coldest parts of the year (though mostly on weekends). Few things scream "escapism" like floating on a lazy river or descending 10 stories on a slide while a blizzard rages outside.

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Image from a 2011 jump
48. The Polar Bear Plunges
Who knew that jumping in a frozen lake in the dead of winter could be so much fun? Each year, folks dress up in wild costumes -- think ballerina gear, superhero get-ups, and tropical swimwear -- and plunge into frosty waters, often in sub-zero temperatures. They're not doing it because they're crazy; the events raise funds for Special Olympics Minnesota. To find a Polar Bear Plunge at a lake near you, visit our calendar events page.

47. Ice doing weird stuff
Sure, the ice sculptures created during the Saint Paul Winter Carnival are pretty cool. However, at least once a year Mother Nature reminds us that she's the best artist of them all. We're even more aware of this nowadays thanks to the ubiquity of camera phones, Facebook, and YouTube. Inspiration can strike in especially weird and unexpected ways when temperatures fluctuate between freezing and thawing, as noted last year in two incidents where icicles sprung from Minnesota lakes and managed to push their way into nearby homes. When will ice strike next? We'll have to see -- and watch in amazement -- this winter.

46. Curling up with a book
Don't feel like shoveling your way out of the driveway? Give Old Man Winter the finger by spending your day with a good book courtesy of a local author or publisher. Suggestions: Rock Ink Roll, a comics anthology; Potluck Supper with Meeting to Follow, a witty and intimate collection of essays by Andy Sturdevant; Augie's Secrets: The Minneapolis Mob and the King of Hennepin Strip, by Neal Karlen.

45. Winter farmers markets
Just because the temperatures drop off doesn't mean that farmers' market attendance has to as well. Smart shoppers maintain their weekend routine throughout the colder months by heading to one of a handful of our indoor farmers markets (or the downtown St. Paul market, which takes place both outdoors and inside Golden's Deli.) The Mill City Farmers' Market moves from the outdoor mall near the Guthrie to inside the Mill City Museum. The Midtown Farmers' Market tucks itself inside the Midtown Global Market. Stock up on tubers, roots, and other winter veggies as well as prepackaged products like honey, jams, candies, and baking mixes without braving the cold.

44. That warm feeling you get from snowblowing a neighbor's sidewalk
It isn't as warm as the feeling you get when you are inside, no longer snowblowing the sidewalk, but it's a good feeling nonetheless.

43. The 34th Annual John Lennon Tribute
Beatles aficionado Curtiss A has gotten a little help from his famous friends for the John Lennon Tribute over the past three decades. On Sunday, December 8, the crew includes the resurgent Suburbs, the Cactus Blossoms, and Sonny Knight & the Lakers.

42. Feeling like a badass
We take more than a little pride in being able to brave these ridiculously cold winters. When your buddy in California complains about it dipping below 50 degrees? Give him a smack-down. When your friends down South say, "I could never live that far north"? Puff up your chest. When you make it to the bar without biting it on the ice? Buy yourself an extra round. And then cab it home just to be safe.

41. Spring fever
By the end of winter, people start getting weird. While other cities enjoy April showers and May flowers, here we're just as likely to be shoveling fresh snow and getting a little stir crazy -- but in the best way, of course. Among the oddities spotted in April 2013, better known as the tail end of the Winter Without End: a neighbor who decided the late snow was a sign from nature to fulfill his winter goal. One night, he built a snow fort in the front yard, wrapped himself in a blue tarp and some cardboard, and slept in it.

40. Having a good excuse to stay in
This can mean curling up with a book (see #46) or just having a reason not to go to that awkward holiday party. Cold weather can be a hermit's best friend.


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