Winter in the Northland is long, cold, dark, and full of snow. Some locals practically hibernate, venturing out only when necessary, but many others take advantage of some unique opportunities to enjoy the season. Here’s a list of 12 fun things you can do up north this winter:


Hiking in the winter in Minnesota means strapping on a pair of snowshoes and making your own trails! it’s a great way to exercise outside during the snowy season. If you’re hungry for adventure, a good pair of snowshoes can allow you to explore places on the North Shore that you can’t easily get to the rest of the year. Many lodges and outdoor stores rent snowshoes and can offer ideas on cool places to check out.

Dogsled Ride

Love animals? Enjoy a ride through the woods on a snowy trail behind a team of eager dogs! There are several mushers in the area who offer rides near Two Harbors, Grand Marais, and on the Gunflint Trail

Scenic Drive

It’s cold out there! If you’d prefer to explore the frozen landscape without leaving the warmth of your car, you can take a drive up the Gunflint Trail or another maintained country road. If you’re lucky you might see some wildlife, too! Make sure to check the forecast and bring a winter emergency kit, just in case. 

Cozy Dinner

After a day of adventuring, treat yourself to a hearty meal at one of many fantastic restaurants. There are options for everyone, whether you’re looking for a fine dining experience or a casual burger and beer. Keep an eye out for live music schedules!

Downhill or XC Skiing

There’s nothing like a day on the slopes, and Lutsen Mountains has everything a downhill ski enthusiast or snowboarder could want! If skinny skis are more your style, there are miles of groomed trail systems to explore. Like snowshoes, many lodges and stores offer rentals if you’d like to give it a try.


Whether you’re four or forty, sledding is just plain fun! Grand Marais has a sledding hill in the municipal park on the west end of town, but any safe public hill will do!

Ice Skating

Always a classic, ice skating is easy to learn and difficult to master. There are rinks with warming houses and skate rental in Two Harbors, Silver Bay, Tofte, and Grand Marais. If you have your own skates, venturing out onto a pristine, frozen lake or pond can be an incredible experience – but make sure it’s safe first!

Take a Class

There are always a variety of interesting classes and events being held in the area that anyone can join. Some have fees while others are free. Check out the North House Folk School, Grand Marais Art Colony, and Cook County Higher Education for offerings. The North Shore Art Scene also keeps up to date on artistic happenings in the area.

Take Pictures

One of the best things about modern cell phones is they make it easy for anyone to dabble in photography – no fancy equipment required! Winter on the shore provides a unique opportunity to photograph icy landscapes, tranquil scenes, magical sunsets, and dramatic Lake Superior waves. Bring some hand warmers!

Ice Fishing

Fishing is a big part of our heritage here in the Northland, but fishing in winter is a very different experience from the rest of the year. If you like to fish but haven’t drilled a hole through the ice yet, give it a try! 


In some northern places snowmobiles outnumber cars as the best way to get around this time of year. That might not be true for Minnesota, but we still have many snowmobile enthusiasts and miles of maintained snowmobile trails to explore, with several remote restaurants catering to the snow machine crowd. Click here for trail maps and rental information.

Watch the Northern Lights

The aurora borealis, or northern lights, is a beautiful phenomena enjoyed by residents and visitors to the northwoods alike. While they do not follow a set schedule, accurate predictions can be made a couple weeks in advance. When activity is high and skies are clear, you can enjoy a visual experience like no other. Keep an eye on this website for updates:


Hopefully this list gives you some good ideas for things to do this winter season in the beautiful north woods. If you’re more the stay inside by the heater type, remember spring is just around the bend!

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