Sometimes, winter in Minnesota can feel like it lasts forever. It would be easy to hop on a plane and go somewhere sunny, but sometimes a big adventure isn’t in the cards. Instead, try making the most of it by enjoying what area vacation destinations have to offer right here in our own backyard. Indoors or outdoors, you’ll be surprised by how much you can enjoy the cold, snowy north with these winter day trips.
5150 Fairview Drive
Eau Claire, WI 54701
Metropolis Resort is across the border in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. This 90-minute drive is an easy winter day trip on I-94 east out of the Twin Cities. When you arrive at Metropolis, there are endless options to avoid the blustery weather. Check out the Chaos Waterpark, where you can try the many water attractions including Bailout, the water slide that drops you 40 feet at crazy-fast speeds or Hurricane Run, the twisty tube slide.
If relaxing is what you had in mind, try the lazy river water ride or a dip in the hot tub reserved for patrons over 16 years of age. Small children will enjoy Metropolis too. Mayhem Bay provides fun for little ones with water activities perfect for their age including tunnels, water spouts and tamer slides.
When your crowd becomes waterlogged, check out the indoor entertainment at Metropolis Resort. Action City includes go-karts, arcade games, batting cages, a climbing wall, laser tag and more. Metropolis Resort provides sleek and comfortable accommodations, with guest rooms including suites, bunk rooms, fireplace flats and ‘locker rooms’ which sleep up to 20. Dining is also easy at Metropolis. Not only is a free and hot breakfast buffet included with your stay, but restaurant options are available onsite as well.
Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast
1 Lighthouse Point
Two Harbors, MN 55616
So maybe this isn’t a winter day trip – it’s more of an overnight trip. Nonetheless, it’s totally worth the three-hour drive up I-35 to the shoreline of Lake Superior. At the North Shore of this Great Lake sits a lighthouse that has been beautifully restored and is accessible to guests who want peace and tranquility. Built in 1892, the Two Harbors Light Station is the oldest operating lighthouse in Minnesota. Within this historic building lives Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast, which has four guest rooms within its ‘keepers quarters.’ These quaint rooms each have a view of Lake Superior and your stay includes a candlelit Scandinavian breakfast.
Outdoor winter activities include spotting wildlife including deer and birds or utilizing nearby trails for hiking, skiing, snowmobiling or snowshoeing. Children are welcomed at Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast with prior arrangement and renting the three rooms that join to a communal bath is a great option for families.
9500 Spirit Mountain Place
Duluth, MN 55810
A drive up I-35E north for a little over two hours will bring you to Spirit Mountain in Duluth. Spirit Mountain offers a wealth of winter activities for the family. With 22 downhill ski runs, 22 kilometers of Nordic ski trails, a snow tubing park, an alpine coaster and zip line, plenty of time can be spent outdoors. When you need to warm up, come into the chalet for some good food at the Riverside Bar & Grill. Spirit Mountain also boasts plenty of events throughout the year including ski races, a winter solstice celebration and visits from Santa.
Grand View Lodge
23521 Nokomis Ave.
Nisswa, MN 56468
From just outside the Twin Cities, US-10W will take you to Nisswa, just 2.5 hours away. This resort destination allows your family all the relaxation or activity it needs and in a beautiful environment. There is a wide variety of lodging options including log-sided cabins, cottages and suites. There are also plenty of areas to dine within the resort and the activities are endless. For winter, families can ice fish, dog sled, take a sleigh ride, snowmobile or just rent movies and stay cozy by the fireplace.
National Eagle Center
50 Pembroke Ave.
Wabasha, MN 55981
Only 90 minutes outside of the Twin Cities using US-61 S, the National Eagle Center is one of our favorite winter day trips this time of year. Not only do the barren trees provide the perfect backdrop to spot the birds on eagle-viewing field trips, but the sleek Eagle Center building allows for minimal chill while enjoying the classroom programs featuring live, rescued eagles. There are also plenty of indoor exhibits to peruse and learn more about America’s national bird. Or slip outside to the observation decks and use the spotting scopes to spot wild eagles along the river banks.