In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it can be easy to forget that winter has a lot more to offer than candy canes and Christmas trees. But our country is full of cold-weather places with unique ways to embrace the winter season that go beyond your local ski slope or ice skating rink. Yes, this could be the year you hit wooded trails via snowmobile, relax in hot springs in the shadow of a mountain range, or take an actual horse-drawn sleigh ride — all you need is a free weekend, some willing family members or friends, and a warm wardrobe. So if you’re ready to book a trip, add one of these destinations to your winter itinerary.
Experience The Great Northern festival
Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota
Chalk it up to hearty residents used to living through heavy snow and extreme cold, but no state does winter like Minnesota. If you want to hit all the best parts of the season in one go, there’s no better time to visit than during The Great Northern festival. This 11-day winter extravaganza (January 23-February 2) includes a long list of seasonal fun on both sides of the Twin Cities. In Minneapolis, make sure to attend the Loppet Winter Festival, where you can walk on Lake of the Isles at night to see candlelit ice sculptures in the Luminary Loppet or play kubb, a Swedish outdoor lawn game, in the world’s largest winter kubb tournament. If you prefer a higher octane event, head to the US Pond Hockey Championships, where you’ll witness the best of the best from this proudly Minnesotan sport compete to win the Golden Shovel.