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7 Ice-Covered Minneapolis Lake Activities

The magic of Minnesota winters shows up in many ways over the course of the season and brings with it a variety of opportunities that can’t be missed. One of these unique experiences is the ability to walk on water! …Well, nearly. With solid ice covering our city lakes throughout the coldest winter months, we are able to ski, skate, celebrate, and come together on Minneapolis’s many frozen lakes. We’ve compiled a list of sports, festivals, and activities to slide right into this winter.

Please always check ice safety before walking out onto any body of water. Visit MNDNR Ice Safety for guidelines, safety tips, and emergency procedures.

#1. The Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival

An annual favorite, the Lake Harriet Kite Festival brings color and flight to Lake Harriet for one weekend a year. This year’s festival takes place on Saturday, January 22, from 12pm – 4pm. In addition to the beautiful kites, there will also be winter activities for all, delicious local food trucks, and free s’mores by the fire to warm up throughout the day.

#2. Ice Skating

Whether it’s a romantic night out, a breath of fresh air, or a weekend family gathering, skating offers a beautiful escape from any indoor routine. Ice skating on one of Minneapolis’s many lakes is a fun and beginner-friendly experience. Find the “Best Spots to Go Ice Skating in Minneapolis” here, and a full list of all outdoor skate rinks here. If you’re new to ice skating, here’s a great guide to get you started.

Images courtesy of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

#3. Ice or Pond Hockey, and the US Pond Hockey Championships

A classic Minnesota sport, ice hockey offers an exciting sport for athletes and spectators alike. The 17th Annual US Pond Hockey Championships take place on Lake Nokomis from January 21 through January 30. Even for a non-hockey enthusiast these games are a site to see. With multiple rinks in place and players buzzing by, the energy in the area is electric.

#4. Cross Country Skiing

Four Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board cross-country skiing areas offer nearly 30 miles of groomed ski trails through parks and across the lakes. Gliding across a Minneapolis lake with both city views and beautiful nature scenes is a unique urban experience. Learn more about maintained trails and access points from MPRB here and about ski passes from The Loppet here. If you’re new to cross-country skiing, here’s a great guide to get you started.

#5. Ice Fishing

While hard to believe for a non-fisher, Minneapolis lakes boast equally great fishing opportunities in the winter months as they do in warmer seasons, though the equipment varies. Find information on ice fishing around the Minneapolis lakes here. To learn more about a lake you plan to fish on, and for maps, netting reports, and consumption advisories, visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR). If you’re new to ice fishing, here are some great tips to keep in mind.

#6. Visit the Art Shanty Projects

The Art Shanty Projects are back this year after a break in 2021. The art projects will be displayed and open to the public on Lake Harriet, near the Bandshell, each weekend between January 15 to February 6 between 10am – 4pm. Be sure to check out this wonderful collection of public art and community celebration.

#7. Walking Across a Minneapolis Lake

If you haven’t taken the opportunity to walk clear across one of Minneapolis’ frozen lakes yet, it is a must this year. The simplicity of trekking over the vast, uninhabited space is chillingly serene.

Featured image courtesy of Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

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