The Long Winter is upon us.
As far as I am concerned, there are two approaches to Minnesota winters.
#1 Hunker down, which is also synonymous with hibernating.
You know the drill. Shuffle out to your car in what feels like the dead of night, spend all day indoors, and drive home in darkness. Turn up the heat, live in front of your T.V. under a warm blanket, only emerge when the hunger pangs get the best of you. Repeat daily for five months. There is no shame in this method. I have entered periods of this throughout my life in the north. The only issue is you’ll miss out on all the fun winter sports, which brings up to approach number two.
#2 Enter the elements.
This one takes a bit more effort. You either need to grow a winter fur coat or buy proper winter gear. Whatever comes first. The second approach allows you and your children to appreciate all the wonderful winter activities that can only come with living in a cold climate. So parents, don’t just make sure your children have dressed appropriately. Invest, in warm winter wear, including long underwear and wool socks. You can then avoid hibernating for five months and alongside your children, enjoy this controversial season called winter.
One of our favorite winter activities is ice skating. There are some great places to ice skate around Rochester. But, if you are looking to make it a longer outing, an ice-skating Day Trip for the whole family is the perfect thing. There is something extremely memorable about ice-skating outside. I am sharing the two best places we have skated as a family outside the Rochester area.
From Rochester, the drive will take you about an hour and a half. This is a beautiful park year round, but in the winter time, they groom the 10-acre outdoor lake. It consists of canals and large open areas to skate. This is perhaps, my favorite all-time ice skating spot. Probably, because my husband and I used to ice skate here when we were dating. There are lights throughout the park so an evening skate is possible as well as romantic with or without the kids. A beautiful warming house with beverages, snacks, restrooms, and several oversize fireplaces are available. If you own your own skates the cost is free, otherwise, ice skates (figure and hockey) and nordic sleds for pulling the little ones are available to rent.
The Warsinski rinks are located in the middle of Morehouse park. This is a shorter drive from Rochester and will take you about 45 minutes. A section of the frozen lake is groomed and there is a large area available for skating. Trees line a good portion of it creating a magical feel of skating in the natural elements. The Warsinski chalet is a large warming house complete with restrooms, concessions, ice skate and cross-country ski rentals. There is no fee for admission, so either bring your own skates or rent a pair for a low-cost family outing. This park also has skating into the evening and on Saturdays, you might enjoy one of their family bonfire events.
-Both these parks open when the weather permits. Usually, they are open late December to late February but follow the above links to verify times and costs of rentals.