Enough of COVID and school closures? Take to the outdoors

First graders run around with snowshoes on in Mary Cappel's physical education class in this 2013 file photo at Jefferson Elementary School in Winona, Minn.
Andrew Link | Winona Daily News 2013

It’s a double whammy weekend. 

Snow is back and many schools are shutting down for the next few days or couple of weeks to address the omicron scourge leaving sickness in its wake. That means you and the kids inside for hours and hours and hours. 

What better time to pack up the little ones and head outside. Don’t have kids? You likely need a break and some fresh air, too. This round-up of outside fun is easily adaptable for anyone. 

Take a hike 

The state is home to nearly 20 parks with plowed or packed trails for hikers. Bundle up, head out and get those legs and arms moving. 

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The DNR offers the following advice before you head out:

Is a state park too far away? Check your local community’s website for parks and local trails, many of which are free and open to residents.

Sunset across Basswood Lake
Two people snowshoeing across Basswood Lake.
Courtesy Dave Freeman

Snowshoe and ski — did someone say sauna, too?

Strap on the snowshoes, skis or skates for some real exercise. 

Again, many state and local parks offer skiing, snowshoeing or ice-skating options.

In the Greater Twin Cities metro area, we like:

In Minneapolis, we like: 

In St. Paul, we like:

In Duluth and along the North Shore

Heavy snow in parts of the Twin Cities metro area
Stephanie Wolf sleds past a tipped-over Adrian and Bryson Wilson on a hill at Powderhorn Park in Minneapolis on Dec. 11, 2021.
Tim Evans for MPR News file

Best sledding hills

Sledding is a surefire stress reliever and makes almost all of us child-like again. And, we dare you not to laugh as you jump on a sled or a tube. Plus, you know what comes after sledding, right? Hot cocoa. 

So break out the sled or inner tube — some locations offer rentals, but check before you go — and take the hills. Just remember to accompany the little ones (under age 5). 

Here’s a few of the best hills around the state:

Get out on a lake

It's Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend in Minnesota, from Jan. 15-17. That means Minnesota residents can fish without a license if they are fishing with a child age 15 or younger.

It's part of efforts to get more young people involved in fishing. If you haven’t gone ice fishing before, the DNR has some tips.

But remember: no lake ice is 100 percent safe. Be sure to check ice conditions before venturing out onto a frozen lake.

A man shoveling snow from a sidewalk.
Matt Shively shovels snow from a sidewalk near his home in St. Paul in this 2020 file photo.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

Help your neighbor

Almost nothing feels better than helping folks out. Got a friend, family member or neighbor who is homebound or maybe is sick?

  • Show up with a shovel and dig them out.

  • Offer to pick up their groceries or pharmacy order.

  • Create fun, homemade cards with kids in the morning and drop in the afternoon. You could always drop your card in with a homemade care package, too. Think small: tea, a lemon, a candle, tissues, a puzzle book or a puzzle. 

  • Or, start Valentine’s Day early and make some Valentine’s Day cards and deliver them early. Here are some ideas to get you started. I mean, who doesn’t like a Valentine?