Winter might seem like the ideal time to stay inside to read books and play board games, but we know that there is much more to do during the day than sitting inside. We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 winter activities to do on the North Shore. How many of them have you tried?

1. Ski/ Snowboard: Rising more than 1000 feet about the coast of Lake Superior, the Sawtooth Mountains are home to some of the most rugged terrain you can find in the Midwest. Perfectly located on the North Shore, these mountains let you enjoy a day full of skiing or snowboarding, while also enjoying some spectacular views. Just four hours from the Twin Cities, Lutsen Mountains has it all:

  • Four big mountains spanning 1000 acres
  • Over 1000 feet of vertical
  • New 6-person high-speed chairlift and Summit Express Gondola
  • 95 beautiful runs, from bunny hills to double black diamonds
  • Five terrain parks for those daredevils
  • 60 acres of tree skiing
  • Don’t forget those breathtaking views

2. Cross Country Skiing: Cook County is home to the largest cross-country trail system in North America spanning over 400 kilometers. Whether you’re an expert looking to test your skills, a family planning a day out in the outdoors, or someone who is new to the sport, these well-groomed trails will be sure to meet your needs, and more!

3. Festivals/Events/Music: All along the North Shore, there are places to listen to, learn about, and make music.
Year round, visitors can find live music most days of the week at local venues. Up-and-coming artists from the Twin Cities make spontaneous visits all the time and there are also many shows and events on the weekends that vary from comedy to family-oriented acts!

4. Snowmobiling: This is snowmobiling like nowhere else in the Midwest! The North Shore is home to over 450 miles of trails. Riders can travel and experience some of the most breathtaking views of Minnesota. From the Lutsen-Tofte area, all the way to Grand Marais, the most difficult decision you will make is where to start! The local club, the Ridge Riders Snowmobile Club, is active all winter long, sponsoring rides, contests, and other events throughout the season. If you like to plan your own adventures, visit our snowmobiling page for trail maps, snow updates and rental information.

5. Snowshoeing: Snowshoeing is becoming a very popular hobby for people on the North Shore. Strap on a pair of snowshoes and take a stroll to a waterfall, overlook, or just enjoy the scenery around you. While there are plenty of trails for you to follow, many people enjoy snowshoeing through the freshly fallen snow.

The snowshoes come in different styles ranging from the traditional Ojibwe-style wooden frames to the more modern style made of metal and plastic. Either one will guarantee you a fun-filled day trekking through the magnificent white North! If you don’t have the proper gear and are looking to rent or buy, many Cook County businesses offer great deals on snowshoeing gear. Looking for rentals or trying to figure out where to go? Visit our snowshoeing page for more information.

6. Ice fishing: Around 850 lakes are waiting for you to try your luck at northern, walleye, rainbow trout, and the famous lake trout! The North Shore offers a variety of lakes from big to small to cast a line and enjoy a beautiful day on. Be sure the ice is thick enough, bring proper clothing, and maybe even bring along some type of shelter to keep warm. Local businesses provide proper equipment and tackle for all your fishing needs.

7. Northern Lights: Viewing the Aurora Borealis, or “Northern Lights” as they are most commonly referred to as, is what makes northern Minnesota so unique. We are lucky enough to see these spectacular views every so often and so can you! Find a clear, cool night with little to no moonlight and look north to hopefully catch a glimpse of them. Be patient, as what makes them so unique is their unpredictability.

8. Dogsledding: Just because you don’t have your own pack of dogs to lead you on an adventure doesn’t mean you can’t experience the thrill of it. In Cook County, there are several dog mushing companies that will take you out on the adventure of a lifetime. Take a 2- hour, half-day, or full-day trip with a dog sledding professional and it will be unforgettable.

If you’re just looking to spectate, many dog sled races, like the Gunflint Mail Run and John Beagrease Sled Dog Marathon are also hosted throughout the year.

9. Take a class: Looking for a relaxing day filled with culture and information on the wonders of the North Shore? Look no further! Here in Cook County, at the North House Folk School or Grand Marais Art Colony, you can take a class, or watch skilled artists and crafters at work. These professionals are so good at what they do, you’ll be begging them to keep going.

10. Fat Biking: Fat (tire) biking is a great way to get outside and explore during the winter, just like riding a bike in the summer. With these specially designed bikes equipped with larger tires and more grip, your ride will be surprisingly smooth for even the novice bikers. The trails are well-kept and if you’re up for it, there are even experienced trails for the more experienced bikers.