With new stadiums and a little event called the Super Bowl coming to the Twin Cities, Minnesota has been getting a lot of attention lately. The Super Bowl promises to bring thousands of visitors to the state, and it’s likely that many of them will not have experienced Minnesota before, much less Minnesota in the dead of winter! For those people, we have assembled this Minnesota Survival Guide – full of useful facts, tricks and tips to help you survive your first Minnesota winter!
Minnesota first became a state in 1858, and was the 32nd state to join the union. Approximately 60% of the states 5 million + residents live within the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, made up of Minneapolis, St. Paul and their surrounding suburbs. The state is famously home to over 10,000 lakes, and with all those lakes comes a lot of shoreline. Including rivers and streams, Minnesota has more shoreline than California, Hawaii and Florida combined. That’s a lot of water. Minnesota is also known for its extreme temperatures and its extreme contrast between seasons. Summers are hot and humid, with temperatures maxing out around 100° F. Winters are just as extreme, with the lowest temperature ever recorded bottoming out at -60°F in February of 1996. This is just 70° warmer than the coldest temperature ever recorded on earth! While -60° is extreme, even by Minnesota standards, it is not uncommon to have a few weeks in winter where the temperature remains below zero all day long.
One of the most common stereotypes about Minnesotans is how nice we are. This “Minnesota Nice” is one of the staples of Minnesota culture. Minnesotans will hold the door for you, even if you’re a hundred yards away. They will also yield to you at a stop sign, even if they have the right away. This creates chaos when four drivers approach a four way stop all at once! Minnesota nice also has a dark side when it switches from overt niceness to passive aggressive behavior. We Minnesotans do not like conflict or direct confrontation, so we often disguise our grievances as compliments or address them in the most indirect and inefficient way possible. It can be hard to tell which is which sometimes, but keep the passive aggressive attitude in mind when someone says “gee, isn’t that nice?”.
Knowing which city you’re in is critical to keeping the local residents happy. The Twin Cities act like real twins in that we love each other, but call us by the wrong name and you’ll hear about it for a long time. Make sure you know when you’re in Minneapolis and when you’re in St. Paul and do not confuse them. As the locals will tell you, they’re close together, but they are definitely not the same!
Finally, be very careful not to wear green and gold together unless you really want to see Minnesota nice go out the window faster than you can say “oof dah”! A long and bitter rivalry exists between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers, and anyone seen wearing Packers gear, or even Packers colors will be subject to extreme scrutiny that would rival wearing a Red Soxs cap at Yankee Stadium. And if you try and start a “Go! Pack! Go!” chant in any public place, odds are you will be asked (less than politely) to leave. You’ve been warned.
Tips and Tricks to Stay Alive:
First and foremost, if you’re visiting Minnesota during Super Bowl season, odds are it’s going to be cold. In 2013, 41 people died from the cold in the state of Minnesota. In February temperatures will likely be in the single digits, or low doubles during a winter heat wave, so it’s important to know how to stay safe and warm.
- Dress in layers – When you’re out and about it can be hard to tell how cold or warm you will be. Dressing in layers gives you the option to add or remove articles of clothing depending where you are or how much you’re moving. Even when it’s below zero, you can still get very warm outside if you’re moving around or playing outdoor sports. Likewise, if it’s a balmy 25° biting winds can bring your body temperature way down, so it’s important to be able to put on that extra jacket. Even if you look like a marshmallow, wearing long underwear, pants, snow pants, a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, a light jacket, and a big winter coat all together will ensure you are always comfortable.
- Wind-Proof yourself – As if the air temperatures weren’t bad enough, wind chill can make the cold feel even worse. Investing in wind proof jackets and pants will help keep you even warmer during the cold weather.
- Stay Alert - More than half of the cold related deaths in Minnesota involved alcohol, and people passing out in the snow. Hypothermia can make you drowsy, so it’s important to stay alert. We recommend carrying a Bizzy Coffee Double Shot to help keep you alert and awake during the cold weather. While Bizzy Coffee won’t sober you up, it can make sure you have enough energy to find a safe way home.
- Watch Your Step - The second most common cause of cold related deaths in Minnesota involves acute injuries. Whether you’re out on a lake or just on a slippery sidewalk, be careful around ice and avoid walking alone.
Things to do:
Now that you know how to stay safe and warm, there’s a lot of outdoor fun to be had in the Twin Cities in the winter time. To ensure you maximize your energy for these activities, we recommend carrying a Bizzy Coffee Double Shot, perfect for the health conscious outdoorsman. Outdoor sports are a big part of Minnesota culture and we have some of the best winter time activities in the country.
- Ice fishing – with 20 some odd lakes located in the Twin Cities, it’s easy to find great winter fishing spots. Some of the lakes freeze so solid you can drive your car on the ice to find the perfect spot to drill your hole. Bring some hot cocoa and get ready for a fishing experience like no other.
- Ice Skating – With so many lakes, there are countless great places for ice skating. Centennial Lake in Edina offers some of the best in the cities. Located in a charming urban park, Centennial Lake offers rental skates, a spacious warming house, and a refreshment stand. It is a true winter wonderland in the heart of the cities.
- Sculpture Garden – The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center is a great place for any art lover to explore. Recently renovated, and open year-round, the Sculpture Garden is home to Minneapolis’ famous “spoonbridge and cherry” sculpture, as well as a host of other unique and thought provoking works of outdoor art.
- Boot/Pond Hockey – The lakes and parks are a great place to find games of pick up boot hockey. For those who don’t know, this is just like regular ice hockey, minus the skates! Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis hosts a famous pond hockey tournament every year, and they keep their rinks open and maintained as long as it’s cold enough!
If you think the cold will be too much to handle, fear not! The Twin Cities offers tons of amazing indoor activities and hang outs that will keep you warm (without the need for our fashion tips!) Here are some of our suggestions:
- Mall of America – Nothing says “America” like a giant shopping mall! The world-famous Mall of America draws over 400 million visitors each year, and has just about every shop or restaurant you could possibly imagine, plus a whole lot of other stuff. Including, but not limited to: an indoor amusement park, a LEGO store, an underground aquarium, and a full Mini golf course and go-kart track.
- Breweries – Nothing warms the body like a nice cold beer! The Twin Cities have become home to a thriving microbrewery scene in the last several years, and each brewery serves its own unique creations made right in house! Summit and Surly are popular nationwide, but some smaller hotspots include Inbound, Lake Monster, Urban Growler, Wild Mind Artisan Ales, and Indeed Tap Room.
- Restaurants - The Twin Cities has a vibrant foodie scene, with countless incredible, local restaurants to try out. The “Jucy Lucy” burger was created in the Twin Cities and both Matt’s Bar and the 5-8 Club claim to have invented it, sparking a locally famous rivalry between the two restaurants. Other great places to eat include: Low Brow, Spoon and Stable, Mucci’s, and The Food Building.
- Coffee Shops – Much like the restaurant scene, there are dozens of small, local coffee shops to warm you up from the cold in the Twin Cities. Whether you want a cold brew shot, like Bizzy Coffee, or something a little warmer, you have a dozen Some of the best include: SpyHouse, Vicinity Coffee, Urban Bean, and Dogwood Coffee.
- Work Outs – In case you need to burn off some of the calories you consumed at these great restaurants, Minnesota is home to Lifetime Fitness, a great place to work out and keep in shape!
Now that you’ve got a wealth of places to go, it’s important to know how to get there! Metro Transit is a great and affordable way to get around the cities. With buses running almost any place you can want to go and light rail trains stopping at the stadiums, getting around Minneapolis and St. Paul is cheap and easy. Using the “public transit” tab on Google Maps is especially useful for finding both train and bus stops and seeing where they can take you.
Minnesota is a wonderful place to live, work and visit, but it can also be dangerous. The state is full of extremes, from extreme weather to extreme politeness, we’ve got it all! We hope you’ll check out some of these awesome places, and stay warm and safe while you’re doing it!
- “25 Things You Should Know About Minneapolis and St. Paul." Mental Floss, 31 Oct. 2015.
- “About.” Mall of America, www.mallofamerica.com/about.
- "Coldest Temperature Ever Recorded on Earth.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 9 Dec. 2013.
- “Cold Contributed to Deaths of 26 in Minnesota.” Star Tribune, 14 Mar. 2014.
- Finke, Christopher. “Does Minnesota Really Have More Shoreline than California?” Less Talk, More Do, 30 Dec. 2013.
- “History & Attractions.” Visit Twin Cities.
- History.com Staff. “Minnesota.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009.
- “Minnesota Climate Extremes.” Minnesota Climate Extremes (All-Time Weather Records): Minnesota DNR, MN Department of Natural Resources.