Embrace your inner chill: Lots to do outside during the frigid days

Published 7:01 am Saturday, December 28, 2019

Here is another way to think about winter: Instead of railing against the snow and ice, think of those chilly days this way: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

That is, why not embrace the cold instead of steeling against it? There are plenty of activities that are fun and family-oriented this time of year.


Austin’s Skinner’s Hill is the traditional favorite for the toddler to adult crowd who enjoy sledding on a beautiful winter afternoon. Never been there? The hill is located at the corner of Fourth Street and Ninth Place Southwest at Bandshell Park.

However, if you are up for a road trip and more expansive landscapes, check out one of the 12 state parks (the closest is Frontenac State Park) that have winter sledding hills. Pack a picnic lunch for a truly different winter experience. For more on the state parks, go to: www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/sledding.html

Skating is fun for everybody with tools available for those first starting out. Herald file photo

Ice Skating

What’s better than strapping on those skates and swirling around on ice? Don’t worry about falling — your winter finery will cushion your fall.  Check out public skate times at Packer Arena, 601 Seventh St. NE in Austin. Don’t have skates? — no worries. You can rent them there. For more on times and entrance fees, go to: www.ci.austin.mn.us/Parkandrec/CustomerCalendar.pdf

Take the whole family out to the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center for some cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Herald file photo

Snow skiing /shoeing

What’s better than seeing the wonderful winter landscape while shooshing along the snow on cross country skis?

Or, for those wanting a slower pace: How about grabbing your camera, strapping on some snowshoes, and enjoying a peaceful trek to witness all the winter wonders?

The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center gives you the chance to do both all through the winter season. Staff will even provide free ski and shoe rental from 3-6 p.m. on Thursday afternoons. Rentals are available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 3-9 p.m. on Thursdays; and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays.

A special day has been set aside on Jan. 25, when free cross country ski lessons will be given beginning at 8:30 a.m. For more, go to: hormelnaturecenter.org.

And, just in case you get too chilly — check out the interpretive center and all it has to offer. Some uniquely winter programming awaits at the nature center — including maple syruping in March.

Fun both inside and out!

Looking for a day on the slopes? Well, you don’t have to go that far. Buck Hill, just up Interstate 35, offers all the skiing fun you will need. Photo courtesy of Buck Hill

Downhill skiing / snowboarding

You don’t have to go too far to enjoy skiing the slopes, although travel time is about an hour in most cases. Some of the most popular resorts in this neck of the woods are: Mount Kato in Mankato (www.mountkato.com), Welch Village in Welch, Minnesota, near Red Wing (www.welchvillage.com), Coffee Mill at Wabasha (www.coffeemillski.com) and Afton Alps at Hastings (www.aftonalps.com). All have websites with times and descriptions of other amenities, such as snow tubing and snowboarding.

The Bruins are always a good choice for some winter fun. Herald file photo


Okay, you just are not a fan of the outdoors? You can still get out and check out some great local ice super stars — the Austin Bruins. Cheer on the local stick squad during games at Riverside Arena and check out their game schedule and times at: www.austinbruins.com/2018-19-schedule.

There’s so much to read. Find this story and more in the January-February edition of Austin Living