Rochester Local

Rochester MN Winter Activities + Ideas

winter guide

We’ve got a bad case of cabin fever! How about you? Minnesota winters can be cold, dark, and long. We need to warm things up with some winter fun! Here are our favorite Rochester MN winter activities to get you through to spring!

Outdoor Fun


Bundle up and head out for a day of sledding! There are two designated sledding hills in Rochester and one big fun tubing hill, just outside of Rochester!  For all sledding hill information, please check out our Rochester MN Guide to Sledding Hills.

Ice Skating

The city is full of great outdoor ice rinks for a true winter experience! Check out our Rochester MN Guide to Ice Skating for all the details on what locations have lights, warming houses, and hours of operation.

Snowshoeing + Cross Country Skiing

Snowshoeing is a great way to experience winter in Rochester MN.  No experience is needed to try out this great winter sport. 

Cross-country skiing takes a bit more practice, but there are plenty of opportunities to learn on the plentiful groomed trails.  Additionally, renting equipment is inexpensive making practicing achievable!

Quarry Hill, Oxbow Park, and Chester Woods all maintain groomed trails and rent snowshoes and skis. Check their websites for more rental and trail information.

Oxbow Park Rentals | Oxbow Park Winter Trail Map

Quarry Hill Rentals | Quarry Hill Winter Trail Map

Chester Woods Rentals | Chester Wood Winter Trail Map

The City of Rochester and the Rochester Active Sports Club work together to maintain snowshoe trails at Quarry Hill.

[button link=”https://www.qhnc.org/img/QH%20Winter%20Sports%20Map.pdf” size=”small” window=”yes”]Quarry Hill[/button]

[button link=”https://www.olmstedcounty.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Winter%20sports%20map.pdf” size=”small” window=”yes”]Oxbow Park[/button]

[button link=”https://www.olmstedcounty.gov/sites/default/files/2021-10/ChesterWoodsWinterTrails_OCT21.pdf” size=”small” window=”yes”]Chester Woods[/button]

Ice Fishing

If you’re up for a true Minnesotan experience try ice fishing! Our Rochester MN Guide to Ice Fishing will help you understand all of the details as ice fishing will take a bit of pre-planning. However, with the proper fishing license and shelter registration, you will be on your way to a winter fish fry! Take a look at the Minnesota DNR’s website for all of the guidelines and some helpful tips on how to make ice fishing fun and safe for kids. Silver Creek Reservoir, Quarry Hill, Chester Woods and Lake Zumbroare just a few local places to test out your winter fishing skills! Find more local and statewide places to fish with the MN DNR’s Lake Finder Tool.

[button link=”http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishing/index.html” size=”small” window=”yes”]MN DNR[/button]

sledding hills

Downhill Skiing + Snowboarding

Interested in speed? There is no better way during the winter months to test your speed and agility than downhill skiing. Coffee Mill Ski Area and Welch Village both offer rental options, lessons, and good old-fashioned fresh air! Check out their websites for more details.

[button link=”http://www.coffeemillski.com/” size=”small” window=”yes”]Coffee Mill Ski Area[/button]

[button link=”http://www.welchvillage.com/index.cfm” size=”small” window=”yes”]Welch Village[/button]

[button link=”https://www.aftonalps.com” size=”small” window=”yes”]Afton Alps[/button]

[button link=”https://buckhill.com” size=”small” window=”yes”]Afton Alps[/button]

Cross Country Skiing

If downhill skiing isn’t quite what you are looking for, how about cross-country skiing? Cross-country skiing is a great way to get out and get moving. It will get your heart pumping and your blood flowing! Quarry Hill and Oxbow Park both maintain ski trails. Quarry Hill also rents equipment. Check out their websites for more information.

[button link=”http://www.qhnc.org/park/cross-country-skiing” size=”small” window=”yes”]Quarry Hill[/button]

[button link=”https://www.co.olmsted.mn.us/pw/parks/oxbowpark/Pages/SkiTrail.aspx” size=”small” window=”yes”]Oxbow Park[/button]


Good Old Fashioned Snow Fun

  • Build a snowman
  • Have a snowball fight
  • Make snow angels
  • Build a snow fort
  • Build snow animals

Winter Events


Downtown Rochester transforms into an icy oasis for Social-ICE! Unique themed ice bars—each with its own signature drink—and full-scale ice sculptures illuminated with vibrant hues light up the winter-drab night. Keep your blood pumping with nightly live DJ entertainment. Coming up to its 15th year in 2023, this oh-so-nICE, cold-weather event is open to the public.

  • DJs/music
  • Individual bar themes and specialty drinks
  • Colorful, interactive lighting
  • Experiential activities
  • Photo station
  • Fire pits
  • Large-scale entrance


February 24th-25th, 2023 | 4 PM – 10 PM

[button link=”https://www.downtownrochestermn.com/events/socialice” size=”small” window=”yes”]Social Lights[/button]

Social-ICE Fam Jam

Cold-weather fun abounds when you bundle up the chill-dren for Social-ICE FAM JAM! A free family-friendly time before the last night of Social-ICE, FAM JAM showcases an all-ages celebration of winter.


February 25th, 2023 | 1 PM – 4 PM

[button link=”https://www.downtownrochestermn.com/events/fam-jam” size=”small” window=”yes”]Social Lights[/button]


Don’t forget to check our Events Calendar and our Monthly Event Guides for all the up-to-date winter events in Rochester MN!


Get Creative

Paint the Snow

Bring a little color to a backyard full of clean white snow! Make your own snow paint with this easy recipe:

  • Fill a spray bottle with warm water
  • add in half a bottle of liquid food color or 1/8 tsp of gel food color.  Shake well!

Shivery Snow Paint

Have a little fun indoors with this icy snow paint! When it’s just too cold to go outside create your own snow masterpiece with this fun recipe for Shivery Snow Paint.

Paper Snowflakes

Making snowflakes on a wintery day can become a fun family tradition! Try these coffee filter snowflakes that are easy for little fingers to cut and fold. If you are up for a bit a challenge or your kids are older check out this more elaborate paper snowflake video tutorial using paper bags!

Kitchen Fun

Snow Ice Cream

What kid wouldn’t want to turn snow into ice cream! Check out this super simple recipe and dig in!

Hot Cocoa Ice Cream

We can’t resist this tasty recipe for Hot Cocoa Ice Cream! It may be a cold treat for winter but it will definitely be a crowd-pleaser! Or why not go out for a cup of the real thing?

Crockpot Hot Chocolate

After playing outdoors in the chilly winter air everyone will be ready to warm up with this Crockpot Hot Chocolate! Get it all set to go and let it simmer while everyone is out having fun!

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