Mankato doesn’t hibernate during the long winter months, and you don’t need to either! There’s never a shortage of things to do here, even when it’s cold. Whether you want to go out with your friends, spend time with the kids, have a winter adventure, or find a romantic weekend getaway, you’ve come to the right place.
WINTER EVENTS AND FESTIVITIES
Whether it’s hitting the trails on a snow bike, cruising down Mount Kato on a tube, or playing hockey on one of our many skating rinks, get ready for a winter you won’t soon forget.
Cross Country Skiing
Mankato is surrounded by an extensive trail system featuring groomed pathways which bring cross country skiers through Indian Lake Park, Williams Nature Center, Bray Park, Wildwood Conservation Area and Daly Park. Each location presents an exciting journey for a beginner or experienced cross country skier. Call 507-304-4025 or visit Blue Earth County’s website.
Downhill skiers find that Mount Kato remains a hub for fast action and short lines. With 19 groomed trails and four terrain parks for skiing and snowboarding, you’ll never run out of things to do. Getting cold? Head inside the cozy ski lodge for relaxation and dining.
Stay outside and skate in one of Mankato’s 11 parks with outdoor skating rinks. Too cold? All Season’s Arena offers an indoor skating rink with affordable skate rentals. Skate for fun or challenge your friends to a game of hockey.
Ice Fishing – Ice fishing is a beloved pastime during the winter for many anglers on Greater Mankato’s area lakes, ponds and rivers when conditions are favorable. Sign up for a local tournament or bring some friends together for fun getaway.
Grab a sled or tube and head to the legendary Sibley Park or Spring Lake Park hill for downhill sledding. Don’t have a tube? No problem. Head to Mount Kato, which provides large tubes for a smoother ride with just as much thrill.
Fat Tire Biking – Snow Biking
Fat Tire Bikes are best experienced along packed trails. Head to Seven Mile Creek Park, Kiwanis Recreation Area, Ft. LeHillier Trail or Indian Lake Conservation Area. to try it yourself. Want to ride with a group? Visit Nicollet Bike & Ski Shop to learn more.
There are 160 miles of trails for snowmobilers in Blue Earth County. Snowmobilers should visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website to find detailed maps of available snowmobile routes.
Looking for a unique experience in our parks and on our trails this winter? Give snowshoeing a try! This activity allows you to experience winter in all its wonder. Rent snowshoes from Nicollet Bike & Ski or book a tour with Minnesota State University, Mankato Campus Recreation. Looking for a snowshoe and winery combo? Tour around the scenic landscapes home to our unique wineries, such as Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery. After exploring the snow-covered vineyards, enjoy the warmth of a cozy atmosphere and taste of select cheeses and local vino.
Enjoy Dazzling Holiday Lights
Kiwanis Holiday Lights
The biggest holiday event in Mankato is the Kiwanis Holiday Lights celebration in Sibley Park from November 26 – December 31. Families are invited to walk or drive through the route of more than 1.8 million holiday lights. Other on-site activities include ice skating (rentals available), reindeer encounters, an illumination show with LED lights, Santa visits, ice sculptures and more.
Participating City Center businesses, from retail to hospitality to professional services and more have decorated their windows with festive holiday displays for all to enjoy. Be sure to head to the City Center to check out the displays and vote for your favorite between November 19 and December 26. People’s Choice for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd will receive cash prizes.
Bells on Belgrade
Join us for a free holiday family fun event on Belgrade Avenue in North Mankato on Saturday Dec 4th. There will be horse drawn trolley rides, Santa, goodie bags, games and lots of fun. The nights ends with a Holiday Parade starting at 6:30pm.
Winter Warm Up
Grab the kids and head to Mankato for some winter fun! Plan your own special itinerary or avoid the stress and check out our package deals at the bottom of the page. We offer plenty of indoor and outdoor activities that the whole family will love at a price that can’t be beat!
Watch an exhilarating Minnesota State University, Mankato Maverick Hockey game at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center in Mankato’s City Center. Join in the excitement of supporting our hometown, Division I team. Afterwards stick around the City Center for lively nightlife and a local brew.
The Wow!Zone is a huge family entertainment center has something for the whole family, with 24 state-of-the-art bowling lanes, a two-level laser tag arena, black light mini golf, a full arcade, snack bar, and sports bar and restaurant.
Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota
The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota offers much more than just everyday play. They host or organize birthday parties, summer camps, group visits, and a variety of fresh and exciting activities to keep you excited and engaged.
Indoor Rock Climbing Center
Come to Mankato to climb the largest indoor rock wall in Southern Minnesota! Climb out of your comfort zone and check out the Maverick Adventures.
Bounce Around at Bounce Town
Head to Bounce Town to let you bouncers have fun while getting some exercise in the indoor inflatable play center. There is a variety of inflatables including bouncers, obstacle courses and slides. The little ones up to 5 years old will have fun in Wee Town.
Take your kids back in time in the world of Betsy-Tacy. Mankato is the childhood home of Maud Hart Lovelace, beloved author of the famed Betsy-Tacy series of children’s books. As you are visiting the many significant Betsy-Tacy sites try to erase the view of modern advances and imagine a simpler time of the early 1900s.
We all know a little retail therapy goes a long way and we are happy to say Greater Mankato serves as a retail destination for southern Minnesota. We offer hundreds of stores ranging from large national retailers to quant local shops. Check out the adorable shops and boutiques along Riverfront Drive such as Bumbelou and Graif Clothing. Head on over to the indoor mall River Hills Mall where popular retail chains and smaller boutique shops are all under one roof.
Burn off Some Energy
Spend the day at the Mankato Family YMCA. Kids will love to run in the gyms, play in the Kid’s Gym, swim in the Taylor Family Aquatic Center and Pool or relax in the YMCA’s Pepsi Cube that has foosball, a climbing wall, video games and more.
Relax and Unwind
Decompress from the busyness of everyday life and enjoy one of Mankato’s many unique salons and spas. Get a small group together and book a session in the salt room at Body Concepts located along Mankato’s Riverfront Drive. Get pampered with a wide variety of custom treatments and therapy options at Liv Aveda Salon and Spa with everything from hair, nails. spa packages and more! Looking to freshen up your style? Book an appointment with Raydiance Salon located right in the heart of downtown Mankato just a short walk away from the Hilton Garden Inn in the City Center Plaza.
Arts and Culture
Get your dose of the arts and culture right here in Mankato. Home to plenty of indoor art galleries. Popular art galleries like Carnegie Art Center (contemporary art) and The 410 Project (experimental space) is a good place to start. You can find out upcoming art festivals and workshops by checking out Twin Rivers Council for the Arts.
Did you know that Mankato has its own historical society? Blue Earth County Historical Society educates guests on everything about the early Native Americans and settlers that helped build the city.
Fill Up Your Cup
Nothing beats the cold season better than having a hot mug in hand and steam warming up your face. Curiosi-Tea House is a popular local hangout with its own tea-tasting hours and drinks are served in the finest English teacups. If coffee is more your drink try the The Coffee Hag, where you can admire the surrounding local art pieces on the walls. Craving your usual latte? Swing by Dunkin’ where hometown service meets your favorite familiar flavors. Getting hungry? Who doesn’t love a hot bagel fresh out of the toaster? Tandem Bagels is a hip destination that makes all its meals from scratch and the coffee is fresh.
Night Out on the Town
You don’t need to drive far to have an exciting night out. There are plenty of dine and drink options as well as wine and brew and many with great live entertainment venues. Want to see notable artists performing live? Check out Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center and plan your visit around any upcoming concerts you’ll want to see.