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Ice houses dot the white expanse of this 200-square-mile lake, a classic fishing spot year-round. The checkpoint is at Nitti’s Hunters Point Resort on Mille Lacs’ eastern shore, outside of Isle (www.hunters pointresort.com).
Sandstone Ice Park
Bring your ice pick — or just your fascination — to this park, where frozen waterfalls line old quarry walls along the Kettle River. This is part of Robison Park, near Sandstone (go to www.sandstone.govoffice.com and search for “ice park”).
Roseville Oval Ice Rink
Can’t get to Sochi? You can still feel the wind of speed skaters zooming past at the Guidant John Rose MN Oval in Roseville. Its 110,000 square feet of refrigerated ice includes a 400-meter skating track and an infield ice area used for hockey and the sport of bandy (go to www.cityofroseville.com and search for “Guidant John Rose”).
Midtown Greenway Bike Path
The paved trail cutting through Minneapolis was named “Best Bike Path in America” by USA Today this year. The checkpoint is near the Lyndale Avenue overpass (www.midtowngreenway.org).
Hyland Lake Reserve
Hit the popular cross-country ski trails at this Bloomington park, part of the Three Rivers Park District, and you might forget you are in the metro area. Deer appear at dusk and trees hug the trails. The fireplace warms skiers in the visitor center, where there is also a ski rental desk (www.threeriversparks.org/parks/hyland-lake-park.aspx).
Red Wing’s Colvill Park
Eagles flock to this area to feed because the waters of the Mississippi remain open, even in the winter (www.red-wing.org).
Plains tribes have historically quarried for the special soft reddish stone found at Pipestone National Monument, a gem of a spot on the outskirts of Pipestone. A walking path leads through prairie and past quarries where Indians still extract the stone, which is used to make trinkets as well as peace pipes (www.nps.gov/pipe).
Kerri Westenberg • 612-673-4282