Historic St. James Hotel remains a year-round respite for romance-starved couples and busy city dwellers alike. Because Red Wing, MN, is less than an hour away from the bustling Twin Cities, many travelers utilize St. James’ spellbinding 1875 hotel as a place to unwind, unthaw, and rejuvenate before a return trip home. As you can imagine, this visually-striking, 145-year-old hotel doubles as Southern Minnesota’s most beloved wedding destination. Upon winter’s arrival, the region itself, mainly Red Wing, lends itself to outdoor enthusiasts, self-proclaimed hygge devotees, and history buffs. In hopes of enhancing an already stellar escape to St. James Hotel, we’ve compiled five idyllic winter activities in Red Wing, ranging from ice skating under the stars to Cannon Valley cross-country skiing adventures.
5 Winter Activities in Red Wing: Snow-Packed Exploration
St. James Hotel rests in the heart of town on Main Street, within steps of the Mississippi River and countless downtown shops (including Red Wing Shoes’ flagship store). Barn Bluff also towers above Main Street, creating a natural aesthetic. Because Red Wing is a mid-sized town along historic Highway 61, you’ll always be within minutes of snowy exploration via Nordic skis, snowshoes, or ice skates. Without further ado, here are five distinct winter activities in Red Wing that are sure to spice up your upcoming stay.
Snowshoeing, much like hiking, remains one of the most inexpensive outdoor pursuits as it only requires a pair of sturdy snowshoes, poles (included in your purchase, hopefully), and a park permit (if applicable). It’s the preferred method of mid-winter exploration for many because it allows outdoor enthusiasts to “stop and smell the roses” with ease. Some of our favorite places to snowshoe are Barn Bluff, Frontenac State Park, and Memorial Park.
2. Alpine Skiing
Red Wing is a short drive from two alpine skiing destinations: Welch Village and Coffee Mill. Welch has less than 800 residents, yet it boasts one of Southern Minnesota’s finest ski hills. And it’s only 18 minutes away from downtown Red Wing. Meanwhile, Washburn’s Coffee Mill transforms into a head-turning winter wonderland once winter is here to stay. Both ski areas cater best to novice alpine skiers.
3. Cross-Country Skiing
Trade the ski hill for a diverse, rolling landscape by embarking on a self-guided Nordic skiing expedition at one of the area’s best trail systems, such as Memorial Park or the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest. However, most travelers gravitate toward the 20-mile-long Cannon Valley Trail, a multi-purpose, four-season marvel that connects Red Wing and Cannon Falls. This helpful interactive map should prove to be a useful guide. For several more winter activities in Red Wing, please browse through our monthly travel guide.
4. Outdoor Art
Tramp through the Anderson Center’s 15-acre Sculpture Garden, featuring sculpted artworks from renowned artists from all across the globe. The Anderson Center itself is a visual masterpiece that dates back to 1915, when the property served as a cereal experimentation site for Quaker. Combine the experience with an ArtReach class or a public art tour.
5. Ice Skating
Unlike most winter activities in Red Wing, ice skating remains undeniably romantic and refreshingly old-fashioned. While you can likely nab a skating slot at Prairie Island Arena (home to the Wingers), we highly recommend skating under the stars at the Athletic Field, home to an outdoor hockey rink and a figure skating sheet. South Park also floods its field. All three rinks typically open around Christmas, depending on the year. Don’t forget to bring extra layers, a thermos of hot cocoa, and a child-like wonder.
Romantic Winter Getaways in Minnesota: St. James Hotel
Start winter on the right foot by booking a well-deserved snowy escape to Red Wing’s St. James Hotel, a culinary, historical, and visual marvel within a stone’s throw of the Mississippi River. The newly-renovated Scarlet Kitchen & Bar has been turning heads since its rebirth in 2020. Meanwhile, each distinct accommodation serves beautifully as a romantic basecamp for couples who value Victorian charm, original woodworks (such as mantles, arches, and floors), and plush mattresses. To book a long-awaited winter getaway from the Twin Cities, please check availability online (or call us directly at 1-800-252-1875).