Minneapolis, the northermost Super Bowl host city, showcases winter activities for tourists

By Ashley Williams, AccuWeather staff writer
January 30, 2018, 11:36:22 AM EST

The flock of tourists and football fans descending upon the Bold North ahead of Super Bowl 52 are in for much more than just the annual championship game.

Tourism officials in Minneapolis and throughout Minnesota are using the international spotlight shining upon the Super Bowl’s northernmost host city to boast the state’s wintry weather activities.

“This is a great opportunity for us to showcase Minneapolis and the Twin Cities,” said Kathy McCarthy, director of public relations and communications for Meet Minneapolis, a destination marketing organization.

Zip lining across Mississippi River - AP Image

Zip line enthusiasts cross the Mississippi River in Minneapolis Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, as the 10-day Bold North theme festival got underway, one of many events leading up to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

“[We] want to be able to share with people what Minneapolis is really like, and hope that it encourages them to want to come visit in any of our four seasons,” McCarthy said.

Visitors have partaken in a variety of winter-related entertainment leading up to the showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots at the U.S. Bank Stadium, which didn’t yet exist when Minneapolis hosted its first Super Bowl in 1992.

“I know a lot of people might not typically think of Minnesota as a place to go in February, but we really want to show people that there is a lot of fun to be had, no matter the weather,” said Explore Minnesota Communications Manager Erica Wacker.

Some annual events, including the 132-year-old St. Paul Winter Carnival between Jan. 25 and Feb. 10, have aligned their schedules with the Super Bowl festivities in order to draw in crowds of out-of-state visitors.

The Winter Carnival has treated guests to activities including a mesmerizing ice palace, the Gotta Go Gotta Throw Twin Cities Ice Bowl competition for disc golfers and family fun at the Vulcan Snow Park.

Football fans are welcome to attend the Super Bowl Live festival in downtown Minneapolis, which leads up to Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4.

The 10-day fan festival features an ice rink, free live concerts, sleigh rides and an opportunity to watch skilled athletes attempt daring snowmobile stunts.

Ice sculpture and skyway - Minneapolis

In this Jan. 24, 2018 photo, ice sculptures stand on the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis as pedestrians use the skyway system, background, in preparation for the upcoming Super Bowl festivities. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Particularly brave souls can take the Polar Plunge, jumping into frigid Minnesota waters to help support Special Olympics Minnesota.

“[Another event] that’s happening now is called the Art Shanty Project,” said Wacker.

“That’s a really cool artist installation on Lake Harriet, which is in Minneapolis, and artists have designed ice fishing shacks, so you can go out there and tour all of these really cool, quirky displays out on the frozen lake,” Wacker said.

Ten thousand tickets quickly sold out for the Bold North Zip Line experience 100 feet above the Mississippi River, according to McCarthy.

Visitors new to the area should have no trouble navigating the downtown area, she said.

“Minneapolis has really undergone a transformation, and I don’t think people realize downtown that there’s a really compact urban footprint, so it’s easy for people to get around,” McCarthy said.

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The Minneapolis Skyway System is the largest, longest contiguous system of enclosed, second-level bridges in the world, according to Meet Minneapolis.

The climate-controlled system spans 9.5 miles across 80 city blocks, keeping tourists out of the chilly air outside as they explore the area.

Minnesota and St. Paul are well-known for sometimes brutal winter weather conditions; the coldest wind chill recorded in the Twin Cities was minus 67 degrees Fahrenheit in 1936, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

However, the phrase “Bold North,” coined by the Super Bowl Host Committee in February of 2015, is about recognizing and taking pride in the cold, which allows for a plethora of fun winter activities in the region.

“[People] will get to see not only the Super Bowl festivities, but other things that we’re known for in the winter, whether it’s ice fishing, dog sledding or skiing,” said Wacker.

“Hopefully, [visitors] start to come back in both winter and summer and check out Minnesota for themselves,” she added.

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