Jan 28, 2021 - News

The Twin Cities' wintertime boom

Illustration of Minneapolis and St. Paul in snow globes, with animated snow falling on them.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

More signs are emerging that Minnesotans are going all in on all things winter.

Driving the trend: While residents of the "Bold North" have a long tradition of braving the frigid temps, COVID-19 is pushing us outdoors even more.

  • Many breweries and restaurants have invested in heat lamps, fire pits and tents to keep service flowing amid restrictions on indoor dining.
  • Utepils Brewing, a stone's throw from Theodore Wirth Park, has seen lines of 90 minutes for outdoor seating on the weekends.
  • "We call it the fresh-air, warm-hands, cold-beer lifestyle," brewery president Dan Justesen told us.

A few more indications:

What they're saying: Winter booster Eric Dayton, once dubbed the state's "king of cold," said that pandemic-induced limitations on activity have expanded what we're willing to do outdoors.

  • "We're all getting creative this year looking for ways to take care of ourselves and hopefully find moments of fun, moments of community," said Dayton, a businessman and founder of the Great Northern Festival — now underway.
  • "One of the silver linings [of the pandemic] that I hope does stick is a shift in culture around the outdoors and around winter."

The big picture: Minnesota is no longer the only state leaning into its local climate. More cold-weather cities are following the lead of our Scandinavian counterparts in embracing the idea of "winter placemaking" amid the pandemic, as Axios Cities' Jennifer A. Kingson reported.

What's next: Three of Minnesota's marquee seasonal events — the St. Paul Winter Carnival, City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival and Great Northern — begin today, delivering another test of our willingness to engage in cold-weather programming.

  • Some restaurants and breweries, meanwhile, are already considering bringing back their outdoor winter setups next year — even if pandemic limits are lifted.
  • "I think people have discovered it's fun to be outside and drink beer," Justesen said. "Especially when they can have a fire."

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Twin Cities.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Twin Cities stories

No stories could be found

Twin Citiespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Twin Cities.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more