5 Things to do in the winter in Freeborn County

Published 12:21 pm Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Winter is sometimes a challenging season for people to make it through in Minnesota, but there are actually lots of events and activities to help keep you busy — both indoors and outdoors. Check out some of the area’s greatest:

1. Celebrate winter at The Big Freeze

We can’t do anything to change the weather, so you might as well celebrate it at the annual festival known as The Big Freeze. Bundle up and come out for the 10th year for the event, which will be Feb. 9 at Edgewater Bay Pavilion and Three Oak Winery. The Big Freeze features several family-friendly events, including the Blue Ice Plunge, a medallion hunt, horse-drawn sleigh rides, a chili cook off and other outdoor activities. New this year will be pond hockey, as well as an ice fishing contest hosted by the Albert Lea Anglers. There will be additional events at the winery.

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2. Get your workout in at the state park

Fun at the state park doesn’t only take place in the summer. There are also other activities to do there in the winter. The park offers 1 1/2 miles of winter hiking trails, 7 miles of snowmobile trails and snowshoeing throughout the park, except on the 5 miles of cross country skiing trails. Park-goers who don’t have their own snowshoes can rent them at the park office for $6 a day.

3. Perfect that double salchow

Whether you like to ice skate indoors or outdoors, there are several options in Albert Lea. Indoor ice skating and ice skate rentals are available at City Arena, and the Albert Lea Parks and Recreation Department maintains outside skating rinks at Hayek, Academy, Hawthorne and Lakeview parks.

The arena is open for public skating from 1 to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Sundays. The fee for public skate is $4, which includes skate rental during the week. On the weekends, there is an additional $1 charge to rent skates. Open hockey is $6. At the outdoor rinks, there are ice and lights on during the week. The Hayek Park warming house is open from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Warming houses at Academy, Hawthorne and Lakeview are open on the weekends.

4. Check out a concert or play at Marion Ross Performing Arts Center

Don’t like the cold but still like to stay busy? Marion Ross Performing Arts Center hosts a variety of concerts and performances. Whether it’s Albert Lea Community Theatre, The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD or other concerts from local, regional and national performers, the theater offers opportunities for anyone who enjoys music and acting. ACT’s big play in February is “The Mousetrap,” a murder mystery and is sure to keep you on your toes.

5. Snuggle up with a book from the library.

One of the city’s greatest gems, the library has something for every reader. With a total circulation of 170,210 as of the end of November, the library offers both traditional paperback and hardback books along with digital versions of many, as well. While stopping in for a book, don’t forget there are DVDs, too, along with magazines and newspapers. In addition to allowing people to check out items, the library offers computers for its patrons, along with classes for adults, book clubs for adults and children, and activities and story time for children. Too busy to read? Reading has many benefits, including stress reduction, stronger analytical thinking skills and even memory improvement. You can expand your vocabulary, improve your focus and help keep your brain strong.

The library is open six days a week.