Are You Ready for the Cold? How to Survive a Twin Cities Winter

If you’re a Minnesotan, you know the winters can be brutal. Especially in the past couple of years, when weeks would go by with the thermometer touching freezing, natives being tormented by the thought, “when will it end?” The keys to surviving a Twin Cities winter are preparation, grit, and realistic expectations. Check out our guide to making it through to see the first patch of spring grass (in May).

1. Winterize Your Vehicle
This should go without saying, but making sure your winter weather vehicle maintenance is in check is the first step to having a pain-free winter. Go down our winter weatherization checklist:

  • Get an oil change. Switch to a less viscous oil to keep your car running tip-top all season long. If you run on 10W-30 in the summer, try a 5W-30 for the colder months. When in doubt, just ask your quick oil change attendant.
  • Check your engine coolant. Your winter coolant to water ratio should be around 60:40.
  • Check your battery terminals for corrosion or other signs of wear. If you can get at it easily, take it out and drive it to your local auto parts store, which will test it for free. You can also buy a handheld hydrometer to test its charge.
  • Invest in some snow tires, if you haven’t already. Even if you drive a four wheel behemoth, the extra security that snow tires provide is worth the cost.
  • Check your windshield washer fluid regularly. There’s nothing worse than getting sprayed with muddy slush, only to find that your wiper fluid is out. For the best results, pick a solution with antifreeze.
  • Account for frozen door locks by carrying around a tube of de-icer or a lighter.
  • Put together an emergency kit, in the event you’re stranded in a blizzard. Gather together blankets, road flares, extra socks, weatherproof boots, water, and a flashlight.

2. Get Out and Enjoy
There will be days where it’s not worth it to leave the house: think -40 degree wind chill and blowing drifts.  But there are just as many days where the winter weather affords an opportunity for you to go out and explore our multicultural city. Here’s how you can embrace the winter wonderland:

  • It’s called the land of 10,000 lakes for a reason: take your pick of Twin Cities area ponds and lakes, and play a game of hockey. If you prefer to stay in the cities, try Landmark Plaza in St. Paul or The Depot in Minneapolis.
  • Cross country skiing is a great exercise option in the winter months. The scenery is beautiful, making it a good way to torch calories left over from those hearty winter soups and stews.
  • The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships at Lake Nokomis is must-attend event, even if you’re not playing.
  • If you’re looking to get out of the cold, take in an exhibit at the Walker Art Center.
  • Embrace the tourist trap that is the Mall of America.
  • It may always be cold in Russia, but St. Paul’s Moscow on the Hill is sure to warm you up with authentic Russian fare and a snifter-full of homemade vodka.
  • Celebrate Minneapolis’ proud Scandinavian heritage by taking a trip to the American Swedish Institute (bonus points if you wear a Fair Isle sweater).

3. Take on an Indoor Hobby
On those days where it’s just too cold to leave the house, take an opportunity to hone a new skill. What about those knitting needles and yarn you bought, but never touched? Do you have an empty canvas lying around? Resolve to shuck the boredom, and bring out your creative side. Maybe you’ve been yearning to learn a new language, or take up yoga: winter is the perfect time to embrace the occasion to learn.

4. Pamper Yourself
It’s easy to fall prey to the winter blahs, particularly when you haven’t seen the sun for weeks on end. Use the winter doldrums as an excuse to splurge a little. Treat yourself to a manicure or a pedicure, or get that designer haircut you’ve been eyeing. If you’ve been toying with the idea of buying Twins season tickets, or tickets to next year’s battle for the Little Brown Jug, then now’s the time to take the plunge and buy. Give yourself something to look forward to in these cold wintry months. A little self-pampering does the mind and body good.

Whether you’re enduring your first Twin Cities winter or you’re a proud native Minnesotan, making it through to see the spring can be tough. The key to avoiding the winter blahs is to be prepared and keep as busy as you can. If you follow our tips for surviving the winter, you may be pleasantly surprised at how quickly Scott Seekins makes his appearance in trademark white.


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