Fresh air and fun

It’s the dead of winter, and the mounds of snow seem to show no signs of melting into impromptu streams any time soon. Even though it might be easier to stay indoors, some of us need to get some fresh air and sunlight, regardless of the climate.

The Rochester area is chock-full of things to do outside, even if the weather is somewhat frightful. There’s plenty to take advantage of, so make a day, a weekend or even a season of it.

Quarry Hill Nature Center ,701 Silver Creek Drive in Rochester, is a great destination for those looking to ski or snowshoe around 320 acres of forest, hills and valleys. Skis and snowshoes are available for rental ($7.50 and $5, respectively) seven days a week.

When it gets too cold outdoors, or if you’re looking for some respite between skiing and shoeing, the Exploration Hall has plenty of fun for all ages.


For more information, contact Quarry Hill Nature Center at 281-6114.

Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo, located in Byron, provides a change of pace for those looking for some winter fun. Aside from the two miles of groomed ski trails and snowshoe rentals, they also offer a zoo.

Kevin Crilly, manager of Oxbow Park, says "the animals are active and have their winter coats in prime condition. The only exceptions of animals off display are the bear, badger, prairie dogs and woodchucks."

Oxbow also allows winter camping. If you have any questions about skiing, snowshoeing, zoo hours or camping, call (507) 775-2451.

The Rochester Parks and Recreation Department maintains outdoor hockey and public skating rinksand warming sheds throughout the city. Seven ice hockey rinks and two studio rinks, with lights and warming sheds, blanket the city. For more information, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at (507) 328-2525.

In addition to the skiing available at Quarry Hill, there are groomed trails at both Eastwood Golf Course and Essex Park for cross country skiing. The Rochester Active Sports Club maintains trails in and around Rochester. Current trail conditions and other information can be found at


Seemingly just for kids, all ages can take part in sledding. Judd Park (Third Street and 36 Avenue Northwest) and Schmidt Park (6300 block of 24th Avenue Northwest) boast hills big enough to sled down. Bring your own tube, toboggan or sled and bundle up — there are no warming houses or rentals available at either of these locations.

If you need a wider variety of activities, and the traditional winter fun doesn’t interest you, check out the Rochester WinterFest , which begins Friday and continues through Feb. 14. Sleigh rides, softball, ice fishing and the Polar Plunge are just a few of the activities available during this 10-day extravaganza. For more information, contact Marlene Jehnke at 288-4703 ext.1308, or Naura Anderson at 282-8629. A schedule of events is also available online; just go to

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