Ways to Warm Up in the Willmar Lakes Area

Has the cold weather of February frozen your inner child that says “winter is so much fun!”? Have you found yourself curling up on the couch with a blanket and binge watching Netflix? Then this blog is for you!

I’m going to share with you some great ways to stay warm and active during the coldest months of the year while living in or visiting the Willmar Lakes Area.

Let’s start off with an easy, but delicious way to warm up…by visiting one of the many delicious coffee shops in our area! The perfect solution for any time of the day. In the morning, stop by the Middle Fork Cafe in Willmar for a delicious almond puff pastry and a toffee dream latte. Or head over to the Goodness Coffee House for a perfectly timed espresso with real micro-foamed milk and a slice of a cowboy quiche. If you’re looking to warm up around lunch time, make sure to stop by the Middle Fork Cafe in New London for a meatloaf slider and a chai tea latte. Or stop by Coffee & More in Spicer for a hot cup of vanilla hazelnut coffee and a delicious cup of chicken wild rice soup. To satisfy your coffee craving in the evening or if you’re looking for that perfect hot beverage to go with supper head over to Kafe La Baja in Spicer for a Mount Tom Latte and a chicken cauliflower burrito bowl. If you’re in Willmar, stop by LuLu Beans Coffee House for a white chocolate mocha and a Kickin’ Chicken panini. That’s sure to get the cells in your body warmed up! For a full list of coffee shops, click here.

Looking for a more active way to warm up? Then head out to Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center (PWELC) for a fun day of outdoor winter activities. Be sure to wear layers as the morning might start off cold, but as you get your blood pumping, you’ll definitely warm up and need to take off a layer! Maybe you want to start your day off with something relatively new…kicksledding! Whether there’s snow or ice this is a great activity for the whole family. One of you gets to ride on a chair that’s stationed on skis while the other one pushes off with one foot and stands on the skis. Follow the trails and enjoy a few hills to ride down along the way. Another activity that’s super popular whether there’s snow or not is fat tire biking. PWELC has a variety of trails for you to bike along and see the many wildlife that endure Minnesota winters. And when we’re lucky enough to have a bunch of snow in the area, be sure to enjoy snowshoeing and cross country skiing through the prairie lands and trails. All of the equipment rentals need to be reserved at least 24 hours in advance and by noon on Friday for the weekend. All equipment may be taken off-site except for kicksleds. Other groomed trails within 10-15 minutes of Prairie Woods include Sibley State Park, Robbins Island and Swan Lake trails.

Another fun way to enjoy winter in the Willmar Lakes Area is by ice skating! As long as it’s cold enough (which it usually is in February) the Public Works Department creates beautifully smooth ice rinks in area neighborhoods. Just grab your ice skates and head on out to Garfield, Hilltop or Lincoln parks in Willmar. If you’re in the Spicer area, head over to the ice rink near Prairie Meadows Elementary School. You can always enjoy ice skating on area lakes and ponds as well if there isn’t a bunch of snow on top. Just be sure to check the ice thickness before heading out.

One of the most popular winter activities in Minnesota that almost everyone can enjoy (when there’s snow of course) is sledding! You can purchase a cheap sled just about anywhere and head on out to the hills of the Willmar Lakes Area. Some of the best sledding locations include the sledding hill at Sibley State Park near the Interpretive Center, the exciting slopes at Ridgewater College, and the hill just up from the Flags of Honor Memorial for beginners and young children. Again remember to bundle up in layers so that when you get your blood warmed up, you can take some of the winter gear off.

And for those that don’t necessarily want to be “out in the cold,” you can stay nice and toasty while fishing in a fish house. Bring your own or rent one from Green Lake Rentals, Diamond Lake Resort or Green Lake Enterprises! After purchasing your fishing permit, head out to one of the area lakes with your fish house, ice auger, a fishing pole and some bait. Bring along a thermos of coffee or hot chocolate (and of course some snacks) and enjoy some quality time with friends or family. All you have to do is wait for a tug on your line to catch a walleye, northern pike, crappie or sunfish all while staying nice and warm. Check out our latest fishing reports to see which lake has the best bite.

And after each of these calorie burning activities (minus the ice fishing) you’re sure to be hungry for a delicious hot meal at one of the areas favorite restaurants. When in the northern part of the county, make sure you stop at Alley on Ash for an amazing burger and a brew. Still have some energy left? Then get in a few frames of bowling. If you’re closer to the Spicer area, make sure to stop by O’Neil’s for a grilled pork chop dinner or a roast beef commercial and try one of 30 delicious brews on tap. If you find yourself close to Atwater, you must stop by The Handle Bar for an Iron Warrior sandwich, which is tender pulled pork mixed with a bourbon BBQ sauce topped with coleslaw, green pepper & fried onion. Or if you didn’t catch that walleye you were hoping for you can always order the delicious walleye sandwich with fries. Willmar has a wide variety of restaurants to choose from whether you’re craving pasta, seafood, Mexican, Chinese, Somali or pizza. For a full list of restaurants in the Willmar Lakes Area, click here.

So while you’re enjoying the many fun winter activities or the delicious coffees, entrées, and brews in the area, make sure you snap some photos and share them on your social media outlets using #WillmarLakesArea. We’re always excited to see the happy faces of our local and visitors! Now get out and enjoy winter while it lasts and STAY WARM!

Fish our lakes

The possibilities are endless on our 30 recreational lakes…boating, swimming, fishing, water skiing, tubing, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boating, hydro biking, paddle boarding and so much more!

Fishing Report

Explore our Trails

Surrounded by beautiful lakes and scenery…who wouldn’t take a hike or a leisurely bike ride to enjoy the view? With miles of trials to choose from, you can always find new places to explore.

Trail Report