Willmar Lakes Area Winter Wonderland

Bailey Hovland

I may be biased, but there is nothing like winter in Minnesota. Sure, the temperature often drops below zero degrees and sometimes the roads are slick with glare ice, but there is absolutely no place like Minnesota in the winter. The warmth of the people combined with the beauty of the glittering, snow-covered landscape makes Minnesota winters nothing short of incredible, especially in the Willmar Lakes Area.

It’s hard to imagine a more peaceful scene than the sun setting over the frozen lake, quiet except for the wind rustling through the reeds at the lake’s edge.

And the best way to experience that frozen beauty? Head to the nearest lake with a few friends to try your hand at ice fishing. With an ice auger, a fishing pole, and some bait (and of course, a fishing permit), you can earn an honest meal by reeling in a couple walleye or a few crappies. Bring a few snacks and settle in for a morning or afternoon of talking, laughing, and reeling in fish. It’s a great way to spend some quality time with friends and catch up, with nothing to do but wait for a tug on your line. And after a day’s work, you’re likely to have some quality Minnesota cuisine to show for it. Fry up the walleye in a beer batter and enjoy the fruits of your labor, knowing it was a day well spent.

Or if you’re looking for an activity that’s a little less waiting and a little more action, grab a sled and head out on the snowy hills across the area. Ridgewater College has a few wicked slopes that will send you across the snow screaming and holding on to the sides of your sled for dear life. And the hill just up from the Flags of Honor Memorial is great for beginners and young kids, with one slope that’ll make sledding fun without too much of an added risk factor. And if you’re hoping for an advanced version of flying down the hills, try snowboarding. If you’ve ever attempted wake boarding or wake surfing out on Minnesota’s lakes in the summertime, you’re sure to be a natural at snowboarding. Slide down the slopes in style, maneuvering around the snow while getting in a decent workout session for the day.

After your adventures out in the ice and snow, warm up at one of the many coffee shops around the community. Nothing takes the bite out of the cold

Snowboarding is a great way to enjoy the snow in the Willmar Lakes Area.

winter air like a cup of coffee or tea from the Willmar Lakes Area. Try the chocolate chai at Lulu Beans with an added shot of marshmallow flavoring to make the perfect liquid s’mores. Treat yourself to a turmeric latte at the Middle Fork Cafe (in Willmar or downtown New London) for some added health kicks with your cup of coffee. Or order up a candy cane mocha at Lake Affect Coffee and enjoy the seasonal combination of white chocolate, peppermint syrup, and espresso.

Plenty of the local businesses have fun items to add to or memorialize your Willmar Lakes Area winter visit. Pick up a Patagonia sweater at the Happy Sol in downtown New London to stay warm in style, keeping with the winter trends. Wander through Mill Pond Mercantile for Minnesota-themed gifts and treasures, from scented candles to themed picture frames. Every local business has something unique to offer, and there are too many fantastic spots to list in just one blog.

So the next time you’re in the Willmar Lakes Area, make sure to experience this winter wonderland to the fullest. Spend some time outside embracing the elements, taking in the bounty and beauty this Minnesota community has to offer. Warm up and enhance the winter experience with our local businesses, giving you something to look forward to after being out in the cold. Regardless of what you decide to do, embrace the winter wonderland to the fullest. The cold never bothered us anyway.

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