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WCCO Viewers’ Choice For MN’s Best Cold Day Getaway

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(credit: CBS) Matt Brickman
Matt Brickman mans the weather wall on WCCO This Morning, Monday thru...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — With school closures due to the extreme cold again this week, some parents may have been wondering what to do with their kids to stave off cabin fever.

Since it’s too cold for outdoor activities like sledding or making snowmen, I went in search of the Best Cold Day Getaway in Minnesota.

The place I found had tropical plants, song birds and humidity. We went to the Como Park Conservatory in St. Paul, which is the perfect escape from the winter blues.

“People are trying to get an escape without getting on a plane, and this is the perfect place where they can do that,” said Michelle Furrer, the director of Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.

That’s especially true inside Como Park Conservatory’s Tropical Encounters. It’s a re-creation of a Central or South American rain forest, and it’s 90 degrees warmer inside than out.

And it’s so humid in there that our camera’s lens kept fogging up.

With his sons Tariq and Noah off of school, Mohammed Khan opted to get the boys out of the house.

“This is our winter warming grounds, so to speak,” Khan said. “If we were trapped indoors, we would all go nuts.”

But here, there’s plenty to keep everyone interested. There’s exotic fish and birds, turtles, and even a sloth named Chloe.

“She is in 75 degree tropical encounters all day every day, so for her, it’s sunny right now. So, this is a good day,” said Bree Barney, a Como Park Zoo zookeeper.

While there are educational benefits to visiting the conservatory for kids, it’s not just for them.

Between the sunken garden, the palm dome and the orchid house, there’s room to stretch out and take a break from the cold.

“We see people that’ll come and enjoy a book on a bench, or a chat with an old friend,” Furrer said. “It’s really a great way people can utilize our facilities.”

And with any luck, after an hour or so, you might even forget just how cold it is outside.

“You are really transported and getting that mental break from the cold,” Furrer added.

The conservatory does have a suggested donation, but if you can’t donate, that’s OK. They’re happy to welcome you or your family for free.

Valentine’s Day is just over two weeks away, So next Tuesday at 10 p.m., I’m looking for the Best Romantic Restaurant in Minnesota.

Tweet me your pick @Matt_Brickman or send an email to mbrickman@wcco.com

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