By Adrian Schramm

The cold weather might leave your lips chapped and your cheeks raw, but one thing is for sure: it sure is pretty. The layer of fresh, white snow covering tree tops and sidewalks adds a whimsical quality to the world you can’t find in warmer climates. We know how to make the best of every season here in Minnesota, and winter is no exception. Put on your coat, hat, and boots and snap a few shots at these local landmarks.

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Rice Park
109 4th St. W.
St Paul, MN 55102
(651) 632-5111

There is perhaps no place that captures the spirit of the season better than St. Paul’s Rice Park. Each year, life-sized toys are set up and the trees are adorned with colored lights making the entire area glow with holiday cheer. Surrounded by the palatial Landmark Center (with an ice-skating rink at the base), the historic St. Paul Hotel, and St. Paul Central Library, it’s a truly magical place in the city. Also home to the renowned St. Paul Winter Carnival, the pictures you take here will look as though they came straight from The Nutcracker (which just played, in hip-hop form, at the beautiful Ordway Center across the street).

Bentleyville “Tour Of Lights”
700 W. Railroad St.
Duluth, MN 55802
(218) 740-3535

Duluth’s famous light display, and the largest, is still free and open to the public after all these years. And it just keeps getting bigger and better. Over four million lights twinkle and shine around you as you stroll along the edge of majestic Lake Superior, perfect for photo opportunities. You can truly get lost in the lights here, and enjoy complimentary hot cocoa while you’re at it (your hands can get cold taking pictures). And for those bringing children, you can take photos with Santa as well. Added bonus: The Apostle Ice Caves, also a fantastic photo op, are just around the corner from Duluth.

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Lake Phalen
1600 Phalen Drive
Saint Paul, MN 55106
(651) 266-6400

Over 60 themed holiday light displays light of Lake Phalen and the surrounding park for this holiday tradition. Hosted by the St. Paul Police Foundation, it’s a charming example of what happens when law enforcement and the community work together. Photos with the light displays are incredible, and you can take photos with any of the uniformed officers at the entrance getting to know visitors as well. Admission is $10 per vehicle (or $8 if you register online at, but proceeds go to supporting local non-profits, and community outreach.

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Holidazzle 2016
1382 Willow St.
Minneapolis, MN 55403
(612) 370-4929

Holidazzle, once just a parade and now so much more, returns for the second year as full market, entertainment destination, and Christmas paradise to Minneapolis’ Loring Park. Set your photo scene in front of the vendor selling hot roasted nuts, get some shots as the fireworks are set off over the city, or huddle up with Santa for truly holiday bliss. The entire park comes alive with Christmas cheer, perfect for photos with the family, friends, or that special someone.

Kiwanis Holiday Lights
903 Park Lane
Mankato, MN 56001
(507) 385-9129

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You can either walk or drive through this incredible light display in Mankato, though walking is probably better for pictures. The quiet landscape is turned into a celebration of light and color and Christmas spirit. It’s a more intimate display, not nearly as sprawling as some of the others on this list, making it much more manageable when finding the perfect shot. Paths lined with candy canes will take you through the tour, surrounded all the while with the quaint, majestic warmth and glow of Christmas. It is, in a word, serene, and truly a great to capture your holiday pics.

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