By Amy Rea

It’s cold. Very cold. That’s to be expected in Minnesota in January. But when cabin fever strikes, where can you go that will at least give you the illusion of sunniness and warmth?

Turns out there are quite a few places across the Twin Cities to do that. What follows is a sampling.

It’s hard to beat St. Paul’s Como Conservatory for a reprieve from winter. Lush plantings, warm and humid air, reflection pool, all in fully exposed daylight. The best of indoors and outdoors in one place.

Edina’s Edinborough Park is a great option, which combines plenty of physical activity options (giant indoor playground, swimming pool, running track and fitness area) with landscaped pathways that give you hope for spring. As the website notes: Where it’s 70 degrees and sunny all year long.

You can go tropical with a visit to Bloomington’s Great Wolf Lodge indoor waterpark. Warm air, lots of light, and water slides. Note: This is available only to guests of the lodge, so make a weekend of it and forget the cold.

You might think of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum as an outdoors place, but the spacious visitor center, complete with art gallery, will give you a sense of brightness and cheer. Go upstairs to the second-floor café and enjoy a cup of coffee near the windows, which look out on all things nature.    

Speaking of visitor centers, check out the offerings from Three Rivers Parks. Silverwood Park in St. Anthony has an art gallery and café, and Eastman Nature Center at Maple Grove’s Elm Creek Park Reserve gives you a beautiful way to envision what nature will look like when the weather is better. 

There are several museums that offer beautiful views from warm perches as well. The

Minneapolis Institute of Art has a public space on the first floor, with tall windows and a gorgeous view of downtown. Grab a cup of coffee and relax for a bit before entering the galleries. The restaurant Fika in the new addition at the American Swedish Institute is situated near tall windows looking out at a courtyard and the grand old mansion itself. (Bonus: excellent food.) In St. Paul, the Science Museum of Minnesota takes full advantage of its situation near the river to have huge windows overlooking it, including in the cafeteria.

The Minneapolis Central Library is a wonder of natural light and space. Bonus: lots of great books.

Or, if you just can’t stand being indoors one more day, the Ice Castles installation is open (keep an eye on the website for weather updates that affect the schedule). This year it’s located near Stillwater’s Lift Bridge.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Tuesday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.

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