10 Best Apres Ski Activities in Minnesota

By Trent Jonas

10 Best Apres Ski Activities in Minnesota

Downhill snow sports—skiing and snowboarding, anyway—create feelings of camaraderie and conviviality that one hates to leave on the slopes. Such feelings gave rise to the notion of apres ski (literally, “after ski”) as a thing. Even here in the North Star State, where our hills may be smaller but our enthusiasm is writ large, you can find a great apres scene. Here are our favorites apres ski places and activities in Minnesota.

Papa Charlie’s Tavern & Stage, Lutsen, MN

While Lutsen Mountain—the Upper Midwest’s biggest ski area—has plenty of awesome apres ski options, Papa Charlie’s Tavern & Stage is the one with the best scene. Regional and local acts come from all around to play the stage. Dancing, drinking, carousing—and yes, even food—can be had well into the evening after a long (or short) day of downhill.

Canal Park Brewing Company, Duluth, MN

Not too far from Spirit Mountain you’ll find this hot spot among locals and visitors. With some of the best brews around, Canal Park Brewing Company makes for a memorable experience. With amazing views of Lake Superior and a menu full of unique flavor combinations, beer might even be an afterthought! Try their famous beers on tap, such as the double Irish red "Bold Beacon," and you won’t be disappointed!

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Mall of America, Bloomington, MN

Only a 20 minute drive from Hyland Hills Ski Area is the Mall of America. If you’ve never heard of it, MOA is a revolutionary mall that has unbelievable attractions such as a 1.3-million-gallon aquarium, indoor amusement parks, a multilevel go-kart track, black light mini golf, visual reality and cinematic experiences, and so much more. Who would ever think that shopping would be the last priority when you head to the mall? Trade your lift ticket for a wristband and head to the Nickelodeon Universe to experience the largest indoor theme park centered around Nickelodeon’s familiar characters.

Afton Alps, Afton, MN

Afton Alps is the largest ski area that is technically within the Twin Cities metro. If you’ve made the trip to Afton, you’ll find plenty of apres right on sight. Paul’s has a big double fireplace, a full kitchen and a full bar. Meanwhile, on select weekends, the Cantina is open for margaritas and tacos. Live music and special events occur throughout the season.

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The Burnt Onion, Biwabik, MN

Giants Ridge, on the Iron Range, is a laid-back ski area in the great Northwoods of Minnesota. After leaving all you had on the slopes, head over to the resort’s best apres bar: The Burnt Onion. Great food, a fully-stocked bar, a fireplace, and live music on the weekends make the Burn Onion a perfect place to rest your tired legs.

Al’s Center Saloon, Center City, MN

You’ve been shredding for hours at Wild Mountain in the St. Croix River Valley, and you’re looking for a place where you can mingle, eat, drink, and listen to some live music. Although, the chalet at Wild Mountain is serviceable, do yourself a favor and head a few miles up the road to Al’s Center Saloon, a quirky—and popular—lakeside bar in nearby Center City.

Olde Triangle Pub, Wabasha, MN

In Southeast Minnesota, you’ll find plenty of vertical in the bowl of Coffee Mill Ski Area, but you’ll the best aprés a few blocks from the foot of the runs at the convivial Olde Triangle Pub in downtown Wabasha. The welcoming pub atmosphere, hearty Irish-style fare and plenty of friendly people with whom to chat will help to warm your soul after an afternoon of shredding.

Zorbaz, Lake Shore, MN

If you’ve been shredding Mount Ski Gull in the Brainerd Lakes Area, the best nearby apres scene is going to be at Zorbaz, just a little way up the shore of Gull Lake from the ski area. Zorbaz is a perennial party favorite in Minnesota’s lake country, and winter doesn’t slow down the drinking, camaraderie and music one bit.

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Black Diamond Restaurant & Bar, Burnsville, MN

Buck Hill is where Lindsey Vonn got her start. If you're in the area, make sure to take advantage of the awesome apres scene at the Black Diamond Restaurant & Bar. The Black Diamond music series ensures that you’re having as much fun in the chalet as you were on the hill. The bar and your fellow downhill enthusiasts take care of the rest.

Spiral Brewery, Hastings, MN

This brewery, named after the historic Spiral Bridge, is truly something special. With its stylish urban interior, top-notch craft beer, and knowledgeable staff, you’re in the best. Sip your way through the beer list—you’ll find some unique flavors in their standard and seasonal brews on tap. Favorites include Downward Spiral, an IPA with tropical citrus and resin notes, the LeDuc, a balanced red IPA with notes of warm caramel, and Townie, a crisp balanced Kolsch-Style Ale with subtle notes of fruit. After a day dedicated to shredding the gnar at Welch Village, there’s no better place for a beer lover to spend the night (or afternoon) at than Spiral Brewery!

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