Bright scarves, sturdy boots and whooshing sounds are what you see and hear on the slopes as white powder rises in the air when skiers stop or change trajectory. This is ski season in Burnsville, Minnesota. Easily accessible from Interstate 35, and 15 miles south of downtown Minneapolis, Burnsville has the Minnesota River near its northern border. The city is near completion on a major downtown renovation called Heart of the City, creating a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood full of locally owned businesses. This is a great place to visit, right outside Minneapolis, but it’s one of the only places in the surrounding area where you can ski during the winter—or definitely the only spot you can ski any time of year.
Let It Snow
The destination we’re talking about is the Buck Hill Ski & Snowboard Area in Burnsville, a paradise for lovers of skiing, snowboarding and more. Sixteen different runs include a half-pipe and a rail yard, and there are beginner-to-advanced trails, too. Ten lifts and one of the best systems for making snow in the Midwest have made skiing possible from mid-November through March. But beginning in fall 2016, skiing, snowboarding and tubing become year-round activities at Buck Hill, with the opening of a synthetic, gliding surface created from an innovative Italian material called Neveplast, allowing you to ski on a surface that feels like snow, but uses no water.
Located just over a mile from Burnsville Center, the urban Buck Hill is very convenient for metro winter sport enthusiasts as well. Before you hit the slopes, enjoy a waffle at Malcolm’s in the Main Chalet, affectionately named for Buck Hill’s canine mascot, Malcolm, who loves to greet visitors. Ready to wind down after a day of skiing or snow tubing? Grab a seat at the large fire-pit seating area and watch other snow fans at play.
When hunger strikes, you’ll find specialty cocktails and scratch-made Mexican American cuisine, from carne asada tacos to the day’s tamale, inside Black Diamond at Buck Hill. There are weekday happy hour specials and a kids’ menu too, making Black Diamond a family friendly spot or a great choice for a group of friends.
When you’re ready to “warm up” after a day on the slopes, you’ll find the perfect holiday gifts at Burnsville Center, a regional mall and shopping hub with more than 140 stores. At nearly 1.3 million square feet and three floors, the mall’s anchors include Macy’s, Sears, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Gordman’s and JCPenney, with plenty of additional name brand retailers in the mix, too.
You can grab a stuffed burger and a brew at Lucky’s 13 Pub while enjoying televised sports anytime, or live music on weekends. Check the website for food and drink specials or visit one of nearly 30 additional eateries in Burnsville Center.
When you need a break from shopping, you can see a movie at Paragon Odyssey 15 IMAX located in the parking lot of Burnsville Center where you can sink into a plush electric recliner and put up the footrest. There’s even a Club Level with VIP Reserved Seats, available only for the 21-and-older crowd, after 4 p.m.
Looking for artisan-made holiday gifts? Burnsville Center will host four Gingerbread Shows, December 2-4, 9-11, 15-18, and 19-23, 2016. From handmade soaps to custom quilts, it’s a wonderful collection of creativity, featuring dozens of fine artists and craftspeople. Gingerbread Shows have been a Twin Cities tradition, since 1982.
Shopping & Dining Favorites
In the heart of the city, Burnsville’s pedestrian friendly downtown area is full of more shopping and dining options as well as parks and the Ames Center, host of national and local concerts, theater performances and comedy shows.
You’ll find two longtime, local favorites here too. Full of home decor, body care products and specialty items, year-round, Ficus & Fig will feature its three-day Holiday Open House, November 4-6, 2016.
A popular restaurant, for more than a decade, the award-winning Jensen’s Cafe serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the spirit of the first Jensen’s Cafe, which operated from the 1940s into the 1970s. Pecan-crusted walleye and quesadilla burgers are only the start of lunch and dinner offerings. In the morning, order a massive omelet or pour the restaurant’s famous homemade butter maple syrup over piping hot banana waffles.
Eat, Drink, Enjoy
Burnsville has plenty of restaurants to accommodate every taste and budget. Family -owned and family-friendly, the Roasted Pear features sophisticated meal-sized salads as well as terrific entrees or sandwiches, and a well-stocked bar. Looking for a great deal? Share hors d’oeuvres or brick-oven pizza during Happy Hour, and check the website for coupons. In addition, Roasted Pear features discounted entrees on Sundays, from 3 to 9 p.m.
If you like California- and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine that incorporates the freshest ingredients, make a dinner reservation at Porter Creek Hardwood Grill. Meat and fish are prepared on wood-burning grills and in wood-burning ovens. There are gluten-free menu options too, on this expansive menu, while the bar features more than 80 wines and 100 premium brands of spirits.
There’s a big focus on Italian wine and dishes, many prepared with contemporary flare, at Chianti Grill Wine & Food. Upscale yet casual, the restaurant serves dinner daily as well as lunch or brunch. Start with bacon wrapped scallops or mushrooms stuffed with Italian sausage and then order classic lasagna, or a perfectly cooked steak with your choice of toppers, from crab claws to melted bleu cheese.
Internationally themed cuisine meets great craft beers and a fun atmosphere at Nutmeg Brewhouse, in the southern metro area of the Twin Cities. Open since early 2016, the restaurant showcases adventurous flavors, from Malaysian shrimp and Canadian-inspired poutine (fries with cheese curds, gravy and more) to Blackened Cod Lettuce Wraps or New Zealand lamb chops. You can even get a 64-ounce growler to enjoy at home, while watching football.
Whether you visit Burnsville to indulge in winter sports or prefer to focus on local shopping and dining, this is a cool place for a one-of-a-kind weekend getaway.