Frisbee of all sorts, from ultimate to disc golf, is well established in the Twin Cities. In fact, there are more than two dozen disc golf courses in the greater metro area. The best known course, which is among the most highly rated in the Twin Cities, is in Kaposia Park (1028 Wilde Ave., South St. Paul, www.southstpaul.org ), a beautiful park in its own right. ’Bee enthusiasts like the well-marked holes, which start in an open field and then wind through the woods. In the west metro area, Bryant Lake Park’s course (6800 Rowland Rd., Eden Prairie, 763/559-9000, www.threeriversparkdistrict.org ) is also highly regarded. Maintained by the Three Rivers Park District, it is groomed to a degree that will surprise DIY disc golfers, with wood chip “greens” around the baskets. A day pass costs $3, available online or by calling the park. Discs are available for rent, as well.
There’s a difference between the hard-checking, high-stakes hockey of the NFL and hockey as nature intended it: outside, on any frozen body of water, with kids skating their hearts out in the freezing cold before the winter sun disappears.
That is the hockey celebrated at the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships (www.uspondhockey.com ). Conceived by a couple of grown-up kids who had skated their hearts out on Minnesota’s frozen lakes and ponds, the first tournament, in 2006, attracted 120 teams from across the country. It was an instant success: Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and even Jeopardy! have all taken notice.
The three-day tournament has grown to more than 200 games and moved from its original location on Lake Calhoun to Lake Nokomis in South Minneapolis, where volunteers groom as many as 25 rinks.
Yes, it’s cold. And, yes, Minnesota sees a great deal of snow. But not all locals lock their bikes up for the winter. A growing community of winter bikers are out to convince their fellow cyclists to join them. If you hit the roads in the winter, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. With snowbanks piled high on both sides, city streets get considerably narrower. Stick to dedicated bike lanes or, better yet, to off-street trails. Always use a blinking light and reflectors. The sun sets early, and even winter daylight can be deceptive. Use a fat-tired bike, ride slowly, and give motorists a wide berth: They’ve got plenty to concentrate on when the roads are slick. And, of course, dress in layers and cover up exposed skin.
Fishing is legal and convenient in nearly all of Minneapolis and St. Paul’s urban lakes. Throwing a line in from a boat, a pier, or even a street overpass is very common. The most common species are bluegills, crappies, muskellunges, walleye, and carp, many stocked by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. All anglers over the age of 16 need a license, which can be purchased over the phone at 888/665-4236 or online , for $9.50 for 24 hours, $23 for 72 hours, and $26.50 for a week.
The Minnesota Health Department (www.health.state.mn.us ) tests fish from 1,000 lakes in Minnesota, including most of those in the metro area, and publishes a lake-by-lake and species-by-species list of guidelines on which to eat and which to throw back. Many species fall on the “limit consumption to once per week” list; the most common contaminants are mercury and perfluorocarbons. The full list is available on the website.
Curling is widely known as “chess on ice” — well, insofar as it’s widely known as anything anywhere, and that’s largely in Scotland, Canada, and Minnesota. In fact, Minnesotans regularly pack the U.S. Olympic curling team. The game looks a little odd to outsiders, but it is strangely addicting: One team member slides a large, smooth stone with a handle down the lane toward a series of concentric circles, aiming to get it as close to the center as possible. Two sweepers hurry ahead of the stone, brushing the ice hard with their brooms, to reduce friction and speed the stone on its way. The fourth team member, the skip, stands down by the target (the “house”), giving direction. Rounds of play are scored like bocce: The team with the stone closest to the center gets to count toward its score all the stones that are closer than the opponents’ first stone.
St. Paul boasts the largest and one of the oldest curling clubs in the country, the St. Paul Curling Club (470 Selby Ave., St Paul, 651/224-7408, www.stpaulcurlingclub.org ). This storied club, founded in 1888, however, is not the right place to turn if you are a novice curler or even if you’re a long-time pro looking to get some ice time. The membership rolls are so packed that there’s no public ice time available and even longtime members vie for good slots. Missing your curling night is just not done in Minnesota.
Thank goodness, then, that two new curling clubs have opened since 2006 to pick up some of the slack. The Dakota Curling Club (251 Civic Center Pkwy., Burnsville, 952/895-4651, www.dakotacurlingclub.org ) rents ice at the Burnsville Ice Arena. Most of its ice time is also filled by the league schedule, but the club does offer occasional curling classes and open ice times. You are also welcome to come during regular league play (generally Saturdays and Sundays) and watch the pros. If there’s an open lane, someone is very likely to be willing to show you the ropes. (Curlers are like that.) Remember that curling is played in teams of four, so you’ll want to bring along some friends, along with some soft-soled, clean shoes. The club has some equipment (brooms and sliders, which fit over your shoes) to lend.
The third club in the area, the Edina Curling Club (7300 Bush Lake Rd., Edina, www.edinacurlingclub.org ) does not have open curling times or lessons.