Meet our guest bloggers: Ellie & Owen
This post is coming to you straight from our cozy FrontDesk condo up high in the skyline of downtown Minneapolis. We’re Owen and Ellie, the cliff diving couple. Yes you read that right, we are both professional cliff divers on the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. Our job takes us all around the world to compete and we typically live in 2-3 different cities throughout the year. As much fun as it is to constantly move around, it makes traditional renting very difficult. After years of paying rent for an apartment we barely spent time in, we decided to put everything in storage and live more freely. When it was time to come back to Minneapolis for the winter months, we knew we wanted to live in the same building as before. Discovering Frontdesk was a breath of fresh air! It gave us the opportunity to live in a fully furnished apartment in our favorite building without the commitment of signing a long term lease. We are staying in the Churchill Apartments, where the Mississippi meets the city. With two balconies, we have a panoramic view of the river to our north and the skyscrapers to the south. Being back in the city during our off-season has given us the opportunity to explore the city in the winter. We have had a blast experiencing some of the best outdoor activities that Minneapolis has to offer! Here are the top 5 outdoor activities we have experienced over the last few weeks.
There aren’t many places in the country where the temperatures would allow expert sculptures to build a full size castle out of ice but Minneapolis is certainly one of them. Every year at the beginning of January they build an enormous castle with mazes, slides and archways. Adorned with hand-placed icicles that dangle overhead like a beautiful, winter chandelier, this castle is a must see! We took the opportunity to visit this frozen masterpiece and had a fantastic time climbing, sliding and exploring the site.
From man made ice sculptures to a natural frozen beauty, Minnehaha Park is home to a very unique waterfall. We have visited this park a couple times in the Summer to see the waterfall but going in the winter is an absolutely wild experience. The 60 foot high falls completely freezes over leaving an ice cave behind the falls that adventurous people can explore. It is a surreal experience to see such massive frozen icicles formed naturally and seeing time freeze in motion!
The winter Olympics are on and we love watching all the different sports on the TV. One that has always caught our eye is the ski jumping contest. How on earth do athletes know they can fly 500ft down a hill? Well the answer is they start very small indeed. We headed over to the St. Paul Ski Club for a beginner experience. The smallest hill is called the k-10 and it is designed for even the most beginner skiers to have fun and experience a half second of flying. We strapped on some skis and headed for the slopes. It may not be a big jump but it was still thrilling to feel the freedom of flight. The club is family run with 4 generations of jumpers going out to jump each week.
Minnesota is famously named the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’ and in the winter they become the “Land of 10,000 frozen lakes!”. We visited Centennial Lake in Edina, one of the largest lakes in the Twin Cities area providing 50 acres of ice to explore. We had an awesome time skating around and trying out some new tricks.
Yes, you heard it correctly… there is a World Snow Sculpting Championship. The best snow artists from around the world gather to compete for the ultimate prize of being the champions of sculpting. This year the event was held in Stillwater, a cute little town on the edge of the Twin Cities. Of course, we headed over to see the action! 12 teams from 5 countries entered the event with the Canadians coming out on top. The sculptures were truly amazing and we were amazed at the artistry. Hats off to all the participants!
Bonus activity- Shop with SkyWay
One of the coolest things about the city of Minneapolis is the Skyway System. This is a series of footbridges that link buildings together in the city. It is the largest contiguous system of enclosed, second-level bridges in the world—composed of 9.5 miles of pathways connecting 80 city blocks. Basically, you can walk around the entire city without ever stepping outside! This makes restaurants, shopping, and other activities easily accessible by foot without having to spend hours outside in freezing temperatures. The first time we came to Minneapolis there was a polar vortex weather system that made the air -43 degrees, yet you could still walk around the city in shorts and t-shirts through the skyway bridges!