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8 Winter Destinations in Minnesota that You Can Fly To

There’s no place like Minnesota in the winter! White snow, frost covered pine-tree forests and frozen lakes perfect for winter activities. The state of MN offers a winter-wonderland experience unlike any other place in the continental United States.


From light displays to cozy cabins to ski resorts, these are a few of our favorite places in Minnesota that you can fly to this winter.  


1) Brainerd Lakes Area

Nearest Airport: Brainerd Airport

Official Website:

North of the cities, in the heart of “up north”, the Brainerd Lakes area is as close as you can get to a winter wonderland. Here, you can find the annual Sertoma Winter Wonderland, featuring 80 colorful, animated light displays. Located at the Northland Arboretum in Baxter, this tradition is 12 years strong and will get you in the holiday mood. For those that enjoy ice fishing, the chain of lakes offers plenty of opportunity to reel-in massive walleye, pike and bass.


2) Lutsen Mountain

Nearest Airport: Grand Marais Airport

Official Website:


With decorated trees dotting the small downtown area of Lutsen, you can view the immense, frozen Lake Superior and take in its cold beautify before heading just south to cruise over one of the state’s most popular ski areas, located in the heart of the Sawtooth Mountains. Flying in the late afternoon will ensure you catch a glimpse of skiers before the ski hills close at 4 p.m. As the sun sets, you may also spot cozy cabins lit up across the North Shore.


3) St. Paul

Nearest Airport: Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

Official Website:


From the end of January through the end of February, St. Paul is home to the largest winter carnival in the world. Since 1886, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival has brought family-friendly events, fun activities, excellent food and more to the Twin Cities. Best of all, most events are free and open to the public, and take place in downtown Saint Paul, near Rice Park and Landmark Center and the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, making it a quick drive from the nearest airport.


4) Duluth

Nearest Airport: Duluth International Airport

Official Website:


Duluth is home to gorgeous winter scenery, outdoor recreation and tons of restaurants serving up comfort food. Plus, the annual Bentleyville Tour of Lights, boasting over 5 million lights across a 20-acre park,  is one of the prime holiday destinations in Minnesota. Located in the Bayfront Festival Park, the bright glow of the lights reflects off the snow and shores of Lake Superior, and draws in visitors from across the state. Skip the lines and view Bentleyville from above, and take in one of the highlights of the display: the128-foot tall Christmas tree, glowing with 150,000 LED lights.


5)  Minneapolis Chain of Lakes

Nearest Airport: Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

Official Website:


On the Chain of Lakes, which includes Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake, you can get a good view of the festive neighborhoods and partake in the many outdoor recreation opportunities. From cross-country skiing to ice skating to snowshoeing and beyond, these historic neighborhoods are an ideal winter destination in Minnesota.


6) Mankato

Nearest Airport: Mankato Regional Airport

Official Website:


The quaint town of Mankato offers more than meets the eye during the winter season. Located along the Minnesota River, Sibley Park in Mankato comes alive with bright lights around the holidays. The annual tradition features a rainbow of colored lights and intricate ice sculptures twinkling in the winter nights. Be sure to tune in to FM 90.1 to hear holiday music that is synced with the light displays for the full experience.


7) Willmar Lakes Area

Nearest Airport: Willmar Municipal Airport

Official Website:


Through January 6, you can view a true community collaboration that is the Celebrate the Light of the World Christmas Light Display in the Willmar Lakes Area. Featuring nearly 8,000 Christmas lights, you can’t miss this display, even from the air. Located in the beautiful Robbins Island Park, the lights twinkle amidst the trees and reflect off the waters of Willmar Lake. The lights are on display every night from 5-10 p.m.


8) Chaska

Nearest Airport: Flying Cloud Airport

Official Website:


Chaska is home to the amazing Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. If you’ve ever been to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, you know it is a beautiful area any time of year. But to see the area decorated for winter is something truly spectacular. Cruise over to the arboretum and take in the tasteful holiday decor and bright displays all across the arboretum grounds including the lighted tunnel, Frosty’s Path, and the Arbor Lights.



For pilots with their private pilot’s license, the winter season is one of the most fun times to view the beautiful snow-covered wonderlands Minnesota has to offer. And with your private pilot license, you can explore them all!

Do You Want to Visit the Best Holiday Displays in Minnesota?

Whether you’re someone that wants to learn to fly or a certified pilot who wants to further their education, Inflight Pilot Training can help you gain the freedom to explore these fantastic winter destinations in Minnesota.



Ready to get started? Inflight Pilot Training is a leading flight instruction company serving Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding areas. With a reputable training program and an extensive roster of highly skilled, certified flight instructors, we can give you the freedom to fly to the greatest destinations in the state of MN.

For additional information on Inflight training programs, contact us today or call (952) 698-3000.