Reviewing different ski hills in Minnesota

By: Ann McMullen

Although Minnesota does not have any true mountains, the hilly terrain of primarily the east half of the state makes for great alpine skiing. These hills, combined with the massive amount of snow we get that seems to last for half the year, make skiing a popular winter activity. In fact, there are so many ski hills in the state that it can be hard to choose one to go to. If you’re wondering where you should ski…look no further than this article.

The closest major hill to the Cities is probably Buck Hill, located in Burnsville. There isn’t much variety in their runs, and it’s all condensed into quite a small area. That being said, a huge amount of olympic medalists grew up skiing at Buck Hill, so they must be doing something right! I’d say Buck is a great place to try out skiing, and if you enjoy it, you can eventually go to a bigger, steeper hill.

Afton Alps is arguably the most popular ski hill in the state, located about half an hour east of the Twin Cities. It’s definitely popular for a reason. It’s in a pretty area, has 17 chairlifts, and even a hilltop chalet! However, Afton can get really, really busy. It’s good skiing, for sure, but you’ll probably spend more time waiting in lift lines than actually going down the hill.

Lutsen Mountains is the closest thing to a real mountain skiing experience that the state offers. This resort is located in the town of Lutsen on beautiful Lake Superior, about twenty minutes south of Grand Marais. There are four unique “mountains” with different types of terrain, allowing anyone from beginners to experts to find something they can enjoy. In addition to the great skiing, Lutsen offers a variety of fun activities in the off-season. Their gondola still runs in the summer to provide beautiful tours of the mountains, and an alpine slide is available to ride down the steepest of their four hills.

If you’re looking for beautiful views like those in Lutsen but don’t want to drive the four hours, look no further than Spirit Mountain in Duluth — essentially halfway between the Cities and Lutsen. At Spirit, you can expect to see Lake Superior, as well as cool views of Duluth itself. The only real downside of Spirit is how small it is. If size is what you’re looking for, I wouldn’t recommend it. Otherwise, it’s great! I also feel inclined to share that they have an alpine roller coaster open in the summer, that winds through a forest and provides beautiful views of the lake. And, get this — you can even control your speed!

And finally, my personal favorite: Welch Village. I may be a bit biased because I grew up coming here nearly every winter weekend, but this hill — just under an hour south of the Cities — has a lot to offer. I wouldn’t call Welch a “hidden gem,” but it’s definitely overshadowed by Afton. That being said, Welch isn’t nearly as busy as Afton — there are rarely long lines for the lifts and you’re sure to be able to find a spot to sit in one of their two chalets.

I hope this helped you see how much downhill skiing Minnesota has to offer. See you on the hill!

A review on the game ‘Stardew Valley’

By: McKenzie Welch

Image taken from:

Video games come in many different formats and genres, and people all over the world enjoy these technological creations. ‘Stardew Valley’ is considered a farming simulation, and it allows people to choose their own story and design their farms in the ways that they choose, which is a big part of what makes the game so appealing.

‘Stardew Valley’ is an indie game created by Eric Barone, under the developer ConcernedApe. It was released on February 26, 2016 and has been growing ever since. People have even made many different modifications that you can install to make the game more personable, which also helps hold people’s interest in the game more often.

From my personal experience, ‘Stardew Valley’ is a calming
game that is fun to play on your own and with friends. When playing by
yourself, you are able to make your own decisions regarding your farm
and you have total control. Your actions are the only things affecting the
way your story goes.

When playing with friends, you have someone to talk to and split activities with, and you get to make a farm that reflects all of the players. ‘Stardew Valley’ has connected many people.

There are many different activities in ‘Stardew Valley’ to participate in, which keeps the game interesting. There is farming, mining, talking to townspeople, and fishing. This is another reason that it’s great to play with friends, as there are always activities people like and activities that people dislike when it comes to ‘Stardew Valley’.

All in all, I rate the game a 10/10. It is incredibly personable to different types of people and the things they enjoy, whether that is referring to the storyline they choose, the in-game activities they enjoy, or the modifications they add to the game. Whatever the case, it is a calming game with many positive qualities that I enjoy immensely.

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Free or low-cost winter activities

By: Emilia Moberg

Do you ever find yourself thinking, “I really want to go out today, but it’s 1) very cold and 2) I don’t have that much money to spend”? As Minnesotans, most of us are used to the cold weather and are prepared for snowy weather conditions. People still go out and live their lives, especially to help curb seasonal depression during these dark months.

However, it can be difficult to find things to do and places to go when you’re a student with limited funds. Despite being prepared for the cold, it is a lot easier to plan activities for a whole day during the summer and spring without spending any money.

I have experienced this problem first hand many times, so I have compiled a list of some of my favorite things to do/places to go during the winter that are free or have a low cost.

1. Museums
Museums are a great way to spend some time during the winter because they are inside and heated, and offer a lot to see. There are a lot of great museums in the Twin Cities that offer free admission to people under 18.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art is an art museum with three floors and over 90,000 artworks. It has a variety of African, Asian, European and modern art, ranging from paintings to sculptures to architecture. The MIA also has a cafe with seating.

The Walker Art Center is another art museum that offers free admission to under 18 visitors. The Walker is more focused on modern art and cycles out exhibits relatively regularly, as well as having a permanent collection on display.

One downside of both of these museums is that you have to pay for ramp parking, and there is limited street parking.

2. Coffee shops
Going to a coffee shop during the winter might seem like an obvious choice, but some coffee shops are definitely better than others, in terms of price and atmosphere.

JS Bean Factory in St. Paul is one of my favorites to do homework at. There is usually always a place to sit, and drinks and food is relatively inexpensive. You can get a 16oz tea for around $3.50 and coffee for around $4.

Another one of my favorites is Caffetto Coffee House in Minneapolis. It has a really unique, grungy but cozy atmosphere, along with inexpensive tea, coffee and food. Caffetto is a great place for late night studying or hanging out, as it stays open until 1am.

3. Thrifting
Thrifting is a fun activity for all seasons, but similarly to the museums, it’s great for winter because thrift stores are a warm, indoor space you can spend a lot of time in.

I think the Salvation Army/Goodwill bins specifically are good places to go because of how frequent clothes are cycled in and out. Many people typically spend multiple hours searching through the bins and waiting for new bins to be available to look through. Further, since clothes at the bins are priced by weight, you can purchase a lot of items for very cheap.