For a dog lover, thrill seeker or winter adventurer, what could be more exhilarating than leading a team of world-class sled dogs on a 10-mile trail? That is exactly what groups can do at Nature’s Kennel.
“It’s truly a magical experience to see the beautiful trails and the magic of winter from behind a team of huskies who are all smiling, working together and cruising down the trail,” said Tasha Stielstra, who runs Nature’s Kennel Sled Dog Racing and Adventures with her husband, Ed, the top-placing Iditarod musher form the lower 48 states.
Guests have the opportunity to meet and run some of the dogs that have competed in the Iditarod. For day trips, guests can drive their own dog team or, if preferred, ride in the sled while the guide drives the sled. Trips can be adjusted for guests’ abilities, but as long as someone can stand for an hour and a half and has good balance, dog sledding is as easy as holding on and enjoying the ride. If a group prefers, there is an option where guests can take turns driving and riding.
Nature’s Kennel also hosts overnight experiences where groups can learn all facets of mushing, including harnessing their own team and feeding and caring for dogs. These trips have two to three hours of travel, and drivers spend the night in a winter camp complete with a heated canvas tent, a wood stove and bunks for sleeping.
Mall of America
For a break from the cold Minnesota winter, there is no better stop than the Mall of America. With 4.2 million square feet of gross building area that is always 70 degrees, whether it is spring, summer, fall or winter, the mall is a tourist attraction in its own right. The mall welcomes more than 3 million guests per year through its doors, and groups play a big part.
“Mall of America is a great place for groups to visit because of its tremendous array of activities,” said Doug Killian, director of tourism for the Mall of America.
To simply call Mall of America a mall sells it short. Sure, it has 520 stores, including Lego Land, an Apple Store and Nordstrom, plus 60 restaurants. But it also houses the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, a flight simulator, a ropes climbing course and Nickelodeon Universe, the nation’s largest indoor theme park, with roller coasters and other rides. Of course, shopping is still a huge draw, especially because there is no sales tax on clothing purchases in the mall.
During the winter, the holiday music festival features choirs, orchestras and other musicians playing throughout the mall.