By AMY FORLITI
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis is the northernmost city to host a Super Bowl. Tourism officials are making the most of that as they prepare to welcome visitors to the “Bold North.” Many activities surrounding Super Bowl will take advantage of Minnesota’s wintry weather, including outdoor concerts, ice sculptures and opportunities for winter sports.
Super Bowl events will be held around the metro area during the week leading up to the Feb. 4 game at U.S. Bank Stadium. The city’s unique skyway system of enclosed footbridges will let visitors get from place to place without going outside. A trip to the Mall of America is also a must-do for those needing retail therapy to escape the cold.
A look at some things to do:
At Super Bowl Experience, the NFL’s interactive theme park, fans can get NFL players’ autographs, play games, take photos with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and more. Super Bowl Experience will be at the Minneapolis Convention Center Jan. 27-Feb. 3. Tickets are $35 ($25, children 12 and under).
The party continues down the street at Super Bowl Live , a 10-day, free outdoor festival and concert series on Nicollet Mall, a five-minute walk from Super Bowl Experience. The concerts, presented by Minnesota music legends Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, will have a distinctly Minnesotan flavor, featuring a Prince tribute and local bands like Soul Asylum, Mint Condition, the Suburbs and others.
A free snowmobile stunt show takes place Feb. 3. The American Birkebeiner International Bridge, a bridge that’s part of a Wisconsin ski race, is being rebuilt over Nicollet Mall to showcase events like skijoring (cross-country skiers pulled by dogs) and fat-tire bike racing. Nearby, adventure seekers will soar across the Mississippi River on the Bold North Zip Line .
Super Bowl Opening Night will be held in St. Paul, a 15-minute drive from Minneapolis, on Jan. 29 at the Xcel Energy Center. The sold-out event gives fans a chance to see players and coaches. Also starting Jan. 29, fans can see players and celebrities in media interviews on Radio Row, at the Mall of America in nearby Bloomington.
PLENTY OF PARTIES
Nomadic Entertainment Group is bringing a VIP experience called Nomadic Live! to the refurbished Minneapolis Armory building just blocks from U.S. Bank Stadium. Headliners there include Imagine Dragons, Pink and Jennifer Lopez. Tickets are here . While a traveling venue called Club Nomadic has been cancelled, most of the acts initially scheduled for that venue— including The Chainsmokers, Florida Georgia Line and Gwen Stefani — will now perform inside Mystic Lake Casino Hotel.
EMBRACE THE BOLD NORTH
Can you try cross-country skiing, ice fishing or even dog sledding? You betcha!
Many state and local parks have cross-country ski rentals , snowshoe rentals or fat-tire biking on winter trails. Local rinks offer ice skating.
Adventurous tourists can head a couple hours out of town to find snowmobile rentals. Snow tubing or downhill skiing and snowboarding are also available within a 90-minute drive. And those who need to cross dog sledding or ice fishing off their bucket lists can find outfitters and fishing guides in northern Minnesota.
St. Paul’s annual Winter Carnival coincides with Super Bowl. The carnival features a 70-foot (21-meter) Ice Palace, live music, ice carvings and more. The Luminary Loppet on Feb. 3 includes an ice pyramid and fire dancers.
Even hearty Minnesotans need a break from cold weather. One must-do includes a trip to the Mall of America , the nation’s largest entertainment and shopping complex. The mall has roller coasters, restaurants, a sea exhibit and other attractions — and is always 70 degrees F (21 C) inside. The mall is just 11 miles (18 km) from Minneapolis and an easy train ride from downtown or the airport.
Minneapolis and St. Paul have a vibrant art and theater scene. The metro area has more than 50 museums. The Minneapolis Institute of Art , always free, will have an outdoor ice maze from Feb. 1 through Feb. 4. The Science Museum of Minnesota , in St. Paul, is a hit with all ages. Its interactive Sportsology exhibit lets visitors analyze their movements and race against professional athletes.
Fans of the late singer Prince can tour his famed Paisley Park studio, or stop by to see his star, and others, painted outside First Avenue , the Minneapolis nightclub made famous in “Purple Rain.” Fans can also take a self-guided tour of Prince’s Minneapolis haunts, including his childhood home and high school.
Minnesota’s craft brewery scene is booming, and several breweries in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area can be visited in one afternoon. The Juicy Lucy (or Jucy Lucy) — a hamburger with molten hot cheese oozing out of the middle — is a unique Minnesota specialty worth trying.
While events surrounding Super Bowl are spread across several cities, the area is relatively compact and easy to navigate by bus, train , taxi or ride services like Uber. One note: The light rail will be open only to Super Bowl ticket holders on game day, as those attending the game will be screened for security off-site en route to U.S. Bank Stadium. Other riders can take free buses along the route. Metro Transit recommends that visitors download its app for real time information or call 612-373-3333 with questions.
Volunteers will be stationed throughout the city, and in the skyway system, to help direct visitors.