Bright scarves, sturdy boots, and whooshing sounds are what you see and hear on the slopes as white powder rises in the air when skiers stop or change the trajectory. This is ski season in Burnsville, Minnesota. Easily accessible from Interstate 35, and 15 miles south of downtown Minneapolis, Burnsville has the Minnesota River near its northern border. The city is complete with a downtown area called Heart of the City, creating a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood full of locally owned businesses. This is a great place to visit, right outside Minneapolis, but it’s one of the only places in the surrounding area where you can ski during the winter—and definitely the only spot you can ski before the snow hits the ground.
The destination we’re talking about is the Buck Hill Ski & Snowboard Area in Burnsville, a paradise for lovers of skiing, snowboarding and more. Sixteen different runs include a half-pipe and a rail yard, and there are beginner-to-advanced trails, too. Ten lifts and one of the best systems for making snow in the Midwest have made skiing possible from mid-November through March. But beginning in fall 2016, skiing, snowboarding, and tubing become fall activities too at Buck Hill, with the opening of a synthetic, gliding surface created from an innovative Italian material called Neveplast, allowing you to ski on a surface that feels like snow, but uses no water.
Located just over a mile from Burnsville Center, the urban Buck Hill is very convenient for metro winter sports enthusiasts as well. Ready to wind down after a day of skiing or snow tubing? Grab a seat at the large fire-pit seating area and watch other snow fans at play.
When you’re ready to “warm-up” after a day on the slopes, you’ll find the perfect holiday gifts at Burnsville Center, a regional mall and shopping hub with more than 100 stores. At nearly 1.3 million square feet and three floors, the mall’s anchors include Macy’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Gordman’s and JCPenney, with plenty of additional name brand retailers in the mix, too.
You can grab a stuffed burger and a brew at Lucky’s 13 Pub while enjoying televised sports anytime, or live music on weekends. Check the website for food and drink specials or visit one of nearly 15 additional eateries in Burnsville Center.
When you need a break from shopping, you can see a movie at CMX Odyssey located in the parking lot of Burnsville Center where you can sink into a plush electric recliner and put up the footrest. There’s even a Club Level with VIP Reserved Seats, available only for the 21-and-older crowd, after 4 p.m.
The Heart of the City, Burnsville’s pedestrian-friendly downtown area, is full of more shopping and dining options as well as parks and the Ames Center, host of national and local concerts, theater performances and comedy shows.
A popular restaurant for more than a decade, the award-winning Jensen’s Cafe serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the spirit of the first Jensen’s Cafe, which operated from the 1940s into the 1970s. Pecan-crusted walleye and quesadilla burgers are only a glimpse of lunch and dinner offerings. In the morning, order a massive omelet or pour the restaurant’s famous homemade butter maple syrup over piping hot banana waffles.
If you like California- and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine that incorporates the freshest ingredients, make a dinner reservation at Porter Creek Hardwood Grill. Meat and fish are prepared on wood-burning grills and in wood-burning ovens. There are gluten-free options too, on this expansive menu, while the bar features more than 80 wines and 100 premium brands of spirits.
There’s a big focus on Italian wine and dishes, many prepared with contemporary flair, at Chianti Grill Wine & Food. Upscale yet casual, the restaurant serves dinner daily as well as lunch or brunch. Start with bacon-wrapped scallops or mushrooms stuffed with Italian sausage and then order classic lasagna, or a perfectly cooked steak with your choice of toppers, from crab claws to melted bleu cheese.
Whether you visit Burnsville to indulge in winter sports or prefer to focus on local shopping and dining, this is a cool place for a one-of-a-kind weekend getaway.