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Try a new winter sport by renting equipment

Let’s be honest: Snowy, icy, dark and cold Minnesota winters can be hard. But one of the best ways to overcome the winter blues is to get outside and enjoy some seasonal pastimes.

From downhill and cross country skiing to snowshoeing, fat biking and ice skating, there are many different winter activities to try. And fortunately, there are many rental options available so you can try out a new winter activity without investing in expensive equipment that may end up not getting used.

Cross country skiing

Some of the local ski trails offer rental equipment right at the trailhead. Three Rivers Park District rents cross country ski equipment at several of their trails, and the Loppet Foundation rents skis at Theodore Wirth Park. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board rents skis at the Hiawatha Golf Course. Dakota County Parks rents skis at Lebanon Hills Regional Park. 

If you want to try out some other trails or rent skis for longer, try Hoigaards, the REI in Bloomington, or the University of Minnesota Center for Outdoor Adventure (which is open to the public!).

Downhill skiing and snowboarding

Most downhill ski areas offer rental equipment. In Hennepin County, you can try out Three Rivers Park District’s slopes at Elm Creek or Hyland. Or if you have a fast-growing child who is enthusiastic about downhill skiing or snowboarding, check out the leasing program offered by ERIK’S bike and ski shop.


Gliding around on a frozen pond or joining a game of hockey at the local rink is about as Minnesotan as it gets. Most indoor rinks offer skate rentals during open ice time – check with a rink near you for details. If you’re looking to enjoy outdoor skating, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board offers free loaner skates at all of their outdoor rink locations, and Maple Grove has skate rentals at their Central Park Loop.


Snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy the peace and quiet of a winter day. Snowshoes are available for rent at Fort Snelling and many other state parks, many Three Rivers Park District parks and nature centers, the Columbia Golf Course and Hiawatha Golf Course through the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and at Lebanon Hills Regional Park through Dakota County Parks. Or you can rent snowshoe to explore wherever you want from Hoigaards, the REI in Bloomington, or the University of Minnesota Center for Outdoor Adventure.

Fat bikes

Fat biking has been one of the fastest growing winter sports in recent years. But since fat bikes are quite an investment, renting before you consider buying is a great option. Check with your local bike shop to see if they offer rentals or demos, and keep an eye on events offered at local parks and trailheads. They occasionally hold demo days where manufacturers have bikes onsite to try. You can also rent fat bikes through the University of Minnesota Center for Outdoor Adventure.

Sledding and snow tubing

Flying down a hill on a sled or snow tube is one of the simplest winter pleasures. The Three Rivers Park Districts offers sled rentals at many of their nature centers and snow tubing at Elm Creek. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board offers sledding at several parks and snow tubing at the Trailhead at Theodore Wirth Park.

Get out and enjoy

All of these great and affordable rental options make it easy to find something fun to do in winter. So don’t wait, get out and enjoy the season now!