Whether it’s the rush of speeding down an alpine slope, the satisfaction of putting in your best effort on a daring snowboard course, or a more leisurely cross-country ski trek, everyone can enjoy the great outdoors in Minnesota. Organizations such as Outdoor Latino Minnesota help to make the natural landscapes of the North Star State more available to the Latinx community, and all throughout Minnesota, there are myriad ways to support Latinx-owned businesses on a thrilling outdoor trip to the slopes.
We rounded up these ways to support Latinx-owned businesses after speaking with Luis Fitch. The fine artist and founder of Minneapolis-based branding agency UNO has made a career out of speaking to the Latinx community in his own artwork, inspired by his Mexican heritage, and through marketing and advertising campaigns that address the needs of his audiences. As Fitch points out, the Latinx community is the largest minority in the U.S., as of the year 2000.
When embarking on a snow adventure to Minnesota, he suggests seeking out diverse communities in the area. Look before you go—call ahead, ask around and find out about restaurants and other services owned by Latinx community members, and by the greater BIPOC community. There’s everything from Luceritos Fashion, which sells traditional clothing and crafts in Minneapolis, to Corazon Clothing’s clothing designed by Oaxacan artists at Keg and Case market and Edicion Especial’s artful, gender-neutral footwear available inside the Community Commons at the Mall of America. Or head to Salvatierra Farm for a tour or to be a farmer for a day in support of Guatemalan immigrant Regi Haslett-Marroguin’s efforts to reshape food systems more sustainably through Indigenous frameworks.
Mexican to-go before the snow
When starting a winter sports expedition from the Twin Cities, there are a plethora of Latinx-owned restaurants offering hearty fare to fuel up on before, during, and after a trip to the nearby slopes and trails.
Make a beeline for Lake Street to visit Mercado Central, which is a business incubator of 50 businesses. “That’s where we started 20 years ago,” recalls Fitch, who still frequents the market for authentic Mexican food. “The first floor is just full of restaurants; it’s a great cooperative mall. Inside, there’s a client of ours called La Loma Tamales, who I think have the best Mexican tamales in town.”
It’s a particularly great place to frequent during winter, says Fitch. “Go and order a dozen of tamales to go, because they’re super warm and they stay warm for hours because of the corn husk—that you’re not supposed to eat by the way. (That’s a mistake that a lot of Americans make when they eat it for the first time, they go for the full body.)” Pair it with champurrado, a milky hot chocolate drink made with masa or corn flour that comes in different flavors. “Even with the cold winters that we have here, it stays warm for hours because of the thickness of the liquid,” says Fitch. “Buy a round for the whole family and take it on the ski trip with you.”
Exhilarating day trips easily accessible from the Twin Cities
Whether you’re just learning to ski or snowboard or are an intermediate-level athlete, you’ll be plenty primed for a day on the slopes at Hyland Hills, located in the Hyland Hills Lake Park Reserve in Bloomington, just a short 20-minute drive from Minneapolis. First-timers can sign up for lessons at the SnowSports Academy there. Or head to Buck Hill, 30 minutes out of town, where just under 20 trails provide thrills for newbies to black-diamond-level skiers and snowboarders. Don’t ride? Don’t sweat it: There’s a tubing area for winter fun for the entire family. The resort invites all to “Feel the Thrill!”
Just 47 miles out of town, Welch Village is only an hour away from the Twin Cities, perfect for a full- or half-day snow adventure. With 50 trails spread over 140 acres, you’ll find bunny hills and advanced thrills—and a brand-new chairlift this coming season. Or head slightly farther afield (just 60 miles) to Wild Mountain, where you’ll find the area’s only double black diamond runs, and a great beginner course. You can also book a children’s tubing birthday party or go for an after-4 p.m. night ski.
Also in close enough proximity to the Twin Cities for a day trip, check out Powder Ridge. Or Mount Kato is nearby Mankato, home to a thriving Latinx community, El Mazatlán Mexican Restaurant, and La Bamba Taco House.
Latinx-owned and run eateries for après ski or refueling
Wherever you choose, you’ll still be able to make it back to the Twin Cities in time for dinner.
Fitch recommends a few high-end Mexican eateries, such as Centro, “a very trendy place, with a menu that is basically food from the streets of Mexico.” The people behind Centro have also opened a new bakery/café/market called Vivir, in Northeast Minneapolis, with Mexican baked goods and sweets, plus artifacts and gifts from all over Mexico. “It’s well curated, with really cool design. It’s a nice place,” says Fitch. Baked goods include a traditional Mexican sweet bread pastry called conchas and more. “Every two hours, there’s something coming out of the oven.”
Or try Nixta, a small to-go place with a fresh daily menu and helmed by a young Mexican chef. The restaurant name comes from the word nixtamal, which Fitch explains, “is the process of making masa used in tortillas. He was the first one here in the Twin Cities to bring something like this here, it’s all traditional, heirloom corn from Mexico. He’s doing his own nixtamal, and he does his own tortillas. It has a huge following with all the young, trendy people. I like how serious he is about what he does.”
If you’re in West St. Paul, there are also a host of places to hit, including El Burrito Mercado, serving tacos and burritos, cafeteria-style, and Taco Libre, for excellent Mexican street food prepared by a chef who hails from Mexico City.
Get out and explore: You can also find excellent Mexican food trucks all over the place, notes Fitch. Then cap things off at the Mexican microbrewery La Doña Cervecería, whose branding and communications were done by Fitch’s firm. It’s billed as “a Latin-influenced craft brewery reflecting the Latin experience in Minnesota and promoting accessibility to the craft beer industry.” How’s the beer? In a word, says Fitch, “refreshing.” Try a mango-flavored pilsner after a long day on the slopes.
For a long weekend (or longer), drive a little over two hours to Spirit Mountain or past it another 30 minutes, where you’ll find Giants Ridge just north of Duluth, in the heart of Minnesota’s unspoiled Superior National Forest of the Mesabi Iron Range. Here, you’ll find adventure for every level, including immaculate skiing and snowboarding conditions and fat-tire biking.
For an extended getaway, head four hours upstate to Lutsen Mountains in Cook County in northeastern Minnesota, where four interconnected peaks overlook Lake Superior. The area is a winter sports wonderland, with 1,000 acres of downhill skiing, 280 miles of cross-country trails, and 450 miles of snowmobile trails, all blanketed by 120” of lake effect snow from Lake Superior. With a variety of ski-in/ski-out mountain resorts and nearby lodging along the picturesque shores of Lake Superior, it’s a winning destination for a family ski holiday or romantic getaway.
Stop in Duluth on the way for a lakeside meal at Mexico Lindo Duluth, a restaurant owned by Mexican immigrant Felipe Mata, who worked his way up from his job as a dishwasher. Or you could visit Cloquet to enjoy the firepit and dishes like chimichangas and shrimp tacos at Pedro’s Grill and Cantina.