By Mike Dubs

With the holidays fast approaching – but warm weather still lingering – it may not feel like the white Christmas that Minnesotans are used to. But there still are plenty of ways to make it feel more like Christmas both indoors and out. We’ve made you this Christmas bucket list to get in the mood for the holidays. These 12 Minnesota attractions are traditions that will instantly put you in the Christmas spirit:

1. Visit Holidazzle – This classic event in Minneapolis’ Loring Park is a staple of a Minnesota winter. Food, shopping, and the holiday lights will make you ready for Christmas. Visit Thursday through Sunday until December 23.

2. Do The Grand Meander – A jaunt down the historic Grand Avenue is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit. Support local businesses, eat at tasty restaurants, and enjoy the community tree lighting. This year’s Grand Meander is on Saturday, December 3.

3. Go Ice Skating – Whether you play pond hockey or prefer making figure eights on an indoor rink, ice skating is an essential holiday tradition in Minnesota. Plus, when you’re done, you get to crack open the hot chocolate thermos in the warming house. Also you have to go ice skating because in the winter the land of 10,000 lakes turns into the land of 10,000 ice rinks!

4. Celebrate A Nordic Christmas At American Swedish Institute – This has become a yearly tradition at American Swedish Institute. Many Minnesotans celebrate their Scandinavian roots by oohing and ahhing over rooms ornately decorated for the holidays. This year, you can get in on the fun until January 13

5. Take A Tour Of Macy’s Santaland -You wouldn’t think a department store would have such a fantastic holiday display, but the Macy’s in Downtown Minneapolis certainly does. On the 8th floor of Macy’s, this store puts on a stunning display that has been going for more than 50 years. This year, Santaland goes from November 27 to December 24.

6. Take A Christmas Lights Tour – There are so many people across Minnesota who go all out with Christmas lights. Many are timed to radio stations, but even if they aren’t, it still doesn’t hurt to put on some holiday tunes as you drive around. If that doesn’t put you in the holiday spirit, we don’t know what will.

7. Take A Ride On A Christmas Train – Besides the Christmas City Express in Duluth, the Holly Trolley operated by the Minnesota Streetcar Museum is another great Christmas train option. Either way, you have got to ride a Christmas train at least once in your life. There’s nothing more festive!

8. Do Some Holiday Shopping – Even if you don’t love going to the mall, there are dozens of great options for holiday shopping in Minnesota. The St. Paul European Christmas Market and Julmarknad at the American Swedish Institute are a few great options.

9. Meet Santa At The Minnesota Zoo – There are plenty of places to meet Santa, but one of the best is at the Minnesota Zoo. On select Saturdays through December – 3, 10, and 17 – you can go meet Santa and visit animals at the same time. It gets even better for zoo members – you can sign up to have a snack with him.

10. Shovel Out Of The First Big Snow -While there has been some snow, many of us are still waiting for the season’s first significant snowfall. When it happens, it will feel a lot more like Christmas.

11. Listen To Carolers Sing Your Favorite Christmas Song – Caroling is a great tradition that gets even greater when you visit a certain Minnesota town. In Stillwater, carolers decked out in Victorian costumes give a real sense of Christmases long past. They’ll be out and about in downtown Stillwater Fridays and Saturdays until December 23.

12. See The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train – Each year, the Canadian Pacific Railroad visits towns across the United States and Canada to raise money for charity. The train is decked out in holiday lights and, at every stop, a full band plays holiday music from one of the train cars. This year, the train stops in 21 Minnesota towns throughout early December.

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