Black Friday shopping is a hallowed holiday ritual for some people, hell on Earth to others. If you fall in the latter camp, why not follow REI’s “#OptOutside” lead? The outdoor-gear retailer is bucking the system this year, closing on Black Friday and urging people to get outside and do something active instead.
Brian Harrower, general manager of the REI store in Bloomington, was hoping to play pond hockey if the ice cooperated, but is now taking his family for a Fort Snelling outing. Other REI employees will be doing everything from geo-caching or rock climbing to renting a boat and “sleeping off my Thanksgiving dinner between two trees.”
Some ideas for opting out of the indoors Friday:
While shoppers are trudging through packed mallways: Stretch your limbs freely at any one of Minnesota’s 76 state parks and recreation areas, which are offering free admission on Black Friday. The popular Pike Island loop at Fort Snelling State Park is just 3 miles. Complete list at dnr.state.mn.us
While they’re numbly riding escalators like the walking dead: Shake it off climbing stairs with the November Project, a group of die-hard enthusiasts who like their fitness al fresco and free of charge. They’ll be working off the turkey at 6:30 a.m. Friday at the University of Minnesota Boathouse, 550 East River Pkwy., Minneapolis. All are welcome to work out at their own pace, no matter their age or fitness level. november-project.com/minneapolis-mn
While they’re cutting in line at checkout: Cut the ice with your blades at the Depot’s skating rink, which opens Friday. 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m. $9 adults, $6 kids and seniors, skate rentals $7. 225 3rd Av. S., Mpls. 612-339-2253.
While they’re hunting for gifts in their overpriced urban-lumberjack ensembles: Stalk deer in your authentic mud-splattered Red Wings, plaid flannel and safety orange. One near-the-cities suggestion: Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area. 5463 W. Broadway, Forest Lake, 651-296-5290.
While they’re screaming over the last low-priced flat-screen: Howl over the night sky at the Three Rivers Park District Full Moon Walk. $5. Must be at least six years old, those under 17 must be accompanied by an adult. 7-8:30 p.m., Lowry Nature Center, 7025 Victoria Dr., Victoria. 763-694-7650. www.threeriversparks.org/events.
While they wage uphill battles in full parking lots: Shoot downhill at one of the ski areas that have made their own white stuff. Afton Alps, Hastings, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., 651-436-1320. Buck Hill, Burnsville, 10 a.m.-midnight, 952-435-7174. Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area, Bloomington, 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m., 763-694-7800.
While they’re flipping the bird at competitive consumers at Mall of America: Watch wild turkeys, hawks and woodpeckers a stone’s throw away at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. 3815 E. American Blvd., Bloomington. Visitor center open 9 a.m.-4 p.m., 952-854-5900 for info and trail conditions.
Want to shop and hop till you drop? Here’s a quick excursion that’ll leave you time and energy for growing the economy: The 2.5-mile Winchell Hiking Trail runs along the western bluff of the Mississippi River Gorge between E. Franklin Avenue and 44th Street, Mpls.
Kristin Tillotson • 612-673-7046