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The North Star State offers an abundance of opportunities for winter snow recreation. The state boasts 18 alpine ski areas, not to mention several Wisconsin properties within driving distance of the Twin Cities. More info is at

Afton Alps: Owned by Vail Resorts, this area along the St. Croix River in the far-east metro has more than 300 acres of skiable terrain and 36 trails. The resort allows season pass holders discounted rates and tickets at other Vail Resorts properties nationwide (

Buck Hill: The launching pad for Olympian Lindsey Vonn, this is the "you can't miss it" ski area when you're driving on I-35 through Burnsville. What the tiny ski area lacks in acreage, it makes up for in proximity to city life and a seriously world-class race training program (

Hyland Hills: Known for its children's programming, this Bloomington ski area managed by the Three Rivers Park District is a great local family destination to keep your legs fresh for the bigger days ahead (

Lutsen Mountains: The crown jewel of Minnesota destination ski resorts, Lutsen on the North Shore sports four peaks and even a gondola. With more than 1,000 acres and 95 trails, you'd be hard-pressed to find better views of Lake Superior and better "lake effect" snow in the Upper Midwest (

Mount Kato: One of the southernmost ski areas in Minnesota, this 55-acre Mankato resort claims just 19 trails but uses its terrain well — particularly on the back side.

Spirit Mountain: Just two hours from the Twin Cities is this classic ski hill set high above Lake Superior on the edge of Duluth. The ski area boasts 22 trails on 175 acres, a whiplash terrain park, and some 700 vertical feet. Hands down the best buy for your day-trip dollar — just get there early for Saturday parking.

Trollhaugen: "The Troll" in Dresser, Wis., has 22 trails spread over 80 acres. It's best known for its late-night skiing, family-friendly atmosphere and genuinely goofy energy — as well as a whippersnapper terrain park.

Welch Village: Nestled in the bluffs west of Red Wing, this local classic claims 50 trails on its 140 acres — including a "back bowl" as well as a terrain park. Always worth the trip.

Wild Mountain: With more than 100 acres and 26 trails, this relatively small Minnesota standby has seen its share of upgrades in infrastructure and guest service over the past few years to easily make it a great day trip/snow day.