head north to grand rapids mn for new year 2016

Should old acquaintance be forgot and, uh … da da da daaaa!

Never mind the lyrics, this tune means one thing: it’s New Year’s — a time to foster hope for the future and resolve to change our lives for the better.

… And days of old dang pine … something like that.

Well, here’s a pro tip: If you want a better life, come to a place where life is good. Here in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, your New Year resolutions are a cinch.

I resolve to spend more time with my family

Ever look up from your phone or laptop to see that the baby you took home from the hospital now has a beard or wears a bra? (Maybe both?) It’s time to reconnect! Itasca County is a haven for families. The Grand Rapids Children’s Discovery Museum offers fun activities for young kids, while local hotels offer attractive deals and indoor pools and water slides.

I resolve to get healthy

Maybe you gained a few pounds last year. Want to do something about that? The Itasca YMCA in Grand Rapids is an extraordinary place for exercise, family fun, swimming, gathering and more. Enjoy organized classes or individual workouts. Day passes are available if you’re just visiting.

In addition, nearly every outdoor activity under the winter sun involves burning calories while having fun. In fact, most locals will tell you it’s uphill both ways, through deep snow. In truth, just walking across a parking lot in snow pants counts as cardio. Well, it should.

Besides, whenever you head north your body mass index will remain a mystery so long as you wear our local attire: the puffy parka and generous sweater. Also, hot chocolate has no calories when your cheeks are red. (Claim not verified by science).

I resolve to reduce stress

Is work giving you fits? Commute getting you down? Running kids to after-school activities wears out even the best of us.

Right now there is a place not so far away that is totally peaceful. Snow falls gently on the pines. Ice shines in the sunlight. The swoosh of skis or crunching snow are the only sounds you need to hear. No one’s in a hurry. People are patient. The only deadline you need to worry about is sunset … or sunrise, if you party hearty.

Itasca County is just such a place. Get away and get some peace.

I resolve to try new things

Have you always wanted to try cross-country skiing? Curling? Ice fishing? The Grand Rapids area offers ways to try these popular Minnesota winter activities without the pressure of professional athletes or overanxious weekend warriors throwing you the shade. A vast network of recreational trails appeal to basic and advanced skill levels. Easy access to quality lakes from right inside city limits makes outdoor recreation easy to try without a big commitment if you decide you’d rather have shopping and a good meal.

I resolve to be a better person

As time goes by, we each arrive at a personal crossroads. Are we good? Are we as good as we could be? It’s a heavy question that deserves a good answer. Ask yourself, if I were on a snowmobile right now would I be a better person? That’s a trick question because the answer is yes. Snowmobiles go fast and make a zoom-zoom sound. Duh. That’s good.

From great food to fun ways to work off calories, comfortable places to stay and exciting things to do, the Grand Rapids area will help you ring in 2016 in true style.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and community college instructor from Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range. He writes the blog MinnesotaBrown.com and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio (KAXE.org).