Winter Break is here for many kids, and goes through New Year’s Day or later! I know mine will be busy with Christmas presents for at least part of the time, but what to do for the rest of winter break?
A few years ago I talked on WCCO about last minute gift ideas and free and inexpensive winter break fun, so I thought I’d create a list for this year too!
So here is a list of ideas for winter break fun in the Twin Cities that I put together to keep my family happy as well as yours! (And many are FREE or inexpensive!)
ENJOY HOLIDAY LIGHT DISPLAYS!
This was always my favorite part of the Christmas season as I was growing up. Driving around and seeing how others get their house all decked out for the season always gets me in the Christmas spirit.
I put together these guides for Minnesota light displays this season:
Local libraries offer SO much FREE programming for everyone, including kids through teens. And they often offer winter break events and activities to keep your kiddos busy. Here’s a sampling of events offered end of December through early January:
- New Year’s Eve Noise Makers Craft (ages 3 and up with adult help)
- Cosmic Gaming (for tweens and teens)
- Young Rembrandts: Astronaut Frog (ages 5-11)
- Maker Kids: Winter Wonderland Snow Slime (ages 4 and up)
- Teen Tech Squad: STEAM Workshop (ages 8+)
- Youth Hang Zone
- Kids Escape Room: LEGO® Land Bricked Out (grades 2-5)
- Kids’ Crafternoon (grades 3-8)
And so many more! To find them, search the library website’s event page. I found the Hennepin County Library events by narrowing my search to “Families.”
Check out (no pun intended) your local library for happenings near you:
- Ramsey County Library
- Hennepin County Library
- Dakota County Library
- Anoka County Library
- Carver County Library
- Scott County Library
- Washington County Library
- St. Paul Public Library
Minnesota knows how to keep kids busy through the long cold winter.
Check out these indoor playgrounds:
Edinborough Park in Edina
Good Times Park in Eagan
Find more all over the state in my guide, The Ultimate List of Minnesota Family Fun.
In addition to many free skating rinks around the Twin Cities, you can skate free at Wells Fargo Winterskate in St. Paul now through February 11th (skate rental $4 or free if you have a Wells Fargo bank card).
If you don’t mind paying a fee, you can also skate at The Oval in Roseville ($8-9 admission). Skate rentals are $5.00.
Plus, have the kids try INDOOR skating – for FREE! Sign them up for Kids Skate Free and they can skate for free currently at locations in Coon Rapids and St. Cloud.
SEE A MOVIE
Local movie theatres often have deals for kids on winter break. Check theatres near you!
Plus, here are some great TV streaming deals for staying in!
VISIT A ZOO!
Como Zoo is free all year long (though they accept donations), It’s a great place to visit on a not-so-cold winter day, or warm up inside Tropical Encounters or the beautiful Conservatory. (Read on for their special New Year’s Eve celebration for kids!)
Or check out an indoor zoo like Sustainable Safari at Maplewood Mall!
GET OUT IN NATURE!
Check out local nature centers, or enjoy snow tubing or sledding!
Here is a FREE Printable Winter Scavenger Hunt:
CELEBRATE NEW YEAR’S EVE.
There are many New Year’s Eve celebrations for families in the Twin Cities!
Como Zoo in St. Paul has their annual NOON Year’s Eve Party on December 31st and January 1st from 10:00am – 1:00pm. FREE.
And at the Minnesota Children’s Museum, enjoy Sparklerama, a New Year’s Eve party from 6:00 – 9:00pm. Cost is $10 for members, $20 for nonmembers.
More New Year’s Eve events:
- Chaska: New Year’s Eve at Winter Lights 2023. December 31st. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
- Shoreview: New Year’s Eve Party. December 31st, 5:00 – 8:00pm. Shoreview Community Center. $15 per person.
- St. Louis Park: New Year’s Eve at the ROC. December 31st, 12:15 – 2:15pm.
Highlights for winter in the Twin Cities:
EXPERIENCE A GINGERBREAD WONDERLAND.
Through January 8th, you can be wowed by Twin Cities buildings built out of gingerbread at the Norway House in Minneapolis.
ENJOY THE MINNESOTA CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
The Minnesota Children’s Museum is one of the most fun places to take your kids in the Twin Cities, and you can SAVE $30 on a gift membership with my exclusive code for a limited time! Plus you can save $3 on tickets EVERY DAY with my code. Use my code TCFM online or in person.
Plus check out my popular guide: 5 Ways to Save On (or Get Free) Admission to the Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul
Sundays at Landmark – Landmark Center, St. Paul. There are Urban Expedition days and other events throughout the month – all free.
Also watch for Ice Castles to return in New Brighton in January! Save 15% with my special code!
Sky Zone – they have locations in St. Paul, Minneapolis, Maple Grove, and Blaine.
Urban Air – kids love all the fun they can have here! With locations around the Twin Cities including Coon Rapids and Plymouth, and Snapology in the Plymouth location (think LEGO camps!), it’s definitely worth checking out.
Snapology – Plymouth – Snapology has fun camps for kids! My son went and I even tried it out with my kids. It’s located in the Urban Air Adventure Park in Plymouth.
CAMP INFO: Not sure what to do when school’s out? Your kids can enjoy a day (or several) of Snapology Camp with the added bonus of Urban Air play time. Each day will bring some favorite Snapology activities– Minecraft, Pokémon, Star Wars, robotics, and so much more! During camp, students will get fun, creative, and engaging activities actively experimenting with the principles of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. Before the day is out, they will get some much-needed jump time in the Urban Air Adventure Park. They’ve carefully crafted this fun and productive atmosphere where parents know their child can learn, challenge themselves, and practice their social skills.
HUGE DISCOUNT: Use code SnapMoms50 to get 50% off ANY Snapology registration including single or multi-day camp sessions! Right now, they are offering Winter Break Camp (single and multi-day options are available) which runs December 20-22, December 26-29 and January 1-5. This will also work for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day workshop on January 15th, and weekly Summer Camps that begin June 10th (just be sure to register by December 31st). Go here to register.
This calendar includes local events (& deals!) for the current month, and is updated regularly.
Guides for Fun All Year-Round!
This lists tons of places a family can find fun in Minnesota, organized alphabetically by category! Cities/locations are included.
Originally created as a list by one of my readers, I then expanded this list and published it here. Then another reader created an interactive spreadsheet for me to include! It’s all here:
Do you or or a family member receive assistance such as WIC, Medical Assistance, or SNAP? You may qualify for free or discounted admission to many places in Minnesota, plus other benefits! This is a complete list of what you may be eligible for.
Originally written at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but updated in 2022, this lists tons of free Minnesota-based resources online. There is plenty to keep kids busy from home here!
My guide to fun, unique places around Minnesota many don’t know about!
After blogging for the past 14 years and posting about one freebie after another throughout that time, I realized there were so many it was worth compiling into a single list, and here it is!
This popular list was written by my 12-year-old when she was bored one day – I asked her to write a list of all the things she could do!
Staycation & Short Trip Ideas in Minnesota
Austin, MN – We had a perfect weekend getaway here!
Duluth, MN – I grew up here, but visit here often with my kids. I’ve written many recaps of our visits including Spirit Mountain, Glensheen Mansion, the Vista Fleet, North Shore Railroad and Great Lakes Aquarium.
New Day Dairy GuestBarn in Clarksville, Iowa – Just 3-1/2 hours south of the Twin Cities, this is a fabulous, immersive dairy barn that’s also a relaxing AirBnb! It’s open year-round. We stayed here in the middle of winter and had a blast. Read about our visit and be sure to mention my blog for an ice cream deal!
In and Around the Twin Cities
Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington – We stayed here twice and love how there’s so much to do on-site!
Radisson Blu Hotel at the Mall of America – We also stayed here twice and love how it’s so nice and connected to the Mall of America for unlimited fun.
Family Trip Road Trip Ideas!
Of course, this is a guide to family fun in the Twin Cities, but sometimes you just want to get away! Here are some places we’ve been that we recommend.
Bismarck, North Dakota -Just 6 hours west of the Twin Cities, there’s actually a lot for families to see and do here! And a lot of it is FREE! I especially recommend seeing the dinosaur bones at the free museum. Read my guide, 12 Must-See Attractions for Families Visiting Bismarck, North Dakota.
Kansas! Want to head south but can’t afford plane tickets? You can drive to Topeka, Kansas from the Twin Cities in a day. or spread out the drive with stops on the way including Des Moines. We had a blast in Kansas this summer. Read my recap: From Animals to Oz to Ziplining: Plan this Epic Family Trip to Northeast Kansas!
Quad Cities! They’re a half day’s drive away and there are museums and unique fun here.
What ideas do you have for winter break with your family?
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