Winter Break starts this week for my kids, and goes through New Year’s Day. I know they’ll be busy with Christmas presents for at least part of the time, but what to do for the rest of winter break?
Here is a list of ideas for free or inexpensive winter break fun in the Twin Cities that I put together to keep my family content as well as yours!
1. ENJOY 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.
2. LIBRARY EVENTS.
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:
- The Brain Box: Space to Make (for teens)
- LEGO Builders Club (ages 5-12)
- Make Your Own Gingerbread House (ages 4-12)
- Dungeons and Dragons (for teens)
- Live Show: Snake Discovery
- Brodini Comedy Magic
- LEGO Lab (K-grade 6)
- Family Dance Party
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
3. INDOOR PLAYGROUNDS.
Minnesota knows how to keep kids busy through the long cold winter. New indoor playgrounds just keep popping up all over the Twin Cities, including these two that just opened this fall:
The Backyard at Brookview – Golden Valley
Plus, the Eagles Nest in New Brighton just got a makeover and re-opened this fall.
Check out these other indoor playgrounds:
Edinborough Park in Edina
Good Times Park in Eagan
Brown Family Adventure Park in Ham Lake
Monkey House in White Bear Lake
Pinwheel Play in Chanhassen
All are around $5-10 per child, and often offer discounts for multiple children so get together with the friends!
4. FREE INDOOR PLAY PLACES.
Though they’re often ideal for younger kids, many malls offer great FREE play areas, such as:
Rosedale Mall also has a cool Winter Castle that you can interact with via a free app on your phone. It’s through December 24th. Read more here.
5. SKATE FREE.
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). Holidazzle goes through this Saturday, December 23rd and you can also meet Santa, enjoy fireworks and other activities for kids for free!
If you don’t mind paying a fee, you can also skate at The Oval in Roseville ($7 admission, or $10 with rental).
5. SEE A MOVIE.
Enjoy classic Christmas films at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis from December 20-23. They’re only $2 or $1 with a nonperishable food donation.
Or if you want to stay inside, Freeform has Christmas movies every day this month through December 26th. I’ve got the full schedule here.
6. VISIT COMO ZOO.
Free all year long (though they accept donations), this is 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!)
7. GET OUT IN NATURE!
Check out local nature centers including the Maplewood Nature Center, offering “S’more Nature Fun” on Dec 30th.
Or enjoy snow tubing or sledding – check out the Family Fun Twin Cities Sledding Guide.
8. EXPERIENCE A GINGERBREAD WONDERLAND.
Through January 7th, you can be wowed by Twin Cities buildings built out of gingerbread at the Norway House in Minneapolis. This year they feature over 80 structures. And the cost is very frugal-friendly – it’s only $5 for ages 13 and up, and FREE for ages 12 and younger.
9. CELEBRATE NEW YEAR’S EVE.
There are many New Year’s Eve celebrations for families in the Twin Cities!
The Three Rivers Park District has a couple of FREE celebrations on the 31st:
Como Zoo in St. Paul has their annual NOON Year’s Party on December 31st and January 1st from 10:00am – 1:00pm. FREE.
And at the Minnesota Children’s Museum, enjoy a New Year’s Eve party with a ball drop at 8pm ($10 for members, $15 for non-members).
10. VISIT THE WOODBURY KIDS EXPO.
Our family attended the Woodbury Kids Expo this year and are excited it’s coming back on January 6th! Admission is FREE and there will be entertainment, businesses and organizations, free coffee, a free tote bag with goodies for the first 250 families and much more.
ALSO, EVERY DAY you can get Crayola Experience Mall of America Discount Tickets through my special link!
Great for these COLD days!
Tickets are $13.99 (regularly $19.99; save $6 per ticket!)
- Just click on my personalized online store web link (URL) and enter the access code TCFM. (Or visit https://tickets.crayolaexperience.com and enter my personalized store name: Twin Cities Frugal Mom)
- You’ll be able to purchase and print the tickets right away, saving you time waiting at the entrance turnstiles and bypassing ticket booth lines! And they’re valid for up to a year.
What free or inexpensive ideas do you have for winter break with your family?