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?
Last year 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 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.
Though the Phalen Lights display I’ve written about in previous years sadly isn’t happening anymore, the Schulz family lights display in St. Paul is up and running through December 31st! We drove by this past weekend and there were tons of cars going through (thankfully it moved fast). But it was so neat to see!
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)
- Celebrate the Winter Solstice (ages 5-10)
- Table Top Gaming for Everyone
- Shrinky Dinks (ages 5-12)
- Dungeons and Dragons (for teens)
- Live Show: Norm the Reading Magician
- Brodini Comedy Magic
- Movie Events
- Noon Year’s Eve 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 last year:
The Backyard at Brookview – Golden Valley
Plus, the Eagles Nest in New Brighton just got a makeover last year.
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:
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 5th (skate rental $4). Holidazzle goes through this Saturday, December 22nd 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 ($6 admission, or $10 with rental).
Oh, and I can’t forget the NEW Skate the Star outdoor ice rink at the Mall of America. It’s open now through January 27th. Skate rentals are available for $5 and benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities.
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. They’re showing Home Alone, A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life.
Or if you want to stay inside, Freeform has Christmas movies every day this month through December 25th.
6. VISIT COMO ZOO.
Free all year long (though they accept donations), Como Zoo 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 29th.
Or enjoy snow tubing or sledding – check out the Family Fun Twin Cities Sledding Guide.
8. EXPERIENCE A GINGERBREAD WONDERLAND.
Through January 6th, 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!
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 ($15 for non-members, members save $7 with code MEMBEREVENT). OR save $2 per ticket online with my code TCFM.
10. VISIT THE WOODBURY KIDS EXPO.
Our family attended the Woodbury Kids Expo last year and are excited it’s coming back on January 12th! Admission is FREE and there will be entertainment, businesses and organizations, free coffee, a free stadium tote bag with goodies for the first 250 families and much more.
More Winter Fun
And check out these fun places that I partner with to give you great discounts!
Crayola Experience Mall of America
EVERY DAY you can get Crayola Experience Mall of America Discount Tickets through my special link!
Plus they are celebrating the season with Handmade Holidays now through January 1st!
Great for these COLD days!
Tickets are $13.99 (regularly $20.99; save $7 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.
Sky Zone – they have locations in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Blaine and are open extended hours during winter break!
Save 35 – 45% from Groupon right now!
The Works Museum
Visit The Works Museum and save with my exclusive discount! They’re open every day including Monday, December 31 – 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. and Tuesday, January 1 – 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Regular admission is $8.50 per person, but you can get admission for $6.50 per person with my special code! (Children 2 and under are free.)
For $2 Off Admission:
Use code TCFMB$2OFF in the “member code” field on the shopping cart page.
(Not valid for special events)
Purchase via THIS LINK.
Family Membership Discount
You can also save on family memberships:
$5 Off Family Memberships (includes Dual, Family, and Family Plus memberships only):
Use code FRUGAL5OFF at checkout.
Purchase this at: https://theworks.org/hands-on-kids-museum/membership/
Discounts are valid through December 31, 2018.
Limited income discount:
Also, if you qualify through their Gateway program, you can get discounted admission of $4.25.
What free or inexpensive ideas do you have for winter break with your family?