Avoid The Shopping Crowds on Black Friday with These Family Friendly Options

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You’ve probably seen that State Parks are Free on Black Friday. (Technically, State Parks are always free unless you bring a vehicle, but I assume that’s what they mean). My family is considering checking out Fort Snelling State Park. However, there are so many other awesome options for those of us who would rather avoid the shopping crowds.  At this point, we are still deciding how to spend our free day. The following is a list of some of our favorites:

Biking is even a possibility!

Biking is even a possibility!

State Parks

Obviously, State Parks are high on our list. Free days are rare and it is not something we do often. We tend toward the more urban adventures. Go HERE for an interactive map of State Parks both near and far. It may snow a little on Thanksgiving, but it looks like it will be less than an inch and Friday will be sunny and 30.

Other Parks are always free and you can find a list of them in our directory by choosing Parks from the Category drop-down menu. Our growing list of Twin Cities parks is currently at 160 options. If your plan includes a visitors center or recreation center, we recommend calling ahead. Parks have limited staff.

Skate with a Turkey! -- Because, Why Not?

Skate with a Turkey! — Because, Why Not?

Turkey Skate

The Aldrich Ice Arena and Maplewood Figure Skating Club are hosting a Turkey Skate from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Black Friday.  While this is not a free event, $5.00 (plus skate rental if needed) is still budget friendly.  This may be one of the only chances I will ever have to see a skating turkey man.

Bird Banding

Carpenter Nature Center has a free Public Bird Banding event every fourth Friday. Unfortunately, I’m usually at work on Fridays. Here’s a chance to check something off my bucket list without using up a vacation day! If you want nature, but not necessarily bird banding, our directory has 16 other nature centers to choose from (Nature Centers are a subcategory of Parks.)

Ball Pit at the Eagle's Nest

Ball Pit at the Eagle’s Nest

Adventure Day at the Eagles Nest

The Eagles Nest has extra fun activities planned for a Black Friday Adventure Day, including an Usborne Books & More book fair.  The Eagles Nest is in the north metro area and is only one of several indoor playgrounds in the Twin Cities. Anne and Gianna visited and reviewed most of them for us.  You can find those reviews by metro location HERE. There is probably one near you. I’ve checked their websites for holiday hours this week. They all appear to be open on Black Friday.

Hopkins Center for the ArtsHit up Hopkins

While tickets are nearly sold out for A Charlie Brown Christmas at Stages Theatre this weekend, we can still visit the Home for the Holiday’s Exhibit in the Hopkins Center for the Arts. This Celebration of the Life of Charles M. Schulz runs through January 3rd.  If we choose to wing it and find the show sold out, our back-up plan is to go across the street to Mann Theater for a $2.50 matinee. Hotel Transylvania 2 and Pan (both PG) will be playing on Friday.

Another option is to wait one day to go to Hopkins for its Old Fashioned Holiday celebration on Saturday, November 28th , where we can go on wagon rides, visit reindeer and even play reindeer games.

KiddywampusGive Back with Kiddywampus

If we choose to hit up Hopkins on Friday, we will definitely stop by Kiddywampus for a Great Give Back Challenge Activity.  The kids can make “breakfast bags” for Ronald McDonald House Upper Midwest.  These are bags filled with food items a family can easily grab on their way to the hospital to have something to snack on at the hospital during the day. Participants are asked bring along some grab and go food, such as granola bars, apple sauce or chips and then decorate the bags as a family at kiddywampus.  P.S.  If you want to cheat a little on the no-shopping, Kiddywampus is donating 20% of retail sales to the Ronald McDonald House Upper Midwest.

Other Current Stage Shows

Stages is not the only theatre with current running shows. Other family-friendly options include:


More Ideas from our Directory

Our directory is a great place to search for specific ideas for outings.

  • For instance, almost all of the museums around town will be open Black Friday. We have a list of 38 Museums and Galleries in our directory.
  • Animals is another sort option in our directory.  This category includes zoos, farms and some nature centers and offers 27 options. Both zoos are open on Black Friday.
  • Libraries are always a good non-shopping activity.  You still get the thrill of instant gratification, but once the high wears off, you can declutter by returning the books.  Libraries are a subcategory of books in our directory, although non-book libraries are included in this category.

*We do our best to keep up with dates and times on our calendar and in our directory, but we recommend calling ahead when in doubt.

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About the author

Joy Peters

Joy Peters - co-creator and writer for FamilyFunTwinCities.com.

Besides Family Fun Twin Cities, I spend my 9 to 5 at a day job pursuing my weird passion for calendars and organizing things as a legal secretary. When I get home I spend my time with my four kids, 10, 6, 4 and 1. My amazing husband is both a full-time musician and full-time stay-at-home dad. Together we run a small radio empire — SiaNet Radio — playing, promoting and enjoying the wide variety of local music and art in the Twin Cities. I juggle all this while writing about exploring the Twin Cities with kids. I couldn’t be happier.

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