Once the holidays and hockey season are over, I tend to change my tune about winter. If you’re like-minded, we’ve got plenty of free ways to hunker down inside and wait out the rest of the cold snap. Or, if you desire to be out of doors, we’ve included some frosty winter festivals. For more ideas on planning your February family time together, check our Family Fun Calendar or our seasonal February guides:
1) Winter Carnival free family activities | Rice Park & Landmark Center, St Paul
That coolest of winter festivals, the St Paul Winter Carnival, will host its annual Family Day in Rice Park on Saturday, Feb 1. If you haven’t yet made your way down to the park this season, here are a few free family-pleasers you might want to seek out:
- Ice Sculpture Garden – Take a walk through Rice Park and pick out your favorite ice creation. As of Feb 1, all the sculptures have been completed and will be on display through the run of Winter Carnival (or as weather permits!) At night, the ice is illuminated and especially magical.
- Winter Carnival Family Day – Rice Park buzzes with a MN Made Market, live music, food trucks and Olympic Team USA’s Winterfest. Warm up inside Landmark Center with entertainment and events for all ages. Feb 1, noon-5pm.
- Please note that the Wells Fargo WinterSkate has moved to CHS Field (still downtown) for 2020. Take a spin on the refrigerated rink. Skating is free for all, $5 skate rental for non-WF customers.
2) Wonders of Winter | Central Park, Maple Grove
Skate a leisurely serpentine loop illuminated at night and in close proximity to a roaring fireplace in the adjacent indoor pavilion. Skating is free, bring your own skates or rent a pair for $6. Other wintry activities include fireside storytelling and smores, wagon rides, snowshoeing and lots more. Feb 8, 10am-2pm, FREE.
3) Love Local: Open House | Minnesota Center for Book Arts
Warm up for Valentine’s Day with an all-ages open house. Tour the studios, get those handmade Valentines for the grandparents taken care of, and more hands-on activities. Feb 8, 10am-2pm, FREE.
Love it? Find more Twin Cities Valentine’s Day family events.
4) Fire & Ice Festival | Parkers Lake Park, Plymouth
This free, fun family event includes hayrides, live entertainment, snow bowling, free coco and smores, a bonfire and fireworks at 6:30pm. New this year is a coloring contest, see link for details. Feb 1, 3-7pm. For more freezy February festivities, check our Winter Family Festival Calendar.
5) Cozy up & play at coffee shops with free play areas
Shut the door against the often dreary weather in February and cozy up at one of the many Twin Cities-area coffee shops that dedicate corners (and, occasionally, entire rooms) to kids. We have personally visited each shop we recommend to ensure that it is quite possible to enjoy a cup of joe and some conversation while your little one is entertained. Here’s our quick list; visit the link above for more details:
- A Cupcake Social | Minneapolis
- Amy’s Cupcake Shop | Hopkins
- Community Grounds | Columbia Heights
- Dunn Brothers Coffee | Linden Hills, Minneapolis
- Gingko Coffeehouse | St Paul
- Riverview Cafe | Minneapolis
- Sovereign Grounds Indoor Playground & Coffeehouse | Minneapolis
- The Goat Coffeehouse | St Paul
6) First Free Saturday: Cabin Fever | Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
A trip to the Walker Art Center can always be an interesting family outing. And educational as well, in often unexpected ways as you tour the galleries together and talk about the art. Walker does its best to make the museum at its kid-friendliest during First Free Saturdays, where there are typically art-making activities, kid cinema and the like. Special in February: borrow a pair of snowshoes and hike through the revamped Minneapolis Sculpture Garden! Feb 1, 10am-3pm.
7) Family Fun Day: Groundhog Day Celebration | Carl Kroening Interpretive, Minneapolis
Drop in for naturalist-led activities and self-guided exploration of the visitor center’s interactive exhibits. Feb 2, 1-3pm, FREE.
8) Second Saturdays at TPT | Twin Cities PBS, St Paul
It’s Black History Month at the studio this weekend! It’s all free but reserving a time slot is required – you’ll want to hurry as reservations fill up very quickly. If you can’t grab tickets this month, watch the calendar for next. Feb 8, 8-11am.
9) Target Free 3rd Sunday | Minnesota Children’s Museum, St Paul
Explore the newly renovated and expanded museum free, including the brand new exhibit Hot Wheels: Race to Win! Keep in mind that this program is very popular and you may wait in line to be admitted. Feb 16, 9am-5pm.
Designed for kids ages 6-12, the program is a wonderful way to introduce children to classical music. Expect the concert to last about 50 minutes and include musical storytelling and a wee bit of education (perhaps don’t bill it as such). Tickets are free, but required in advance. Register for your spot at the link. Feb 22, concerts at 10 & 11:30am. To read more about St Paul Chamber Orchestra’s family programs, jump over here.
BONUS! Free Play Snow Day | Three Rivers Parks
Make the best of our extended winter with FREE events across several Three Rivers Parks: free ski and snowshoe rentals, free beginner ski lessons, discounted tubing, free maple syrup programs, bonfires and more. Feb 29, 2020.
For more tips on how to stretch the family entertainment budget: Free & Cheap – 10 Strategies for Family Fun on a Limited Income is worth a read. It’s a good reminder of simple ways we can cut down on cost when out and about together as well as offering hints on where to seek out discounts at popular museums and events.
Find tons more things to do in Minneapolis & St Paul with kids!
Find fun indoor games for kids when it’s chilly outside and we want to stay cozy.