10 Free Things To Do In January in the Twin Cities

We’re kicking off 2019 by offering up 10 FREE things to do in January. Happy New Year from FFTC!


1) Vulcan Fun Day in the Snow | Minnesota State Fairgrounds

10 Free Things To Do In January in the Twin Cities
The Winter Carnival Snow Park at the Fair hosts a giant snow sculpting competition that concludes on Vulcan Fun Day complete with prizes, firetruck rides, a mini-medallion hunt for kids and the thrilling snow slide! All activities are free with the exception of the slide – $2 per ride or $15 unlimited, sleds provided. New in 2019, bring a food donation and get a slide FREE! Jan 27, 9am. Read more about a trip to the Snow Park here.

And speaking of that coolest of winter festivals, St Paul’s annual celebration is packed with fun and FREE family events: ice sculptures in Rice Park, parades in downtown, and days dedicated to families and kids at Landmark Center. More more details, hop over here:

10 Free Things To Do In January in the Twin Cities

2) Lil Explorer Thursdays | Como Park Zoo & Conservatory | St Paul

10 Free Things To Do In January in the Twin Cities

The hall between the Visitor Center and the Conservatory is filled with hands-on activities, manipulatives, art projects and games perfect for the 4 & under set. Explore a different theme each week through April 2019. Donations appreciated. And don’t forget about all of the other free – and toasty warm – exhibits Como offers to bash winter blues: we love to wander the indoor tropical gardens and escape Minnesota, if only for a couple of hours.

3) Winter festivals with free admission

10 Free Things To Do In January in the Twin Cities

Us Minnesotans don’t find the cold any reason to close up shop on our community festivals; on the contrary, we embrace the weather and theme our winter bashes around it. You’ll find the following filled with skating, sledding and sleighrides:

4) Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration | Powderhorn Park, Minneapolis

10 Free Things To Do In January in the Twin Cities

The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration builds community by honoring the civil rights movement and Dr. King’s leadership. A community meal will be served along with a performance by Mixed Blood Theatre and crafts with Articulture. Jan 21, 11am-2pm.

Find our complete listing of ideas for the MLK Monday break HERE.

5) Winter Play Day | Silverwood Park, St Anthony

Calling all hardy Minnesota kids! Spend your school break day at Silverwood Park building snow creatures (bring your own materials, props and creativity), then warm up with a marshmallow roast and a concert inside the park visitor center. Jan 21, 11-4:30pm

6) Urban Expedition | Landmark Center | St Paul

The 15th year of Urban Expeditions kicks off at Landmark Center. Explore authentic music, crafts, dance, food and more all without having to leave the Twin Cities. The series continues select Sundays through April 14 – bring along your “travel passport” to have it stamped each time you visit a new country. The cost for admission to the Urban Expedition? Free. That’s bargain travel. Jan 13, 1-3pm

7) Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival | Lake Harriet Park, Minneapolis

The colorful annual festival will feature a multitude of kites flying over Lake Harriet as well as experts demonstrating their flying skills, ice fishing, wagon rides snowshoeing, a medallion hunt for kids and a marshmallow roast. Bring your own kite or purchase one there. Jan 26, 12-4pm

Image Courtesy Minneapolis Parks

8) Go sledding or ice skating

With a few exceptions, sledding and outdoor ice skating are always going to be easy on the pocketbook. As this is the state of Minnesota we’re talking about here, most communities maintain free skating rinks throughout the winter (some simple frozen puddles, others far fancier), and free hills to throw a sled down are staples in most larger parks. Just getting started taking your littles out for winter sports? Or do you have tweens begging to go somewhere a little more thrilling? Read on for suggested list of Twin Cities sledding spots, tubing hills and outdoor ice skating rinks. Barring a freak change in weather, these should all be open through the month of January.

9) Physics Force

Learning about science can be a total blast – proven by these high-energy and super cool public shows put on by the University of Minnesota. The outreach program aims to amaze with its stunts while reminding kids (and, often, their adults) not to shy away from subjects that can seem challenging to understand. 2 shows Jan 19 at Northrop Auditorium, Minneapolis campus, 11am & 4pm. There is no admission fee, but tickets MUST be reserved in advance. Get the details at the link.

10) St Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Free Family Music

Classical music performances are made engaging and friendly to kids around 5-9 with SPCO’s family music programs. Xplorchestra will introduce percussion instruments during a 50-minute interactive concert with a chance to try out instruments after the show. Concerts are free but tickets must be reserved in advance. 1/12/19, performances at 10 & 11:30am.

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.

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