Black Friday Alternatives – Plenty to Do in the Twin Cities

Boy walking outside in the late fall. "Instead of BLACK FRIDAY #optoutside Buy Nothing Day Green Friday."

Buy Nothing Day was created as a way to protest the consumerism of Black Friday. This movement has been joined by the #optoutside movement, which was created by REI, who chooses to close on Black Friday so its customers can go outside instead of shopping. Others have renamed the day Green Friday to encourage socially uplifting activities over consumerism. For this year, at least, #optoutside appears to be the winner. Whatever you want to call the day after Thanksgiving (November 25th in 2022), we can help you make it a family fun day with Black Friday alternatives. We’ve come up with some ideas for spending the day together that do not require shopping.

There might be last-minute events announced this year, and we plan to keep adding right up to the end.  So, check back often.

Give Back on Black Friday

VolunteerFeed My Starving Children


  • 401 93rd Ave NW, Coon Rapids, MN 55433
  • 990 Lone Oak Road, Suite 136, Eagan, MN 55121
  • 18732 Lake Drive East, Chanhassen, MN 55317

Time: Various Time Slots
Description: I had so much fun packing meals with my coworkers, that I want to get back with my family sometimes soon. I’ve been told that November and December are FMSC’s busiest months. If you want to volunteer on Black Friday, register early.

Cost/Registration: Donations Accepted. Register Here.

DIY Activities

Dodge Nature Center

Address: 365 Marie Avenue West St. Paul, MN 55118
Time: Daylight Hours
Description: The trails are open to the public during daylight hours. Find maps for all four properties and visitor information here.
Cost/Registration: FREE/Drop-In.

Free Park Friday @ State Parks

Address9 Twin Cities Metro-Area Minnesota State Parks
Time: 8am to 10pm
Entrance to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas are free on the Friday after Thanksgiving! Watch for special events announced towards mid-November. Activities usually include free naturalist programs. You can also take a hike, relax in the woods with some good reads, or (possibly) take in a free wild turkey sighting.
Cost/Registration: FREE/Drop-In.

#Opt Outside – Black Friday Alternatives

Dress for the weather and get outdoors with these outdoor park programs:

Three Rivers Parks

Three Rivers Parks usually offer a variety of #Opt Outside options on the Friday following Thanksgiving. Watch for specific parks in late October or early November 2022.

Girl and boy playing in tree structure at Mississippi Gateway Regional Park Nature Play Area in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
Mississippi Gateway Regional Park

Opt Outside With Dakota Parks


Dakota Parks traditionally offer an annual open house-style, free family event at county parks.  We’ll update with more information nearer the date.

Opt Outside with North Mississippi Regional Park

Watch for announcements from Minneapolis Parks & Rec during the early fall.

Mississippi River

Indoor Fun

We’ll be watching for these annual events and update the information for 2022 in the early fall:

Black Friday Bonus Pool Hours

Address: The Grove Aquatic & Fitness Center, 8055 Barbara Ave, Inver Grove Heights, MN 55077
Time: Noon to 3pm.
Description: In addition  regular Friday pool hours, The Grove will have all pools open from Noon to 3 p.m.
Cost/Registration: $6-$9/pp.

Discounted Blast Admission

Address: Eagan Community Center, 1501 Central Pkwy, Eagan, MN 55121
Time: 8am-8pm.
Description: Eagan Community Center is offering
Discounted Blast Admission, $1 Track Admission, and membership deals.

Night Trains

Address: Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum, 668 Transfer Rd Ste. 8, St Paul, MN 55114
Time: 3pm-7pm (Saturday Also).
Night Trains tickets are still available for Friday the 26th and Saturday the 27 from 3-7 pm (as on 11/24). Pre-purchased tickets are highly recommended.
Cost/Registration: $15/pp.

Photo Credit: Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum

Visit a Museum


Address: Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2400 3rd Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Cost/Registration: FREE.   

We call it the "Block Room" - A great reason to visit the MIA.

Minnesota History Center

Address: 345 W Kellogg Blvd, St Paul, MN 55102
Cost/Registration: Pre-purchased, timed tickets are required.  Admission $8-$12/pp.

Black Friday Alternatives @ MN History Center
Kids can be kids on Black Friday at the Minnesota History Center

A final note. Some of the metro libraries, museums and recreation centers are closed for the holiday. We always recommend calling ahead if you are planning an outing on this or any other holiday weekend.

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