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 26th in 2021), 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.

#Opt Outside – Black Friday Alternatives

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

Opt Outside: Self-Guided Clue Walk

AddressLowry Nature Center, 7025 Victoria Dr, Victoria, MN 55386
Time: Drop in between 5am-10pm
Description: Take a walk along Lowry Nature Center’s 1.5 mile Maple Trail. Stop to answer questions on numbered posts; you can scan the QR Codes for clues. This is a family activity and children 13 and under must be accompanied by an adult.
Cost/Registration: FREE, no registration required.

Two girls standing by Lowry Nature Center sign in the winter
Welcome to Lowry Nature Center

Family Forest Play

AddressRichardson Nature Center, 8737 East Bush Lake Road, Bloomington, MN 55438
Time: Drop in between 10am-11:30am
Description:  Kids can search for forest critters underfoot, play in the mud kitchen or build forts and bridges in the Nature Exploration Area. A Richardson naturalist will be on hand, where visitors can warm up by a fire and learn more about year round offerings at Three Rivers Parks.
Cost/Registration: FREE. No Registration Required.

Opt Outside Family Survival

AddressFrench Regional Park, 12605 Rockford Rd, Plymouth, MN 55441
Time: Drop in between 10am-Noon
Description:  Learn wilderness safety and how to build a fire and a shelter. This program is for ages 6+.
Cost/Registration: $10/pp. Register for Event #4REC3205.

#OptOutside Open House

AddressMississippi Gateway Regional Park, 10360 West River Road, Brooklyn Park, MN 55444
Time: 10am-2pm
Description: Families can hike along the Mississippi, stop to roast marshmallows over a fire, geocache and play outdoor games.
Cost/Registration: FREE. Reservations recommended.

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 – Mammoths, Mastodons and Musk Ox, Oh My


Time: 10am-4pm
Description: Stop by any of the 3 parks to stroll along the Ice Age Trail, use your own GPS to search for themed geocaches or take on the medallion hunt.
Cost/Registration: FREE.

Opt Outside Black Friday Fun

Address: North Mississippi Regional, 4900 Mississippi Court, Minneapolis, 55430
Description: Outdoors: Campfire, self-guided scavenger hunt, fort building and play. Adventure packs available to borrow Indoors: Make art and meet animals.
Cost/Registration: FREE, but Registration is required 

Mississippi River

Family Winter Survival Challenge

AddressEastman Nature Center, 13351 Elm Creek Road, Dayton, MN 55369
Description: Learn a few survival tricks before competing against other families to build the best fire and shelter. Then roast some marshmallows together.
Cost/Registration: FREE. Registrations Required by November 24th for Activity #4ENC3110.   

Image Courtesy of Three Rivers Parks

Indoor Fun

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

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 traditionally free on the Friday after Thanksgiving! Watch for more information 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: Traditionally FREE/Drop-In.

Hula Frog tells us that November 26th is the National Day of Listening.

They recommend sharing and recording family stories this day. What an awesome way to spend your family day!

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


Drop-Off Activities

One-Time Build Workshop

Address: Leonardo’s Basement, 150 West 60th Street Minneapolis, MN 55419
Time: Noon-2pm
Description: Ages 6-17. Kids can use this time to make gifts or just build.
Cost/Registration: $25/pp; scholarships available. Register Here.

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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