Twin Cities Deals: December Events & Activities 2021

It doesn’t have to break the bank to entertain the family away from home in the Twin Cities, especially during that often spendy holiday season! These Twin Cities deals for family events cost just $5 or less per person. (In December, we make a few exceptions for holiday events we believe are a great family bargain to attend.) For more ideas on budget and FREE family outings, check our:

Twin Cities Holiday Deals & Discount Events

These fun Twin Cities holiday events will leave you with some cash left in the pocket to enjoy the rest of the season! We hand-pick the holiday deals because each family on the FFTC team has four kids each and can use a good bargain year-round.

TWIN CITIES HOLIDAY EVENTS – $5/PP OR LESS

Gingerbread Wonderland at Norway House

913 East Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN, 55404
Amazing gingerbread creations on display. November 23-December 31, 2021. $5/13+, FREE/12 and under.

Christmas at the Folsom House 

272 W. Government St, Taylors Falls, MN 55084
An old-fashioned Christmas event during the annual Taylors Falls Lighting Festival. Nov 26-28, 2021. $1-$4/pp.

Christmas at Dakota City Heritage Village

Celebrate Christmas traditions of the early 1900s in a historic village decorated for the holidays. Dec 4-5 & 10-11, 2021, 3-8pm. $5/pp ages 4 & up.

Dakota City General Store decorated for Christmas with wreaths and lights.
Dakota City General Store

Christmas at the Riverview Theater

Holiday favorites on the big screen! See link for details. Dec 10-15, 2021. $4/pp or $2/pp with food shelf donation. Find more Twin Cities movie discount days.

Candlelight & Ice: New Year’s Eve at Wood Lake Nature Center

6710 Lake Shore Dr S, Richfield, MN 55423
Follow a candlelit trail a walking trail through the trees, roast marshmallows over a fire and warm up inside with hot cocoa. Dec 31, 2021, 5-9pm, $5/pp.

For our complete guide to Santa sightings in the Twin Cities: Santa Claus is Coming to Town – 2021

Twin Cities Deals & Discounts - December Family Events

Twin Cities Special Family Events – $5/pp or less

Kids at the Castle

American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55407
Before the museum opens, join ASI for visual play, storytelling, music, and movement inspired by exhibits that will encourage creative young minds. Suggested for ages 2-5. Dec 17, 2021, 9-10am. $8/family – museum admission included.

Twin Cities Movie Discount Days

Treat yourself and little ones to a trip to the movies! We’ve compiled a list of Twin Cities movie theaters that offer discounts ranging from $3-$6 daily. Tip: Tuesdays are the most common day of the deal for movies.

TwinCities Cheap Flicks - Budget January Events for Families in the Twin Cities, MN

Twin Cities Deals & Discounts for Active Play in December

Active kids need a place to spend their energy, especially during the cold months in Minnesota. Where do we take our own kids when we want a deal or need to stick to a budget? (Hello! Our team members have four kids each!) Some of our go-to ideas for discounted active play include:

Great River Water Park – Discount Swimming

270 N. Lexington Parkway, Saint Paul, MN 55104
Read about the splashy, kid-friendly amenities and find December discount days at Great River Water Park
here. Discount admission is currently offered Mon/Wed/Fri 9-11am, Fri after 5pm & Sat after 4pm. Just $4/pp.

More discount swimming deals

Discount Bowling at the University of Minnesota Student Centers

University of Minnesota Coffman Union (Mpls)  & St. Paul Student Center
Kids love to bowl and this is a great place to do it cheap! Monday-Wednesday & Friday-Sun/$3pp per game, Thursday/$1pp per game. Shoes $2 (Free on Fridays)

INDOOR PLAYGROUND DEALS – $5-$6 PER CHILD OR LESS

Instead of climbing our walls, we have our kids climb around the many Minneapolis-St Paul area indoor playgrounds – several of which offer good deals or discount hours. They can scramble, swing and slide their wiggles right out! For our full listing of Twin Cities indoor playgrounds, jump over to our INDOOR PLAYGROUNDS GUIDE. See your best bet for discounted play at the locations listed here:

Brookview Backyard Indoor Playground

316 Brookview Parkway S, Golden Valley, MN 55426
Scramble around the indoor playground when it’s too cold to play outside. Please see website for current hours. $4.50-$5.50/pp.

Maple Maze Indoor Playground

Twilight hour is discounted to $3.50/child, one hour before close, 7 days/week.

Millz House Open Play

14645 Felton Court, Suite #104, Apple Valley, MN 55124
Open play at the showroom – playsets, basketball and other games. Weekdays, 9am-4pm (12 on Wed), $6 per child.

The Blast Indoor Playground

1501 Central Pkwy, Eagan, MN 55121
Blast & Play (Tues/Thurs) includes admission to The Blast Indoor Playground and the gymnasium. $5 per child, under 18 mons free.

The Lookout Indoor Playground

485 Gorman St., Shakopee, MN 55379
The indoor playground within the community center features a variety of play equipment for ages 10 and under. Just $3/pp.

Tropical Adventures Indoor Playground

4580 Victoria St N, Shoreview, MN 55126
A tropical-themed jungle of an indoor playground. Combine your visit with a swim at the indoor waterpark! $6/child to age 12.

INDOOR OPEN PLAY DEALS – Tot Times & Open Gyms

Tot Times and Open Gyms typically include a time for non-structured play in community center gyms where items such as balls, wheeled toys, tumble mats and other playthings are furnished. Attendance is usually limited to preschool-aged and under with caregivers. Naptime following (almost) guaranteed! This is a great discounted play option for little ones in the Twin Cities.

Andover Community Center

Tot Time Open Gym runs most Mon & Tues. 9:30-11:30am. $3-$4/child, ages 6 & under w/ caregiver.

EDINA (Braemar Field)

Tot Time includes room to run, age appropriate toys and some organized games. Ongoing Tues & Thurs, 9-11am. $5/child. Family Night is select Fridays, $5/pp.

More indoor play options can be found at:

Twin Cities Deals & Discounts for Nature Play in December

Explore nature play and the great outdoors in the wintertime right alongside your children! In our experience, nature play offers some of the best budget-friendly activities out there. Nature centers and parks across the Twin Cities host hundreds of low-cost programs throughout the year. Please check our Family Fun Calendar for exact dates, times and costs for each family nature program. Other FREE nature play opportunities you might want to check out:

DECEMBER FAMILY NATURE PROGRAMS – $5/pp or less

Carpenter St Croix Valley Nature Center

12805 St. Croix Trail S, Hastings, MN 55033
Carpenter Nature Center in Hastings offers a themed
Preschool Storytime one Friday/month for ages 2-5. $5/child.

Eastman Nature Center 

13351 Elm Creek Road, Dayton MN 55369
Along with fun indoor nature exhibits, Eastman offers My Preschooler & Me programs twice at month for $5/pp.

Harriet Alexander Nature Center 

2520 North Dale St, Roseville, MN, 55113
FREE family-friendly storytelling at the Nature Center. Then head outside and hike the boardwalk and winter trails. Dec 9, 6-8pm.

Girl playing at the Harriet Alexander Nature Center in Roseville, Minnesota
Harriet Alexander Nature Center

Lowry Nature Center

7025 Victoria Dr, Victoria, MN 55386
In December, Lowry Nature Center is offering a
New Years Family Fun event. Try out winter activities and warm up at a campfire. Dec 31, registration required. $5/pp.

Maplewood Nature Center 

2659 East 7th Street, Maplewood, MN 55119
Snowshoe rental is available this winter for $5/pair at the nature center. We’ve enjoyed taking a hike around the grounds.

girl with snowshoes

Mississippi Gateway Regional Park

10360 W River Road, Brooklyn Park, MN 55444
The park offers Free Family Fun Days most Sundays in December. Drop in between 1-3pm.

Richardson Nature Center 

8737 E Bush Lake Rd, Bloomington, MN 55438
Richardson Nature Center offers drop-in free family fun days in December along with an outdoor skills workshop for ages 6 & up. Dec 18, $5/pp, must register.

Springbrook Nature Center

100 85th Ave., N.E. Fridley, MN 55432
Two-hour snowshoe rentals are available in December for $5/pp. Take to the trails!

Wargo Nature Center

Wargo Nature Center offers Nature Play for ages 2-5 first/Thur/month ($3/pp) and Preschool Snow Days with 3 snowy outdoor play days in December ($6/pp).

Westwood Hills Nature Center

8300 W Franklin Ave, St Louis Park, MN 55426
Enjoy a themed Puppet Storytime at the nature center each month for $4/pp.

Wood Lake Nature Center

Wood Lake hosts Saturday & Sunday Specials – nature events that cost just $3/pp to attend. Check their calendar for this month’s offering.

More family nature play deals & discounted events

Raptor Center Tours

Gabbert Raptor Center, 1920 Fitch Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108
Bring kids of any age for a fun and educational visit. Meet some resident raptors, get hands-on with natural materials, and visit the kids corner. 30-minute tours offered Tues/Wed/Sun. $3/ages 3-17, $5/adults.

Find hundreds more things to do in Minneapolis & St Paul with kids!

Find more activities and indoor games for kids as the cold sets in!


Twin Cities Deals we hope to return in 2022

Twin Cities Holiday Deals & Events

Winterlights at the Purcell-Cutts House | Minneapolis
Take a 45-minute tour through the home, operated by the Minneapolis Institute of Art and decorated for the holiday. Weekends only, $5/adults, kids & students free.

Holly Trolley | Como-Harriet Streetcar Line, Minneapolis
Ride the rails with Santa in a streetcar decorated for the holiday. Then, warm up with a campfire and roast a marshmallow. 12:30-3:30pm, $4/pp.

Vinternatt | Como-Harriet Streetcar Line, Minneapolis
A chance to ride the holiday trolley at Lake Harriet lit up in the evening. Santa is rumored to make an appearance and a bonfire will cap off the night. 6-8:30pm, $5/pp.

PJs With Santa | Vadnais Heights Commons
$10/res family, $20/non-res

Children’s Holiday Storytime at Fillebrown House | White Bear Lake
6:30-7:30pm, $5/pp.

Candy Cane Hunt | Silverwood Park, St Anthony
Candy cane hunts divided by age; horse-drawn wagon ride, warm treats, arts, and photos with Santa. 1-4pm, $6/pp.

Breakfast with Nature Santa | Springbrook Nature Center, Fridley
Pre-registration required. 10am-12pm, $7/pp.

Twin Cities Special Events Deals

Family Dance | Tapestry Folkdance Center, Minneapolis
The focus is on teaching simple dances that everyone in the family can enjoy. Breaks will feature snacks and kid-friendly activities. 6:30-8pm, $6/pp or $12/family.

Michaels Kids Club Crafts | Twin Cities Michaels locations
Check the link for details. Ongoing Saturdays in December, 10am-noon. $3 per project, ages 3+.

Como Planetarium public star shows | Como Planetarium, St Paul
The 5:30 show is geared towards pre-K kids; call first to confirm (651) 293-5398. Ongoing Tuesdays in December, 5:30-6:30pm. $5/pp, 2 & under on laps are free.

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