Budget Twin Cities December Family Events & Activities

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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! Budget Twin Cities December Family Events cost just $5 or less per person with an exception of a few holiday events we believe are a great family bargain to attend. For more ideas on budget and FREE family outings, check our Family Fun Calendar or hop over to our Free Twin Cities December Family Events & Activities page.

Budget Twin Cities December Family EventsThis post is sponsored by the American Swedish Institute.
‘Tis the season for holiday fun at the American Swedish Institute where you can enjoy many kid and family friendly activities including

  • the Nordic Holidays exhibition of decorated rooms
  • Kids at the Castle playdates  Dec. 15 & 16
  • our Making Traditions weekend music/craft series
  • Lucia Celebrations
  • Santa and Tomte visits
  • FIKA’s food for kids
  • a Family Gallery
  • a FREE Holiday Open House on Dec. 13.

For complete info., visit ASI at 2600 Park Ave., go to ASImn.org or call (612) 871-4907.


Budget Twin Cities December Family Events

11/21/17-1/7/18: Gingerbread Wonderland | Norway House, Minneapolis | $5/adults, kids FREE

11/24-26/17: Christmas at the 1855 Folsom House | Taylors Falls | $1-$3/pp

11/25/17-12/31/17: Winterlights at the Purcell-Cutts House | Minneapolis | $5/adults, kids & students free | Weekends through December, take a 45-minute tour through the home, operated by the Minneapolis Institute of Art and decorated for the holiday.

12/1/17: PJs With Santa | Vadnais Heights Commons | $10/res family, $20/non-res

12/2/17: Vinternatt | Como-Harriet Streetcar Line | 6-8:30pm | $5/pp | 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.

12/2/17: Holiday Tours | Fillebrown House, White Bear Lake | 1, 2 & 3pm | $5/pp

12/2/17-12/3/17: Holly Trolley | Como-Harriet Streetcar Line, Minneapolis | 12:30-3:30pm | $4/pp | Ride the rails with Santa in a streetcar decorated for the holiday. Then, warm up with a campfire and roast a marshmallow.

12/2-3/17: Christmas on the Farm: A Norwegian Christmas | Brooklyn Park | $4-$6/pp | Go caroling, craft an ornament to take home, visit St Nick and more.

12/2-3 & 12/9-10: Christmas in the Village | Dakota City Heritage Village | Farmington | $4-$7/pp Celebrate Christmas traditions of 1900

12/2-23/17: Folkways of the Holidays | The Landing, Shakopee | $5-$8/pp | 19th-century holiday traditions.

12/8/17: Dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Claus | Langford Recreation Center, St. Paul | $5/$25 family

12/16/17: Candy Cane Hunt | Silverwood Park, St Anthony | 1-4pm | $6/pp | Candy cane hunts divided by age; horse-drawn wagon ride, warm treats, arts, and photos with Santa.

12/19/17: Breakfast with Nature Santa | Springbrook Nature Center, Fridley | $7/pp

Budget Twin Cities December Family Events


12/31/17: New Year’s Eve Celebration | Silverwood Park, St Anthony | 5:30 – 7pm | $5/pp, discounted 20% for groups of 4+ | Spend NYE creating a festive hat, visiting the photo booth with family, and roasting marshmallows. Reservations required.

12/31/17: Candlelight & Ice: New Year’s Eve at Wood Lake | Wood Lake Nature Center, Richfield | 5 – 9pm | $5/pp, no pre-registration required | Celebrate the New Year at Wood Lake. Follow a candlelit trail a walking trail through the trees, roast marshmallows over a fire and warm up inside with hot cocoa. Crafts, games and more.


12/9/17: Family Dance | Tapestry Folkdance Center, Minneapolis | 6:30-8pm | $5/pp or $10/family | The focus is on teaching simple dances that everyone in the family can enjoy. Breaks will feature snacks and kid-friendly activities.

12/15/17: Family Fun & Fitness Fridays | Great River Water Park, St Paul | $2/pp during Open Swim hours.

12/15/17-12/16/17: Kids at the Castle: Tiny Tomtes | American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis | 9-10am (feel free to stay after and explore the castle) | $8/family | Before the museum opens, join ASI for visual play, storytelling, music, and movement inspired by ASI’s exhibits that will encourage creative young minds. Suggested for ages 2-5.


Riverview Theater | Minneapolis | Ongoing $2 matinees – for our complete list of places to catch movies for $5 or less, try Twin Cities Cheap Flicks.

TwinCities Cheap Flicks

Michaels Kids Club Crafts | Twin Cities Michaels locations | Ongoing Saturdays in December, 10am-noon | $2 per project, ages 3+. Check the link for details.

Public Star Shows | Como Planetarium, St Paul | Ongoing Tuesdays starting at 5:30pm | $5/pp | Please check the schedule online for the dates and times of these shows. The earlier show is geared towards younger children; later shows appeal to older kids and adults.

Raptor Center Tours | Gabbert Raptor Center, St Paul campus of the U of M | 30-minute tours every half hour, 10:30am-3:30pm, ongoing Tues-Fri | $3/ages 3-17, $5/adults | 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’ play corner.

Bowl for a Buck | University of MN’s Coffman Union (Thurs, 5pm-close) & St. Paul Student Center (all day Wed) | $1 per game plus $2 shoe rental.

Friday Family Funday | Grove Cove Aquatic Center, Maple Grove | Ongoing Fridays in December, 9am-8pm | $6/pp or $22/family for all members.


Explore the great outdoors in the wintertime right alongside your children! 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.

Carpenter St Croix Valley Nature Center | Hastings
Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park Visitor Center | Brooklyn Park
Eastman Nature Center | Dayton
Harriet Alexander Nature Center | Roseville
Lowry Nature Center | Victoria
Maplewood Nature Center | Maplewood
Richardson Nature Center | Bloomington
Springbrook Nature Center | Fridley
Wargo Nature Center | Lino Lakes
Warner Nature Center | Marine on St Croix
Westwood Hills Nature Center | St Louis Park
Wood Lake Nature Center | Richfield



Andover Community Center: Tot Time Open Gym & Activities Most Mon & Tues starting 10/2/17 through April 2018 | 9:30-11:30am | 6 & under w/ caregiver, $3-$4/child | Drop in for unstructured play time and special activities such as a bounce house, book swap and craft days. Be sure to check the calendar for the latest schedule.

Brookview Backyard Indoor Playground, Golden Valley | Mon-Sat, 9am-8pm & Sun, 9:30am-5pm | $4-$5/pp | This brand-new, 3,000 sq ft facility opened December 2018.

Braemar Field: Tot Time, Edina | Ongoing Mon & Wed, 9-11am | $5/child | Room to run, age appropriate toys and some organized games.

Braemar Field: Family Night, Edina | Ongoing Saturdays, 6:30-8:30pm | $5/pp | Stay active under the dome during the cold months with room to run and play. Temp is set at 55 degrees.

Crystal Community Center Gym: Preschool Playtime  | Wed through April 11 | 10-11:30am| ages 1-5, $3/child | Jump, crawl, build and play the winter away in 3 gyms. 1 adult to every 3 kids required.


Eagan Community Center: Preschool Open Play | Ongoing Mon-Fri, 9-11:30am | $4 per child ages 1-5, under 18 mons free | A variety of fun toys and sport equipment are available to play in the gym as well as play time in the Blast Indoor Playground.

Eden Prairie Community Center: Tot Time Open Gym | Mon, Wed & Fri | 9-11:15am | Best for ages 1-4; $4.50-$5.50 per child, adults free | Participate in free play with balls, hoops, scooters, jump ropes, tumbling mats, parachutes, music and more. For $6/pp, admission to the Prairie Play Zone indoor playground is included.

Edina Community Center: Family Gym Time | Tues-Thurs | 10am-12pm; October 24 – March 22 (closed holidays) | Families with preschoolers; $3/child; $5/family | A chance to dance, run, wiggle and play.  Age appropriate equipment provided.

Hopkins Pavilion: Turf Tots | Ongoing Thurs & Fri starting March 1 2018 | 9 mon-5 years | $4/child | In the spring, playtime moves to the indoor turf where there’s more room to run!

Twin Cities Tot Times and other activities to do with my preschool child.

Maple Grove Community Center: Parent/Tot Time | Ongoing Mon & Wed, 10-11:30am | $3/resident youth, $3.50/non-res youth, caregivers free | Best for ages 5 & under.

Millz House (Apple Valley): Open Play | Weekdays, 9am-4pm, $6/child or $18/family & Weekends, $8/child or $24/family. Find weekend hours here. | Work out the wiggles with indoor playsets, trampolines and basketball courts.

Plymouth Field House: Open Play | Mon, Wed, Fri, 10:30am-1:30pm | $4/resident youth, $5/non-resident youth, caregivers free | During the chilly months, heat in the field house is turned on to 55 degrees for fun with inflatables, slides, nets and lots of space to run the kids ragged. Best for ages 3-5.

Saint Louis Park Rec Center: Little Tot Playtime | Tues-Fri, 9:30-11:30am | Ages 1-5 with caregiver | $2 per child | Bounce in the inflatables, ride the big wheelers, play dress up or build with blocks on the creative carpet.

Savage Sports Center: Tot Time | Tue & Thurs | 9-11:30 am thru April 2018 | Ages 5 and under; $3 per child with adult | A variety of fun toys and sport equipment are available. Prepaid passes can be purchased.

Shakopee Community Center – CC Kids Playtime | Ongoing Mon & Wed thru April 2018, 10-11:15am | $1 per child ages 1-5 w/ caregiver | Kids and their parents are invited to run around the gymnasium. Bring your clean trikes, riding toys, balls or use theirs.

Shoreview Community Center: Tropical Adventure Indoor Playground, Shoreview | Open Play hours: Mon-Sat: 8am – 8pm, Sun: 8am – 6pm | $5.25/per child ages 1-12, adults free.

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About the author

Anne Kingston

If we left it up to Anne to write her own bio, it would never get posted. She doesn't enjoy talking about herself, but Anne does love exploring the Twin Cities with her family and sharing her finds here. She, her husband and their four kids are lifelong residents of St. Paul.


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