Budget Twin Cities December Family Events & Activities

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.

Thanks to ASI for being FFTC’s Seasonal Patron.

American Swedish InstituteJul love it! American Swedish Institute is the place for affordable family fun with Handmade Holidays,  decorated Mansion rooms and new Family Gallery. Don’t miss the monthly Kids and (new) Babies at the Castle gatherings.  Join in a musical story during the Julglädje “Christmas Joy” shows November 24-25. ASI’s Making Traditions weekends offer hands-on activities, Find-the-Tomte games and performances, while FIKA Café serves up tyke-sized bites. For more details, click here, call (612) 871-4907, or visit 2600 Park Ave.  Free parking!


Budget Twin Cities December Family Events

11/17/18-1/6/19: Gingerbread Wonderland | Norway House, Minneapolis | $5/13+, FREE/12 and under

11/23/18-11/25/18: Christmas at the 1855 Folsom House | Taylors Falls | $1-$3/pp

11/24/18-12/30/18: 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.

12/7/18: PJs With Santa | Vadnais Heights Commons | $10/res family, $20/non-res

12/1/18: 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.

12/13/18: Children’s Holiday Storytime | Fillebrown House, White Bear Lake | 6:30-7:30pmpm | $5/pp

12/1/18-12/2/18: 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.

12/1/18 & 12/2/18: Christmas on the Farm: A Norwegian Christmas | Brooklyn Park | 1-4pm | $4-$6/pp | Go caroling, craft an ornament to take home, visit St Nick and more.

12/1/18 & 12/2/18: Christmas in the Village | Dakota City Heritage Village | Farmington | $4-$7/pp Celebrate Christmas traditions of 1900. Also held 12/8/18 & 12/9/18.

12/1/18-12/23/18: Folkways of the Holidays | The Landing, Shakopee | $5-$8/pp | 19th-century holiday traditions.

12/15/18: 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.

12/18/18 & 12/22/18: Breakfast with Nature Santa | Springbrook Nature Center, Fridley | $7/pp

Budget Twin Cities December Family Events


12/31/18: 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.

12/31/18: 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.


12/8/18: Family Dance | Tapestry Folkdance Center, Minneapolis | 6:30-8pm | $6/pp or $12/family | The focus is on teaching simple dances that everyone in the family can enjoy. Breaks will feature snacks and kid-friendly activities.

12/21/18 & 12/22/18: 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.


Twin Cities movie discount days | Treat yourself to a trip to the movies! We’ve compiled a list of Twin Cities cinemas that offer discounts ranging from $2.50-$6 daily. Tip: Tuesdays are the most common day of the deal.TwinCities Cheap Flicks

Great River Water Park | St Paul | 11am-5pm | Daily admission is $5-$6/pp or $24/family up to 5 members | Read about the kid-friendly amenities and find discount days at Great River Water Park here.

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.

Theater Explorers: Storytime Drop-in | Steppingstone Theater, St Paul | Ongoing Wednesdays thru Dec 19 | $10/family | Introduce toddlers and preschoolers to theater arts through this weekly drop-in program filled with stories, songs, art projects and creative play.

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


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!

Andover Community Center: Tot Time Open Gym & Activities | Most Mon & Tues, 9:30-11:30am | $3-$4/child, ages 6 & under w/ caregiver

Eagan Community Center: Preschool Open Play | Ongoing Mon-Fri, 9-11:30am | $4 per child, under 18 mons free. Also includes admission to The Blast Indoor Playground.

Eden Prairie Community Center: Tot Time Open Gym | Mon-Fri | 9:30-11:30am (9:15-11:30 Thurs) | Best for ages 1-4; $4/pp ages 1-4, $5/pp ages 5+, under 1 and caregivers free. $6 includes admission to Prairie Play Zone Indoor Playground.

Crystal Community Center Gym: Preschool Playtime | Ongoing Wed, early October-mid April, 10-11:30am | $3/child ages 1-5

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 per child

New Brighton Community Center: Preschool Open Gym | Mon & Wed excluding holidays and school breaks, 10:30am-1:30pm | $6/child, preschool & under with caregiver, admission to Eagles Nest Indoor Playground included.

Shakopee Community Center – CC Kids Playtime | October – April 2019, 10-11:30am | $1 per child ages 1-5 w/ caregiver

Shoreview Community Center: Tropical Adventure Indoor Playground | Open Play hours: Mon-Sat: 8am – 8pm, Sun: 8am – 6pm | $5.50/per child ages 1-12, adults free.

More indoor play options can be found at:



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