Twin Cities Guide to Family Activities This Weekend: December 16-17, 2023

the Twin Cities at different seasons

Things to do in Minneapolis & St Paul this weekend!

This Twin Cities Family Weekend Guide covers events in Minneapolis & St Paul the weekend of December 16-17, 2023. Want to discover family fun this weekend across the Twin Cities Metro Area? Browse our guides for the Northwest, Northeast, Southwest & Southeast communities. Happy exploring, wherever your weekend may take you!

With so many holiday happenings around the Twin Cities this weekend, we want to make it as jolly as possible for your family to find them. For more inspiration and seasonal cheer, hop over to our 2023 ULTIMATE TWIN CITIES CHRISTMAS & HOLIDAY GUIDE, our FAMILY FUN CALENDAR or our DECEMBER FAMILY GUIDE.

Holiday events this weekend in Minneapolis & St Paul – the Twin Cities

Where can I find Santa this weekend in Minneapolis & St Paul?

Getting closer to Christmas – does Jolly Old St Nick still have visits to make this weekend? Why yes, he continues to impress us with his omnipresence – check out his Minneapolis & St Paul events on this page and remember to consult our official Twin Cities Santa-finder page for more pop-ups around the metro area. Note this is the FINAL WEEKEND for several Minneapolis-St Paul Santa events!

Santa Visits Night Trains at Twin City Model Railroad Museum

668 Transfer Rd Ste. 8, St Paul, MN 55114   
The glowing and magical Night Trains run every Saturday night through February, but on this select evening, visitors can meet with Santa. December 16th, 2023. 3-7pm, $15/pp.

Model train and boat lit up in a dark background. Text reads: "All Aboard for Night Trains"
Photo Credit: Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum

Family Christmas Party at Midtown Global Market

920 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407
Santa and his reindeer will visit MGM for a day of holiday fun, including live music and crafts. 11am-3pm. December 16, 2023. FREE.

Santa’s Train Shop at Minnesota Transportation Museum 

193 Pennsylvania Ave E, St Paul, MN 55130
FINAL WEEKEND! The museum transforms into Santa’s Train Shop with live music, activities, train rides, pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus. December 16 & 17, 2023, 10am-4pm. $9-$18/pp or $50/family.

Santa & Elves at European Christmas Market

Union Depot, 214 4th Street East, Saint Paul, MN 55101
FINAL WEEKEND! Santa along with his elves and reindeer will be at Union Depot’s European Market. Kids can also go on a scavenger hunt and families can stroll through the market full of handcrafted goods and a selection of food. Fridays-Sundays, now-December 17, 2023. FREE to visit.

Santa & Albert’s Holiday Play at Bachman’s

Bachman’s on Lyndale, 6010 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55419
FINAL WEEKEND! Bachman’s annual holiday play is perfect for all ages. Showtimes (about 20 min in length) throughout the day this weekend. December 9-10, 2023. 


Magical Holiday Experience at Highland Park

Highland Park Community Center, 1978 Ford Pkwy, St Paul, MN 55116, USA  
Event includes a photo with Santa and a craft to make a holiday ornament out of the photo. Kids can write letters to Santa and  play games, and more. Lunch provided. 10am-1pm. December 16, 2023.

A-Side Public House Holiday Open House

754 Randolph Avenue, Saint Paul, MN
Kids can get free pictures with Santa and gobble down a free meal with purchase of an adult entree. Reservations encouraged on the website. December 17, 2023, 4-7pm.

Shine on: Minneapolis & St Paul holiday lights displays & events

GLOW Holiday Festival

CHS Field, 360 N Broadway St, St Paul, MN 55101
This year, there is more than a drive-through: Over a million lights, selfie plaza, three-story ice palace, and a bike-powered tree. Tickets: $12.75-$20.75/pp.  Now-December 31, 2023.

For the whole sparkling scoop on the best holiday light displays in the Twin Cities, visit our 2023 Twin Cities Drive Thru Christmas Events and Walking Tours page. OR – create your own drive-thru holiday lights event! We have an enormous list of homes around the Twin Cities that deck their halls up for the holiday: Jump over to Light It Up: Twin Cities & Greater Minnesota Christmas & Holiday Light Displays for our map!

Twin Cities Holiday Lights - Map Your Route Banner

Have yourself a historical little Christmas…in Minneapolis & St Paul

Holidays on the Hill – James J Hill House

240 Summit Ave, St Paul, MN 55102
FINAL DAY! It’s Christmas in 1910 during this tour at the most famous mansion on Summit Avenue in Saint  Paul. Tickets include a 60-minute guided tour and holiday exhibits. December 17, 2023.  Admission: $16-$20/pp. Under 4 free.

Gingerbread Wonderland at Norway House

913 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Norway House’s annual signature Holiday tradition Gingerbread Wonderland returns for its 7th Anniversary. You can almost taste the little gingerbread village reading this, can’t you? Now thru January 7, 2024, $15/pp ages 13+; 12 and under FREE. 

Kids at the Castle at American Swedish Institute

American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407
Let littles roam free in a real-life castle after an hour or so of structured activity time with stories, songs and games aimed at ages 2-5. This month’s program, Tiny Tomes & Extraordinary Elves, has a Swedish holiday bent as the mansion will be decorated for the season. 9-10am, $15/family.

Ye Olde Holidays at Twin Cities Museums & Historic Sites

Still Christmas shopping this weekend?

Our CHRISTMAS SHOPPING GUIDE helps you shop local and support small businesses while picking out presents for your loved ones this year. This gift guide has wonderful ideas for all ages. The best part is these events double as family fun!

Our weekend holiday shopping quicklist in Minneapolis-St Paul:

  • European Christmas Market – Final weekend! open-air holiday shopping, European-inspired treats, Santa visits, crafts for kids and more at Union Depot. All weekend, December 16-17, 2023. FREE admission. 240 E. Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55101.
  • Minnesota Merry Market at the State Fair – 70+ vendors for holiday shopping, mini-train rides, food & beverages and Santa each day at 2pm. December 16, 10am-5pm & December 17, 11am-4pm, 2023. FREE admission.

Holiday Shopping Events - December Weekend Holiday Guide

Minneapolis & St Paul weekend holiday stage spotlight

A Hygge Holiday at Circus Juventas

1270 Montreal Ave, St Paul, MN 55116
This awe-inspiring holiday show will transport you to the beautiful and bewitching North Woods. Soaring acrobatics and dazzling artistry await under the big top in St Paul. December 16-17, 2023. Sat shows at 1 & 5pm, Sun at 1pm. Tickets: $25/children, $35/adults.

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Children’s Theatre Company, 2400 3rd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55404
The Grinch is back to make your holiday complete. This is a very popular show so you’ll want to secure tickets right now if the show is on your Christmas wish list. Best for ages  4+. Now thru January 7, 2023. Tickets $15-$64.

Reed Sigmund and Company in Children's Theatre Company's 2023 production of 'Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas!'. Photo by Glen Stubbe Photography
For Current reviews, parental guidance and upcoming shows:
What’s Playing at Children’s Theater Company

Elf The Musical, Jr

The Conn Theatre, 1900 Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403
A modern-day holiday classic that is sure to make everyone embrace their inner elf. This is a show produced by the wonderful Youth Performance Company and is great for all ages. Tickets/$15. Now thru December 17, 2023.

Kids participating in interactive theater program: "Kid-Friendly Theater, Music and Performing Arts in the Twin Cities"


Fun activities in the parks this weekend in Minneapolis & St Paul

Featured here for the weekend is just a taste of all that’s going on across the incredible Twin Cities park systems. You can get more ideas on our FAMILY FUN CALENDAR or browse the links below to search for local fun events & things to do with kids this weekend in the parks.


Many ice skating, skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing spots are already humming with activity and are located in public parks. Try one of these pretty, refrigerated outdoor ice skating rinks if the community sites aren’t yet open:

Skaters warming by the firepit at the Central Park Ice Loop in Maple Grove, Minnesota

Featured Twin Cities park events this weekend

Nature Art at Carl Kroening Nature Center

North Mississippi Regional Park, 4900 Mississippi Court, Minneapolis, MN 55430
Care for the birds this winter by putting together an edible ginger-house for them. All supplies provided. You’ll want to check out the indoor exhibits at the nature center while you’re at it. December 16, 2023, 11am-12pm. FREE, register online.

Eastview Recreation Center Holiday Extravaganza

1675 5th St E, St Paul, MN 55106
Get ready for a jolly good time with a fun games and activities including: arts and crafts, photos with Santa, games and hunts and a gift wrapping race. Hosted by St Paul Urban Tennis. December 16, 2023, 5-8pm. FREE.

Junior Ranger Discovery Table

Mississippi River Visitor Center, 120 Kellogg Blvd West, Saint Paul, MN 55102
OK – this event isn’t technically in a park setting (the visitor center is located in the lobby of the Science Museum of Minnesota) but the activities center on the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area – operated by the National Park Service. Kids can complete a Junior Ranger activity booklets, and earn a Junior Ranger badge FREE. December 16-31, 2023, 12:30-2pm.

More ideas for things to do this weekend in the Twin Cities with kids

Get creative this weekend with STEM fun

Bakken Discovery Days: Droid December

3537 Zenith Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55416
Family-focused and interactive learning stations, educational make-and-take activities, and local STEM experts to answer questions. Plus, in honor of Droid December, get your picture taken with Star Wars characters, create a droid toy, hunt for droids hidden in the museum, build a mini robot and lots more. Appropriate for ages 5-14 with their adults. December 16, 2023, 10am-4pm. $9-$13/pp.

Saturday Vibe Mini-Maker

George Latimer Central Library, 90 West 4th Street, Saint Paul MN 55102
Mini-Maker is a totally hands-on STEAM program at the library for kids. All supplies provided to make something super creative. December 16, 2023, 11am-12pm. FREE.

Coffee and Creative Play at Snapology

Parents, need a quick break? Enjoy a delicious beverage from Bob’s Java Hut (next door to Snapology) while your child plays at Snapology. If they are 5+, you can drop them off! Playtime at Snapology is a creative building experience that includes LEGO bricks, a race track, magnatiles, train tracks, k’nex, polydrons, marble mazes and more. December 17, 2023, 9-11:30am, $15/child, includes beverage. 

ARM YOURSELF…for the winter break ahead

For many families (particularly those inclined to consult this website), the weekend flows right into a nice stretch of vacation days from school. Lots of us are also on break from our regularly-scheduled extracurriculars, too. A few years back we put together a list of 16 THINGS TO DO OVER WINTER BREAK IN THE TWIN CITIES to keep ourselves sane at home during this time, and, for extra armor, beefed up our annual WINTER FUN SURVIVAL GUIDE.

Always free to visit weekends

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

During this cold weather, find tons of fun indoor games for kids you can play right at home.

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