Free Twin Cities December Family Events & Activities

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12/2: Forever Wild Family Friday: Scavenger Hunt @ Lebanon Hills Regional Park Visitor Center, Eagan • 7-8:30pm • Details: Drop in for smores and a nighttime hunt.

12/3: First Free Saturday: Walker Open House @ Walker Art Center, Minneapolis • 10am-3pm • Details: Activities are geared towards kids ages 6-12, but don’t let that stop you from bringing your littler ones! Free gallery admission for the whole family.

katc-family-fun-ad-01This 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. 9, 16 & 17
  • 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. 14.

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

12/3: Home Depot Kids Workshop: Gingerbread Man Candy Dish @ TC Home Depot locations • 9am-noon • Details: The first Saturday of each month kids get a kit to build, apron and pin while supplies last; adults must accompany children.

12/3: Drop-in Discoveries: Reps & Phibs @ Tamarack Nature Center, White Bear Lake • 10am-12

12/4: Family Day @ Minnesota Museum of American Art, St. Paul • 1-4pm • Details: Art-making activities, storytelling, live music, and cookies with cocoa. Free; $5/family donation suggested.

12/5: Free Tuesday @ Washington County Parks, SE Metro • find a listing of parks hereDetails: Explore Washington County Parks with no vehicle permit required the first Tuesday of the month (non-holiday).

12/9: Friday Family Movie Nights: Finding Dory @ Edinborough Park, Edina • 6:30pm

12/11: Family Day: Art Circus @ Minneapolis Institute of Art • 11am-5pm • Details: Circus skills and works of art!

12/13: Ballet Tuesdays @ Landmark Center, St. Paul • 12-1pm • Details: Excerpts from the classics, perfect for budding ballerinas.

12/30: Winter Fun Day @ Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, Bloomington • 10am-4pm • Details: Dress for outdoor winter activities, then warm up inside by the fireplace with books, puzzles, a scavenger hunt and nature films.

12/31: New Year’s Eve: Moonlight Circus @ Mall of America • 7 & 9pm • Details: Live Entertainment by Xelias Aerial Arts Studio including contortion, juggling, unicycle and more. A Family Countdown to the new year will take place at the south entrance to Nickelodeon Universe at 10pm.

12/31: Noon Year’s Party @ Como Zoo & Conservatory Visitor Center, St Paul • 10am – 1pm • Details: Come for games, dancing and music from the DJs of the Kidsdance. There will be noise-maker making, special animal enrichment, zoo keeper talks, giveaways, and a countdown to noon when hundreds of beach balls will be dropped from the ceiling.


For all the details on these holiday events, jump over to our colossal Family Fun Twin Cities Christmas & Holiday Guide!


11/19-12/18: Bachman’s: Santa & Albert Rock Christmas Holiday Play and Sing Along 11/25-12/22: Holidazzle, Minneapolis
11/28-12/31: Hometown for the Holidays, Stillwater
12/1-11: European Christmas Market, St. Paul
12/2: CSE Winter Light Show Premiere, Minneapolis
12/2: Holiday Fest, Shakopee

12/2-3: Afton Village Holiday
12/3: Anoka Christmas Tree Lighting

12/3: Twinkle Party, Stillwater
12/3: Grand Meander, St. Paul
12/3: Reindeer Day at Linden Hills, Minneapolis
12/3: Holiday on Main, Lakeville
12/3-4: Holiday Open Haus, Germanic-American Institute, St. Paul
12/3-4: Seward Winter Frolic, Minneapolis
12/3, 10 & 17: Shop Excelsior
12/4: 1850’s Holiday Party, Ard Godfrey House, Minneapolis
12/4: Old Fashioned Holiday
, Holz Farm, Brooklyn Park
12/4: Caring Santa, Southdale Center, Edina
12/5, 12/7, 12/12, 12/14: Bedtime Stories with Santa
, Woodbury Lakes
12/6: Inver Grove Heights Outdoor Tree Lighting
12/6: Dinner with Santa
, Dayton’s Bluff Rec Center, St. Paul

12/8: Winter Wonderland, North Dale Rec Center, St. Paul
12/8: Dinner with Santa, Duluth & Case Rec Center, St. Paul
12/9: Carriage Rides & Lighting Tour, St Anthony Village

12/10: Plymouth Old Fashioned Christmas
12/10: Winter Wonderland Weekend
, Shoppes at Arbor Lakes, Maple Grove
12/11: Santa’s Workshop
, Landmark Center, St. Paul
12/12-24: Macy’s Santaland, Minneapolis
12/14: Neighborhood Holiday Open House, American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis
12/16-17: Live Nativity, Knollwood Christian Church, St Louis Park
12/17: Living Nativity, St Stephen’s Lutheran Church, White Bear Lake
12/17: Jerry’s Very Merry Santa Day, Jerry’s Foods, Eden Prairie
12/18: Jerry’s Very Merry Santa Day, Jerry’s Foods, Woodbury
12/18: Living Nativity, Messiah United Methodist Church, Plymouth

Searching for Santa? Browse our Here Comes Santa Claus post for FREE Santa meet-and-greet opportunities!

Here Comes Santa Claus - Christmas in the Twin Cities

Here Comes Santa Claus

How about ogling some holiday light and music displays? Nearly all the venues in our Light It Up: Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota Christmas & Holiday Light Displays roundup cost just the gas it takes to get to them:



Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis • Daily, 11am-5pm

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, St. Paul • Daily, 10am-6pm • suggested donation of $2/child & $3/adult, but all welcome whether or not you choose to donate. Details: Seasonal events include the Winter Flower Show in the Conservatory’s sunken garden, storytime at noon, and animal programs throughout the day.

Saturday Live! @ George Latimer Central Library, St. Paul • 11:15am • Details: Fresh entertainment every Saturday including live music, puppetry, magicians and more.

Lakeshore Learning Free Crafts for Kids  @ TC locations • Ongoing Saturdays, 11am-3pm

Nature Rocks! Open House @ Eden Prairie Outdoor Center, Eden Prairie • 9am-noon • Details: The first Saturday of each month enjoy free family-friendly activities such as hiking, hands-on interaction with live animals, craft projects and more.

Bell Museum of Natural History, Minneapolis • Ongoing Sundays, Noon-5pm • Details: Explore the very kid-friendly Touch and Feel room and the wildlife dioramas free each Sunday.

December Free Family Fun Days @ Three Rivers Parks
Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park (Brooklyn Park side of the river) Sundays, 1-3pm
Richardson Nature Center • Sundays, 3-4pm


Parent/Tot Time & Preschool Open Gym @ Apple Valley Community Center • Ongoing Mon/Wed/ Fri, 9:30-11am • Ages: 5 & under w/ caregiver • Details: Burn off some energy with other kids, develop motor skills and coordination. A special tot time for tykes ages 2 & under is held from 9-9:30am followed by open play for 5 & under until 11.

MOA Toddler Tuesdays, Mall of America RotundaOngoing Tuesdays, 10am – noonDetails: Live entertainment and activities guaranteed to excite the stroller set. Upcoming event schedule here.

Bloom Room Playdates @ Teeny Bee Boutique, St. Paul • Ongoing Wednesdays, 10:30am-noon • Details: Aimed at kids ages 0-3.

Wee Wednesdays @ Midtown Global Market, MinneapolisOngoing Wednesdays, 10:30am – 1pm Details: In the past, MGM has offered dance troupes, cooking lessons, and live animals to entertain kids. Stay for lunch — there are many tasty ethnic vendors to choose from, and several offer specials on Wednesdays. Park in the adjacent Midtown Exchange Ramp up to 1.5 hrs. free with validation.

Games Galore @ Union Depot, St Paul • Ongoing Wednesdays, 10am-8pm • Details: Play giant-sized versions of classic games including chess, checkers, Connect Four, Dominoes and more.


Lil Explorer Thursdays @ Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, St. Paul • Ongoing Thursdays starting 9/8 through April 27, 2017, 10am-noon • Details: The hall between the Visitor Center and the Conservatory is filled with hands-on activities, manipulatives, art projects and games perfect for the 4 & under set. Explore a different theme each week.

Free Children’s Entertainment @ Edinborough Park Amphitheater, Edina • Thursdays, noon.

Drop-in Playtime @ Amma Parenting Center, Edina • Ongoing Fridays, 11:45am-12:45pm • Details: Drop-in play for newborns through walking age.

Top Preschool Storytimes in the Twin Cities – many local bookstores, libraries and other businesses offer FREE storytimes during the week. Click the link to read our picks.

Story Time Any Time

Kid-friendly Twin Cities coffee shops and cafes with dedicated FREE play spaces.

Coffee Shop Collage

Twin Cities Nature Centers offer FREE admission and hands-on exhibits and outdoor play opportunities most days of the week.

St. Paul Recreation Centers offer free open gym Tot Times at 16 sites across the city.

13 Open Play & Open Gym Spots for Tots in the Twin Cities

Minneapolis Recreation Centers also offer free options. Click this link and search “parent tot”.

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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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