Twin Cities 2023 Thanksgiving Break Guide

Thanksgiving tablescape

Things to do in Minneapolis and St Paul over Thanksgiving break

The holidays have officially descended upon the Twin Cities! We’re only days away from stuffing ourselves silly and hopefully gathering round the table with loved ones again. We’ve highlighted some festive events to get you in the spirit over Thanksgiving Week. Or, if you’re just looking for some ideas to keep the kids entertained over school break (mine always get an ENTIRE WEEK off!) we’ve got suggestions for those, too. For specific family weekend ideas hop over to our TWIN CITIES WEEKEND FAMILY GUIDE – Thanksgiving edition. Plus, you can always check our NOVEMBER FAMILY GUIDE or our FAMILY FUN CALENDAR, ramped up with all kinds of fun stuff to do with kids. Celebrate a Peaceful Thanksgiving at Home - Happy Thanksgiving on a background of Thanksgiving Decor

It’s about time for the Twin Cities to sparkle! Several Minneapolis-St Paul Metro Area communities are lighting up their holiday trees this week in grand style. Here’s our quick list; find our complete list of Twin Cities Tree Lighting Events. We have also included some early holiday events that kick off Thanksgiving weekend to get you in the spirit:

Apple Valley: Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony (Nov 21)

Burnsville: Winter Lighting Ceremony (Nov 22)

Edina: Tree Lighting Ceremony (Nov 25)

Minneapolis: Julglädje at American Swedish Institute

An ASI holiday tradition with live musical performances.  November 25, 2023, $5-$20/pp.

St Paul: Holiday Night Trains At Twin City Model Railroad Museum 

Buildings and street lights glow, and throughout the museum the train layouts are adorned with Christmas lights. November 25, 2023, 3-7pm. $15/pp.

Taylors Falls: Taylors Falls Lighting Festival (Nov 24-26)

Wayzata: Light Up the Lake Celebration (Nov 24)

Twin Cities Holiday Shopping - Shop Local!

Thanksgiving Week is the traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season. We encourage you to keep shopping local for your holiday gifts! Support small businesses with some of our favorite ideas for kids and adults all wrapped up in our TWIN CITIES SHOP LOCAL HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE. Make an outing of it by bringing kids along to help pick out presents and get acquainted with their communities.

Another way to find unique, personal and local gifts in your community is to explore Small Business Saturday (November 25, 2023). This gives independently owned businesses and small publishers a chance to share what they have to offer during the Holiday season. We plan to visit our favorite independently owned shops on Saturday and have a number of ideas for you here.

Christmas stockings and giftsWhile I love shopping, I could do without the crowds. Here’s a quick list of fun alternatives to shopping on Black Friday:

  • Minnesota State Parks offer free admission on Black Friday. There are 9 to explore within an hour’s drive of Minneapolis-St Paul.
  • Visit a new Twin Cities-area Nature Center –  our Metro area has a total of 25 nature centers to choose from – browse our list to find a new one near you. All are beautiful buildings and wildlife sanctuaries that are educational and fun to explore as a family year-round. Most have interactive exhibits, live animals, trails and low-cost programming. All offer FREE admission!

  • Browse our list of Indoor Playgrounds & Play Areas in the Twin Cities to find a place for kids to burn off extra energy before (or after) the big holiday.
  • Branch out and try a new family-friendly museum if you have some extra time for a family outing. (We can’t guarantee all 61 on the list will be open this week, but it’s fun to plan for the future!)

Giving Thanks by Giving Back in the Twin Cities with kids

FFTC traditionally highlights ways to volunteer with kids during the month of November. When we’re giving thanks it feels especially good to give back! Volunteer opportunities with kids aren’t easy to navigate so we’ve outlined a few recommended outlets in our list of the Top 5 Volunteering with Kids options here in Minneapolis-St Paul. This could make for a meaningful Thanksgiving Break activity together.

Girl volunteering at Feed My Starving Children

Celebrating Thanksgiving at Home

Celebrate a Peaceful Thanksgiving at Home - Happy Thanksgiving on a background of Thanksgiving Decor

Make Thanksgiving a simplified holiday at home

While a relaxed holiday with nothing to do is exactly what we adults like, it’s not always a pleasant experience for everyone. You know what I’m talking about. It’s not relaxing to hear, “I’m bored,” “When do we eat?” or even “Let me help. Let me help!” (Which you most certainly can do, it’s the whining that is hard to handle!) We’ve compiled an assortment of ideas to make the holiday as peaceful and relaxed as possible (think snacks, crafts, games).

Stay home and play games

Sometimes, even we want to just stay home and enjoy our families without the hoopla of going out. Lucky for you, the older we get, the more often we feel this way, too. That’s why we put together a HUGE list of 75 Fun Indoor Games for Kids of All Ages. We guarantee there is something for all ages on this list you could pull out for Thanksgiving break. Fortunate enough to have balmy weather over Thanksgiving? Try our list of 60 Fun Outdoor Games instead to wake up from the turkey coma.

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