November Family Weekend: Thanksgiving Break Ideas

Things to do in Minneapolis and St Paul this weekend!

NOVEMBER 30-DECEMBER 1, 2019 – Thanksgiving Break

The holidays have descended upon the Twin Cities! We’ve highlighted some festive events to get you in the spirit – for more family weekend ideas hop over to our November Family Events Guide or our Family Fun Calendar.

Not the weekend you’re searching for? Go to our Weekend Events Guide page.


I love shopping; but I can do without the crowds. Last year, I compiled this list of fun alternatives to shopping on Black Friday. This year, I’m adding some fun ideas for Saturday & Sunday as well. The following is a list of some of our favorite ideas for this long Thanksgiving holiday weekend:

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FRIDAY, November 29

Visit a state park FREE on Black Friday

Like last year, State Parks are free on Black Friday. Free days are rare and exploring one of the local state parks is not something we do often. We tend toward the more urban adventures. Go HERE for an interactive map of State Parks both near and far or check our list of 6 Twin Cities Metro-Area Minnesota State Parks.

November Family Weekend Fun at State Parks – FREE!

Many other local parks are always free and you can find a growing list of them in our directory by choosing Parks from the Category drop-down menu. We have almost doubled our park listings to well over 400 since last year, and we are doing our best to include the information families will find most useful.

Just a reminder: If your plan includes a visitors center or recreation center, we recommend calling ahead. Parks have limited staff and this is a Holiday weekend for them, too.

Holidazzle opens for the season | Loring Park, Minneapolis

Bring your skates down to the WinterSkate at Loring Park (a limited amount of loaners will be available), tackle the obstacles in the Kids Zone, interact with the art installations, and take in fireworks at 6:30 following opening ceremonies. Friday (and Sunday) will also feature outdoor movies and visits with Santa. All activities are FREE.

This November Family Weekend begins Holidazzle

November Family Weekend

Green Friday Toy Swap | Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, Brooklyn Park

This is at the top of my personal weekend list. Drop in at the Brooklyn Park side of Coon Rapids Dam between 10am & noon on Black Friday; bring in gently-used toys; and swap them for others. My kids and I have decided this would be a great way for them to “shop” for their siblings;  they can pick a toy of their own to swap for something for each of their siblings for Christmas.

Note: Before heading out, this would be a good time to review my directory post about Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park. Its actually two different parks, and you may or may not feel like walking across the dam if you end up on the wrong side.

November Family Weekend

Family Funday: Nature’s Black Friday Fun | Kroening Interpretive Center, Minneapolis

On Black Friday between 11am-3pm, the interpretive center in North Mississippi Regional Park will have both naturalist-led and self-guided nature exploration activities. Visitors are encouraged to hike, build a fort, go on a scavenger hunt and play games. This activity is free and all ages, but you can pre-register online at

SATURDAY, November 30

“Shop Small” Saturday

If we don’t find everything our hearts desire at the Green Friday Toy Swap, our next plan of action is Small Business Saturday. 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.

Also on Small Business Saturday, our favorite local bookstores often bring in children’s book authors in to help us select book gifts. See Red Balloon’s schedule here. Double your do-good shopping by hitting up one of these locally owned and operated bookstores to buy a book by a local author and/or independent publisher.

ALL WEEKEND – November 30-December 1

Julgladje! | American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis

Julgladje is a favorite tradition, hosted by musician Ross Sutter, who plays an energetic and interactive variety of American and Swedish holiday tunes.  This is an affordable experience for the whole family to enjoy. Sat, Nov 20, 1pm; Sun, Dec 1, 1pm. Tickets $5-$12/pp (advanced tickets recommended).

Santa & Albert’s Annual Holiday Play | Bachman’s on Lyndale, Minneapolis

See the duo perform in “Santa & Albert’s Snowflake Dance”, this year’s edition of Bachman’s annual holiday play. Shows run weekends at 11:30am, 1 & 3:30pm with an extra performance Saturday mornings at 10. Come early for good seating and stay after for caroling and pictures with the characters.

November Family Weekend @ Bachmans

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! The following have activities planned for the weekend after Thanksgiving:

  • Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park: 11/30/19: Geocaching for Smores, $8/pp AND 12/1/19: Free Family Fun Day, 1-3pm.
  • Eastman Nature Center: 12/1/19: Winter Forts 1-3pm, FREE
  • Richardson Nature Center: 12/1/19- Free Family Fun Day, 3-4pm, FREE

Stay home and play games

Sometimes, even we want to just stay home and enjoy our families without the hoopla of going out. Luckily, last January, Tom — our computer guru, biggest cheerleader and all-around awesome husband to Anne — also became a contributing writer when he gave us 47+ Fun Indoor Games for Kids of All Ages. When in doubt, there is something for everyone on this list.


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

Gianna shared some more ideas with Kare 11: Activities for Kids During Thanksgiving

*We do our best to keep up with dates and times on our calendar and in our directory, but we recommend calling ahead when in doubt.

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