Top 10 Family Picks: December in the Twin Cities

December in the Twin Cities

Family Fun Twin Cities is counting down to the holiday and the new year with 10 hand-picked events for families in the month of December. More ideas for December family fun:

Twin Cities December Family Events & Activities Guide

Free December Events

Budget December Events

1) Holidazzle | Loring Park, Minneapolis

All the ingredients for a perfect family holiday outing are right here in Loring Park: Santa’s taking visitors, the ice rink is stocked with free loaner skates, outdoor movies and fireworks are on display select evenings, and you can get your shopping list tackled among the many vendors. Holidazzle runs Fri-Sun through Dec 22, 2019. All activities are free of charge.

2) Santa’s Train Shop | Minnesota Transportation Museum, St Paul

Santa’s Train Shop is one of the more unique holiday events in the Twin Cities. What better place for a little (or big) trainiac to hand over their Christmas list? The museum is located in the historic Jackson Street Roundhouse and gives kids a chance to explore train cars, tinker with hands-on exhibits and take a real ride on a car decorated for Christmas. Weekends only through Dec 22, 2019, 10am-4pm. $7-$13/pp.

December in the Twin Cities

3) Grand Meander | Grand Avenue, St Paul

Begin the day with Santa at the free pancake breakfast at Tavern on Grand from 8:30 am-10:30 am. Enjoy carolers, reindeer, Santa visits, Red Balloon’s special storytime, trolley rides, and soup tasting at Grand Avenue restaurants. Top it all off at the Summit Ave Artisan Festival hosted by St. Paul’s United Church of Christ from 10 am-4 pm featuring local artists pottery, textiles, food vendors, bakery cafe and a silent auction. Dec 7, 8:30am-5pm. FREE.

Find our complete calendar of holiday festivals and Christmas Tree Lightings here.

4) Sledding hills & skating rinks open for the season

Mid to late December is when the rinks are flooded and open for your own personal Ice Capades. Or for your little future Gretzkys, whatever the case may be. Colder temps and snowfall also bring optimal conditions for sledding and snow tubing. We’ve compiled a local rink-finder and a sledding hills guide so you can scout a new places to enjoy these classic winter pastimes.

December in the Twin Cities

5) A Christmas Carol | Guthrie Theater

It’s the classic tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge’s change of heart during the holiday season. When my 12-year-old son, who is reading the Dickens classic in school, asked if we’d take him to the show this year, I knew I needed to add this to the list. This story is something special if he’s making that kind of request. The Guthrie recommends the show for kids ages 8 & up; this could be a great date with your tween. Now through Dec 29, 2019. For more family theater options for all ages, check our guide to Christmas on the Stage.

December in the Twin Cities

6) Have yourself a historical little Christmas

Celebrate by discovering traditions that Minnesotans were enjoying around the turn of the twentieth century.

Christmas in the Village | Dakota City Heritage Village, Farmington
The village will be lit and decorated for the holiday. Make your way through the buildings to get a taste of holiday cooking, watch selections of A Christmas Carol, visit St Nick, take a horse-drawn trolley ride, and join in caroling. Weekends through Dec 15, 1-8pm. $4-$7/pp.

Christmas Saturdays for Families | James J Hill House, St Paul
The grand mansion of the railroad magnate and his family is open and decorated for families to explore and make a special Christmas craft. Saturdays in December, 10am-5pm. $6-$10/pp.

December in the Twin Cities

7) Canadian Pacific Holiday Train

Now arriving at the following Twin Cities-area stations: a decked-out holiday train and rockin’ live performances! This is a fun Christmas tradition for many local families and offers a chance to give back during the season. Food banks will be accepting donations at each site, click the above link for the train’s route and detailed station locations.

  • 12/9 – Hastings, arrives 8pm
  • 12/10 – Cottage Grove, 5:15pm
  • 12/10 – Union Depot, St. Paul, 6:45 pm
  • 12/11 – Golden Valley, 4:45pm
  • 12/11 – St. Louis Park, 6pm
  • 12/11 – Minneapolis, 8pm
  • 12/12 – Loretto – 4:15pm
  • 12/12 – Buffalo, 5:45pm
December in the Twin Cities
Courtesy Canadian Pacific

8) Santa’s comin’ to town!

10 Free Things To Do in December in the Twin Cities

Bring your own camera to these free events and capture photos of a visit with Jolly Old St Nick. For more places to spot Santa across the Twin Cities, jump over to Here Comes Santa Claus.

  • Santa & Albert’s Holiday Play | Bachman’s, Minneapolis
    Join in Christmas carols after the show and meet Santa. Weekends through Dec 22, 3 or 4 shows daily.
  • Holidazzle | Loring Park, Minneapolis
    Santa makes appearances Thurs-Sun starting Nov 29, see website for times. Lots more free to love at Holidazzle, see details below.
  • Santa’s Workshop | Landmark Center, St Paul
    Snap pics with Santa, meet a pair of his reindeer, play games and made some handmade holiday gifts at the craft tables. Dec 15, 1pm.

9) Winter Light Show | University of Minnesota, Minneapolis campus

More than 250,000 lights decorate the courtyard of the Civil Engineering Building during this holiday time tradition. Students have designed a 15-minute show that has the lights dancing for onlookers. Dec 14, 5:30, 6 & 6:30pm. FREE.

For our master list of holiday light shows and displays, click here. We have been working hard to ensure that all the entries are verified and as up-to-date as possible; we don’t want anyone left in the dark.

10) New Years Eve events

Ring in 2020 with one of these family-friendly Twin Cities New Years Eve events.

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