Top 10 Family Picks: January in the Twin Cities

What are the top 10 ways to kick off 2020 in the Twin Cities? For more family fun ideas, check our Family Fun Calendar and other January Guides:

January Family Events Guide

Top 10 Family Picks: January in the Twin Cities

10 Free Things To Do in January in the Twin Cities

2020 Winter Survival Guide

January in the Twin Cities

1) Twin Cities New Years Day events

Best wishes in the New Year from Family Fun Twin Cities. Some of our top picks to celebrate in the Twin Cities for New Years Day 2020:

  • Noon Year’s Confetti Dance Party | Como Zoo & Conservatory, St Paul
    Games, a DJ and a noon beach ball drop. 10am-1pm, FREE.
  • New Year’s Day Snowshoe Hike | Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park
    Equipment and refreshments included. $5/pp, reservations required two days prior.
  • New Year’s Day Hike & Bonfire | Eastman Nature Center
    Take a snowshoe hike and roast marshmallows over the bonfire. $5/pp, reservations required.

2) Winter Carnival family activities

January in the Twin Cities

The coolest carnival in town arrives in downtown St Paul January 23 and it’s packed with fun and free activities for the family. Here’s a rundown of our top suggestions:

  • Ice Sculpture Garden – Take a walk through Rice Park and pick out your favorite ice creation. You can even watch the artists at work the 23rd-26th.
  • King Boreas Grand Day Parade – The royal court parades through downtown. Jan 25, 2-4pm.
  • Vulcan Fun Day – The Vulcans host a day of outdoor activities at the State Fairgrounds, including their thrilling annual snow slide! Jan 26, 9am-9pm.
  • Frozen Family Fun Night – If you can handle more chill, there’s live entertainment in Rice Park to be had plus a visit from the Winter Carnival Royalty. Jan 30.

3) St Paul Super Slide & more Winter Fun at CHS Field

Make way for the Super Slide! The summer home of Saints Baseball is hosting winter activities to supplement Super Bowl season. Alongside the 40-foot slide will be an ice fishing pond and other entertainment. Open through Feb 22, Tues thru Sun. Tickets are $10/adults, $7/children and are good for unlimited rides during a one-hour slot. The Green Line light rail transit will bring you directly to CHS Field in downtown St Paul.

Wells Fargo WinterSkate, has moved to CHS Field this year! Skating is still free for all, $5 skate rental for non-WF customers.

4) Winter Ice Festival | Centennial Lakes Park, Edina

A longtime winter tradition, Centennial Lakes Park is a flurry of family fun during the Winter Ice Festival. Visitors can enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides, sledding and skating (bring your own equipment or rent it onsite), and ice carving demos. Jan 12, 1-5 pm.

Find our Winter Family Festival Calendar for more chances to embrrr-ace the season.

Winter Festivals

5) Winter Trails Day | Fort Snelling State Park

This winter tradition is a day to get outdoors and dabble in a number of seasonal activities: ice-fishing, cross-country skiing, skijoring, quinzee (winter hut) building, ice harvesting and more. Presented in conjunction with the National Park Service, Minnesota DNR and the US Forest Service. No need to register ahead of time and all ages are welcome; note there is a $7 per vehicle daily park permit required. Jan 11, 11am-4pm.

In search of more trails? No matter the age or ability, you might want to try our list of Twin Cities Family Skiing & Snowboading spots.

6) Free Family Music

Beat the winter blues and warm up with some fun indoor concerts designed just for kids. These venues in the Twin Cities are presenting completely free performances in January:

  • MacPhail Free Family Music Series: Orkestar Bez Ime | Minneapolis
    Open houses include concerts geared towards kids (including wiggle room and close proximity to the performers onstage), a chance to play with instruments, snacks and more. Jan 18, 10am & 11am concerts.
  • Music & Melody Makers | Minnesota Youth Symphonies, St Paul
    Kids ages 3-14 can try out instruments of the orchestra, ask the musicians questions, and hear a mini-concert. Registration required. Jan 25, 9-10:30am.

7) Sledding and snow tubing

Tis the season for throwing yourself down snowy hills of all shapes and sizes in the name of winter fun. Likely you have a favorite neighborhood spot to take the kids and sleds, but perhaps you’re looking for a change of pace? We came up with an option for each corner of the metro where a wide range of ages can play together:

January in the Twin Cities


Columbia Golf Club, Minneapolis: Offers one of the tallest hills in NE Minneapolis. There is no charge to sled or tube, and tube rentals are available.


Elm Creek Park Reserve, Maple Grove: There are lifts and lighted hills for tubing ($15/2 hrs pp) in addition to a free, ungroomed sledding hill.


Badlands Sno-Park, Hudson WI: Runs the gamut from the Bunny Hill to the TURBO slope. My tween recently took the latter and heaped praise upon it. Oh, and thank goodness for tow ropes. $17/pp will get you an all day pass to tube.


Hyland Lake Park Reserve, Bloomington: The sledding-only hill is near the Richardson Nature Center, a great spot to warm up for an hour or so. There is no charge for either activity.


Staring Lake Park, Eden Prairie: There’s a free sledding hill and a warming house for breaks.

For more ideas, check our Twin Cities Sledding Hills Guide.

8) Outdoor ice skating rinks

As this is Minnesota we’re covering here, you can’t go far in your hood during winter without sliding into an outdoor skating spot. Be they neighborhood frozen puddles or fancy refrigerated rinks, the Twin Cities teems with places to strap on your skates. Here are four suggestions with beautiful backdrops; use our  skating rink-finder to locate more:

  • Wells Fargo WinterSkate, St Paul | Skate with a backdrop of a lit-up CHS or even the Winter Carnival! Skating is free for all, $4 skate rental for non-WF customers. Occasional free skating lessons are offered.
  • Skate the Star at Mall of America | Bloomington | Skating is free; bring your own skates or rental benefit the Boys & Girls Club. Open Dec 8-Jan 27, 2019.
  • Minneapolis WinterSkate, Loring Park | Now through early March, the refrigerated rink hosts free skating daily plus a good supply of free loaner skates.
  • Central Park Ice Skating Loop, Maple Grove | Skate a leisurely serpentine loop illuminated at night and in close proximity to a roaring fireplace in the adjacent indoor pavilion. Skating is free, bring your own skates or rent a pair for $6.
  • Centennial Lakes Park | Edina | Skate free (rentals available) around the ponds and the canals that connect them. Warm up with hot chocolate at the pavilion’s concession stand.

9) Minnetonka Fire Department Family Fun Day

Got kids who are just crazy about getting up close to big rigs? Our calendar of Twin Cities Touch-A-Truck events and Public Works Open Houses will help you find them!
This family event should put you warm you up! Meet Minnetonka firefighters, check out fire trucks and take a turn on their 20-foot inflatable slide! Enjoy firehouse chili and hot cider. For more information, please call (952) 939-8331. FREE.

Plan ahead: got a kid who loves big rigs? We’ve got a calendar for that, too. Hop over to our Touch a Truck: Twin Cities Public Works Open House Calendar.

10) Ice Castles

Ice Castle Beauty - January in the Twin Cities

More ice, you say? If you can bear with us, we have one further icy event worth checking out in the month of January. The Ice Castles are springing up in New Brighton this year and will amaze with icy tunnels, slides, illuminated chambers, and often visiting royalty. Get your tickets online and save a bundle, even more if you can make it out on a weeknight. $6.95-$18/pp. Read our review of Ice Castles here.

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

Find fun indoor games for kids when it’s chilly outside and we want to stay cozy.

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