Top 10 Family Picks: January in the Twin Cities

January in the Twin Cities

Family Fun Twin Cities is ringing in the new year with 10 hand-picked events for families in the month of January in the Twin Cities.

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1) Twin Cities New Years Eve 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 Eve 2018:

2) Winter Carnival family activities

January in the Twin Cities

The coolest carnival in town arrives in downtown St Paul January 24 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 Kellogg Mall Park (new location for 2019 as Rice Park is under renovation) and pick out your favorite ice creation. You can even watch the artists at work the 24th-27th.
  • Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade – Bring your light up devices and join in a march to Rice Park. Jan 24, 6pm.
  • King Boreas Grand Day Parade – The royal court parades through downtown. Jan 26, 2-4pm.
  • Kids Day – Warmer entertainment inside Landmark Center. Jan 26.
  • Vulcan Fun Day – The Vulcans host a day of outdoor activities at the State Fairgrounds, including their thrilling annual snow slide! Jan 27, 9am-7pm.
  • Frozen Family Fun Night – If you can handle more chill, there’s live entertainment in Kellogg Mall Park to be had plus a visit from the Winter Carnival Royalty. Jan 29.

3) MLK Weekend | Minnesota History Center

January in the Twin Cities

The long weekend will be your last chance to see “The 1968 Exhibit” – exploring the history-making events of the time, including the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Extra activities for families:: make a screen-print activist poster, participate in a service project, and take live musical performances. As always, we stress that the Minnesota History Center is a wonderful place to take children; the museum is packed with interactive exhibits. $6-$12/pp, Jan 19-21, 12-3pm.

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 13 from 1-5 pm. FREE.

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 12, 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. Three venues in the Twin Cities are presenting completely free performances in January:

  • MacPhail Free Family Music Series: The Bazillions | 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. 1/19/18, 10am & 11am concerts.
  • St Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Free Family Music
    Classical music performances are made engaging and friendly to kids around 5-9 with SPCO’s family music programs. Xplorchestra will introduce percussion instruments during a 50-minute interactive concert with a chance to try out instruments after the show. Concerts are free but tickets must be reserved in advance. 1/12/19, performances at 10 & 11:30am.
  • 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. 1/26/19, 9-10:30am, FREE.

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.

January in the Twin Cities

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 rink-finder to locate more:

  • Wells Fargo WinterSkate, St Paul | Skate with a backdrop of a lit-up Rice Park 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.

January in the Twin Cities

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 returning to downtown Stillwater 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.

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