What are the top 10 ways to kick off 2023 in the Twin Cities? For more family fun ideas, check our FAMILY FUN CALENDAR and our other January guides:
- TWIN CITIES JANUARY FAMILY EVENTS GUIDE
- 50 FREE THINGS TO DO IN JANUARY IN THE TWIN CITIES
- TWIN CITIES ULTIMATE WINTER FUN GUIDE
St Paul Winter Carnival family activities
The coolest carnival in town arrives in downtown St Paul January and it’s packed with fun and free activities for the family. Here’s a rundown of our top suggestions:
- WINTER CARNIVAL ICE SCULPTURES – the icy creations return to Rice Park this year! Free to admire. (Jan 26-Feb 5, 2022)
- KING BOREAS GRAND DAY PARADE – the Winter Carnival royal court parades through downtown St Paul. (Jan 28, 2023, 2-4pm)
- MINNESOTA STATE SNOW SCULPTING COMPETITION & VULCAN SNOW PARK AT THE FAIR– it’s fun and free to check out the massive snow sculptures on display at the State Fairgrounds (sculpting Jan 27-29, displayed while conditions permit). Plus, the Vulcans sponsor a treasure hunt and snow maze for kids.
- WINTER CARNIVAL FAMILY DAY – If you can handle more chill, there’s entertainment both Saturdays of Carnival.
More super chill winter festivals in January
One of our favorite winter festivals in the Minneapolis-St Paul area is the quirky ART SHANTY PROJECTS, held semi-annually, most recently on frozen LAKE HARRIET. Not only are these unique ice houses designed by local artists, they are strongly encouraged to be interactive and fun! Great for families with kids. Weekends only starting January 21-February 12, 2023. 10am-4pm. FREE admission.
Stay tuned for more details on dozens of community winter festivals announced in our 2023 TWIN CITIES WINTER FESTIVAL CALENDAR. Embrrr-ace the season!
The best sledding & snow tubing in the Twin Cities
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 Twin Cities metro area where a wide range of ages can play together:
Twin Cities Central Metro Sledding & Tubing
COLUMBIA GOLF CLUB, Minneapolis: Dares you with one of the tallest hills in NE Minneapolis. There is no charge to sled. Also in the area, THEODORE WIRTH PARK with free sledding available on the tenth fairway of the golf course – the large hill next to the Chalet. Tubing at Theodore Wirth Park is $17 for a 2-hr session, which is about average for the area.
Twin Cities North Metro Sledding & Tubing
ELM CREEK PARK RESERVE, Maple Grove: As of December 22, 2022, the snow tubing hill is open. There are lifts and lighted hills for snow tubing ($17/2 hrs pp plus tax) in addition to a free, ungroomed sledding hill.
Twin Cities East Metro Sledding & Tubing
BADLANDS SNOW 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. $21/pp will get you a pass to snow tube.
Twin Cities South Metro Sledding & Tubing
HYLAND LAKE PARK RESERVE, Bloomington: The groomed, sledding-only hill is near the Richardson Nature Center, a great spot to warm up for an hour or so. There is no charge unless you need to rent a sled
Twin Cities West Metro Sledding & Tubing
STARING LAKE PARK, Eden Prairie: There’s an exciting, 700-foot free sledding hill and a warming house for breaks.
For more winter fun ideas, check our TWIN CITIES SLEDDING HILLS GUIDE.
Art Sled Rally!
Always the last Saturday of January and always at 2 pm and always at Powderhorn Park.
You can come and sign your waivers, slap on your helmet, and head down the hill on your Art Sled. Or you can participate with others in the Art Sled community at the Workshops they are holding at Bedlam Design Center.
You don’t want to miss this event. It’s sure to be a blast! Learn more about it here.
The best free 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 ice skating spot. Be they neighborhood frozen puddles or fancy refrigerated rinks, the Twin Cities teems with places to strap on your skates. Here’s a few ideas for skating with a pretty backdrop; use our ice skating rink-finder to locate more:
- CENTENNIAL LAKES PARK, EDINA: Ice skate for free (rentals available if needed) around the ponds and the pretty canals that connect them. Warm up with hot cocoa at the pavilion’s concession stand. This is our favorite place to ice skate outdoors in the winter.
- MAPLE GROVE CENTRAL PARK: Skate the park’s free, leisurely serpentine ice loop illuminated at night and in close proximity to a roaring indoor fireplace. Skating is free; bring your own skates or rent from the pavilion ($7).
- SKATE THE HILDE, PLYMOUTH: Skate free during the month of January outside of the Hilde Performance Center. (pictured below – lovely!) A limited amount of free skates available to borrow.
Yes, more ice – but a castle!
More ice, you say? If you can bear with us, we have the scoop on further icy events worth checking out in the month of January. The Ice Castles are springing back up in New Brighton this year and will amaze with frozen tunnels, slides and illuminated chambers. Make sure you bundle up in all your layers so that you can safely spend lots of time at the icy palace to get the best value for the ticket price. This event will particularly delight your favorite Frozen fans. Get your tickets online and save, even more if you can make it out on a weeknight. 2023 opening is weather dependent. Look for it in mid-January. Pricing: $11-$16/child & $15-$22/adult. Use our exclusive promo code — FunTwinCities23 — for a 15% discount!
Get our review of Ice Castles here.
Snowshoeing – take a winter hike with the kids
Scenic hikes with the kids don’t have to halt with the snowfall. Try strapping on a pair of snowshoes and exploring a new park by navigating atop the packed powder. Our guide to snowshoeing in the Twin Cities will tell you exactly where to find the best trails and rentals in sizes ranging from kids-to-adult. Here’s our quick list:
- 16 Three Rivers Parks offer trails for snowshoeing and 8 of these locations offer snow shoe rentals ($5/2 hrs).
- 3 Minneapolis Parks properties offer snowshoeing trails and two of the locations offer rentals for $12.
- 16 Parks in the City of Minneapolis have snowshoes available to borrow – check with the recreation centers for more details.
- 3 Minnesota State Parks within the Twin Cities metro area offer snowshoe rentals on a first-come basis ($6/day).
- Several Twin Cities metro-area nature centers provide snowshoe rentals to take to the park trails.
Dr Martin Luther King, Jr long weekend
In 2023, Martin Luther King Day falls on Monday, January 16th. Schools are out and there’s a long weekend to fill. Minneapolis traditionally does this holiday up right with free events at community recreation centers. A couple to keep on the radar:
Powderhorn Recreation Center, 3400 15th Ave. S Minneapolis, MN 55407
Powderhorn neighborhood’s family-friendly, 2-hour artist showcase featuring storytellers, visual artists and performing artists. FREE event. January 16, 2023, 11am-12pm.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center, 4055 Nicollet Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55409
The annual presentation of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Living the Dream award. January 16, 2023, 6:30-8pm, FREE. Learn more on the Minneapolis Parks website.
For more things to do over Martin Luther King, Jr weekend jump over to our Weekend Guide.
Swimming at these Twin Cities indoor waterparks and pools can be a wonderful way to squeeze in a workout during the frigid winter month of January. Not to mention all that activity is guaranteed to wear out your most stir-crazy child! We’ve rounded up a list of the best indoor swim spots around the Twin Cities where you can splash away the cold weather blues.
We all know the realities of raising kids in the Minnesota extremities: there’s got to be a place to go were we can escape the elements and still keep the kids active, allowing them a place to release their excess energy. Enter our Twin Cities Indoor Playgrounds and Play Areas list. This guide includes all the best places in the Twin Cities to find indoor play structures, indoor bounce houses and indoor trampoline centers – all organized by region of the Minneapolis-St Paul metro area.
Top North Metro Pick: Tropical Adventure Indoor Playground
4580 Victoria St N, Shoreview, MN 55126
Out of the frozen tundra and into the jungle: at Tropical Adventures kids an climb and slide through “wild” play apparatus. Only kids up to age 12 are allowed in the indoor playground, making it a good choice for younger kids. Big winter bonus – make a day of visiting the SHOREVIEW COMMUNITY CENTER by hitting TROPICS INDOOR WATERPARK. There are interactive water features to suit every age: slides, sprinklers, water sports and a zero-depth entry pool. One family pass is all you need for all-day play.
Top South Metro Pick: Good Times Park
3265 Northwood Cir #100, Eagan, MN 55121
The unique outdoor feel of the facility with its jungle gyms, basketball court and open turf for family games helps combat cabin fever during the winter. Good Times is a self-use park, meaning guests purchase day passes online (or at the kiosk inside the park entrance) and receive a code to enter the building.
Top East Metro Pick: Sky Zone Trampoline Park
595 Hale Ave N, Oakdale, MN 55128
SkyZone is a blast (and a great workout!) at any age. It boasts wall-to-wall trampolines for the kids with boundless energy, a bouncy basketball court, and a fly-in foam pit. Activities vary at each location.
Top West Metro Pick: Adventure Peak
7700 York Ave S, Edina, MN 55435
Adventure Peak has the luring advantage of being located within the lush indoor landscaping of Edinborough Park. You’ll forget all about shoveling and windchills as you get an awesome workout trying to keep up with your kids in the 37-fooThey’ll be entertained for hours running back and forth between that and anactivity room filled with balls, scooters and a bounce house.
Tons of trains
We tend to think any month is a good month to trainspot in the Twin Cities, but we’ve picked January to highlight a few limited-time opportunities. (For more reasons why Minneapolis-St Paul is a train lover’s destination, jump over here.)
Twin City Model Railroad Museum, 668 Transfer Rd Ste. 8, St Paul
The special holiday Night Trains runs Saturdays through January & February. Model train displays are set up for a special winter theme. Tickets: $15/pp.
Overland Railway Historical Society, 2501 East 38th Street, Minneapolis
Reduced light levels to simulate night operation. Catch this special event the second Saturday in January 2023. 6-9pm. $10/person $25/family.
Jackson Street Roundhouse, 193 Pennsylvania Ave, St. Paul, MN, 55130
All aboard! Held the first and third Wednesday of each month and geared towards preschoolers, kids can enjoy the museum, tinker with the train tables and interactive train exhibits, make a craft and hear a story. $30/family. or $11/adult & $7-$9/child or $30/family. January 4 & 18, 2023, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
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.