10 Best Things To Do: January in the Twin Cities

What are the top 10 ways to kick off 2022 in the Twin Cities? For more family fun ideas, check our FAMILY FUN CALENDAR and our other January Guides:


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:

snowy st paul


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 15, 10am-4pm. FREE admission.

Stay tuned for more details on dozens of community winter festivals announced in our 2022 TWIN CITIES WINTER FESTIVAL CALENDAR. Embrrr-ace the season!

Art Shanty Project on Lake Harriet in Minneapolis, Minnesota


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:

January in the Twin Cities

Twin Cities Central Metro Sledding & Tubing

COLUMBIA GOLF CLUB, Minneapolis: Offers 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 30, 2021, 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 in. 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 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.

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.


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 castles & mazes!

Ice Castles

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. Opens January 8, 2022. Pricing: $11-!16/child & $15-$22/adult.

Get our review of Ice Castles here.

 

Explore Magical Ice Castles - Family Fun Twin Cities

Stillwater Ice Palace Maze

601 Main Street North, Stillwater MN
More than a half-mile of paths wind through glittering walls of ice culminating in a big ice slide! Hot cocoa and other beverages onsite for purchase will warm you up after you conquer the maze. While in town, make sure to check out the free synchronized Wintertime in Stillwater Lights Display on Main Street. Opens January 14, 2022. Gate pricing: $14/child, $22/adults (save $2 per ticket advance online).

Downtown Stillwater Minnesota lit up for the Holidays 2020


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:

girl with snowshoes
Sure the temperatures could go subzero at any time and sure we can barely move in all our layers, but we’re Minnesotans. We love all kinds of weather!

Dr Martin Luther King, Jr long weekend

In 2022, Martin Luther King Day falls on Monday,  January 17th. 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:

REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY CELEBRATION

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. Register to attend in person or Zoom & Facebook live event. FREE event. 10am-12pm. Registration required

Celebrating Martin Luther King Day at Powderhorn Park

REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. CELEBRATION

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. The celebration will be emceed by Chad Jackson of the Minnesota Twins and the keynote speaker will be Adair Mosley, President and CEO of Pillsbury United Communities. This year’s entertainment will be a musical performances by “VocalEssence Singers Of This Age.” 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.

 

Family Fun Twin Cities Martin Luther King Day Guide: Family Events & Activities


Splash around indoors in January

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.

Twin Cities Indoor Waterparks and Pools


When the park is buried in snow…hit up an indoor playground

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.

Edinborough Park - Adventure Peak Indoor Playground

Find more active outings to keep your tweens and teens busy and moving!

 


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.)

Thomas the Tank Engine at Minnesota Children’s Museum

Thomas & Friends Explore the Rails opens January 15, 2022. It’s a well-loved exhibit that entertains while introducing STEM concepts to kids. Plus, have you heard the news? Minnesota Children’s Museum is getting a brand new permanent exhibit this winter called Sunken Ship Adventure!  Tickets: $15/pp.

NIGHT TRAINS

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.

TRAINS AFTER DARK

Overland Railway Historical Society, 2501 East 38th Street, Minneapolis
Reduced light levels to simulate night operation. Catch this special event second Saturdays in January. 6-9pm. $7/person $20/family.

TOTS & TRAINS

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. 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

Girl by train car at the Minnesota Transportation Museum in Saint Paul, MN
Minnesota Transportation Museum – Jackson Street Roundhouse

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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