Twin Cities Guide To Family Activities This Week: December 18-22, 2023

Things to do this week in Minneapolis & St Paul with your kids!

This guide covers Twin Cities family activities for the week of December 18-22, 2023. If you are in search of things to do with your family this weekend, jump over to our WEEKEND FAMILY GUIDE.

Weekend Family Guide - Family Fun Twin Cities Banner.

For more early winter and seasonal inspiration you can check our ULTIMATE 2023 TWIN CITIES HOLIDAY GUIDE, DECEMBER FAMILY GUIDE or our FAMILY FUN CALENDAR for more fun ideas on what to do this week in the Twin Cities with your kids – satisfaction guaranteed (or close to it!) 

Fun things to do in the Twin Cities on Monday, December 18, 2023

Tot Time Open Gyms in the Twin Cities Minnesota this week

Tot Time Open Gyms on Monday:

Let them bounce off someone else’s walls! Our list covers open gyms for tots across the Twin Cities where they can work their wiggles off during colder weather either FREE or at a low cost to you. SEE OUR FULL LIST OF TWIN CITIES TOT TIME OPEN GYMS THIS WINTER!

MONDAY FEATURED TOT TIME: Tot Time & Craft Day at Andover Community Center

Andover Community Center, 15200 Hanson Blvd NW, Andover, MN 55304
We picked this special Tot Time this week because, in addition to free play, an age-appropriate craft is offered to kids. December 18, 2023. 9:30-11:30am, $5/child ages 5 & under.

Twin Cities storytimes on Monday:

MONDAY FEATURED STORYTIME: Engineer Paul at Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store

1665 West End Blvd, St Louis Park, MN 55416
The beloved train shop is BACK in a new location, complete with Engineer Paul’s train-tastic storytime. Our littles grew up with Choo Choo Bob’s original shop in St Paul so this is happy news. (Photo from the old store until we can get to the new one!) December 18, 2023, 10:30am. FREE, note that the train tables are pay-to-play.

Girl playing at train table in Choo Choo Bob's Train Store

Winter break for your kids!

For some of you out there, kids may have already started their holiday/winter break. Mine will begin theirs this week. In honor of this traditional extra time “off” we’ve drummed up 16+ ideas for family fun — some around town, a few at home, and all free or budget-friendly — to help you make the most of your winter break. 

Fun things to do in the Twin Cities on Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Tot Time Open Gyms in the Twin Cities Minnesota this week

Tot Time Open Gyms on Tuesday:

Tot Time open gyms across the Twin Cities are absolutely a saving grace for parents of squirrelly kids when it’s too cold or sloppy to be outdoors:

TUESDAY FEATURED TOT TIME: The Rookery Activity Center in Lino Lakes

Rookery Activity Center, 7690 Village Drive, Lino Lakes, MN 55014
A special Tot Time held in the gym for ages 1-10. Make sure your little ones wear socks for the bounce house! December 19, 2023, 9am-12pm,  $4/child.

Twin Cities storytimes on Tuesday:

TUESDAY FEATURED STORYTIME: Family Storytime at Woodridge Park

9000 90th St S, Cottage Grove, MN 55016
Singing, literacy and playing are all part of this indoor storytime at the park followed by a related activity for kids up to age 5. December 19, 2023, 10:30-11am. FREE.

Twin Cities holiday events

Santa’s Workshop at Battle Creek

Battle Creek Rec Center, 75 Winthrop St S Saint Paul, MN 55119
Kids can shop for family and friends and get gifts wrapped, while parents wait in the waiting area. No item over $1. December 19, 2023; 5:30-7:30pm. 

Winter Warm-up Inline Skating at US Bank Stadium

401 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55415
All ages can skate on the stadium’s main and upper concourses from 5-8pm – however, you’ll need to bring your own skates as rentals are not available. Purchase tickets online. December 19, 2023, $15/pp.

Fun things to do in the Twin Cities on Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Tot Time Open Gyms in the Twin Cities Minnesota this week

Tot Time Open Gyms on Wednesday:


14645 Felton Court, Suite #104, Apple Valley, MN 55124
Work out the wiggles with indoor playsets, trampolines and basketball courts. Cost is  $8/child; parents and babies under 18 months free. December 20, 2023. Open play 9am-12pm, $8/pp.

Millz House Indoor Playground in Minnesota

Twin Cities storytimes on Wednesday:

WEDNESDAY FEATURED STORYTIME: Red Balloon Bookshop Storytimes

891 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105
We love to feature independent bookshops and encourage you to explore and support them. Red Balloon offers baby & toddler storytime each Wednesday. Get there early for the best seating! December 20, 2023, 10:30am.

Summer Reading Programs at Local Bookstores

Where can I see the trains on Wednesday?

Mid-week is excellent to spot trains in the Twin Cities if that’s what your little ones (or big ones) are into. Here’s are a couple of places to consider; plan ahead and find more on our article MINNEAPOLIS-ST PAUL, A TRAIN LOVERS DESTINATION:

  • TOTS & TRAINS AT JACKSON STREET ROUNDHOUSE – Play at the train tables, run through a read train car, hear a train-themed story and more. Located in St Paul. December 20, 2023. $10-$13/pp or $35/family.
  • GAMES GALORE AT UNION DEPOT – Play life-sized versions of favorite games like chess & Connect Four in the historic depot, then watch some of the modern trains roll in outside. December 20, 2023, 10am-8pm. FREE.
Girl by train car at the Minnesota Transportation Museum in Saint Paul, MN

Fun things to do in the Twin Cities on Thursday, December 21, 2023

Tot Time Open Gyms in the Twin Cities Minnesota this week

Tot Time Open Gym on Thursdays:

THURSDAY FEATURED OPEN GYM: TCO Sports Garden Toddler Thursdays

1490 County Road E East, Vadnais Heights, MN 55110
Little ones with energy to spare: Come to Field 1 for indoor activities such as a bouncy house, kicking around soccer balls and open field time with room to run.  The fieldhouse is kept at 55 degrees so dress with this in mind. December 21, 2023, 9:30-11:30am. FREE.

Twin Cities storytimes on Thursday:

Thursday nature play

Lil Explorer Thursday at Como Zoo

Lil Explorer Thursdays program includes themed storytimes. This is a fantastic free event aimed at preschoolers and includes all kinds of hands-on activities, manipulatives, games and crafts. Meet in the Visitor Center. December 21, 2023, 10am-noon. FREE.

Twin Cities holiday events: Last chance with Santa!

Holiday Express at Phalen Rec Center

1000 E Wheelock Pkwy, St Paul, MN 55106
Take a photo with Santa, enjoy cookies and cocoa and do a craft project. Bring your own ice skates to skate under the lights. December 21, 2023, 6-9pm. FREE.

Santa’s Wonderland at Cabela’s

8400 Hudson Rd, Woodbury, MN 55125
Make your reservation to meet with Santa and get a free photo! Plus, browse Santa’s Toy Shop and take in the other fun attractions at Cabela’s. Last day to visit Santa is December 24.

Last chance to visit with Santa! Where can you find him in the Twin Cities?

Thursday Night Lights

Winter Lights Family Night at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

3675 Arboretum Dr, Chaska, MN 55318
One of our picks for the best holiday lights displays in the Twin Cities! Lighted greenery and displays throughout the pathways of the arb’s gardens and – special to Family Night – extras including crafts, cookies and hot cocoa. December 21, 2023. SORRY – this event is now SOLD OUT. Remember, Winter Lights at the Arboretum continues through December 31, 2023.

More family fun ideas for Thursday: Winter Solstice events

It’s the shortest day of the year so let’s make it count, all right? Here are our top pick events in the Twin Cities to learn about the winter solstice while having some fun, too:

All Ages! Winter Solstice Celebration

North Mississippi Regional Park, 4900 Mississippi Court, Minneapolis
Make your way along a glowing trail plus take-home luminary crafts, games, and a bonfire. December 21, 2023, 5-9pm. FREE.

Preschoolers! Heartfelt Preschool Solstice Festival

4306 Upton Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55410
The seasonal festivaloffers a simple craft or two for the kids and their adult plus
a wholesome snack. To get an idea of Heartfelt’s winter & holiday craft lineup, browse hereDecember 20 & 21, 2023. $24/first child, $12/additional. Please register in advance.

Heartfelt Parties

Tweens & Teens! Winter Solstice Celebration

Cleary Lake Regional Park, 18106 Texas Ave, Prior Lake, MN 55372
Celebrate the shortest day and the longest night of the ear with outdoor activities, including lantern-making, reflection stations and roasting marshmallows around a fire. December 21, 2023, 4-7pm. FREE.

Find our complete listing of Twin Cities Winter Solstice events.

Winter Solstice

Fun things to do in the Twin Cities on Friday, December 22, 2023

Tot Time Open Gyms in the Twin Cities Minnesota this week

Tot Time Open Gyms on Friday:

FRIDAY FEATURED OPEN GYM: Gleason’s Gymnastics Open Gyms

2015 Silver Bell Rd #180, Eagan, MN 55122
So flipping fun! This used to be a family go-to when the cold set in and my kids needed to get their wiggles out. Yours will love the opportunity to bounce on trampolines, scoot through obstacle courses, and play on the gym equipment. Register in advance for a discount. And hey, teens and tweens! There’s an open gym for you, too. December 22, 2023. Preschool open gym: Wednesdays & Fridays: 9:30 – 11:30am. Pre-register: $10/child; $15/family ($13/$20 at the door).Collage of Preschool Open Gym at Gleason's Gymnastics School in Minnesota

Twin  Cities storytimes on Friday:

Take in a Twin Cities holiday lights display

One of our family’s longstanding holiday traditions is to brighten our spirits with Christmas lights. Here are some of our merriest suggestions:

Sever’s Holiday Lights

3121 150th St W, Shakopee, MN 55379
2.5 million dancing holiday lights along a half-mile driving route you can enjoy from the comfort of your vehicle (in PJs if you’d like). All weekend, 5pm-10pm. $25-$55/car.

GLOW Holiday Festival

CHS Field, 360 N Broadway St, St Paul, MN 55101
This year, there is more than a drive-through: Over a million lights, selfie plaza, three-story ice palace, and a bike-powered tree. Tickets: $12.75-$20.75/pp.  Now-December 31, 2023.


We have an enormous list of homes around the Twin Cities that deck their halls up for the holiday: Jump over to Light It Up: Twin Cities & Greater Minnesota Christmas & Holiday Light Displays for our map and get your family fill of giant candy canes, inflated snowmen, reindeer, Christmas tree displays and Santa Claus figures!

Twin Cities Holiday Lights - Map Your Route Banner

Ideas for a cozy Christmas at Home

Whether prepping for a bundle of guests or just settling down with the immediate family, we have suggestions for spending the next few days together cozily at home. Decorations, treats, movies, all kept simple but festive.

Family Fun Twin Cities Christmas at Home Banner


TYPICALLY, there are too many fun things to list here, I’ll tell you that. We publish a separate guide each weekend with up-to-the-last-minute ideas for spending family time together – HOWEVER, this weekend being over Christmas Eve, we encourage you to stay in and spend quality time with your loved ones! (We’ll still publish a few ideas if you need to get out of the house.)


Weekend Family Guide - Family Fun Twin Cities Banner.

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