Twin Cities Guide to Family Activities This Week: December 4-8, 2023


This guide covers Twin Cities family activities for the week of December 4-8, 2023. If you are in search of things to do with your family this weekend, jump over to our WEEKEND FAMILY GUIDE.

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For more early winter 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!) 

Family Fun Twin Cities Guide to December in the Twin Cities Banner Christmas

Fun things to do in the Twin Cities on Monday, December 4, 2023 

Tot Time Open Gyms in the Twin Cities Minnesota this week

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.


Tot Time Open Gyms on Monday:


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. Open play 9am-4pm.

Millz House Indoor Playground in Minnesota
Millz House, Apple Valley

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 4, 2023, 8:30am. FREE, note that the train tables are pay-to-play.

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

Where can I find Santa today in the Twin Cities?

Shoreview Santa Cruise

Shoreview Community Center, 4580 Victoria St. N., Shoreview, Minnesota 55126
Santa will be cruising the neighborhoods of Shoreview on a decked-out fire truck collecting food shelf donations. December 4, 2023, 5pm-8pm.  


That jolly old guy sure can get around! Santa starts accepting visitors and offering photo opportunities as early as the beginning of November at department stores and malls. You can find many early Holiday events featuring Santa appearances over on our Santa Claus is Coming to Town page, including visits at community holiday festivals and at area malls and shopping districts.

More family fun ideas for Monday: Try a new indoor playground

For Minnesota parents it’s a must to know where to escape the elements and still keep those kids active and having fun. During the months of November through March we feature the best indoor playgrounds in the Minneapolis-St Paul area in the hopes of helping you discover something new: This week we highlight LOOKOUT RIDGE INDOOR PLAYGROUND in Woodbury. It sports a nature theme cliffs with caves to explore, a giant tree to scale and wildlife murals on the wall. Plus, it’s located in lovely indoor park lush with landscaping and a branch of the Washington County Library. $5.50 plus tax per child. Woodbury Central Park, 8595 Central Park Place, Woodbury, MN 55125.

Find our complete listing of Twin Cities Indoor Playgrounds for more energy-burning ideas!

Kids Playing at Lookout Ridge Indoor Park in Woodbury Minnesota

Nature play on Monday

Roughly two dozen nature and interpretive centers in the Twin Cities metro are just begging to get your kids excited about the natural world. Through hands-on exhibits, naturalist-led activities and plain old play, these venues make learning fun! This week we would like to introduce you to WESTWOOD HILLS NATURE CENTER in St Louis Park. Indoors, the center is packed with hands-on exhibits to pique kids’ interest. To explore with kids outdoors, pick up a scavenger hunt sheet in the front entry of the interpretive center and see how much you can check off.

SPECIAL EVENT: PUPPET STORYTIME – Winter Birds – A humorous, while also educational puppet show plus open play & exploration. December 4, 2023, 10-11am. $5-$6/pp, pre-register.

Find more Twin Cities Nature & Interpretive Centers to Explore!
Learn with the puppets at Westwood Nature Center

Fun things to do in the Twin Cities on Tuesday, December 5, 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: Savage Sports Center Tot Time

13450 Dakota Ave S, Savage, MN 55378
An option for those in the southwest metro, Tot Time features activities for the 5 7 under set- inflatables, balls, other sporting equipment and space to run around when it’s chilly. December 6, 9-11:30am, $3/child.

Twin Cities Storytimes on Tuesday:

TUESDAY FEATURED STORYTIME: Family Storytime at Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park

9653 Keats Ave S, Cottage Grove, MN 55016
A special outdoor storytime at the park that coincides with
Free First Tuesday in Washington County Parks. Indoor craft or activity to follow. December 5, 2023, 10:30am. FREE.

Jr Naturalists: Drop In Discovery at Minneapolis Parks

Nature games and activities presented by community parks in Minneapolis. Drop in for free fun in the parks. Here’s the Tuesday schedule:

Twin Cities holiday tree lightings & community festivals

EAGAN: Community Holiday Tree Lighting

Eagan Community Center, 501 Central Pkwy, Eagan MN
Complete with music & hot cocoa and followed by
STORIES WITH SANTA & MRS. CLAUS. Make an evening of it with free admission to the Blast Indoor Playground and gym time for the youngest kids. You can also take in the lit outdoor pathways. December 5, 2023. 4:30-7pm. 

RAMSEY: City Holiday Tree Lighting

7550 Sunwood Dr NW, Ramsey, MN 55303
Free cocoa, cookies and pictures with Santa at the holiday tree lighting event. Rumriver Art Center will offer a create-your-own holiday ornament class ($10 fee, pre-registration required.) December 5, 2023, 6-8pm.

ROBBINSDALE: Annual Holiday Tree Lighting & Sing-Along

The event will take place at City Hall and includes a sing along, Santa visit and refreshments. December 5, 2023, 6-6:30pm.

Twin Cities Holiday Festivals & Christmas Tree Lightings

More family fun ideas for Tuesday: Try some outdoor & indoor sports!

Most community outdoor ice rinks aren’t quite flooded and ready for skating yet, but we’ve got some refrigerated options for you open this week if you’ve got the urge to lace up:

  • CENTRAL PARK ICE SKATING LOOP, Maple Grove: Skate the serpentine loop free, skate rental available for $7.50. There are outdoor firepits or a cozy pavilion to warm up in. 12000 Central Park Way, Maple Grove, MN 55369.

Skaters warming by the firepit at the Central Park Ice Loop in Maple Grove, Minnesota


Base Camp Open Climb & Archery

6202 Bloomington Rd, St Paul, MN 55111
Base Camp is a place to try out exciting physical activities like open rock climbing and archery. Ages 5+ are invited to try scaling the indoor engineered rock walls on the first Tuesday of the month. Please pre-register. December 5, 2023. $10/climber. 

Rock Climbers receiving instruction at Base Camp in Bloomington Minnesota

Fun things to do in the Twin Cities on Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Tot Time Open Gyms in the Twin Cities Minnesota this week

Tot Time Open Gyms on Wednesday:

WEDNESDAY 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 6, 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 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 6, 2023, 10:30am.

Summer Reading Programs at Local Bookstores

More family fun ideas for Wednesday: Indoor activities

Children’s Pool Hour at Great River Water Park 

270 Lexington Pkwy N, St Paul, MN 55104
Monday, Wednesday and Friday hours are “children’s pool only” from 9am-10am at this perfect little indoor splash spot. And admission isn’t bad either – $7/pp or $25 for a group of 5. December 6, 2023.

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 6, 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 6, 2023, 10am-8pm. FREE.
Girl by train car at the Minnesota Transportation Museum in Saint Paul, MN

Twin Cities holiday tree lightings & community festivals

Nordic Plaza Tree Lighting

The Nordic, 729 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Elves, live music and a tree lighting against a Downtown Minneapolis setting. December 6, 2023; 5:30-7:30pm.

Fun things to do in the Twin Cities on Thursday, December 7, 2023 

Tot Time Open Gyms in the Twin Cities Minnesota this week

Tot Time Open Gym on Thursday:

THURSDAY FEATURED OPEN GYM: TCO Sports Garden Toddler Thursdays

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 7, 2023, 9:30-11:30am. FREE!

TCO Sports Garden sign on the front of the new sports complex.
Image courtesy of Ramsey County Parks & Recreation

Twin Cities storytimes on Thursday:

THURSDAY FEATURED STORYTIME: Storytime at Kiddywampus Chanhassen

860 W 78th St, Chanhassen, MN 55317
Interactive stories, songs & rhymes for kids ages 2-5 at one of the coolest independent toy shops in the Twin Cities. No registration required. December 7, 2023, 10:30am. FREE.

KIDDYWAMPUS HOPKINS: This location hosts its storytime (“Jump in a Book with Jen”) on Wednesdays at 10:30am.

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 7, 2023, 10am-noon. FREE.

First Thursday Nature Play at Wargo Nature Center

7701 Main St, Lino Lakes, MN 55038
Kids ages 2-5 can explore a nature topic each month both indoors and out. Dress for the weather. These spots fill quickly – act fast or plan ahead for next month. Choose between 9am and 11am sessions. December 7, 2023, $5/pp.

Mendota Heights Tour de Rec: Ninja Night

Mendota Elementary, 1979 Summit Ln,  Mendota Heights, MN 55118
Recreation staff will set up activities and equipment for youth to enjoy: games, sports, arts, crafts, and more. Program is for ages 6-13. December 7, 2023, drop in between 6-7pm, FREE.

Twin Cities holiday events: Where Can I find Santa Claus today?

Holiday Party & Santa Paws at Palace Community Center

Palace Community Center, 781 Palace Ave, St Paul, MN 55102
Join Palace staff for photos with Santa and their pets. Bring your own camera. Families can bring cats and smaller quiet animals (in carriers) for photos beginning at 4:45pm. Families with dogs (on leashes) should wait until 5:15pm. Stick around for a skating party beginning at 5:30pm. Bring your own ice skates. December 7, 2023, 4:45-7:30pm. FREE.

Children’s Storytime at the Fillebrown with Santa

Fillebrown House, 4735 Lake Avenue, White Bear Lake, MN, 55110
Santa Claus will be hosting an old-fashioned Christmas story time at the Fillebrown cottage. Families can snap a photo with Santa and enjoy cider and cookies while he reads a holiday story. Pajamas are welcome at this evening event. December 7, 2023, 6:30-8pm. $10/pp. Pre-registration required.

Winter Lights at the Arboretum – Family Fun Night

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum Dr, Chaska, MN 55318
Winter will be in bloom with lighted greenery and displays throughout the pathways of the arb’s gardens. Family Night has a smaller capacity so participating families can enjoy an special extras, including crafts, cookies, cocoa and characters from The Northern Express. Online ticket reservation required. December 7, 2023, $30/adults 16+; Children 15 and under $5.

Weeping Willow Sensory Garden at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Winter Lights Show in Chaska, Minnesota
Weeping Willow Sensory Garden. Image courtesy of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Fun things to do in the Twin Cities on Friday, December 8, 2023 

Tot Time Open Gyms in the Twin Cities Minnesota this week

Tot Time Open Gyms on Friday:

FRIDAY FEATURED OPEN GYM: Plymouth Fieldhouse Open Play

When the temps dip, field house opens up for kids who need to run and scoot around indoors. Balls and objects for free play are provided – and inflatables for kids up to age 12 make a special appearance on Wednesdays. The fieldhouse is heated to 55 degrees so dress accordingly. December 8, 2023, 10:30am to 1:30pm, ages 12 & under, $5-$7/pp. 14800 34th Ave., Plymouth, MN 55447-1482.

Twin  Cities storytimes on Friday:

Shine on: Twin Cities holiday lights displays & events

GLOW Holiday Festival

CHS Field, 360 N Broadway St, St Paul, MN 55101
CHS Field is converted to a walking tour of holiday decorations and Christmas delights. There will still be a parade of dozens seasonal scenes featuring a plethora of holiday lights, a 60-foot illuminated tree and an art-created mosaic flame, a festive Santa Land, and other attractions. Grab a map and follow the trai to find a “sElfie Plaza”, an enchanted forest, a s’mores station, concessions and more. Tickets: $12.75-$20.75/pp. Now-December 31, 2023.

GLOW Holiday Festival - The Great Minnesota Holiday Get-Together Artwork Horizontal

Wintertime in Stillwater Lights Display

Downtown Stillwater, Stillwater MN 55082
Lights on Chestnut Street, a soaring LED Christmas tree and a twinkling Main Street. Friday night you can also spot Victorian carolers out making things extra merry. December 8, 2023, 6:30-8:30pm.

Sever’s Holiday Lights

Sever’s Festival Grounds, 3121 W 150th St, Shakopee, MN 55379
Holiday light shows, Winter Carnivals, and more. Now thru January 2024, Sun & weekdays 5pm-9pm; weekends 5pm-10pm. $25-$55/vehicle.

Valley Lights at Rockpoint Church 

5825 Kelvin Ave N, Lake Elmo MN 55042
Over 100,000 LED lights to enjoy. Tune your car radio in to 97.9 to experience in your vehicle. Now thru December 31, 2023, 5-10pm. FREE.

Map your own Holiday lights route!

Load the kids in the car, pack some snacks and popcorn and enjoy dancing lights, giant candy canes and glowing snowmen on your own schedule anytime before Santa’s sleigh arrives (or at least by New Year’s day). Get the whole sparkling schedule in our enormous list LIGHT IT UP: TWIN CITIES HOLIDAY LIGHTS DISPLAYS 2023.

Twin Cities Holiday Lights - Map Your Route Banner

Holiday flicks to watch tonight

Christmas at the Riverview Theater 

SCREENING TODAY: Classic holiday films It’s a Wonderful Life (1:30 & 8:30pm), White Christmas (4pm) and Elf (6:30pm). $5/pp or $3 with non-perishable food donation. Don’t miss the excellent and reasonably-priced popcorn! December 8, 2023.


Too many fun things to list here, I’ll tell you that. So we publish a separate guide each weekend with up-to-the-last-minute ideas for spending family time together.


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