In December Family Fun Twin Cities is counting down to the holiday season and the new year with the best hand-picked events for families in the month of December. Babies, toddlers, preschoolers, grade schoolers, tweens and teens – we’ve had them all! We understand how important it is to be able to find activities to do that gets everyone in the family involved. For more ideas for family fun in December check out our:
- 2023 TWIN CITIES CHRISTMAS & HOLIDAY GUIDE
- DECEMBER FAMILY EVENTS GUIDE
- 50 FREE THINGS TO DO IN THE TWIN CITIES IN DECEMBER
- FFTC’S FAMILY FUN EVENTS CALENDAR
- THINGS TO DO THIS WEEKEND IN THE TWIN CITIES WITH KIDS
- THINGS TO DO THIS WEEK IN THE TWIN CITIES WITH KIDS
Things To Do With Toddlers & Preschoolers in the Twin Cities – December
Caregivers with kids between the ages of 1 and 5, these events and activities are designed with your family in mind. You know your child best, so we encourage you to consult our full Family Fun Calendar to browse the all-ages events listed, but we publish here a quick list of toddler activities and pre-school family fun ideas.
Twin Cities Toddler and Preschool Events This Week
Holiday trains in the station
Trains captivate year-round (just check out all the places to interact with them in the Twin Cities) but they’re especially magical around the holiday season. We always include a special segment of holiday activities devoted to trains for this reason. Read on for our favorites:
193 Pennsylvania Ave E, St Paul, MN 55130
Santa’s Train Shop is one of the more unique holiday events in the Twin Cities. What better place for a little (or big) trainiac to hand over their Christmas list? The museum is located in the historic Jackson Street Roundhouse and gives kids a chance to explore real train cars, tinker with hands-on exhibits and take a ride on a train car decorated for Christmas. During the holiday season, the museum transforms into Santa’s Train Shop with live music, activities, train rides, pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Weekends only, December 2-17, 2023. Tickets: $9-$18/pp or $50/family.
668 Transfer Rd Ste. 8, St Paul, MN 55114
Year-round this is a charming museum filled with humming model tracks; around Christmastime the glowing and magical Holiday Night Trains are on display. The special event runs every Saturday through February plus some extra dates around school breaks. Selects evening, visitors young and old can meet with Santa: December 16 & 23 in 2023. Book ahead online, 3-7pm, $15/pp.
ALL AGES! Need an event that appeals to the whole family (yes, this also incorporates trains)? Everyone in our party (including four tweens and teens) was satisfied when we went out to meet the CANADIAN PACIFIC HOLIDAY TRAIN as it chugged through the heart of the Twin Cities. The train, glitzed out with holiday lights, pauses at determined stops on the line for the public to admire and enjoy a live musical performance. Twin Cities-area dates: December 9th -13th in 2023. Please see link for complete schedule.
Santa’s comin’ to town!
From potentially terrified tots to the teen non-believers, a meet-and-greet with Santa can be tricky to assign to an age category. But you know your kiddo best. If a visit with Santa tops your list of Christmas traditions, we have a HUGE list of spots to spot the guy in HERE COMES SANTA IN THE TWIN CITIES. That jolly old guy sure can get around! His public appearance schedule is packed in December – visits at community holiday festivals, breakfasts, tree lightings and at area malls and shopping districts.
Things To Do With School-Aged Kids in the Twin Cities – December
Twin Cities Kids Events This Week
Light up a holiday tree
Lighting and decorating an evergreen tree has been a custom for many cultures spanning hundreds of years. The Twin Cities contains many communities that continue to keep this tradition illuminated. We have strived to list as many events as we could find on our TWIN CITIES HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTINGS page. This could be a great holiday activity for kids that are able to stay up just a little later at night.
Get out and enjoy a holiday festival in December
All the ingredients for a perfect family holiday outing are present in our break-down of the best in the Twin Cities. We tell you where Santa’s going to make an appearance, where you can catch a holiday tree lighting, tackle your holiday shopping list, find the fireworks, bonfires, sleighrides and sparkling light displays. We break down the holiday festivals by region of the Twin Cities Metro area so it’s convenient to find one close by. Our top picks by region include:
TWIN CITIES NORTHWEST METRO
The tree will be lit, the carols will be sung, and Santa will be taking visitors. Plus horse-drawn trolley rides and bonfires to keep warm. December 2, 2023, 3-7pm.
More Twin Cities Northwest Metro holiday tree lightings include communities of: Albertville, Buffalo, Champlin, Coon Rapids, Crystal, Dayton, Delano, Elk River, Hanover, Oak Grove, Osseo, Otsego, Plymouth, Ramsey, Robbinsdale, Rogers & St Michael.
TWIN CITIES NORTHEAST METRO
Downtown Stillwater, 100 Main Street, Stillwater, MN 55082
Main Street lights up with enchanting Christmas decorations and traditional events for a month-long celebration. Through December 25, 2023.
More Twin Cities Northeast Metro holiday festivals include communities of: Blaine, Forest Lake, Ham Lake, Hudson WI, Lake Elmo, North St Paul, Oakdale, Scandia, Shoreview, Taylors Falls & White Bear Lake.
TWIN CITIES SOUTHEAST METRO
4669 Manor Drive, Eagan, Minnesota 55123
Come visit Santa’s reindeer at this 1940s-era event. Also enjoy hayrides, a bonfire, carols, and treats. December 3, 2023, 12-3pm. FREE.
More Twin Cities Southeast Metro holiday festivals include communities of: Afton, Apple Valley, Burnsville, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville, Prior Lake, Rosemount, Savage & South St Paul.
TWIN CITIES SOUTHWEST METRO
Lakefront Park, 5000 Kop Parkway SE, Prior Lake MN
Santa will snap photos with visitors in addition to the other fun winter festivities scheduled like ice-carving demonstrations and a giant bonfire with warm beverages and pizza (for sale). The evening caps off with a fireworks show. December 1, 2023, 6-8:30pm.
More Twin Cities Southwest Metro holiday festivals include communities of: Belle Plaine, Bloomington, Chanhassen, Chaska, Edina, Excelsior, Minnetonka, Prior Lake, Savage, Shakopee, St Louis Park, Waconia, Wayzata & Watertown.
Wintery fun: sledding hills & skating rinks open for the season
Mid to late December is when the ice skating rinks are flooded and open for your own personal Ice Capades. Or for your little future Gretzkys, whatever the case may be. Colder temps and snowfall also bring optimal conditions for sledding and snow tubing. We’ve compiled a local outdoor ICE SKATING RINK FINDER, a best SLEDDING HILLS GUIDE and an exciting round up of the best SNOW TUBING HILLS so you can scout new places to enjoy these classic winter pastimes with your bigger kids.
Ring in the New Year in the Twin Cities
Ring in 2023 with one of these family-friendly Twin Cities New Years Eve events. Can your bigger kids make it to midnight? If not, the events we’re promoting generally call it a night early or even take place during the afternoon (family parties at the Minnesota Children’s Museum and at indoor playgrounds, pool parties and sledding events.)
Things To Do With Teens & Tweens in the Twin Cities – December
Twin Cities Teen & Tween Events This Week
Cut your own fresh holiday tree
Think it would be fun to start a holiday tradition of cutting your own Christmas tree? That’s exactly what our FFTC team member Joy and her family did this year, bringing along her tweens and teens to help select and anchor their tree to the van. Get their tips for making memories on our list of the best places in the Twin Cities area to cut your own real tree at a Christmas tree farm. Or see Joy’s quick hitlist here:
- East suburbs of the Twin Cities: Krueger’s Christmas Trees – 10970 43rd Street North, Lake Elmo, MN 55042
- North of the Twin Cities: Hansen Tree Farm – 7440 Alpine Dr., Ramsey, MN 55303
- Wisconsin: St Croix Valley Trees – 458 Rice Lake Rd, Somerset, WI 54025
- South of the Twin Cities: Hampton Hills Tree Farm – 998 310th St Way, Cannon Falls, MN 55009
BRINGING YOUNGER KIDS? There’s loads of fun to be had at several of the farms that made Joy’s list of the best – including hayrides, Santa visits, petting farms and play areas. Make it a full day of family fun.
A Twin Cities holiday onstage
A Christmas Carol is the classic tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge’s change of heart during the holiday season. When my 12-year-old son, who is reading the Dickens version in school, asked if we’d take him to the show this year, I knew I needed to add this to our list of Twin Cities Christmas on the Stage. This story is something special if he’s making that kind of request. The Guthrie recommends the show for kids ages 8 & up; this could be a great date with your tween.
THEATER WITH YOUNGER KIDS? The Guthrie offers a printable 24-page guide full of information, activities and discussion questions to bring the show to life.
Have yourself a historical little Christmas
Celebrate the season by discovering traditions that Minnesotans were enjoying around the turn of the twentieth century. All ages can find something to enjoy at these events, but the historical context may best be appreciated by your older kids.
4008 220th St W, Farmington, MN 55024
Dickens’ A Christmas Carol comes to life in the quaint and charming historic village. Guests will enjoy the illuminated buildings, sleigh rides, treats in the drugstore and can drop a letter to Santa at the post office – include a self-addressed envelope so he can reply. December weekends. December 2-3, 9-10, 2023. Cost $5/pp.
240 Summit Ave, St Paul, MN 55102
It’s Christmas in 1910 during this tour at the most famous mansion on Summit Avenue in Saint Paul. Tickets include a 60-minute guided tour and holiday-themed exhibits. Thursdays-Sundays, December 1-30, 2023. Admission: $16-$20/pp. Under 4 free. Pre-purchase tickets here.
Magical events for all ages in December
Enjoy the best holiday lights displays
For our master list of holiday light shows and displays in the Twin Cities, click HERE. We have been working hard (to say the very least) to ensure that all the entries are verified and as up-to-date as possible – we don’t want anyone left in the dark!