Each month, Family Fun Twin Cities hand-picks the best things to do with kids and family in the Minneapolis-St Paul area and attempts to order them by age to make it easier for you to find ones that fit your needs. In November, we’re excited about getting things dressed up for the holidays and discovering ways to stay cozy indoors as temps fall. 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 things to do with your kids & family this month:
In November, skip to activities:
Things To Do With Your Baby in the Twin Cities – November
Holiday for baby
6010 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55419
If photos of your baby with St Nick is on the list of Christmas traditions, let us suggest this venue: Bachman’s on Lyndale has free photos with Santa scheduled one night this month you can book in advance. Do it now, before the full-on hubbub of the holidays begins. November 27, 2023, 6-7pm.
MORE FUN WITH SANTA AT BACHMAN’S: A longtime tradition, Bachman’s produces an annual play starring Santa & his elf, Albert. The public is invited to attend the play, Albert’s Big Surprise, weekends starting November 18, 2023. The event kicks off with Santa’s arrival at Bachman’s Holiday Open House, followed by music, treats, crafts, reindeer and photos with Santa. We’ve done this as a family and it’s charming. And just in – the GRINCH will visit on November 11! Play performed weekends thru December 17. FREE!
Babies at the Castle is a program for parents to explore American Swedish Institute with their babies in tow. Go on a 30-minute baby carrier tour of ASI’s Turnblad Mansion and its current exhibitions, followed by a short sensory play time, designed for babies up to 15 months. This month’s tour travels through ASI’s annual holiday exhibition. November 24, 2023, 9:15am. $15/adult.
Baby library meetups & storytimes
I started bringing my firstborn to lapsit storytime at the library when he was about six months old. We would page through picture books, “meet” other little ones we would go on to befriend, and cuddle up on chilly winter days. I highly recommend finding a library baby lapsit storytime near you as it added just a wee bit of structure to those often long days indoors. (BTW, that firstborn is now an 18-year-old college freshman and he still has a love of reading.) Here are the quicklinks to Twin Cities baby storytimes:
- ANOKA COUNTY BABY STORYTIMES: In November, storytimes for babies are scheduled in Anoka, Blaine & Coon Rapids. Please see schedule for days and times.
- CARVER COUNTY BABY STORYTIMES: All of November excluding Thanksgiving storytimes for babies are Wednesdays (Victoria) and Thursdays (Chanhassen & Waconia).
- DAKOTA COUNTY BABY STORYTIMES: Lapsits are held every weekday excluding Thurs/Fri of Thanksgiving week. You’ll find them in Apple Valley, Burnsville, Farmington, Hastings, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville, Rosemount, South St Paul & West St Paul.
- HENNEPIN COUNTY LIBRARY BABY STORYTIMES: Some baby lapsits require pre-registration and the schedule is not consistent each week; make sure to check the library’s calendar. Branches include Champlin, Eden Prairie, Edina, Excelsior, Maple Grove, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Rogers, St Anthony & St Louis Park.
- RAMSEY COUNTY LIBRARY BABY STORYTIMES: This system includes baby-specific storytimes at branches in Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview & White Bear Lake and Baby Meetups at Maplewood & New Brighton.
- ST PAUL PUBLIC LIBRARY BABY STORYTIMES: The system includes Baby/Toddler Playdates at Merriam Park branch on Tuesdays and Baby/Toddler Storytime at George Latimer on Thursdays in November.
- WASHINGTON COUNTY LIBRARY BABY STORYTIMES: A dedicated baby storytime is hosted every Monday at the Woodbury branch and Thursdays in Cottage Grove and Bayport. There is also a Baby Playdate most Fridays at Forest Lake Hardwood Creek.
Things To Do With Toddlers & Preschoolers in the Twin Cities – November
Caregivers with kids between the ages of 1 and 5, these events and activities are geared toward your family. You know your child best, so we encourage you to peruse our full Family Fun Calendar and try any of the all-ages events there, but we publish here a quick list of toddler activities and pre-school family fun ideas.
Twin Cities Toddler and Preschool Events This Week
Indoor drop-in tot time spots open
Brrr, colder November weather moves the play indoors for many families. These tot times can be a saving grace for parents of squirrelly toddlers and preschoolers when playground season has come to an end. This month begins open gym and tot times at some additional indoor Twin Cities spaces:
- PLYMOUTH FIELDHOUSE: Youth Open Play – 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday – geared towards toddlers/youth (ages 12 and younger). Wednesdays they bring out the inflatables. Starts November 6, 2023, $5-$6/pp.
- SAVAGE SPORTS CENTER: Tot Time ongoing Tues & Thurs, 9-11:30am, ages 5 & under, $3/child. Ages 6 & up are invited to Open Play after school hours, Mon-Fri, $5/pp. Starts November 14, 2023.
- VADNAIS HEIGHTS TCO SPORTS GARDEN: Toddler Thursdays, 9:30-11:30. Open play on the field. FREE! Starts November 2, 2023.
These locales join our master list of OPEN PLAY, GYM & SWIM SPOTS FOR TOTS IN THE TWIN CITIES. Comes with a near-guaranteed naptime for all!
Gobble, gobble & give thanks – turkey activities for tots
8300 W Franklin Ave, St Louis Park, MN 55426
Open play and exploration of Westwood Hills Nature Center, naturalist-led activities, puppet show and a hike (dress accordingly). November 3 & 6, 2023, 10am-11am, $5/person. Registration required.
Heartfelt, 4306 Upton Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55410
The seasonal preschool festivals offer a simple craft or two for the kids and their adult plus a wholesome snack. This month’s theme is giving thanks. To get an idea of Heartfelt’s fall craft lineup, browse here. November 22, 2023. $24/first child, $12/additional. Please register in advance.
Richardson Nature Center, 8737 E Bush Lake Rd, Bloomington, MN 55438
Learn all you’ve ever wanted to know about turkeys on a self-guided hike – make sure to stay and play around with all the indoor exhibits. November 19, 2023, 3-4pm. FREE.
More toddler & preschool nature programs we love
- HASTINGS: Preschool Storytime at Carpenter Nature Center – this month’s theme is Farewell Fall. Includes time outdoors and with animals, a craft and story. Register ahead. November 10, 2023, $6/child.
- LINO LAKES: First Thursday Nature Play at Wargo Nature Center – indoor & outdoor exploration for kids ages 2-5 with caregiver. Register ahead. November 2, 2023, $5/child.
- ST PAUL: Como Lil Explorer Thursdays – perfect for kids ages 5 & under, hands-on activities indoors with animals, stories and games. Thursdays in November (except Nov 26) 2023. 10am-noon. FREE.
Things To Do With School-Aged Kids in the Twin Cities – November
Twin Cities Kids Events This Week
Twinkling tree lightings & more early holiday festivals
The Twin Cities illuminates with early holiday tree lighting festivals during the month of November. Kids who are old enough to stay up a little later at night may delight in watching these holiday trees come to life. Here are several picks we think really shine – find more in our complete guide to TWIN CITIES TREE LIGHTING FESTIVALS, covering the four corners of the Minneapolis-St Paul Metro Area:
Apple Valley: Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
Complete with caroling, cookies and cider. November 21, 2023, 6:15-7pm.
Burnsville: Winter Lighting Ceremony
Nicollet Commons Park, 12550 Nicollet Ave, Burnsville, MN 55337
The annual event is both in-person and streaming live this year from the park. November 22, 2023. 6pm.
Along with the holiday tree lighting with be chorale singers, horse-drawn trolley rides and Santa Claus. Held at the 50th & France shopping district. November 25, 2023, 3-6pm.
Hastings: Holiday Hoopla
A day of shopping and family activities at downtown businesses then watch the street snowflakes light up at 5:15pm followed by the City Hall Tree lighting at 5:30pm. November 25, 2023.
Shoreview: Holiday Lighting Event
Shoreview Community Center, 4580 Victoria St. N., Shoreview, Minnesota 55126
The grounds of Shoreview Commons will be lit for the holidays. Music and cookies follow at the community center. November 13, 2023, 6-7pm.
Taylors Falls: Taylors Falls Lighting Festival
The annual tree lighting takes place at 6pm downtown. Festival highlights include the Santa Parade, Christmas at the Folsom House, storytime with Mrs. Claus and wagon rides. November 24-26, 2023.
Wayzata: Light Up the Lake Celebration
Holiday music, an enhanced holiday lights display, warm fire pits, and Santa visits Wayzata in the annual Parade of Lights, 5:15pm. November 24, 2023.
Kids at home on Thanksgiving break?
Rejoice, panic or both? Often times after we emerge from our holiday food coma we find ourselves unsure of how to entertain the kids for the rest of Thanksgiving weekend. Or, perhaps you have relatives in town and want to show off what our amazing Twin Cities have to offer. Either case, our FFTC team has put together a THANKSGIVING BREAK GUIDE, a list originally created as an alternative to avoid Black Friday shopping crowds. It’s packed with good stuff. And most of it is FREE! We thought that might be appreciated right before the holidays. Here’s a quick list to get you started:
Did you know there are 9 to explore within an hour’s drive of the Minneapolis-St Paul metro? One of four days with no charge to enter happens to be Black Friday. Maybe skip the stores and opt in for a day out in nature? FORT SNELLING STATE PARK is offering a family-friendly drop-in program at the (indoor) visitor center from 1-2pm. November 24, 2023.
Truth be told, I love model trains myself and most recently visited this museum on a date (yes, really). But it’s a wonderful place for kids too, with interactive scenes to tinker with. During the holiday season buildings and street lights glow, and throughout the museum the train layouts are adorned with Christmas lights. November 25, 2023, 3-7pm. $15/pp.
National Animal Shelter Week
National Animal Shelter Week is celebrated on the first full week of November each year. Celebrate by learning more about the Animal Humane Society of Minnesota (did you know families can drop in and play with pets up for adoption?) or participating in one of their public programs such as Rescue Readers. Because an orientation is required before kids can read to the animals (and they fill FAST), here’s another option to play with rescued kitties:
New Hope: 3524 Winnetka Ave N
Roseville: 1718A Lexington Ave N
My daughter absolutely loves cats but mean old mom isn’t up for having a pet. Our solution? We book an hour at this sweet rescue coffee shop (two metro locations – note there is no longer one in Minneapolis). She gets a fix without any extra responsibility on my part. Kids 7+ (with a parent) can play with the kitties and sip a warm beverage. 11am-7pm, $10/pp.
Indoor playgrounds help keep kids active in the cold
November is the month we start to plug our TWIN CITIES INDOOR PLAYGROUNDS GUIDE because, for the most part, the local parks and playgrounds have started to gather a thin layer of snow. At these fabulous indoor play havens, kids can run, climb, swing, slide, jump and bust all that energy to their little hearts’ content. We’ve highlighted some of our favorites below – clockwise from left: ADVENTURE PEAK, Edina; THE K.U.B.E, Plymouth; TROPICAL ADVENTURE, Shoreview; GOOD TIMES PARK, Eagan; and MAPLE MAZE, Maple Grove. Admission typically ranges from $6-$11/child (not a bad deal for hours of play and a good, hard nap.)
GOT TODDLERS? Most of the indoor playgrounds on our list have spaces dedicated to babies and toddlers, creating a safe space for them to explore while the big kids run wild.
Things To Do With Teens & Tweens in the Twin Cities – November
Twin Cities Teen & Tween Events This Week
Volunteer as a family with your teens & tweens
National Family Volunteer Day is November 18 in 2023. Giving back as a family can be a wonderful way to feel thankful for what you have and to pass on that value to your kids. It can also make for a pretty fun family outing with your tweens and teens (even if they may not be 100% enthusiastic initially, speaking from experience here). Several of our family volunteer activities within the past year have counted towards high school graduation requirements, so it’s worth checking into before you sign up. We’ve rounded up a number of volunteer opportunities with your older kids in our guide to THE BEST PLACES IN THE TWIN CITIES TO VOLUNTEER WITH KIDS. These positions include:
- Packing meals with Feed My Starving Children (ages 5+, recommended grade 3 & up) & Second Harvest Heartland (ages 8 & up).
- Volunteering with Meals on Wheels to decorate bags, placemats and greeting cards (especially appreciated during the holiday season)
- Ringing bells to help fill Salvation Army collection kettles.
Shop small for the holidays
We’ve all heard about Black Friday, but are you familiar with Shop Small Saturday? Yes, it’s a thing and it’s a very good thing at that to support small, local businesses this holiday season. If your tweens and teens are anything like mine, they are itching for a shop-opp and love checking out unique places to browse. We have ideas for some they might enjoy – with more to discover on our TWIN CITIES HOLIDAY SHOPPING EVENTS page.
Union Depot, 240 E. Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55101
Based on the European open air Christkindlmarkts, this is a free event to attend with the opportunity to shop for unique, handmade gifts and sample holiday treats with the lovely backdrop of a lit downtown St Paul. Opens November 25 & runs Fri-Sun thru December 18, 2023.
MORE FOR KIDS AT THE MARKET: Need to make shopping a little more fun with young ones along? Kids craft activities will be offered each Sat & Sun (11am-1pm) and, on opening weekend, Santa will visit the market from 11-3 Saturday and 12-4 Sunday.
2424 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406
A hands-on workshop and holiday shopping event. Our family attended a couple years ago and the kids were able to make homemade clay gifts to give to family for Christmas. November 19, 2023; 12-4pm.
More Ideas for Things to Do in November:
- Mall of America Family Guide, Floor By Floor & Nickelodeon Universe Indoor Amusement Parks
- 7 Ways to Get Minnesota Zoo Discounts
- Twin Cities Museums & Historic Attractions
- Minnesota Children’s Museum, Saint Paul
- Minnehaha Regional Park, Minneapolis
- Weisman Art Museum, East Bank UofM Minneapolis
- Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis
- American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis
- 10 Things for Kids: Mill City Museum Historic Building in Minneapolis + Buy Fresh Produce at Indoor Mill City Farmers Market
- Family Fun Aquarium Guide to Minnesota
- Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
- Family Skiing and Snowboarding in the Twin Cities – Downhill & Cross-Country Skiing opportunities in the Twin Cities area.
- The Guthrie Theater & More – Best Christmas Shows Ever!