While a chunk of Winter Break will be spent on family gatherings, 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. Close out the year and keep the kids busy with our annual list of 16 things to do over Winter Break in the Twin Cities!
OTHER HELPFUL LINKS FOR WINTER BREAK IDEAS IN THE TWIN CITIES:
- Our latest DECEMBER WEEKEND GUIDE
- Our round up of WEEKLY ACTIVITIES
- Our fully-stocked FAMILY FUN CALENDAR
- Our merry and bright TWIN CITIES HOLIDAY GUIDE
December 9-15, 2022
Screening classic holiday films White Christmas, Elf, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation & A Christmas Story. $4/pp or $2 with non-perishable food donation. Don’t miss the excellent and reasonably-priced popcorn! And remember, Tuesday’s the day of the deal when it comes to Twin Cities movie theaters. Check our list of discounts at Twin Cities Cheap Flicks.
December 17, 2022
American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407
Let littles roam free in a real-life castle after an hour or so of structured activity time with stories, songs and games aimed at ages 2-5. This month’s program has a holiday bent as the mansion will be decorated for the season. 9-10am, $10/family.
December 17-18, 2022
Back this year are the Holidazzle Yeti, amusement rides (carousel, Ferris Wheel, giant slide), fire pits and fireworks at 7:15pm on Dec 17.. Plus, you’ll still be able to shop, nosh and visit with Santa. We’ll miss the outdoor ice skating rink – maybe next year? FREE ADMISSION.
December 21, 2022
Westwood Hills Nature Center, 8300 W Franklin Ave, St Louis Park, MN 55426
Celebrate the Winter Solstice (the longest night of the year) with an illuminated walk towards spring. Make sure to register in advance to receive a start time. Learn more about what Westwood Hills has to offer and get excited to visit for your visit. 6:30-8pm, FREE.
December 22, 2022
Before Santa’s gone…bring your Christmas list and visit him at Cabela’s in Woodbury. Please make your (free!) advance reservation to meet Santa and get a free 4X6 photo! Thru Dec 24 during store hours. Find our master list of where you can meet Santa in the Twin Cities!
December 23, 2022
Lace up a pair of ice skates: Bring your skates to the Central Park Ice Skating Loop in Maple Grove or the canals of Centennial Lakes Park in Edina. Skating is free and the backdrops are lovely; skate rental is available for about $8 per pair if you need it. Dick’s House of Sport in Ridgedale Mall (Minnetonka) is also offering FREE skating on their brand-new outdoor ice rink through December 25. Searching for ice closer to home? Use our Skate the Twin Cities list to find your nearest free outdoor ice rink.
December 24, 2022
Bake that last batch of cookies: Do your kids like to help in the kitchen as much as mine? Need a last-minute idea for the holiday cookie exchange? We’ve got some sweet and blessedly simple recipes to whip up sugar cookies and gingerbread cut-outs.
December 25, 2022
Merry Christmas if you celebrate! Got some down time after you’ve cleared away all the wrapping paper and gift boxes? Make it a craft day and stay cozy at home making these homemade ornaments for next year’s tree.
December 26, 2022
Take a holiday lights tour – and bring along this list of Minnesota Christmas Lights & Music Shows to find one near you. If you’re in the car destined to or from the relatives, maybe you’ll find a new display en route.
December 27, 2022
Order some art to-go: Decorating for the holidays sparked a lot of cheer in our house. Consider ordering one of ArtStart’s Holiday Creativity Kits and spend the day crafting some keepsakes. You can feel good buying local, too; ArtStart is a non-profit based out of St Paul, Minnesota.
December 28, 2022
Visit an indoor winter market like the one at EAGAN COMMUNITY CENTER – from 4-7pm kids can do a special “produce hunt” activity while caregivers shop for local products. Make a day of it at THE BLAST INDOOR PLAYGROUND, also located in the community center. The perfect way to work out winter break wiggles and just $5/child. Speaking of kids with energy to burn, we have a dozen more indoor play places listed on our ultimate guide to TWIN CITIES INDOOR PLAYGROUNDS.
December 29, 2022
Thursdays mean FREE MUSEUM night at a couple Minneapolis museums we think are definitely worth checking out (especially if you can waive the admission fee for a family): First, AMERICAN SWEDISH INSTITUTE is free after 3pm and this month is an idea time to go as the mansion is all decked out for the holidays and their seasonal exhibit runs through January 8. Kids will love a gallery designed just for them and poking around the “castle” like museum for little tomtes (elves). Second, the WALKER ART CENTER is free Thursday nights from 5-9pm and could make for an interesting outing with older kids.
December 30, 2022
Make it a cozy pajamas-and-Christmas movies kind of day. You might well have been doing this since Thanksgiving (we’ve already checked it off the list), but in case you need a few more classic suggestions…Gianna has laid out 32 Christmas movies to enjoy at home.
December 31, 2022
Celebrate the closing of 2022
Whip out our list of New Year’s Eve Family Events. Choose from kids dance parties, outdoor adventures, obstacles courses, ice skating, crafting and more.
January 1, 2023
Go sledding or snow tubing for New Years Day!
But where to find the best hills? Our Twin Cities Sledding Hills Guide contains a long list of the best – in all shapes and sizes. Gianna’s Winter Break Survival Guide also has a great list of St. Paul & Minneapolis-area sledding hills along with spots to go snow tubing in the Twin Cities. Pictured below are a few of my absolute favorite kids on the giant hill Town & Country Club golf course in St Paul – free for all to sled on.
Winter break into January
You’ve almost made it to the end! Go out with a bang visiting the magical Ice Castles – held this year in lovely Long Lake Park, New Brighton, Minnesota. Gianna has tips on how to make the most of your visit here and offers you an exclusive reader discount of 15% off if you purchase tickets with our code.
More winter break ideas
We are in love with Snapology’s location in Minneapolis. This year, they’re offering winter break camps at their Discovery Center with activities such as designing and building a mini amusement park. Super cool way to keep kids busy (and learning) while on school vacation. Breaks are offered Dec 20-22 & 28-30.
Trade in the snow and cold outdoors for some green and warmth inside the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory. Make a day of it exploring the Tropical Encounters exhibit, the cozy conservatory and the cheerful Holiday Flower Show. All activities are FREE, just remember to make an online reservation beforehand.
Beat break boredom and burn off energy
Open Gym & Play sessions across the Metro are budget-friendly – FREE or under $5 per child to attend – and come with a practically-guaranteed nap following. If you’ve got older kids, our Twin Cities Indoor Playground Guide might come in handy.
Find hundreds more things to do in Minneapolis & St Paul with kids!
Find fun indoor games for kids when it’s chilly outside.