Family Fun Twin Cities Winter Survival Guide

Snowman with a red hat waving: "Winter Survival Guide. Family Fun Twin Cities."

Winter Survival Guide: The Best Things to do in Minneapolis-St Paul in The Winter

Christmas has passed, a winter coat and mittens are no longer optional and spring is a long way off. Couldn’t we all use a little help getting through the long Minnesota winter with our kids? Our Family Fun Twin Cities Winter Survival Guide has something for everyone, from those brave souls who want to get out and play in the snow to those who need a cozier place to plop the kids for a few hours for everybody’s sanity.

While we can have snow as early as October and as late as April, our focus is on the time between Christmas and the spring equinox. Those are the days with the wind chill temps that can make cold weather dangerous, the dark winter nights that last forever and the icy sidewalks that make walking difficult. We have come up with a list of our favorite ways to embrace the winter months.

What to Do On A Snow Day

Faced with a sudden snow day or temps too cool for school? In Minnesota, this is not at all uncommon. Get all your burning questions answered in our SNOW DAY SURVIVAL GUIDE including where to find school closing information, how to get groceries delivered to your home, and the details on your city’s parking restrictions.

WINTER SURVIVAL GUIDE: INDOOR ACTIVITIES

Keeping a list of indoor activities around town is key to making it through the winter months in our lovely but frigid state of Minnesota. Sometimes, during the coldest, darkest days we need the bright lights and bustle of a public place to be with our kids. Our outing ideas are well worth the effort to leave the house – and if you need more options, explore our FAMILY FUN CALENDAR for indoor events or our FAMILY DIRECTORY for snug and warm indoor things to do.

Twin Cities Indoor Playgrounds

There are so many indoor play options around the Twin Cities that there’s no way you’ll be able to hit them all up before winter’s through. Take your pick from our master list of TWIN CITIES INDOOR PLAYGROUNDS & PLAY AREAS or search by region of the Metro. Also see our top playground picks:

Twin Cities North Metro Indoor Playgrounds Top Picks

Top Pick for Families: Tropical Adventure Indoor Playground

4580 Victoria St N, Shoreview, MN 55126
Out of the frozen tundra and into the jungle: at Tropical Adventures kids an climb and slide through “wild” play apparatus. Only kids up to age 12 are allowed in the indoor playground, making it a good choice for younger kids. Big winter bonus – make a day of visiting  the SHOREVIEW COMMUNITY CENTER by hitting TROPICS INDOOR WATERPARK. There are interactive water features to suit every age: slides, sprinklers, water sports and a zero-depth entry pool. One family pass is all you need for all-day play.

Best for Tweens and Teens: Zero Gravity Trampoline Park

2292 Woodale Dr, Mounds View, MN 55112
Warm up big time with indoor attractions like a ninja obstacle course, laser tag, a climbing wall, wall-to-wall trampolines, and a bouncy dodgeball court. If you’re bringing little sibs along, know there’s a special area where they won’t get trampled.


Twin Cities South Metro Indoor Playgrounds Top Picks

Best for Preschool to Age 8: Good Times Park

3265 Northwood Cir #100, Eagan, MN 55121
The unique outdoor feel of the facility with its jungle gyms, basketball court and open turf for family games helps combat cabin fever during the winter. Good Times is a self-use park, meaning guests purchase day passes online (or at the kiosk inside the park entrance) and receive a code to enter the building.

Bonus Preschool Fun: Toddler Tuesdays at the Mall of America

60 E Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425
If you live on the south side of the Twin Cities, a Tuesday at the Mall of America is not a bad option. Crowds are light, parking is free and, if you buy an annual membership to Crayola Experience or Sea Life, you’ll always have something fun to do.

Best for Tweens and Teens: Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park

2015 Silver Bell Road, Suite 195, Eagan, MN 55122
No winter blues here. The FFTC big kids are huge fans of the trampolines, ninja course and rock climbing tower. More heart-pounding activities are an inflatable obstacle course and dedicated play spaces for youngsters. Safety grip socks are required and can be purchased at the park.

Boy launching dodge ball


Twin Cities East Metro Indoor Playground Top Picks

Best for Preschool to Age 8: Lookout Ridge Indoor Playground

Central Park, 8595 Central Park Place, Woodbury, MN
The nature theme of this indoor playground leaves the impression that you’re immersed in a much warmer climate than a Minnesota winter. There are cliffs and caves to explore, a giant tree to climb, wildlife murals and faint echoes of nature throughout. The playground also gets extra points for being located in a multi-purpose building that includes lush indoor landscaping and a branch of the Washington County library if you need a quiet break from play.

Best for Tweens and Teens: Sky Zone Trampoline Park

595 Hale Ave N, Oakdale, MN 55128
SkyZone is a blast (and a great workout!) at any age. It boasts wall-to-wall trampolines for thekids with boundless energy, a bouncy basketball court, and a fly-in foam pit. Activities vary at each location.


Twin Cities West Metro Indoor Playground Top Picks

Best for Preschool to Age 8: Adventure Peak

7700 York Ave S, Edina, MN 55435
Adventure Peak has the luring advantage of being located within the lush indoor landscaping of Edinborough Park. You’ll forget all about shoveling and windchills as you get an awesome workout trying to keep up with your kids in the 37-fooThey’ll be entertained for hours running back and forth between that and anactivity room filled with balls, scooters and a bounce house.

Edinborough Park - Adventure Peak Indoor Playground

Find more active outings to keep your tweens and teens busy and moving!

Winter Break Survival Guide


Be Creative Indoors

Ideas for places in the Twin Cities where your kids can get super crafty (and super messy without YOU having to be on cleanup detail!)

Color Me Mine

Locations in Eagan, Maple Grove & Woodbury
Studio fees include use of paints, studio space and the firing.

Heartfelt

4306 Upton Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55410
Drop-in Crafts were created to invite you to come in and get cozy and creative on your own schedule. Click on the link to see what is being currently offered.

Winter Break Survival Guide

Visit a Local Museum

Come in from the cold, hang up your boat and start exploring at any of these highly kid-friendly museums:

Minneapolis Institute of Art

2400 3rd Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404
The beauty of MIA with kids is that admission is FREE every day – meaning you can explore the art at your own pace without worrying about making a hefty investment. Read all about tips for taking a family trip to the MIA before you go.

Minnesota History Center

Nearly all the exhibits at the museum are hands-on and super family-friendly. Check out our top things for kids at the Minnesota History Center to find out why we keep coming back with our kids. $6-$12/pp.

Walker Art Center

 725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis, MN 55403
A trip to the Walker with older kids can spark some thoughtful conversations about art. If it’s younger kids you’re bringing, make sure you pick the first Saturday of the month – it’s FREE for all and there are museum-wide activities for all ages. Get tips for visiting with kids HERE.

Mill City Museum

 704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401
The museum was carefully designed to include exhibits that appeal to a wide range of ages. Kids will love the water play room and other activities they can get their hands on. Check our list of 10 Things for Kids at Mill City Museum beforehand. $8-$12/pp.

Jackson Street Roundhouse

193 Pennsylvania Ave E, St Paul, MN 55130
Got a little trainiac in the family? Make this museum – a branch of the Minnesota Transportation Museum – a must on a cold winter day. Explore train cars and tinker with railroad exhibits. Real train rides on Saturdays are included (and they’re heated!)

Bell Museum

2088 Larpenteur Ave W, St Paul, MN 55113
The museum has an entire room dedicated to getting kids up close and personal with objects from the natural world. Every inch of the museum has been “plussed” up from its former location – including the animal dioramas and thee 120-seat planetarium. Membership to the Bell Museum would make a terrific holiday gift! We’ve added it to our running list of Memberships: The No-Clutter Gift of Time Together.

We’re always adding to our list of TWIN CITIES MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES – browse it for something unexpected!

More Ways To Cozy Up Inside During the Winter in the Twin Cities 

Kid-friendly Twin Cities Coffee Shops & Cafes

Bring your little one(s) for both a cozy indoor play space and a decent cup of joe. Our favorite coffee shops with a space set aside just for kids to play is SOVEREIGN GROUNDS  in Minneapolis – browse our list for more.

Top Preschool Storytimes in the Twin Cities

Warm up in a cozy book shop while the snow flies outside; we’ve got a story time for each day of the week on our list of top picks. Don’t forget the library! There are tons of special winter break activities going on at metro area libraries to combat any boredom:

Indoor Open Gyms & Tot Times

Indoor play at an open gym can be a savior when you’ve got squirrelly kids who need a space to run off their pent-up wintertime energy. Quick! Reach for our list of TOT TIMES, OPEN GYM & SWIM SPOTS FOR TOTS IN THE TWIN CITIES – and find some relief.

This is kind of a tiny gym, but fun for a family gym night
Waite Park Gym

Movie Matinees

Curl up with a bucket of popcorn at YOUR favorite CHEAP MOVIE THEATER or cuddle under a wool blanket and watch together at home. You can even TURN FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT INTO A COZY ACT OF KINDNESS.

Two girls sharing popcorn during a movie at the Mall of America in Bloomington Minnesota
Grab some popcorn and watch a cheap movie


WINTER SURVIVAL GUIDE OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

December brings chilly temps and that frosty blanket of snow to the ground that makes the month both so pretty and so functional for winter fun. Just getting started taking your littles out for winter sports? With a few exceptions, TWIN CITIES SLEDDING HILLS and OUTDOOR ICE SKATING RINKS are always going to be easy to locate and gentle on the pocketbook. Most Twin Cities communities maintain free ice skating rinks throughout the winter (some simple frozen puddles, others far fancier), and free hills to throw a sled down are staples in most larger parks. If you can’t beat it, join it, right? Getting outdoors is the second half of our winter survival guide suggestions. The more you get outside, the less you hate it. Trust us on this! If the weather cooperates, you can take advantages of these different outdoor ideas.

Go Sledding or Snow Tubing

Teens and tweens embrace our Minnesota winters by throwing themselves down steep slopes at top speeds. Whatever gets them outside and active works for us! TWIN CITIES SLEDDING HILLS are free and abundant and good for mild thrills (find our suggestions at the link.) TWIN CITIES TUBING HILLS can be a fun family splurge.

Winter Survival Guide

Best Twin Cities Snow Tubing Hills

Trapp Farm Park

841 Wilderness Run Rd, Eagan, MN 55123
No tow ropes at this facility but it’s one of the best places to snow tube in the Twin Cities southeast metro. Opens mid-December, $5/pp. Tickets MUST be purchased online in advance.

Green Acres | Lake Elmo

Snow tubing is offered in 2 hr increments. $16/pp, under 42″ not recommended.

Elm Creek Park Reserve | Maple Grove

Have fun snow tubing in 2-hr increments between 10am-9pm. There’s a chalet onsite if you need to warm up! $15/pp.

Wirth Park Winter Recreation Area | Minneapolis

Tow ropes available Fri-Sun. Snow tube in 2-hr sessions, $17/pp or $8.50/non tow rope hours.

Buck Hill | Burnsville

Snow tubing for all those 6+ in 2-hr sessions. $12-24/2hr depending on time selected – online discounts.

Trollhaugen | Dresser, WI

At this snow tubing location, a hill for small children is not provided. $21/2hrs, save online.

For further inspiration, try our TWIN CITIES SLEDDING HILLS GUIDE – we maintain a huge list of sledding hills in all shapes and sizes!

Winter Survival Guide

Go Ice Skating on An outdoor rink

We’re sure, as hardy Minnesotans ourselves, that you’re dying to strap on your skates and hustle the kids out to the rinks! That’s why we’ve rounded up this list of local places to skate –and, as nearly all are located in city parks, there’s no charge for the skating.

Try Snowshoeing 

Snowshoeing (essentially winter hiking with some footwear assistance) can be a lot of fun and good exercise for the whole family! Listed are some places around the Twin Cities to go snowshoeing – all with rentals available.

girl with snowshoes
Sure the temperatures could go subzero at any time and sure we can barely move in all our layers, but we’re Minnesotans. We love all kinds of weather!

Ice Fishing 

If you already love ice fishing, you don’t need our advice. But if you just want to give it a try, there are several FAMILY ICE FISHING OPPORTUNITIES IN THE TWIN CITIES each year.

Cross Country Skiing and Downhill Skiing

For those who love the thrill of the hill, we’ve gathered a list of FAMILY SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING HILLS IN THE TWIN CITIES, but for a gentler form of skiing, try Nordic (or Cross Country) Skiing. You’ll probably want to pick your favorite park system, since they all have their own annual ski pass.

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  1. Pingback: Winter Break Survival Guide - Sledding / Tubing in the Twin Cities - 98.5 KTIS

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