Couldn’t we all use a little help getting through the long Minnesota winter with our kids?
Family Fun Twin Cities Winter Survival Guide has something for everyone, from those who want to get out and play in the snow to those who’d rather take a break from it, to those who need a place to plop their kids for a few hours for everybody’s sanity:
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.
Indoor activities may be the key to our winter survival guide! Sometimes, during the coldest, darkest days of winter, we just need the bright lights and bustle of a public place. These 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 you won’t be able to hit them all during break. Take your pick from our master list or search by region of the metro!
For preschoolers through age 8: Tropical Adventure Indoor Playground, Shoreview
Out of the frozen tundra and into the jungle: at Tropical Adventures kids can climb and slide through “wild” play apparatus. Only kids 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.
For tweens and teens: Zero Gravity Trampoline Park, Mounds View
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 littler siblings along, know there’s a special area where they won’t get trampled.
For preschoolers through age 8: Good Times Park, Eagan
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 guest kiosk inside the park entrance) and receive a code to enter the building.
For tweens and teens: Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park, Eagan
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 warped wall, an 1800 sq ft inflatable obstacle course and dedicated play spaces for youngsters. Safety grips socks are required and can be purchased at the park.
For preschoolers through age 8: Lookout Ridge Indoor Playground, Woodbury
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 on the wall and faint echoes of nature throughout. Lookout Ridge 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’d like a quiet break from the play.
For tweens and teens:
SkyZone is a blast (and a great workout!) at any age. It boasts wall-to-wall trampolines for the kids with boundless energy, a bouncy basketball court, and a fly-in foam pit. Activities vary at each location.
For preschoolers through age 8: Adventure Peak, Edina
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-foot main play structure. They’ll be entertained for hours running back and forth between that and an activity room filled with balls, scooters and a bounce house.
For tweens and teens: InnerActive, Minnetonka
When the playground is buried under a blanket of snow, head to InnerActive for 8,000 square feet of space to do some serious large-motor play. A play structure, basketball court and soccer goals burn off that extra energy. All ages are encouraged to play here, adults to the youngest users – who have a special spot reserved for them.
BE CREATIVE INDOORS
Ideas on where your kids can get super crafty (and super messy without YOU having to be on cleanup detail!)
Color Me Mine | Eagan & Maple Grove
Studio fees include use of paints, studio space, and the firing.
Heartfelt | Minneapolis
Drop-in Crafts were created to invite you to come in and get cozy & creative whenever you can. Click on the link to see what Lisa and her staff are offering.
Drop in for Kids Club every Saturday from 10am-12pm for simple, inexpensive ($2-$3) craft projects.
Simply Jane | Minneapolis
Toddler Time Thursdays, 10am-noon let littles experiment with paint, play with toys, books, dress-up and more. The studio also offers drop-in painting for all ages.
VISIT A LOCAL MUSEUM
Come in from the cold, hang up your coat and start exploring at any of these highly kid-friendly museums:
Minneapolis Institute of Art | Minneapolis
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. If you can, try visiting on Family Day (second Sunday/month) for special all-ages art activities. Read all about a family trip to the MIA before you go.
Minnesota History Center | St Paul
Nearly all the exhibits at the museum are hands-on and super family friendly. Check out about our Top Things for Kids at the Minnesota History Center to see why we enjoy visiting as a family. Tuesdays are FREE after 3pm. $6-$12/pp.
Walker Art Center | Minneapolis
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 to visit – admission is FREE for all and there are museum-wide activities to interest kids. Get tips for bringing them HERE.
Mill City Museum | Minneapolis
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. $6-$12/pp.
Jackson Street Roundhouse | St Paul
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)! Read all about it here. $7-$13/pp, family rate available.
Bell Museum | St Paul
The University of Minnesota’s brand new Bell Museum of Natural History 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 120-seat planetarium. $9-$12/pp.
Membership to the Bell Museum would make a terrific holiday gift! Or birthday or “anytime” gift, really. That’s why 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!
Roller Garden | St Louis Park
The roller rink typically has themed skates and lots of winter break specials. $6/person +skate rental.
Skateville | Burnsville
Special hours during winter break. $7/person +skate rental.
Saints North | Maplewood
Open for some extra fun during winter break. $6-$8/person.
Wooddale Fun Zone | Woodbury
The big kids can skate and the little ones can clamber around the giant play structure
COZY UP INSIDE
Bring your little one(s) for both a cozy indoor play space and a decent cup of joe. Some of our favorite coffee shops with spaces set aside just for kids to play are Sovereign Grounds and Riverview Cafe, both in Minneapolis – browse our list for more.
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:
Ramsey County Library events
Hennepin County Library events
Dakota County Library events – DCL has a some ideas for Winter Break Fun
Washington County Library events
Carver County Library events
Scott County Library events
Anoka County Library events
Indoor Open Gym & Tot Times
Open gyms 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 Play, Gym & Swim Spots for Tots in the Twin Cities – and find some relief.
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! Sledding hills are free and abundant and good for mild thrills (find our suggestions at the link.) Tubing hills can be a fun family splurge.
SNOW TUBING HILLS
Trapp Farm Park | Eagan
No tow ropes at this facility; the use of your own sliding craft is not permitted.
$4/pp. Opens late December 2019.
Green Acres | Lake Elmo
Tubing offered in 2 hr increments. $15/pp, $5/under 42″
Elm Creek Park Reserve | Dayton
Snow tube in 2 hrs increments between 10am-9pm. $15/pp.
Wirth Park Winter Recreation Area | Minneapolis
Tow ropes available Fri-Sun only. Tube in 2 hr sessions. $17 during rope tow hours, $8.50 during non-rope tow hours.
Buck Hill | Burnsville
Snow tube in 2 hr increments. Children under 5 not permitted. $18/pp.
Trollhaugen Snow Tubing | Dresser, WI
At this location, a hill for small children is not provided. They do not recommend children under 42 inches use their tubing hills. $21/2hrs, save $3 online. Expected to open early December 2019.
For further inspiration, try our Twin Cities Sledding Hills Guide – we keep a huge list of hills in all shapes and sizes!
GO ICE SKATING
Find our list of Twin Cities-area free outdoor ice rinks here. And don’t forget about Wells Fargo WinterSkate, open for the season at CHS Field downtown St. Paul. Skate FREE and receive free skate rental with a WF card ($5 rental w/o card). Across the river at Minneapolis WinterSkate in Loring Park, you can also skate free (free skate rental included) on an illuminated rink!
Take a little twist on the winter hike this winter and try snowshoeing with the family. The top spots to rent snowshoes and take to groomed trails are through the following outfitters:
- Three Rivers Parks
- City of Minneapolis
- Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
- REI — Bloomington
- Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
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!
GO ICE FISHING
Ice Fishing is another options you can enjoy with your kids. Here are some of the best Twin Cities Lakes for ice fishing according to Game and Fish Mag.
- Bald Eagle Lake in White Bear Lake
- Lake Owasso in Roseville
- Lake Phalen in St. Paul
- St. Croix River on the border, Hudson Wisconsin
- Spring Lake in Prior Lake
- Lake Harriet in Minneapolis
- Lake Minnetonka in Minnetonka
OUTDOOR WINTER FESTIVALS
Embrace our cool MinneSNOWta culture with a full lineup of outdoor festivals that feature sledding, skating, snow sculpting, and other winter delights as the main event!
The Winter Survival Guide is updated annually and as new information comes in.