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Fun things to do in Minneapolis Christmas

Fun & Free Things to do in Minneapolis & Nearby This Holiday

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It’s no secret that Minnesota experiences some very chilly winters, and there is no doubt that we are hardy people. We embrace our winters and truly enjoy being outdoors during the magical holiday season. There are plenty of free or affordable activities in our great state. Here are some fun and free things to do in Minneapolis and close by this holiday season for you to enjoy.


Holidazzle is a celebration of all things Minnesota. The market, located in Loring Park, showcases local artisans, restaurants and the people who make our great state unique. Some of the events include holiday movie night, a Santa meet and greet, outdoor ice skating, carriage rides and fireworks. Please check the schedule before you head out so you know what you can expect to experience. There will be local food and beer to purchase, along with local vendors who will be selling unique items that will make great one-of-a-kind gifts. Holidazzle is free to the public and is open through December 20th.

St. Paul

Minneapolis’ twin city is only a 20-minute drive away, and during the month of December, St. Paul’s Rice Park takes on a twinkling glow that is dreamy and awe-inspiring. Head downtown for a nice dinner, then take a stroll through the park.

When you are finished there, head over to the Landmark Plaza for some free ice skating hosted by Wells Fargo. The Landmark Center is a beautiful backdrop for a fun winter activity. Please note that skate rentals are available for a $4 fee. Free skating hours are Monday through Thursday from 11 am to 5 pm, Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 10 pm and Sundays from 11 am to 8 pm.


The quaint river town of Stillwater, found about 30 minutes east of Minneapolis, showcases its winter festival, Hometown for the Holidays. The event runs through December 31st and features Victorian Carolers roaming the street, horse drawn Victorian Wagonette rides and beautiful holiday lights and decor that line the streets. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Santa, he’ll be wandering the streets looking for good girls and boys.

Other events include breakfast or lunch with Santa at the Dock Cafe and the Water Street Inn; make reservations to ensure you secure a meal with the big guy. While you are enjoying Hometown for the Holidays, be sure to shop local at the many unique shops Stillwater has to offer.

White Bear Lake

Located about 30 minutes northeast of Minneapolis, White Bear Lake boasts a small town feel with a laid back lake vibe. During December, the streets are decorated with lights and Christmas decor for Winterfest. Each weekend you and your family can experience a horse drawn carriage ride and get your photo taken with Santa. My hometown of White Bear is home to some very giving people, and all they ask is that you bring a donation for the White Bear food shelf.

Before you take your carriage ride, step into Grandma’s Bakery for a cookie and some hot cocoa, then head down the block where your carriage awaits. When you are finished, warm up at Washington Square Bar & Grill for a local brew and some tasty small plates. Before you leave, wander through some of the small shops that offer interesting gifts for everyone on your list.

Fun things to do near Minneapolis Christmas - Carriage ride at White Bear Lake

Taking a horse drawn carriage ride in downtown White Bear Lake is one of the fun things to do near Minneapolis during the holidays.


The Bentleyville Tour of Lights in Duluth features 4 million lights in a 20-acre park along the shores of Lake Superior and calls itself “America’s Largest Free Walk-Through Lights Display.” This lights display will be sure to create wonder and awe in the faces of children and adults alike. While there, be sure to enjoy some complimentary hot cocoa, cookies, popcorn and roasted marshmallows. You can also get your picture taken with Rudolph, visit with Santa and enjoy stories shared by Mrs. Claus. Bentleyville is located at Bayfront Festival Park about 2 1/2 hours from Minneapolis and runs through December 21st.

Fun in Minnesota doesn’t have to be expensive, so load up your families and head out on the town for some festive cheer.

If you are visiting from outside of the area, check out Hilton Minneapolis, Embassy Suites St. Paul in downtown, or Hampton Inn Duluth for excellent choices to wind down for the night.

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St. Paul photo by blhphotography / CC BY 2.0

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Michelle and her family reside in a small town outside of St. Paul. They love the quiet their little city affords them, but enjoy being just minutes…

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