Central Park Skating

Five Reasons to Love Minneapolis Northwest During the Holidays

The holidays are drawing near! There’s no better place than Minneapolis Northwest for spreading holiday joy and merriment. From catching a theatrical production or having photos taken with Santa and his reindeer, to stocking up on artisan goods at an indoor farmers market, here are five of the top reasons why #WeLoveMNW during the holidays.

Woman window shopping during the holidays

1. All the shopping!

Whether you’re shopping for your family and friends or looking for a personal treat for yourself, Minneapolis Northwest has you covered during the holiday season. The Arbor Lakes Shopping Area in Maple Grove is a combination of three distinct shopping centers—The Shoppes, The Fountains and Main Street—where you’ll find national retailers like Gap, White House | Black Market, J. Jill, etc., alongside charming boutique shops such as Apricot Lane, Good Things and Francesca’s. 

Holiday store set up

Combined, Arbor Lakes shopping districts have more retail than anywhere else in Minnesota, including the Mall of America, which is located just south of Minneapolis. Four different hotels are located within the Arbor Lakes Shopping Area as well, making it easy to plan a weekend stay filled with fun shopping and dining. (Close to 50 restaurants—with everything from fine dining to fast casual to takeout—are located within Arbor Lakes).

Another popular shopping destination in the Minneapolis Northwest area are Albertville Premium Outlets, offering big discounts on designer brands from factory stores like Ann Taylor and Coach, The North Face, Michael Kors and more.

Christmas trees outside of the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes

2. All the fun holiday events!

Minneapolis Northwest isn’t just a shopping destination during the holidays. It’s also a great place to visit during the season for special events with family and friends. The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes always have fun, unique activities on their holiday calendar! Past events have included Pet Photos with Santa, a weekly Paint & Pose evening with Santa at Color Me Mine, and Winter Wonderland Weekend, where Santa and his (real) reindeer greet children at Arbor Park, the central courtyard of The Shoppes.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus waving to people

An equally charming event is the Enchanted Christmas Ball, which is hosted by Twin Cities Party Princess at The Shoppes. During the Ball, your kids can meet up to 12 princesses and heroes, dance to music played by a DJ, create Christmas crafts, write letters to Santa, or take photos with him, and more. Visit the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes website for the most up-to-date information!

Main Street Arbor Lakes often hosts events such as Hometown Holiday on Main Street, which features activities such as horse-drawn carriage rides, live music on the plaza, a holiday parade and a tree lighting with Santa. For more events in Minneapolis Northwest this holiday season, visit our Events page.

Santa Claus belt

3. All the live shows!

Minneapolis is often called the Minnie Apple when it comes to Broadway and other theatrical productions produced by local performing arts groups.

Musical at Yellow Tree Theatre

Here in MNW, Yellow Tree Theatre celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and brings back Jessica Lind Peterson’s A Gone Fishin’ Christmas, for an encore holiday run. This comical story takes place at an ice-fishing contest in Duluth, where a series of events take a humorous turn for the worse. Along with Peterson’s other holiday favorites – Miracle on Christmas Lake and A Hunting Shack Christmas, A Gone Fishin’ Christmas has become a highly anticipated show for the holiday season.

The Nutcracker

Lyric Arts Main Street Stage in Anoka is another area venue with its own seasonal productions, including this year’s A Coney Island Christmas and Forever Plaid: Plaid TidingsPlymouth Playhouse will feature The Looney Lutherans in Hold the Lutefisk, a popular Christmas tale offering tips for surviving the holidays, the Lutheran way. Learn more about the virtues of the Looney’s new Cuisinart 12-speed mixers or how to get on Santa’s “nice list” in this entertaining performance.

Mr. Grinch yelling

Minneapolis/St. Paul is also home to well-known venues such Orchestra Hall (Home to the Minnesota Orchestra), Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, State and Orpheum Theatres, Children’s Theatre Company, and many more. For additional ideas for local performances, check our Things To Do – Music & Entertainment page, here.

4. All the fun you can find outdoors!

kids with tubes waiting to sled downhill

In Minneapolis Northwest, you don’t have to stay cooped up inside when the holidays are approaching. Instead, get outside and explore the snowy Minnesota wonderland at Maple Grove's Elm Creek Park Reserve, popular for skiing, snowboarding and snow-tubing during the winter. The park features a Winter Recreation Area, Eastman Nature Center, hiking and biking trails and more. The park also features fun holiday celebrations each year. Look for special events like nature hikes with Santa or New Year’s Eve group hikes. Last year the park reserve also hosted the Frozen Frolic Fat Bike Race where participants competed for more than ten miles through the snow on fat-tire bikes.

kids skating on ice trail in Maple Grove

Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget about the Ice Skating Loop at Central Park! A favorite for local and visiting families, the Ice Skating Loop is one of the largest in the country (810 feet of trail to be exact)! Stick around long enough and the little ones can watch as the Zamboni takes a few loops around the trail!

5. All the fresh finds!

Variety of preservatives

What if we told you that you don’t have to wait until spring to stock up on local produce and artisan goods? Maple Grove Indoor Farmers Market doesn’t let the cold stop it from bringing the best produce to the table. Vendors at the indoor market showcase their best meats, eggs, honey, syrups, flowers, cider and more from their farms for one day each month, November through May. It’s the perfect (warm) spot to grab some great local produce as well as cool artisan goods that make for ncie holiday gifts.

Produce at indoor farmers market

Need a cozy overnight stay while in town? Click here to be directed to some of the top hotels and accommodations to extend your time in Minneapolis Northwest.

While you’re celebrating the holiday season in Minneapolis Northwest, be sure to post your photos on FacebookTwitter or Instagram using #WeLoveMNW and you could have a chance to be featured on our website!

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  • Minneapolis Northwest CVB

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