I know Mariah Carey is the “Queen of Christmas” but I would like to share that title with her. Christmas is my JAM so I do allllll the Christmasy things I can find and that I have time for. I get lots of questions about the Christmas activities I’ve been to around the cities, so here are my reviews.
Glow- State Fair Grounds
Wayyyy better when you get to walk around this year instead of drive. I went twice, once during media night and the other with some friends. They don’t have everything fully open during media night so it was cool to get to see it when everything is full go! They had a place where you can roast marshmallows for smores and it started snowing while we were roasting and it was pretty magical.
I wouldn’t personally spend the extra money for VIP BUT I also don’t spend much time indoors anywhere so it wouldn’t have been worth it for me. BUT if you want an indoor bathroom, liquor for your drinks and somewhere warm and cozy to hang out…then VIP is def for you. They did have some alcoholic drinks throughout the fair grounds though. It can go kind of fast walking around so we did two laps and found things we missed the first time around. The Grinch and Santa are both there, I love this pic of the Grinch giving Nilly bunny ears! She got a kick out of that when she saw that photo!
Northern Express- Excelsior
I saw a bunch of negative reviews on a facebook page and totally didn’t have the experience they did but I get where they are coming from. I believe this is the first year being in Excelsior. Its at this cute campground and I love how it’s set up. The complaints I saw were “there wasn’t anything for little kids to do” and while I can see where they are coming from, I have some suggestions. I got the character breakfast, its an “add on” although I bought tix as well (I was under the assumption you had to but when we were done we could just go out into the campground, no one asked for our other tix) I emailed last Sunday (12/5) for clarification and still haven’t gotten a return email so I don’t know. I felt confused. haha Anyway, the character breakfast was cute, the selection was just pastries and some fruit BUT my daughter did have some one on one time with Frosty and the Gingerbread Man, she loves doughnuts, they had a little shop to walk around in, with adult warm beverages and coffee.
They had a craft area down below where you can write Santa a letter and LEGIT Santa was there visiting. In hindsight we would have tried to see Santa THERE during the breakfast because the line to see him at his house was over an hour. Also worth it though. I paid like $80 for MOA Santa experience and while the pics are more “professional” Nilly was a little weirded out by Santa singing like a silly man. The virtual visit we did the year before was WAY cooler and only $35. The Santa at Northern Express takes photos with a ring light thing and they aren’t super clear but you can use your own phone too and Santa was easily my fav Santa I’ve ever visited. He gave Nilly the BIGGEST hug and didnt rush us out of his cute little house. This photo will forever be my favorite Santa photo and hopefully he will be there next year, WORTH the hour wait.
Nilly made friends with 2 little girls in front of us and they played the entire time plus they handed out cookies so she was fine waiting but if you have younger kids (shes 4) or kids that are shy, that wait would have sucked. They had some cute shops but not many, they had llamas with Christmas ties that kids could take by the reins, they were adorable. We got this SUPER cute hat at one of the shops.
My suggestion would be to get in line for Santa first thing and go back to the llamas after, it was way less crowded. The llamas are right by the front so it got crowded fast. They had a reindeer come you can take a picture with. Its only on certain days the reindeer are there but if you go for the breakfast at 930 and want to see the reindeer at 230, its a LONG day. We killed time by waiting in line obviously, had some chili, they had face painting downstairs too! You def should do the breakfast if you can, that is what made all the difference for us I believe. Overall I thought it was a magical experience and my family loved it!
Sam’s Christmas Village-Sommerset
We went to Sam’s last year and I thought it was awesome, they upgraded and added to it a lot this year so it was super cool. I wasn’t prepared for the $10 parking, so heads up on that. Its HUGE, plan on spending a lot of time there. I wasn’t sure if it was open last year when we went but there was a cute building with a bar with AMAZING drinks and some baked goods. The bathrooms are all outhouses, do you know how hard it is to get a 4 year old out of all her layers and snow pants in a tiny porta potty in freezing weather?! Luckily she didnt have to go while we were outside because we ate dinner at the bar on the property and there is a bathroom inside. Just something to think about when you layer the kiddos up! Next year we will definitely get a smores cabin. Get a group of fam or friends…Santa stops by, they have pizza and smores, and a cute little cabin to hang out by with a fire pit. They had food options and drink stations placed throughout with lots of places to get warm. The light displays are incredible. Im just always so impressed each time I go. This village is my legit dream life. Ive always wanted to build a Christmas village and pumpkin patch. We live in otsego, so its a hike for us about an hour and 15 min but we listened to Christmas music the entire way there, had some hot coca, it was by far my fav Xmas event we’ve done so far.
Santa Experience – Mall of America
I mentioned it above but I thought the zoom visit was way cooler…and cheaper. It was really cool to zoom with Santa last year and have all that time with him. We did it in person this year and it was rushed and Nilly barely talked to Santa because she was like why does he keep singing? haha She posed for some photos and it was really expensive but turned out really cute. We wont do the in person visit next year. We’d go back to The Northern Express or do the zoom.
The Union Depot Christmas Market- St Paul
This isn’t the European market. They did this before the European market started. It was smaller than I expected, still had some awesome vendors but I paid for VIP and I wouldn’t do that again. Just go first thing when they open and its basically the same thing, a couple vendors weren’t even open during the VIP shopping time and the places I wanted to use the “discount” didnt accept the discount.
Holiday Boutique- Convention Center Minneapolis
I always enjoy my time each time I go, its soooo big and I bought quite a few things. The only thing I dont love are the constant asking of the particular vendors of asking to curl your hair, clean your jewelry, do your makeup etc…I hate saying no so I have to go prepared to stand my ground and say no. I did however buy THE most amazing eyebrow stencils! Its called fab brows and holy crap im obsessed! My brows are dang near perfect now! They do it every year so definitely go next year!
I have lots of pictures and stuff on my instagram so check that out for more details or if you have questions @tjradio
There’s still about 3 more weeks until the end of December so if you get a chance you should go check out these places! Well worth it!