Let’s be honest: A Black Friday shopping marathon isn’t in the cards for most adults spending Thanksgiving weekend with young children. Big crowds, long lines — they’re not ideal settings when the kid starts yawning and begging for screen time.

Luckily, the Twin Cities boasts plenty of smart options for entertaining youngsters over holiday break. That means family-oriented history, culture and art events. It also means bundling up for some quality outdoor fun. Bonus: The holiday season marks the return of a few favorite family events. Here are 10 great options for Thanksgiving break.

 

Minnesota Children’s Museum

Kids can learn about feelings — both positive and negative — at “XOXO,” a newish exhibit illuminating love and forgiveness for the grade-school set. Hands-on activities are designed to explore various human emotions. (9 a.m.-8 p.m. today-Sat.; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. $12.95, 10 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-225-6000 or mcm.org)

 

A Victorian Christmas

Learn how the family of former Minnesota governor Alexander Ramsey spent the holiday circa 1875. Check out original ornaments and other Christmas decorations. Taste home-baked cookies, fresh from the wood-burning stove. And listen to the era’s most popular holiday tunes played on the family’s Steinway piano. (10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. today-Sat.; noon-3:30 p.m. Sun., $8-$12, Alexander Ramsey House, 265 S. Exchange St., St. Paul, 651- 259-3000 or mnhs.org)

 

Green Friday

Are your kids bored with their toys? Why not bring gently used ones to this cost-saving holiday exchange, where children can make even trades for something new? (10 a.m.-noon today, free, Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, 9750 NW. Egret Blvd., Coon Rapids, threeriversparks.org)

 

Excelsior Christkindlsmarkt

Visit an open-air German-style Christmas market. This three-day festival also features parades, performances, Christmas tree sales, even a North Pole trolley. Located in the parking lot behind Excelsior Brewing Co. (10 a.m.-7 p.m. today-Sat.; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun., free, 421 3rd St., Excelsior. excelsiorchristkindlsmarkt.com)

 

History Hound Hijinx

Families can partake in a variety of art activities related to the Minnesota History Center’s Somalis + Minnesota exhibit. Step inside a traditional Aqal Soomaali hut. Learn about the tradition of Somali storytelling. Or catch a Somali dance performance. (Noon-3 p.m. today-Sun., $6-$12, 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, 651-259-3000 or mnhs.org)

 

Holidazzle

Friday marks the return of Holidazzle to Minneapolis’ Loring Park. Attractions include an outdoor rink with free skate rentals, visits with Santa Claus, musical performances, play areas, plus vendors specializing in local food, drink and craft. There’s even a comfy warming tent. (5-10 p.m. today; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat.; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun., free, Oak Grove St. and Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. holidazzle.com)

 

Julglädje

Swedish for “Christmas joy,” julglädje gathers families for merriment at the American Swedish Institute. Performer Ross Sutter and friends perform Swedish and American holiday songs on fiddle, piano and nycleharpa. Children’s author Rose Arrowsmith DeCoux invites younger eventgoers to join an interactive story set to music. Also at the museum is the “Handmade Holidays” exhibition, featuring decorated holiday rooms depicting the various Nordic nations. (Noon Sat.; 1 p.m. Sun., 2600 Park Av. S., Mpls., $5-$12, asimn.org)

 

Children’s Theatre Company

A company tradition since 1994, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” returned this year with an expanded (and refreshed) production. See how the residents of Whoville melt the heart of the cranky old Grinch in this crowd-pleasing show. (2 p.m. today; 11 a.m. & 2 p.m. Sat; 2 & 5 p.m. Sun., $15-$75, 2400 3rd Av. S., Mpls, 612-874-0400 or childrenstheatre.org)

 

Night Trains

The lights are turned low for this one-of-a-kind holiday display, when the Twin City Model Railroad Museum adorns its collection with miniature Christmas lights and other decorations. (6-9 p.m., Sat., $15, 668 Transfer Road, St. Paul, 651-647-9628 or tcmrm.org)

 

Bonfire & family games

Eastman Nature Center provides the roasting sticks, bonfire and family-friendly yard games. All you need to bring are the marshmallows to roast your own sweet treat. (1-3 p.m. Sun., free, Elm Creek Park Reserve, 13351 Elm Creek Road, Maple Grove. threeriversparks.org)