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Sue Z.'s Charitable Check-In: December

Sue Z.'s ideas for giving back this holiday season include donating food while taking in the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train—and perusing food trucks


Of Food Trucks and Holiday Trains

WHAT: Canadian Pacific Holiday Train 
WHEN: December 10, 5:30 p.m. (6 p.m., train arrives; 6:15 p.m., concert)
WHERE: Historic Walker Lake, Library Land & West Lake St., St. Louis Park

WHY: A festive gathering to see a real train decorated in holiday lights and to enjoy musical entertainment by Tim Mahoney. While perusing the food trucks, do something to help those who are hungry in the St. Louis Park community by bringing a perishable food item or cash donation for the St. Louis Park Food Shelf (STEP).

INSIDER INFO: This is the second annual event created by ReMax Results, the WEBB group, STEP, and the Holiday Train Host Committee. Dress warmly, as it’s all happening outside. Learn more.

Choose Your Santa

WHAT: Santa Experience    
WHEN: Through December 24
WHERE: Mall of America, 3 locations this year:
Santa Land, North Level 1, no reservation or appointments needed
146 South Ave., 1st floor next to Macys, by appointment 
322 West Market, 3rd floor next to Best Buy, by appointment

WHY: The Mall of America is geared up for a magical time with four Santas ready to hear your wishes and dreams. See special pricing on photos and videos with Santa on the website below.

INSIDER INFO: Park in the West parking ramp. Check out the holiday décor at the Mall and make reservations at one of the many eateries for lunch or dinner. There are Santas at the Mall to greet the kids with special needs. Call 952-567-0431 or check the website for more information and to make reservations and avoid the long lines. You can make a certain time and choose your Santa (Sid, Jon, Sam, or Larry). Learn more.

Ideas for a Festive Home

WHAT: Bachman's Idea House
WHEN: Now until December 17
WHERE: The two-story family home of Bachman's founders, 5936 Lyndale Ave., Minneapolis (next to Bachman's flagship store)

WHY: Learn easy and clever ways to make a festive holiday home. Many of the items are found in the nearby store or use things you have in your own collections. 

PRICE: $5 per person, plus you get a $5 coupon to use in the store and 20 percent of the entry cost will go toward Hats and Mittens charity.

INSIDER INFO: The Idea House changes each season, so if you miss it in December, watch for it in the spring. Make a reservation time by calling 612-861-7311 or going to the website. Learn more.

A Historic Holiday at the Hill House

WHAT: Christmas Traditions with Hill House Tour
WHEN: Now through December 31
WHERE: James J. Hill House   240 Summit Ave. St Paul   

WHY: Learn the history of holiday celebrations on Summit Avenue through a guided house tour by viewing excerpts from past and present letters, journals, and photographs of those who lived in the area during these one-hour tours.

PRICE:  $8–$12, with a $2 discount for James J. Hill House members

INSIDER INFO: This Summit Avenue treasure holds history of the beautiful block that is on the same street as the Governor's Residence, which also will be having tours this season. More fun on the Avenue. Call 651-297-2555. Learn more.

A Pink, Flowery Refuge

WHAT: Holiday Flower Show at the Zoo
WHEN: Now through January 7
WHERE: Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, 1225 Estabrook Drive, St. Paul

WHY: A warm place to stroll through the indoor Sunken Garden to view the beautiful poinsettias. A delightful treat for those families who come to visit and get out of the cold. And it's free.

INSIDER INFO: A tradition that began 92 years ago. This year, the garden will feature pink poinsettias. Call 651-487-8201. Learn more.

Hat and Mittens

WHAT: 22nd Annual Winter Ball
WHEN: December 30, 6 p.m.
WHERE: Interlachen Country Club, Edina

WHY: Help support Hats and Mittens and Express Bikes, a learning lab where young people develop habits and skills for work, business, and entrepreneurship. Bring new hats and mittens to donate for those in need while dancing, enjoying games, and tucking into a marvelous dinner.

INSIDER INFORMATION: Since 1996, Rebecca Jorgenson Sundquist and her friends and committee members have collected and distributed more than 600,000 hats and mittens in the metro area and greater Minnesota, and yearly select one organization serving children in our community to donate funds to. This year, the funds raised will go to Express Bikes, a program of Keystone Community Services. Plus, the goal this year is to give hats to more than 50 organizations in the metro area and in Duluth—ideally 40 million hats. Tickets are still available, so call Rebecca at 952-221-3400 (or get your tickets at the door). Learn more.

Check out Sue Z.'s event picks every month

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About This Blog

Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

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