Eat, drink and be merry! That's what the Christmas spirit is all about, right? So why not do all three while tackling your way-too-long shopping list?
That's right, holiday shopping doesn't have to be a miserable experience. You don't have to park a mile away to fight the crowds at the mall for a doorbuster sale only to discover that you can still find it cheaper online. Nor do you have to do all your shopping on Amazon. (Let's face it -- that kind of takes the fun out of it.)
Fortunately, quaint Christmas markets abound in the Twin Cities area, featuring local vendors and quality, handcrafted goods. So skip the mall, with all its crowds and chain stores and disappointing deals, and check out these Twin Cities holiday markets instead. You're sure to find something for everyone -- and have a good time while you're at it.
Old Fashioned Holiday Bazaar
Where: St. Paul
When: November 29th - December 1st
Old-world charm abounds at the Landmark Center, so it's the perfect place for an old-fashioned holiday market. Here you'll find dozens of vendors selling handcrafted jewelry, unique works of art, hand-knit clothing, homemade soaps and more. Bring your ice skates and take a spin at the Wells Fargo Winterskate in the plaza outside for a truly memorable experience.
A Very Vintage Holiday Market
Where: Lakes & Legends Brewery (Minneapolis)
When: December 16th
When you think about it, hosting a holiday market in a brewery makes perfect sense. Why not sip some craft beer while browsing artisan jewelry? During the December popup of the Minneapolis Vintage Market, you'll find everything from shoes, houseware, and accessories to gorgeous work of art. And with the industrial-style taproom strung with holiday lights and a shimmering Christmas tree, you're sure to leave with a cheerful holiday spirit.
When: November 23rd - 25th
There's something magical about Excelsior, with its quaint small-town feel. It's all the more magical when the annual German Christmas market is underway. The mistletoe, glittering strings of lights and other festive adornments make it feel like another world.
The open-air Christkindlsmarkt is bursting with sweets, treats, and treasures. Even if you can't pronounce it, you'll still have a blast. Catch a pic with Santa -- and say hello to the live reindeer. Take a streetcar ride along the historic Excelsior line. And don't forget to hit up the Biergarten -- the perfect spot to kick back after a long day of shopping.
Ingebretsen's Nordic Marketplace
Where: South Minneapolis
Ok, so it's not technically a Christmas market. This unique shop along Lake Street in South Minneapolis is open year-round. And it's the best place to discover some of the most unique Scandinavian gifts you'll find this side of Norway. A hand-knitted wool throw for that friend of yours who's always freezing? Check. A moose-shaped cheese slicer for your mom? Check. A Scandinavian dog sweater for your furbaby? Check. And, of course, endless packets of lefse -- mmm!
Where: Loring Park (Minneapolis)
When: November 23rd - December 23rd (Thursdays through Saturdays)
This iconic holiday extravaganza in Loring Park has something for everyone. Here, you'll find much more than just shopping (though there's plenty of that, too). Enjoy craft beer, good eats, horse-drawn carriage rides, live music, tasty treats, a skating rink, tasty treats (poffertjes anyone?) and, of course, Santa with his sleigh. It's a great way to start the holiday season -- or to grab some last-minute gifts two days before Christmas, if that's how you roll. (No judgment!)
European Christmas Market
Where: St. Paul
When: November 30th - December 10th (Fridays through Sundays)
You don't have to buy an expensive plane ticket to Austria to get a taste of a charming Old World street market. At the East Plaza of the historic Union Depot, you'll feel like you're across the Atlantic. Stroll through the open-air vendor stalls and browse the handcrafted ornaments while sipping mulled wine and enjoying the cheerful strains of carolers.
Save room for some authentic European cuisine -- pierogis, crepes, spaetzle, Swedish meatballs, potato pancakes. You'll leave with full hands and a full belly.
Looking for that special something for your half-German grandmother who's into traditional Christmas decor? Or maybe you forgot to get souvenirs for your cousins while you were backpacking in Bavaria last summer? Don't fret. Just head to this quaint little shop in Stillwater.
As far as German Christmas keepsakes go, it doesn't get much more authentic than this. Here, you'll find endless rows of ornaments, nutcrackers, advent calendars, table runners and more.
From its roots in Rotherberg, Bavaria, Käthe Wohlfahrt branched out with stores across Germany and seasonal installations throughout the U.S. The quaint shop in downtown Stillwater, however, is the only U.S. outpost open year-round.
Julmarknad at the American Swedish Institute
When: December 1st - 2nd
This annual market isn't just a shopping event; it's a cultural experience. At the castle-like mansion in South Minneapolis, you'll find artisan gifts for the whole fam. The entrance fee also covers museum admission, so you can stroll through the Swedish holiday exhibits while you're there and enjoy some traditional music.
Where: Utepils Brewery (Minneapolis)
When: December 7th - 9th
For every craft brewery that's sprung up in Minneapolis in recent years, there's a holiday market to go along with it (or so it seems). And if you're looking for someplace besides Northeast, hit up this taproom in Bryn Mawr. This year is the third iteration of their annual Nordic Julemark, and you'll find not only unique goods and great beer (try their famous flight-ski!), but also authentic Nordic food to go along with it.
Hometown for the Holidays
When: Weekends (including Fridays) from November 18th through December 9th
As far as charming downtowns go, Stillwater has it all: quaint shops, a historic trolley, and a scenic setting along the St. Croix River. So you can't go wrong with getting your shopping done here. During the Hometown for the Holidays event, the city streets all lit up with holiday cheer. You'll find doorbuster special sales, horse-drawn wagon rides, costumed carolers, historic trolley rides, a strolling Santa and a Christmas-themed BierCycle!
Explore North Holiday Market
Where: Tattersall Distilling (Minneapolis)
When: December 8th
Pick up some great gifts from local vendors and get a tour and tasting while you're at it! Tattersall's in Northeast is worth a visit any time of year, but especially when their holiday market is in full swing. Bring some friends and enjoy some craft cocktails - just make sure to grab an Uber to get home safe!
Linden Hills Holiday Market
Where: Sunnyside Gardens (Minneapolis)
When: Sundays through December 23rd
Holiday shopping in a greenhouse? Why not! At this event -- a joint effort by the Linden Hills Farmers Market and the Minneapolis Craft Market -- you'll find more than 60 artisan vendors with food, drinks, gifts, home goods and more. As a bonus, you can pick up your Christmas tree in the parking lot on the way out!
Sisyphus Winter Market
Where: Sisyphus Brewing (Minneapolis)
When: December 8th
Craft beer. Craft crafts. Food trucks. Oh, and cookies! This is your one-stop-shop for the perfect holiday shopping experience. Located in a historic old warehouse in Loring Park, it's a great place to cozy up when the weather outside is frightful.
Afton Village Holiday
When: November 30th - December 1st
If you've never been to this charming little town on the banks of the St. Croix, this is the perfect time to go. Watch the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree. Hop aboard a horse-drawn wagon. Visit the artisan gift fair. Take a walking tour of the historic downtown while enjoying a serenade from the strolling carolers. Whatever you decide to do, it's well worth the half-hour drive east!
North Loop Holiday Bazaar
Where: Modist Brewing (Minneapolis)
When: December 9th
Grab a pint while you peruse for that special something that will blow your s/o away! Partnering with Minneapolis Craft Market, the trendy taproom at Modist Brewing in the Warehouse District will be flooded with vendors carrying all kinds of goods. And you can't go wrong with their innovative brews -- cold-press coffee lager, milkshake IPA and a marshmallow-flavored cream ale, to name a few. You'll feel warm and cozy both inside and out!