There are many ways of enjoying the snow, and some, such as snow tubing, require no skill at all. In fact, if you're a moderately skilled snowboarder or skier, you may find snow tubing a big disorienting. Not only is no skill required, but there's little you can do to control your ride. Just sit down and enjoy the ride.
There are several areas in the Twin Cities where you can go tubing. Though they all differ slightly in their hours of operations and prices, all of the ones discussed below sell tickets for two hours at a time. Unless otherwise mentioned, tube riders must be at least 42 inches tall and 5 years old.
Afton Alps, the busiest ski area in the metro, has a tubing area next to the Meadows, which is home to one of the resort's ski schools. Tickets cost $16, though you can get a discount if you already have a lift ticket that day for skiing or snowboarding. It's open 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays, and 10:00 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. on Sundays.
Tubing at Buck Hill opens on Thursdays and Fridays at 4:00 p.m., with a closing time of 9:30 pm. and 10 p.m., respectively. A ticket costs $14 on these days. On the weekends, you can tube from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., though you'll pay a premium of $2 (for a price of $16) if you start before 4:00 p.m.
The tubing operation at Wild Mountain is close to the downhill area, but it has its own parking lot. It opens at 5:00 p.m. and 11:00 a.m. on Saturdays, and closes at 9:00 p.m. both days. Sunday tubing hours are Noon until 6:00 p.m. A ticket costs $15.
The Three Rivers Park district offers two different sets of tubing lanes at Elm Creek--a beginning and expert section, if you will. It's open from 4:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, and 10:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. on weekends. The park districts lets children ride at age 4 years old or 36 inches tall, a more liberalized policy than holds at Afton, Buck, and Wild.
Green Acres Recreation, like Elm Creek, has two tubing hills of different sizes. Children under 42 inches tall can tube, but only if they ride with a parent or guardian, and are limited to the smaller "Family Hill." A ticket costs $15 for those 13 and older, and $12 for children. Children who ride with an adult pay $5. While the other areas listed here use conveyor belts to shuttle riders back up the hill, Green Acres uses an old-school approach, with a tow rope. It's open on Fridays from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., and Sundays from Noon until 6:00 p.m. One oddity is that it appears (from the website, at least) that two-hour tickets start at fixed intervals: 2:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m, and so forth.