We don’t have long to get out and enjoy the beautiful bounty nature has to offer during the summer months in Minnesota. The more important piece, however, is that we do have such a wonderful bounty: Our parks, playgrounds, and greenspaces are second to none and they all deserve a visit.
So, where to start?
For city dwellers, proximity is important – you don’t want to spend half of your afternoon stuck in the car. After that, though, all bets are off: Soaring trees, grassy fields, creative sculpture, play areas for the young ones, hiking, camping, running, jumping…
The Top 10 Parks in and around the Twin Cities
- Elm Creek Park Reserve, Maple Grove, MN – With an beautiful and colorful playground sitting next to a man-made swimming hole, a historic house you can enter, archery range, miles of mountain and road bike trails, disc golf course, camping, a nature center, and some of the best snow tubing around, Elm Creek has it all.
- Minnehaha Falls, MPLS – Wading pool, 53ft waterfall, limestone bluffs, Sea Salt Eatery (great for a quick bite with the kids, or leisurely glass of wine for the adults), bike rentals, playground, dog park, bandstand, and miles of deep wooded trails.
- Franconia Sculpture Park, Franconia, MN – Located just outside the breathtaking Taylors Falls, MN, Franconia Sculpture Park is a constant growing masterpiece. I’ve been going to this park since it opened in the late ’90s and I just love it. You can explore giant sculptures and interact with some “jungle gym” like pieces. I can’t help but pick my jaw up off the ground at the sheer rate this complex is growing. Most days you can see artists in their shops tinkering away at the next :.
- Loring Park, MPLS – Connected to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and tucked into an adorable city space, this park host some of the most beautiful city views. Also enjoy a tangled spider web of bike paths, a band shell, picnic area, fishing pier, public art and a tennis court. Grab a bite to eat on the parks edge, with a handful of restaurants to choose from.
- Silverwood Park, St. Anthony, MN – Another one of the fabulous Three Rivers Parks, is Silverwood Park. This parks focus is about nature and art. Enjoy some peace and quiet right on the edge of the city while walking through art filled paved trails. Stop in the café for a coffee drink and ask about the nesting owls that have been inhabiting the park for the last few years. This park also offers some great art classes for ages of all kinds.
- Teddy Bear Park, Stillwater, MN – Probably one of the cutest parks here in the TC. While visiting historic Stillwater, make a stop at Teddy Bear Park and let the kids climb on the Giant teddy bear pieces and run around this adorable playground. You have to stop over for a giant ice cream cone at the original Nelson’s Drive Inn Dairy Store!
- Chutes and Ladders (Hyland Play Area) Bloomington, MN – 16k square feet of play space, award-winning outdoor play structure with long slides and tough climbs. the park grounds also offer a visitor center, concessions, hiking trails, 18 hole disc golf tournament course and cross country ski rental in the winter.
- French Regional Park, Plymouth, MN – With kayaking and canoeing, fishing, a huge wood built play area, bike trials, swimming and hiking trails; this is another great Three Rivers Park. Did I mention the Three Rivers Parks District allow beer and wine? This makes a great spot for a multi family grill out.
- Fort Snelling Park, StP – You can bike and/or hike the peaceful trails through the beautiful Minnesota River Valley. Head over to the soccer fields at Fort Snelling Park and fly a kite. Wide open spaces, located on the edge of the Minnesota River Valley there is no shortcoming of wind to lift your kite up high. Just make sure to watch out for the goose poop and the soccer games.
10. Quarry Park and Nature Preserve, Waite Park, MN – Take a hike in this 100 year old 600+ acre park through a Minnesota forest and enjoy: granite reflecting pools, swimming quarries, rock climbing, scuba diving, bird watching, cross-country skiing, mountain biking and trout fishing.
For more on Twin Cities parks, read this next: Minneapolis/St. Paul rank #1 for best parks