Top 10 spots for family photos, with some tips from a pro

Photo taken by Megan Schlossmacher - CastleMaker Creative

Here’s a list of the best spots to get shots with the fam:


Harriet Island 

This place is gorgeous, just across the river from downtown STP. Harriet Island offers more of these MN landscapes with fun and large stone steps down to the mighty Mississippi River, lots of old growth tress like Cotton Woods, a playground for the kiddos and lots of open space to create a lovely background.

Como Zoo and Conservatory

Como Park is a seemingly endless compound built for families and has countless spots for taking shots, picture shots of course.  The grounds have countless picnic areas, a small amusement park, a inner city lake, pavilions and a gorgeous carousel.  Then there is the conservatory.  Chalk full of different types of international vegetation, the Sunken Flower Garden with award winning bloomers and a eerie yet breathtaking jet black pond.  My favorite spot here is the Japanese garden out back complete with a trail and a cute stream.  its worth a walk through if you haven’t been, serene and calm grounds to make you at ease after a long week with The Man.  Make sure to contact somebody with Como Park before shooting photos here, there are some things you need to know.

Historic Stillwater

We’ve probably all been to Stillwater and got to enjoy 4th of July fireworks, antique shopping or maybe a mediocre dinner.  One of the things I love about Stillwater for picture taking is how versatile it is.  From the main street filled with red brick buildings, the lift bridge over the boat filled river, a picnic-worthy grassy knoll that basically butts up to the St Croix River, the “photo-esk” gazebo on the waters edge annnnddddd Teddy Bear Park. There is no cuter park for family photos, Especially with the little ones, than Teddy Bear Park. Grab some giant cones from Nelson’s and take some silly photos.

Read more: Top 10 parks in and around the Twin Cities

Franconia Sculpture Park

This has to be the place where the most fun can be had, on this list.  I swear every time I visit here they are expanding and adding on another epic form of sculpture.  This place is phenomenal.  All sorts of eclectic things to climb on, study and take selfies with.  Bring the whole family and you all are bound to be dropping them jaws at some point.

Stone Arch Bridge/Gold Medal Park

Im sure you’ve told your person and/or kids how special they are and that they are “one of a kind”, which is true, so why not bring them to see something that’s as special as they are? The Stone Arch Bridge in MPLS is one of the only of its kind.  Its gigantic, gorgeous stone work and craftsmanship is truly breathtaking, even before you look around at the view.

(Almost any) St. Croix Valley Apple Orchard

Overlooking the scenic St. Croix River Valley and acres full of apple orchards and pumpkin patches, wait until fall to utilize the glorious background of a Midwestern autumn-scape at an apple orchard.  With endless apples, hay rides, cute farm animals and pumpkin patches, if you can’t find a spot for a cute family photo at an apple orchard, then we can’t help you.

Here are a few to check out:

  • Fischer Croix Farm Orchard
  • Whistling Well Farm
  • Aamodt’s Apple Farm
  • Afton Apple Orchard

Taylors Falls/Interstate State Park 

Here you get to immerse yourself and loved ones into the woods a bit with: large stone formations created millions of years ago by passing glaciers, beautiful forest trails and the St. Croix River surrounded by more big, bold and beautiful rock formations.  Your family is as solid as stone yeah? Take some photos by there ancient stones then.

Loring Park

Another great MN park with gorgeous views.  These parks all have a lot of the same things but they are all a little different.  This cozy little park located on the edge of Downtown MPLS, has a cute little pavilion, pond, snaking paved trails and some heavy foliage.

Minnehaha Falls

Come here for a gaggle of backdrops for your family photo session.  Just pick a season: in spring all the wild flowers are shooting up the forest is turning green with cool temperatures in the air, come summer the forest is booming with those blooming wild flowers and the falls rushing at a mesmerizing rate, and fall the gorgeous back drops of lime stone walls and stairs accompanied by calm rushing falls and autumnal colors as far as the eye can see.

Union Depot

Shut down for the better part of the last century, or what seems like it, Union Depot has been rewoke and polished up.  This place is immense.  you can feel it as you walk into the main foyer and down the hall, much like any historic transit station.  This 33 acre property is filled with gorgeous crown moldings, local art work and epic indoor architectural landscapes.


Just the tips, from our pro Megan Schlossmacher of CastleMaker Creative:

Best seasons: Fall and spring/early summer are best times to shoot, unless its golden hour in the summer time otherwise its too hot and too bright.

Best times: morning to early afternoon is going to be the best time to shoot.  Before that Sun is at it’s highest and then later in the day during the “golden hour” and into sunset.

Best spots for winter: Anywhere indoors with a lot of natural life, like the Conservatory or Union Depot, natural life = natural light.  But if you can handle the cold, snow pictures are a ton of fun.

Contact Megan at for your next family shoot and visit to see more of her crispy work and her adorable dog.

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Born and raised in the suburbs of Saint Paul, MN, Brandon has immersed himself into being a local and sustainable advocate for delicious living. Working for the best Chef’s in the Twin Cities before becoming the Residence Chef at the Minnesota Governor’s Residence and personal Chef for the Zimmern family. Foraging, eating, parenting, writing, cycling, consulting, catering and hosting pop up dinners are what his free time entails.