Getting a great family photo can often be something of a challenge – especially when there are young children involved. We don’t have any suggestions here on how to make your toddler sit still long enough to get that perfect shot, or how to keep the baby from having an accident while sitting on Santa’s lap, but we did compile a list of the very best places for your backdrop – and a few tips from Megan Schlossmacher on seasonality and time of day.

The Best Twin Cities Places to Take Family Photos:

Harriet Island 

This park is gorgeous. Though it’s no longer an island, it’s still a special space with a special bond with the Mississippi. Located across the river from downtown St. Paul, Harriet Island offers more incredible views, old growth tress like Cotton Woods, a playground for the kiddos, and lots of open space to create a lovely background to make a few memories.

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 are filled with picnic areas, a small amusement park, a inner-city lake, pavilions and a gorgeous carousel.  Then there is the conservatory. 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 – it’s worth a walk through if you haven’t been; serene and calm grounds to make you at ease after a long day or week.

Historic Stillwater

We’ve probably all been to Stillwater: Whether for 4th of July fireworks, antique shopping, or maybe dinner along the river it’s a popular getaway for Twin Cities folk. It’s also incredible versatile for taking photos: 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 picture-perfect gazebo on the waters edge and 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 nearby Nelson’s and take some silly photos you’re sure to appreciate for years to come.

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

Franconia Sculpture Park

This has to be the most fun I’ve had taking pictures. Every time I visit the park is expanding, adding on another epic form of sculpture, creating a new, dynamic experience, 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. The enormous, 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, with acres full of apple orchards and pumpkin patches, this region of Minnesota is, in a word, stunning. Wait until fall to utilize the glorious background of a Midwestern autumn-scape at one of the many orchards. Rows of trees, hay rides, farm animals and carve-worthy patches, this is about as good as it gets for family photos.

Here are a few of our favorites to check out:

Taylors Falls/Interstate State Park 

Immerse yourself into a rolling landscape of large stone formations created millions of years ago by passing glaciers, beautiful forest trails, and the St. Croix River. Your family is as solid as stone yeah? Put them up against this backdrop to prove it.

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. Pick a season: In spring the wild flowers are shooting up, and the forest is turning green with cool temperatures nipping at your cheeks. Come summer the forest is in full bloom, dotted with wild flowers surrounding the magnificent falls rushing at a mesmerizing rate. In autumn? The gorgeous backdrop of limestone accompanied by calm rushing falls and autumnal colors turn the world to art for as far as the eye can see.

Union Depot

Shut down for the better part of the last century (or what seems like it) St. Paul’s Union Depot has since reawakened, and she has never looked better. The behemoth building is an testament to the glory of the city’s past; you can feel the history as you walk into the main foyer, past the pillars, and into the grand waiting room. This 33-acre property is filled with gorgeous crown moldings, local art work and epic indoor architectural landscapes; truly one of a kind.

A few tips, from professional photographer Megan Schlossmacher:

Best seasons to shoot: Fall and spring/early summer are best seasons to shoot, unless its golden hour in the summer time. Otherwise, it’s too hot and gets too bright.

Best times for pictures: Morning to early afternoon will give you the best times in terms of lighting. Before that, the sun is at it’s highest. Later in the day during the “golden hour” and into sunset.

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

Contact Megan at for your next family shoot.

For another article on photos, and, more importantly, why we take them, read this next: Pictures or It Didn’t Happen: Our Obsession with Permanence

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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.