Explore the largest park in Minneapolis’ park system for fun activities and outdoor exploration

Images by Claire Noack

By Claire Noack

Over Easter weekend, I was able to take a break from city life and visit one of the Twin Cities’ beautiful state parks. Theodore Wirth Park is conveniently located in the northern suburb of Golden Valley, just outside of Minneapolis. It is very easy to get to from the cities and once you’re there, it feels like you are completely removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown. The 740-acre park is the largest park in the city’s park system and features an array of amenities and features that make it fun in every season.

From biking, hiking and cross-country skiing trails to fishing, tennis courts and sledding hills, the options for outdoor recreation are endless at Theodore Wirth Park. One of my favorite aspects of the park is that it preserves acres upon acres of natural ecosystems, including a 15-acre garden and bog complete with boardwalks.

My first stop at the park was the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary. The garden is free and open to the public from April through October, and is home to more than 500 plant species and 130 bird species. Although the garden was not bursting with blooms, it was fun to spot flowers and sprouts while walking the mile-long path. The setting is extremely peaceful—it didn’t take me long to feel completely immersed in Mother Nature’s splendor.

The garden is a local favorite for bird watching and it’s easy to see why. Within minutes of being in the garden, I heard birds chirping and noticed wildlife scurrying around. While the garden will get many more species of birds over the next few months, I was already able to see cardinals, woodpeckers and robins inside the garden. I even spotted a wild turkey and a deer on my excursion.

I also checked out the Quaking Bog, which houses frogs, dragonflies and natural flora and fauna of the environment. The floating dock that meanders through the bog is a must-see, as it allows you to traverse right through the middle of the bog.

Then I walked over to Wirth Lake Beach and enjoyed the view of the lake while eating lunch. This area showcases the many amenities the park includes such as picnic tables, a playground, bathroom facilities, sand volleyball court, fishing pier, swimming area and free parking.

If you’re looking for a fun way to spend a summer afternoon, Theodore Wirth Park is the place to be. It is without a doubt one of the best parks within the Twin Cities, placing you in the midst of the Great Outdoors only a few miles from the heart of the city.


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