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NATURE-CENTRIC PARKS

Reconnect with nature at these lush parks that show off Minnesota’s landscape. From wildlife refuges to waterfalls, Twin Cities parks feature awe-inspiring nature scenes that are sure to take your breath away.

Image by Todd Buchanan/Greenspring Media

Lake Harriet Rose Garden

Though small, during the spring and summer seasons, this park is inundated with blooming flowers of all kinds. Plus, it is located just a hop, skip and a jump from Lake Harriet. Enjoy walking through rows of gardenias, tulips, roses and more, and learn about the different plantings.

Minnehaha Regional Park

Located minutes from downtown Minneapolis, Minnehaha Regional Park features bluffs and picturesque river overlooks. But the centerpiece is the iconic 53-foot waterfall, where visitors can watch as the water dives over the edge and crashes into the pool dozens of feet below. Follow the rest of Minnehaha Creek via trails as it winds its way through colorful trees, flowers and shrubs before coming to an end where it meets the Mississippi River. After all that hiking, grab a bite to eat at Sea Salt Eatery, a seasonal restaurant located next to the falls, where they serve a variety of tasty menu options including soups, salads and entrees all with a seafood twist. Be sure to save room for dessert as they serve up delicious Sebastian Joe’s ice cream as well. Other features include a disc golf course, picnic area, volleyball court, Longfellow and Minnehaha Falls Pergola gardens, and a bandstand.

Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Over 14,000 acres of outdoor playground await you in Bloomington, a southwest suburb of Minneapolis. Enjoy navigating hiking and biking trails, and launch a canoe or kayak onto the river. The park is also a great spot for wintertime outdoor activities like cross-country skiing and snow shoeing (you can pick up a complimentary pair of snowshoes at the park’s visitor center). And don’t forget the myriad forms of wildlife you will get to witness: bald eagles, blue herons, deer and more.

Taylors Falls

Taylors Falls may be a bit a drive from the Twin Cities, but trust us: It’s worth it. Picture amazing vistas, towering rock outcrops overlooking the St. Croix River, and winding hiking trails to explore. Taylors Falls comprises several parks along the river and has a host of trails and natural attractions to enjoy. After exploring, head into town for unique shopping and dining. 

Theodore Wirth Regional Park

Theodore Wirth Regional Park isn’t only the largest park in the Minneapolis park system (about the same size as Central Park in New York), but it also has one of the most unique features of any of the parks on our list. Its focal point is not its miles and miles of wooded hiking and biking trials (though they are beautiful and should not be discounted), it is the Quaking Bog. A bog is an area of land that drains poorly, and as a result, the ground has a wet and spongy feel to it (like you are walking on a water bed) and is full of accumulated plant material. In fact, the Quaking Bog is so spongy that you need to use floating boardwalks to journey through it. And it is a journey worth taking. With the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, the area is home to an abundance of wildlife and plant species that will make you feel like you are lost in the wilderness instead of nestled in nature on the outside edges of Minneapolis. Theodore Wirth Regional Park also features two golf courses, archery, disc golf, a tennis court, soccer field, fishing pier and more.

NATURE-CENTRIC PARKS

Minnehaha Park
4801 S Minnehaha Drive
Minneapolis, MN 55417
minneapolisparks.org

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